Thessalonians - Glorification by Faith in Christ

By E. S. (Emanuel Sprankel) Young



This second letter to the Thessalonian Church was written soon after the first. Paul uses the names of his companions in the first verse as he did in the first verse of the first epistle. Just how long after the first epistle was received by the Thessalonian Church until Paul sent the second letter cannot be correctly ascertained. Confusion had been brought into the Church by false teachers which made it necessary for Paul to write this second letter to the Church. The first epistle had been written to the converts to set forth clearly before them the blessed hope—the coming of the Lord. The confusion brought into the Church by these teachers did not affect the faith and love but it did chill and mar the hope that was held by this Church as presented in the first epistle (1:3). Paul called attention to their work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope. This work of faith was exemplified in the same chapter which showed the complete change of these converts turning from idols made by man unto the living and true God. These converts had the love of God shed abroad in their hearts and through this labor of love were serving the true and living God. They were being educated in patience. They believed in the blessed hope, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for His own. This has been and is, still the blessed hope of the Christian, and it is this patience of hope that the Christian needs, to live the Christ life in this waiting and watching time.

The Apostle is giving thanks unto God in behalf of these Thessalonian converts and makes mention in his prayers of their faith, labor of love and patience of hope, however, in this second letter no mention is made concerning this patience of hope. Faith and love are mentioned as being possessed but their hope had suffered. The Apostle's object then in writing this second letter was to confirm this hope. The letter was written in the interest of the blessed hope of our gathering together in Him, that in some way this might be revived so that the Church might be waiting and watching for the return of the Head for the Body, the Church. In this letter the Apostle repairs for the Thessalonian Church, and for us, the mischief caused by false teachers.

It will help us to understand what the Apostle has set forth in this letter if we look carefully into the condition of the church at the time the letter was written. Paul had been compelled to leave the Thessalonian Church after being with them just about three weeks, reasoning with them out of the Scriptures. This would not give sufficient time to fully instruct them in all the essential doctrines pertaining to the Church. In the first letter we learn that this church has made real advancement in Christian education and the author speaks in his letter of this model Church, model servant, model brother and model walk. Here we learn just what trouble can be brought into a Church by false teachers who pervert the Gospel, who are not true to fundamentals, and teach religion and tradition not warranted by God Himself and His Word,

The first chapter is full of encouragement and comfort to the Christian even in times of persecution. He is assured of the rest that he possesses in the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan with all his hosts of wickedness will be visited with retribution. In the first Epistle the Holy Spirit gave us assurance that before the period of tribulation, or the Day of the Lord (1 Thess. 5:2), the Lord would come from Heaven to glorify his saints and the saints through resurrection and translation would return with Him into glory (1 Thess. 4:13-18). The Holy Spirit taught us in the first letter that the Lord would come from Heaven for His saints and so they would not need to be concerned about times and seasons because the Day of the Lord would not be ushered in until the Church, the Body of Christ, had been taken out of the earth.;

The purpose then of the second letter is to clear up this obscurity and difficulty as to what is meant by the coming of ”˜the Lord for His saints and the Day of the Lord about which the saints were not to be concerned because it would not come until after their departure. Some thought that the Day of the Lord with its threatened judgments had already come. If this period of judgment was already upon them, then the Lord had previously returned for His saints and all then upon the earth would be deprived of the blessed hope. These false teachers made the saints believe that the Day of the Lord had actually come, that the tribulation period had opened and, therefore, the believer and unbeliever all had to pass through the horrors described in the Word of God which are to take place in the period previous to the visible manifestation of the Lord Jesus. The Lord had left the world only about thirty-three years. He had promised to return and receive His own unto Himself (John 14:3), and therefore, nothing was more natural than that the Church should have expected His immediate return, Various circumstances heightened this expectation.

The coming of the Lord for His saints is the rapture of the church. Had it not been for these false teachers, misinterpreting the Scripture there would not have been this confusion concerning the Day of the Lord and the return of the Lord for His saints. It will be well to be clear on what God says, that the Day of the Lord cannot come until the Church of the living God is removed from judgment and tribulation. The Day of the Lord is the opening of this period of judgment through tribulation and will not close until the Son of Man shall ride forth on the white horse at the head of His army of redeemed saints to take vengeance upon those who know not God (Rev. 19:11-16). The period of grace will have closed, the age of mercy will be no longer, as He goes forth to rule the ungodly with “a rod of iron.” God has wonderfully revealed through the Holy Spirit that which concerns the future of His Church and the future of the world. If the Christians were to pass through the tribulation which God has revealed will come upon the world during the period in which God will pour forth His wrath, then the blessed hope would cease to be an incentive to purity and holiness as now set forth by the inspired Word of God. These false teachers even went so far as to bring forth a document which they presented as a letter from Paul trying to prove that he was in favor of what they taught. The Apostle because of these deceivers uses this language in closing the letter, “The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand, which is the token of every Epistle: so I write.”

The Church was thrown into confusion because of these false leaders, some believing one thing and some another. Because of this some neglected their secular business and lived idle and useless lives, concluding that there was no use working in a world that was so soon to be destroyed. These are among those who were not fully instructed in Romans, receiving their true standing in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in Ephesians, being with Christ in the Heavenlies, and because of this they were not patient in hope concerning the coming of the Lord. This is what the Apostle is making clear to these saints.

In every period of the Church there have always been some to bring reproach upon it and the Word of God, because they are untrained in the Church literature given by the Holy Spirit to be used in this age of grace. Some take the position that because Christ has not come, therefore, the Apostles themselves were mistaken and the Word of God does not mean what it says. This kind of teaching is in harmony with the belief of world betterment and entire world conversion before the coming of the Lord. This is contrary and in direct opposition to what God in His Inspired Word sets forth concerning the Church and His dealings with the world. In the study of this letter our faith is strengthened and confirmed in the blessed hope and the believer assured of his presence with the Lord in glory during the period of tribulation and judgment, prophesied by Daniel and Christ, which shall be visited upon the unregenerate world.