Thessalonians - Glorification by Faith in Christ

By E. S. (Emanuel Sprankel) Young



I. The Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ From Heaven, 1:1-12

Paul after the address and salutation commences this Epistle by rendering thanks to God for the welcome intelligence he had received of the increase of the faith and love of his Thessalonian converts, so that he was able to boast of them throughout all the Churches of Achaia, on account of their steadfastness in the continued endurance in the period of persecution. Their present suffering was an evidence of a future state of retribution. The Apostle expressed his constant prayer for the Thessalonians, that God would enable them to walk worthy of their high calling.


(1) The Salutation, 1:1-2

Ver. 1. Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

This verse is just the same as the first verse in the first letter. It is written in the joint names, as all three are engaged in the planting of this church at Thessalonica. Timothy was Paul's spiritual son and had an unfeigned faith and therefore worthy to have his name appear with Paul”s. Paul had chosen Silas to accompany him on his missionary tour. He was with him in establishing the different mission points, experienced persecution with Paul at Philippi, and no doubt, was with him during the three weeks of reasoning with these Thessalonian converts out of the Scriptures and, therefore, his name is also worthy to appear with the Apostle in the opening of these letters.

Ver. 2. Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ's grace is entirely God's free favor. It begins with the sinner in his degraded and sinful state and God's grace is sufficient to make him a complete and perfect saint. This now is without money and without price. Christian grace is an active energy of God. The Christian continues to live upon grace. Peace is the crown of Christian prosperity. We must have peace with God or we cannot enjoy the other rich things He has provided for us. Peace is the most perfect of blessings. This is the greatest outcome of grace. Both of these are received by us through Christ. He Himself is our grace and peace. When we fully learn the secret of Christ we shall be in possession of peace which passeth all understanding.

(2) The Thanksgiving, 1:3-4

Ver. 3. We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, even as it is meet, for that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the love of each one of you all toward one another aboundeth.

This thanksgiving is not to be limited to Paul. It no doubt includes his two associates inasmuch as they are mentioned in the preceding verse. They first of all praise their converts for the good that was in them. They were full of faith and love. He later calls attention to some things that were not so commendable because of false teaching. This was his tactful way of securing their attention. He claims the right to do so under these circumstances. He gives the reason for this thanksgiving, showing that it is their spiritual condition.

“For that your faith groweth exceedingly.” He does not forget the labor bestowed upon this church during but a few weeks and therefore feels under obligation always to this Church, strong in faith, and for this reason engages in thanksgiving. They had sown the seed and the seed had been watered and God gave abundant increase. Each of them gave proof of continued growth in faith. The Apostle next emphasizes the love which they had one for another. The love of Christ shed abroad in their hearts was expressed in Christian fellowship. This love was continually on the increase, Faith and love must grow if it is true and living. Faith is the root and love is the fruit.

Ver. 4. So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which ye endure.

Paul and his associates are filled with joy to learn and experience just what God can do for those who come honestly and faithfully to Him for help. In the first letter the Apostle makes it clear that there is no need of emphasizing the faith and love of these disciples because everywhere the people are talking about the characteristics of these Christians. “Not only do they talk to us and speak of it but we also in our exceeding joy proclaim it.”

“For your patience and faith.” These Thessalonian Christians had suffered much persecution both from the Judaizing teachers and from the heathen Gentiles (1 Thess. 2:14). Paul had reasoned with them out of the Scriptures. They believed the Word of God. They experienced God's power in changing them from the old nature into the new, and, therefore, suffering and persecution could not weaken their faith and love and turn them aside from following the true and living God. They suffered from the truth and showed to the persecutors they believed the truth of God. The Apostle says, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here among these Thessalonians He gloried not so much in his own achievements as in the triumph of the cross of Christ.


  • Where was Paul when he wrote this letter?

  • Who was with Paul in the writing?

  • Explain the meaning of grace and peace?

  • Give the reason for Paul giving thanks.

  • What persecution had to be endured by the Thessalonians at the time of the writing of this Epistle?


