4 December 2014

2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12

“We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters” (v. 3)

Psalm: Psalm 71:1-14


Although there have been suggestions by some scholars that 2 Thessalonians was not written by Paul, I am going along with those who argue for Pauline authorship. Even shorter than the first letter, the second seems to have been written shortly after it. It begins in a similar way, by thanking God for the growing faith and unity of the Thessalonians in the face of persecution. It may be that they have written to Paul, depreciating his praise for them in the previous letter. It can be hard to receive praise, or to accept that you are worthy of it. The Thessalonians are in need of reassurance and Paul offers it by saying that he boasts about them to other churches (verse 4). He picks out three things which are worthy of thanksgiving - their faith, which is growing, their increasing love, and their steadfastness. To hear such things from their beloved mentor would surely raise their flagging spirits.

After returning to the theme which seems to most concern the Thessalonians, the second coming of Christ and their worthiness to be part of the kingdom of God (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10), Paul assures them of his prayers that God will work within them, so that the name of Jesus may be glorified in them, and that they might be glorified in him.

This is another boost to the confidence of the Thessalonians because earlier (2 Thessalonians 1:10) Paul has said that when he comes again, Christ will be glorified in his saints. In his earlier letter (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24), he has prayed that God will sanctify them. The implication here is that if Christ is glorified in them, that process of sanctification (ie being made pure and holy) is complete. Despite their lack of confidence and all their anxieties about themselves, they will share in the glory of the kingdom.

To Ponder

  • Do you find it hard to receive praise from others? Why is that, do you think?
  • Is there anyone who you need to thank? Do it today.

Bible notes author

The Revd Richard Bielby

Richard is a supernumerary Methodist presbyter in Stockton on Tees. He is a part-time prison chaplain and also serves as a voluntary chaplain at Durham Cathedral.