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"THE PROGRESS OF THE PERSECUTED"
2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
Wednesday AM Bible Study
May 12, 2004
How do you begin a letter to a group of Christians who are being terribly
persecuted for their faith? How do you begin when your purpose is to encourage
them, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you
were taught . . ." (2:15)? In Paul's case, when he wrote his second letter
to the church in Thessalonica, he chose to congratulate them on their
progress, and to remind them of the things that God was accomplishing
through their persecution!
I. PAUL GAVE THANKS TO GOD FOR THE PROGRESS THEY WERE MAKING
IN THEIR TRIALS (vv. 1-4).
A. His greeting to them (vv. 1-2) is similar to that of the
previous letter. Though Paul wrote the letter, it was a team effort
along with Silvanus and Timothy. Paul honors this church by addressing
it as "The Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ";
which would also be an encouragement to them to remember that God had
not left them or abandoned them.
B. Paul felt "bound" or "obligated" to give thanks for them (vv.
3-4). It wasn't because he didn't want to. Rather, it was because
it would be the most natural and appropriate response to God because
of what was happening in the lives of the believers there through
their persecutions. When reviewing what God was producing through
their trials, how could Paul do anything but thank God?
1. Their faith was growing exceedingly (v. 3).
2. Their love was abounding toward each other (v. 3).
3. Their reputation as a patient and enduring church was spreading
C. James teaches us that "tribulation produces endurance" (James
1:2-4). But he begins by urging his readers to "count it all joy"
when we fall into such tribulations. God is the one who produces the
positive results in us; but it's our job to "count it all joy". It
helps if we look ahead to what it is that God is producing in us through
those trials. That's what Paul did - both for himself in suffering
and for the Thessalonians. May we do the same!
II. PAUL REMINDED THEM OF THE THINGS GOD WAS DOING THROUGH THEIR
TRAILS (vv. 5-10).
A. With respect to the Thessalonians themselves, God was
producing "manifest evidence" of His righteous judgment. Their suffering
because of their faith in Christ will show them worthy of His soon-to-be-revealed
kingdom for which they suffer (v. 5, 7).
B. With respect to their persecutors, God was also producing "manifest
evidence" of His righteousness in repaying "with tribulation" those
who "trouble" the saints (vv. 6, 8).
C. This will all happen on the Day when Jesus returns (vv. 9-10).
1. The wicked will be punished with everlasting destruction
from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.
2. The Lord will be glorified in His saints and admired among
all those who believe.
3. This will all be because the testimony of the apostles was
believed among them.
D. An unbelieving farmer once mocked a Christian farmer, saying
that God must not reward His servants very well. The unbeliever was
prosperous and healthy, while the Christian farmer was not. The Christian
farmer replied, "God doesn't always pay His servants in September."
The rewards for faithfulness may come later; but they are definitely
III. PAUL ENCOURAGED THEM WITH HIS CONTINUED PRAYERS FOR THEM IN
THE MIDST OF THEIR TRIALS (vv. 11-12).
Because of these things, Paul encouraged the believers that he was always
praying for them:
A. That God would count them worthy of this calling. There
wasn't a question that they were; but rather, it was Paul's prayer for
the endurance of their faith to the very end. The visible proof of their
worthiness would be their perseverance.
B. That God would fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness
in them. That is, that God would fully accomplish all that He was
seeking to do in them through their trials.
C. That God would also fulfill the work of faith (their faith) with
power. That is, that God would prove the validity of their faith by
acting powerfully in their behalf.
D. That the name of the Lord Jesus would be glorified in them -
and they in Him - according to the grace of God through Christ. Paul
does not pray that they would be relieved; but that God would be glorified
in them! What great things to pray for those who suffer for Christ's