The Apostle comforts them with the thought of the certainty of the future judgment upon those who trouble them.

Ver. 5. Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God; to the end that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer.

“Verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth” (Ps. 58:11). The affliction of the righteous and the prosperity of the wicked in the present world are not inconsistent with these righteous judgments. This has always been a problem in the world—how to understand the mystery of Divine providence. The Book of Job sets forth God's righteousness during man's prosperity and man's poverty and suffering. The Apostle comforts the Christian by saying that the persecution and tribulation which is endured is a manifest proof that God has judged righteously in calling them into His church. The Head of the Church, Christ, came into the world, was persecuted, nailed to the cross, and now we are members of His Body, therefore, we as His are in this period of suffering and through this, God will bring us into everlasting joy. This shows that the suffering of the righteous and the prosperity of their wicked persecutors was a clear proof that there will be a future state of retribution where all this will be adjusted by God Himself, when this violation of the justice of God will be rectified, the persecutor punished and the persecuted rewarded.

“That ye may be counted worthy.” Man cannot merit his salvation as a reward. Salvation can only be obtained through the merit and mediation of Christ. The righteous will be rewarded for their faith and patience (Heb. 6:10). We are worthy of the kingdom because we suffer righteously. Christ has suffered and we must suffer with Him so we may also share His glory with Him (Rom. 8:17). “And in nothing terrified by your adversaries:which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God” (Phil. 1:28). The practical lesson to learn is that through suffering while living the Christian life in these bodies, we are all the time making ourselves more worthy as children of God. Our suffering must be the suffering of Christ.

Ver. 6. If so be that it is a righteous thing with God to recompense affliction to them that afflict you.

The Christian by suffering as Christ suffered, makes himself worthy before God to receive the reward of the righteous because he is counted worthy of the kingdom of God for which he suffered. This will also be manifested by God when, through punishment, he settles with those who persecute his saints. They therefore, who have given you tribulation shall in God's own time have visited upon them tribulation in recompense. It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them which trouble you. The righteous are often persecuted and. afflicted whereas the wicked are happy and prosperous. Herod sits upon the throne and Christ expires on the cross, however, God will Himself rectify these conditions. “Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on ”˜hee?


  • What was a token of the righteous judgment of God?

  • What makes us worthy?

  • What was a righteous thing with God?


The Apostle is telling us in these verses something about Christ's coming. He is to be revealed from Heaven and every eye shall see Him. This is the coming of Christ for judgment. When He came the first time He came to save the world. When He is revealed from Heaven as judge He comes to deal out justice to those who were disobedient to the Word of God.

Ver. 7. And to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire.

The Apostle comforts the Christian by saying that in this period of persecution they are to rest with Paul and his associates as founders of this Church. He means to say that there is to be a rest for the people of God (Heb. 4:9). This rest or relaxation is to be enjoyed in the world to come where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest (John 3:17). This is a period of external persecution, but there is a time coming when they shall enjoy internal rest. The Apostle included himself and his associates among those persecuted and afflicted.

“At the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven.” This is a revealing of Christ. It is a visible manifestation. This is not the coming of the Lord for His saints, but it is the coming of the Lord in the Day of the Lord, when Christ shall come forth from Heaven and bring persecution upon the wicked who made the followers of Christ to suffer because they believed on Him as their Saviour. This Day of the Lord, the period of tribulation, the time of judgment, so clearly set forth in different passages of the Old Testament as well as in the New, will be the time when God will recompense those who trouble and have troubled His children.

This is a further explanation of what the Apostle set forth in the sixth verse in the former paragraph. During the period of the Day of the Lord the saints will be at rest in glory and their wicked enemies will suffer their well deserved punishment. This shows us that the Day of the Lord had not yet come. When this period does come the Lord Himself will be revealed from Heaven with His redeemed saints and mighty angels. Christ will come to judge the world accompanied by — those who have been and are faithful to His orders as Captain (Matt. 24:30, 31). These angels are sent forth to execute His commands. The revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ to judge the world is seldom mentioned in the sacred writings without calling our attention to those who are to be with Him in bringing about the judgment of God upon those who are in opposition to His revealed Word.

