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Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for May 8

Dr. Ben Stubblefield
Visiting Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, University of Mobile


2 Thessalonians 1:3–12

Thankful (3–4)

I like all good church music, but I’ve still got a special place in my heart for a Sunday choir. The music is always uplifting, but the thing I like most about our choir is that I know the faithfulness of the people singing.

There’s something powerful about seeing those you know, those who have been through the joys and sorrows of life, week after week lift their voices to the Lord. The music is good, but their example is better. They remind me that God is still working and still worthy of worship. Their faith strengthens my faith.

I don’t how Paul felt about church choirs, but I do know he believed in the encouragement of believers by the example of other believers. That’s what Paul is getting at in his opening verses of 2 Thessalonians. He observes their faith is “greatly enlarged,” their love for one another grows “ever greater” and their perseverance endures through “persecutions and afflictions.”

Paul and his companions “proudly” report their faithfulness to fellow churches, “as is only fitting,” because there is no negative report to make. The church is flourishing in the Lord, and Paul is grateful for their example.

God in His kindness does not call us to live independently from each other. He calls us into a church community with one another. Why? As Paul illustrates, it’s so we can witness the encouraging examples of those around us persevering in their walk with the Lord and be catalyzed to do the same.

Avenged (5–10)

Suffering can cause even the best of the Lord’s people to second-guess their faith. It uniquely puts everything we say we believe to the test. Therefore, endurance through suffering is a sure signal we have a vibrant faith. A shallow, superficial commitment to the Lord will wither under persecution like a plant sprouted over rocky soil.

The persecution the Thessalonians endured, Paul writes, was not a cause for despair. Rather, he says it is a “clear evidence” of their worthiness of the kingdom of God. It is the badge of proof, the brand of Christ Jesus, credentialing the genuineness of their faith.

A question about verse 5 remains, “In what sense is this a “righteous judgment”? Although the wording of verse 5 can be confusing, the answer is in verses 6–10. Their suffering is righteous in that the Lord will deliver justice by reversing the outcomes of retribution and reward. The persecuted in this life will be comforted in the next. And the persecutors in this life will be afflicted in the next.

At the day of revelation (vv. 9–10) the Lord will be glorified “in His saints.” F.F. Bruce summarizes this well: “Nothing can so much redound to His honor as the presentation of sinful men and women redeemed and glorified through His sacrifice on the cross. They will be glorified with Him; He will be glorified in them.”

Worthy (11–12)

Paul ends this section in his familiar way, with a prayer for the church. He asks that God will “fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith.”

Paul has in mind here Jesus’ teaching on prayer. Jesus taught when we pray in His name and abide in Him, we can ask whatever we wish and it will be done (John 15:7, 16:23–24). Jesus gives us certainty because that kind of person will want to accomplish what the Lord wants to accomplish. Their wills will align, and so He fulfills the petition.

Paul can be confident that God will answer his prayer and enable believers to accomplish the goodness they desire because it honors Him. He asks on their behalf that they may glorify the Lord in their conduct (“glorified in you”) so they might be transformed from to glory to glory (“and you in Him”).

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