2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
1. Recognize the Context:
Previous Context: 2 Thessalonians 2:5-12
This passage reminds the modern reader we are missing vital information that the Thessalonian church had from Paul when he visited them.
In verse 6, Paul reminded the Thessalonians that they knew what was restraining or holding back the lawless one until the appropriate time. Again, the modern reader is left wondering, "what did they know?" Paul continued to say the power of lawlessness was already at work, even though in a limited way. He indicated there was one restraining or keeping the full advancement of evil at bay. But the person or thing restraining the evil one will be taken out of the way so that the lawless one can be revealed.
This man of lawlessness will align his efforts with Satan, and he will perform false signs and wonders, which will deceive those who have rejected the truth. But even though this lawless one will appear to have “power,” he will be neutralized quite easily by the Lord at his return.
Verses 11-12 explain the result of the choice of those who reject the truth, not the cause of their rejection. Much like Romans 1, those who rejected God will be given over to their desire not to follow him. They will continue in their delusion and will be condemned.
2. Read the Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. 16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
3. Reflect on the Scripture::
Concluding his discussion of the Lord’s return, Paul transitioned to thanksgiving, with wording similar to 2 Thessalonians 1:3. In verse 3, Paul was thankful for the church’s increasing faith and growing love. Here, Paul’s gratitude was for the work of the Triune God in salvation.
In verse 13, Paul used the adversative but to provide a contrast between those who were deceived and perishing (2 Thess. 2:10-12) and the Thessalonians church. Paul desired to reassure them concerning their salvation, especially in light of current and future suffering at the hands of evil.
God chose the Thessalonian church (1 Thess. 1:4) to be the firstfruits of salvation. Firstfruits is a farming metaphor found in the Old Testament, where the first and the best grain and animals were offered to God. Similarly, the Thessalonian church represents "the first and the best offered to God” in their life of salvation. The means by which this salvation took place was through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. The Thessalonians responded to the purifying work of the Holy Spirit by believing the truth. Ultimately, the goal of their salvation was to share in Christ’s glory (1 Thess. 2:12, Rom. 8:18).
In verse 15, Paul turned to exhortation. This believing community was encouraged to stand firm (1 Thess. 3:8), the opposite of being unsettled and alarmed (2 Thess. 2:2). They were to hold firmly to what they had been taught, not to the deception attributed to Paul (2 Thess. 2:2).
In verses 16-17, Paul offered a prayer for them (1 Thess. 3:11-13). He prayed that Christ and the Father, who provide ever-lasting encouragement and real hope, would strengthen their words and actions.
4. Relate to life:
Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.
Today, prayerfully consider who and what you are thankful for.
Today, prayerfully reflect on these phrases from the passage:
-loved by the Lord
-chosen by God -the sanctifying work of the Spirit
-belief in the truth
-called through the gospel
-sharing in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ
To do: (with the Holy Spirit's help)
Given the prayer suggestions above and questions, what can you incorporate into your life today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words. Think about your family, friends, church community, and co-workers.
Identify someone who needs to experience your thankfulness and appreciation. Outline steps to make this happen.
Identify someone you need to encourage and outline how you can specifically do this.
To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the passages).
Review the verses above from other parts of 1 and 2 Thessalonians.