Ver. 8. Rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Here we have a further description of the revelation of Jesus Christ coming to judge the world. He is to appear in ° flaming fire. He appeared to Moses in the burning bush in flaming fire and now in coming to judge the ungodly He is represented as coming in fire. This may refer to the fire of universal conflagration which will be ushered in during this period known in the Word of God as the eh of the Lord ceePet. 3210).

“That know not God.” The heathen know not God and, therefore, will not acknowledge Him. The self righteous Jew by perverting the Word of God does not know God to the acknowledgment of His Son, and therefore, is among those who do not know. -Those who make and worship idols do not obey God but are among those who do not know God. These are the persons who persecuted Christ and His messengers. Why should these benighted people be punished for not knowing God? The Gentiles had opportunity to know God (Rom. 1:18-20). The Jewish nation had given unto them the oracles of God and yet with all of that through the self righteousness and tradition, their minds were darkened and they did not know God.

Ver. 9. Who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might.

The unbelieving Gentiles and Jews shall pay the penalty and suffer the punishment they deserve. It is to be eternal, everlasting. This declaration made by the Apostle regarding ”˜the duration of punishment has troubled many interpreters. An effort is made to set aside what the Bible so clearly teaches and substitute that which is more in harmony with man's reasoning and man's judgment. Paul teaches, as well as all others who were worthy to convey the oracles of God, that everlasting punishment is in store for the wicked and everlasting life and spiritual wealth is in store for all who share with Christ in glory.

“From the face of the Lord.” All who do not know God through Christ who suffered on the cross as a mediator and who obey not the Gospel of God will be expelled from the joy and glory which hath its presence in Christ. All who are cut off from this joy and glory and holiness are banished from His presence and share with Satan whom they served, as Christ Himself teaches when He appeared to John on the Isle of Patmos. Christ came, He taught, He healed, He raised from the dead, and the very ones He came to bring out of darkness into the light, rejected God's Son as their Saviour. They would not have Him as their teacher, as their Saviour. Now the time is coming when they will accept Him as their judge who will banish them from the presence of God and His redeemed ones.

Ver. 10. When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at in all them that believed (because our testimony unto you was believed) in that day.

Christ will come to be glorified in His saints. The Apostle shows this to be one of the purposes of His coming at this time of judgment. His saints are made up of His own new nature, and when these saints will be glorified and have their glorified bodies, Christ Himself will be glorified in them. It will not be the nature of the holy angels but the Christ nature which will be manifested in the saints, those whom He redeemed with His own blood. They will be reflected in Christ as a mirror, the glory of the Lord. «

“And to be marvelled at.” To be wondered at, that such glory can be manifested by those who have come out of sin and iniquity and now brought forth by Christ Himself perfect * and complete as God's handiwork.

Christ will be glorified in His saints, however, Christ will also when revealed, be glorified in the punishment of the wicked. The Apostle gives his reason for having such great interest in the revelation of Jesus and the coming glory, “Because our testimony among you was” believed.”

“In that day.” This phrase we find often used by the prophets in the Old Testament. It nearly always refers to the day of the visible manifestation of Jehovah in dealings and judgments with His enemies and in delivering those of His earthly people, Israel, who wait for Him (Is. 25:9). “And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall punish the hosts of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth” (Is. 24:21). Judgment for the world is connected with the Day of the Lord. Jesus said, “The Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels and then He shall reward every man according to His works” (Matt. 16:27). This visible manifestation of Christ bringing judgment upon the earth is more fully revealed in His message to John on Patmos (Rev. 19:20-21).

