Wow indeed 2 Thessalonians. You have proven to be a very testing book. You started off with eschatology! You finished up with clear instruction on church discipline.
2 Thessalonians has really stretched my faithfulness and love for scripture. I’ve prayed throughout the book seeking the deeper meaning and I’ve concluded with a bitter sweet taste in my mouth. Our God is a faithful God. The truth is that he wants to bless us! Will we be faithful to him and do things his way instead of our own? Do we really believe that his will for us is better than our own?
☆ 1:3 Paul eludes that it is thanks worthy because – your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. I think this is an important note. I think the word growing is eternally branded on my heart as a do or die activity. To really love in it – we need to practice humility.
A child has no problem with the word growing – in fact they like it! They mark their height on the wall and they are excited about growing out of shoes and clothes – because it is reveals just how much they are growing. When you are a child you do a lot of physical growth and you can see your growth in inches every month. Adults have a much harder time with the implications of growth. I child might grow much in the physical, but it really doesn’t require a lot of effort, and the goal is obvious – adulthood. But when an adult is told to grow, this implies great effort. For an adult to grow physically it will require great effort in weight training and the like. To grow in character will require the same amount of effort. Just as the child grows without effort, there is also no need for outside assistance, their growth is apart of their natural action. But for an adult to grow physically outside assistance is mandatory. And here is the scary part – we do not need outside assistance just for the growth action (supplement, etc.) we need outside assistance for resistance. I think the same applies spiritually.
When we are consciously making an effort to grow we pray for two things. 1) Suppliment (suplication). We need the Holy Spirit to supply what we lack, which in essence, is everything. 2) Resistance! The scary one. We may not consciously pray for resistance “Father send me affliction”. However, our prays will inevitably bring affliction! “Father, give me patience” translates to “Father give me opportunity to use the patience given me through the Holy Spirit”. “Father, I want to grow in mercy” translates to “”Father give me opportunity to use the mercy given me through the Holy Spirit”. “Father give me strength to endure this test” translates to “Father, I am currently under the resistance you have permitted – please supplement me with strength through the Holy Spirit.
☆ 1:5-12 I’ve had a really hard time with this passage. I’ve pretty much spent my entire week just reading it over and trying to draw something out of it. I am even getting a sense now that there is something there that I am just not seeing, for whatever purpose God has. I’m feeling like, for the meantime, he is keeping the veil down over this passage. I know God knows me and he loves me and he wants good for me – so I’m not to worried about it.
☆ 1:8-9 A very forward verse that states the necessary obedience to the gospel. The gospel is to be obeyed, and disobedience results in eternal destruction by fire. This is the best verse that I’ve noticed so far in my studies that really puts the pressure on for beleive – or else! I think that the beleive or else motivator can be over used easily – but it’s good to see that it is biblical. By which I mean – It’s true! If you don’t believe, things are going to be very bad for you. It’s a reality that can’t be ignored.
☆ 2:1-12 Changing gears quite a bit from the theme of the last couple of letters. This starts going into eschatology pretty quickly. Early chapter two is rectifying suspicions that the Day of the Lord has already come. Paul goes on to explain why and how that’s not true – and some things to look out for that have to happen before the Day of the Lord. The issue that he brings up is the coming of the rebellion/lawless one: One who claims his own deity, a god above all gods, takes his seat in the temple of God, and even says that he is God. In this verse I found it passage interesting that the rebellion is by the activity of Satan and with all power, false signs, and wonders. Pretty amazing. for the first time in a long time (probably since the peak of modernism) a man is going to come and work miracles and say that he is God. People will believe him, because of all his miracles. They might even say to the Christians – “well our God performs miracles, what does your God do?” in mock and spite.
☆2:10-11 At first, this was a hard text. Particularly where the phrase strong delusion is used. My first instinctive question was “well isn’t that unfair?”. Unfair that God would send delusions to people so that they wouldn’t believe. Taking a second look at the verse I noticed something. Before God sends the strong delusion – first, the subject has already refused to love the truth. So, God sends strong delusions to the one who has already heard the truth and [inwardly] rejected it.
Notice that it doesn’t say , those who refuse to believe the truth – it says those who refuse to love the truth.
ON my third look, I paid more attention to the context. Looking at verse 9 I noticed by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs, and wonders, the strong delusions, might be what’s needed to elevate the false signs to actual evidence in the eyes of those who haven’t loved the truth. The strong delusions to those who haven’t loved the truth, could be the believing of false signs.
☆ 2:15 Interesting use of that Paul asks the congregation to keep their traditions. To a post modern, second gen christian like me, this is a tough word to swallow. The word tradition has almost become a swear word to the youth of the church because it has become something representing lifelessness. A tradition as I have known it, is something that people do, because that’s just what everyone does… Sounds pretty pagan to me. So what is Paul saying that requires me to see beyond my tradition paradigm.
In a class on historical theology, I’ve learned that tradition can be good AND was quite necessary in the early church. Without easily accessed bible and with only a handful of congregants having the ability to read, tradition was the result of orthodox (true) doctrines ruling over the people from the pulpit or elders, and the people willfully submitting in obedience to the source of the doctrine being an apostle and ultimately – God, the Holy Spirit. Congregants were unable to accurately check the traditions themselves to see if they were in line with scripture, therefore they relied on what was communicated to them via their elders.
☆ 3:3 This is a great encouragement. The Lord is faithful! It really is something to get excited about!
☆ 3:6-15 This passage is very to the point. In summary it says laziness and Christianity don’t mix! If somebody is lazy, don’t let them get away with it, it’s a serious offense. Love the culprit, admonish him clearly and firmly, and in love warn him as a brother. It’s actually a pretty tough passage because it asks us to keep away, from the brother who does that. I am getting uncomfortable just thinking about it. Let’s say I was the culprit; that means my brothers would have to avoid me to show me that what I’m doing is not okay. Surely it would be more comfortable for those who love me to just issue me with a warning “dude, you’re lazy. You gotta stop!”. But the the Holy Spirit dictates that the way to deal with laziness is to dis-associate. Wow.