The Apostle mentions two classes of people that God will deal with during the period of the Day of the Lord. Those that know not God: heathen Gentiles, Jews, and nominal professing Christians. If there is any difference as to punishment, the Jews to whom God had given His oracles were under greater responsibility and, therefore, one would naturally suppose they would have to answer for more before God than the Gentiles who had not received these oracles. The true Church is no longer on earth. Saints have been caught up to meet Him in the air and are with Him in glory. The manifestations of the Sons of God who have been transformed into His image are during this period of tribulation reflecting the glory of the Lord who bought them by the shedding of His own blood. It seems hard to endure persecution for a period as the Thessalonians had to do, but think of what is to be enjoyed in the future. Christ has promised to share His inheritance and be able to manifest His own Glory through these suffering ones. This is so marvelous that every saint whose eyes are open to see the blessings that are in store for the future will forget the sufferings and trials that must be endured in this present world and will be able to say, “These are nothing to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed.”


  • Explain the meaning of “rest with us.”

  • Who is to be present and enjoy the revelation of Jesus? Vol. 4—8

  • Who will be with Him in His coming judgment?

  • Whom will He take vengeance upon when He comes?

  • What is the duration of punishment and what is the duration of joy?

  • What punishment is described for the wicked?

  • In what will Christ be glorified?

  • What is meant by “in that day?”


He prays that God's favor may rest upon them. His wish was that they would undergo the necessary preparatory work in anticipation of their future glory. The prayer has in it a double purpose.

Ver. 11. To which end we also pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of your calling and fulfil every desire of goodness and every work of faith, with power.

In the previous verses the Apostle Paul was reciting the persecutions endured by the Christians and the revelation of Christ from Heaven to take vengeance upon the persecutors and those who obey not the Gospel of God. This revelation of Christ will show His glorification in His Saints and He will be admired by them that believe. These wonderful things to be experienced by the Christian helps Paul to lift up his heart in gratitude to God because all of these converts in the Church at Thessalonica may be among the glorified ones. We have learned that God calls through His Son all these saints before the foundation of the world, and now in this age of grace, they have an opportunity to be true to that call and not disappoint the God who has called them but they all may receive His approval by being worthy. We are called to be Christians and as such we have entered the pilgrimage of the Heavenly life. The Christian's calling involves high obligation. God watches the walk of those whom He has called. It is most important that we should know that we are the called ones of God, never out of His sight so we may be reckoned worthy of our vocation, because His favor to us is eternal life. God's pleasure is in our goodness and work of faith. It is the faith which is active, living and productive of good works that God honors and fulfils in all moral goodness. This prayer offered by the Apostle Paul can only be answered by those who are called according to the Divine purpose (Rom. 8:28). Our sufficiency is of God. “We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (1 Pet. 1:5).

Ver. 12. That the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Christian must constantly have in view the glorifying of the name of Christ and Paul prays that God may bring about in us this great result. The Christian lives for Christ. He is part of Christ and so is always with Him. We are in Christ and Christ is in us. Christ is our honored guest and we glorify Him. Christ being in us, we are made partakers of His glorious nature. His name is above every name.

The Apostle knows that there is no limit to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. It then follows that our salvation may be such as God requires and such as is worthy of His grace. God saves as becomes God, and we experience and know the power of His new nature within us and the excellent glory of His work. It is awful to consider that the people of the world are so set against that which is good that they will bring persecution upon the true church of God. This shows that the true church of God is built for His own habitation and that the unregenerate world is opposed to the Church and to God. The person who becomes a child of God is not persecuted for any harm he may do but because he manifests the spirit of Christ. The Holy Spirit presents the two classes of people here and shows the destiny of each: those who are Christ's (and Paul prays for their glorification); those who are not Christ's and because of their iniquity will receive at the time that Christ will be revealed from Heaven, punishment and separation from everything that is good. When Christ will be revealed we will receive that for which we serve in this world. These are days of great opportunities and by using them as directed by the Word of God we will be counted worthy to receive the very best gifts from God.


  • What was the purpose of Paul's prayer at the close of this chapter?

    • First: that the name of the Lord may be glorified in His saints.

    • Second: that the saints may be glorified in the Lord.

  • How can we be counted worthy of this calling?

  • What was the work of faith?

  • Can the Christian know what to expect after death?

  • What two classes of persons are set forth in this chapter?