12 August, 2022

July 24 | Be Strong Through Trials

by | 18 July, 2022

Unit: 1 & 2 Thessalonians
Theme: Walk Worthy
Lesson Text: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
Supplemental Text: Romans 5:1-5; James 1:2-4
Aim: Persevere so you may be counted worthy.

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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the Study by Mark Scott, Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions by Micah Odor): LOOKOUT_July 24_2022.

Send an email to cs@christianstandardmedia.com to receive PDFs of the lesson material each month.

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By Mark Scott

Jesus’ half-brother James gave inspired advice about how to be strong through trials. His advice was to have the right attitude of joy and to ask God in prayer for wisdom (James 1:2-5). Paul gave the Thessalonians additional inspired advice about how to be strong through trials. It had to do with growing in faith and love, recognizing God’s judgment, and constantly praying.  

We enter the second Epistle to the Thessalonians in this lesson. A poor understanding about the future evidently continued to plague the church. Some people in the church were confused about the nature of God’s judgment (chapter 1), some were confused about how the evil forces leveled against the church would play out (chapter 2), and some were given to sloth—evidently wondering why work was even necessary since Jesus was returning (chapter 3). Their worthy walk in the Lord was being compromised by wrongheaded thinking. 

Faith and Love Help Us Be Strong Through Trials  
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4 

Paul gave a typical salutation in the first two verses. (Still, this greeting was deeper, richer, and sweeter than the typical salutation of first-century letter writing, which usually consisted of “Greetings.”) Paul’s greeting was filled with theology (grace and peace) and two members of the trinity (God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ). 

Paul also gave a typical thanksgiving for the church (vv. 3-4). One thing is missing, though, from his typical triad of Christian virtues. He spoke of faith and love but not hope. Is that a clue to part of the Thessalonians’ problems? Sometimes what is missing is as important as what is included (see William G. Doty’s Letters in Primitive Christianity).  

Paul thanked (the word for the English “eucharist”) God for them. The reasons were simple and obvious. Their faith was growing (hyper-flourishing) and their love was increasing (“more than enough”; it is the normal word for “coveting”). Paul did not mind boasting (glorying or exulting) about their perseverance (“remaining strong under”) and their faith during their persecutions and trials.  

God’s Judgment Helps Us Be Strong Through Trials  
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 

The heading sounds strange at first pass. God’s wrath is a help? Yes! Knowing that right will be vindicated and wrong will be eradicated does bring comfort to God’s people. It helps them stay in the fight. All this is evidence (proof) that God’s judgment is right (proper or fitting; cf. Romans 3:4). These believers who were standing up under great suffering would be counted worthy by God (mentioned twice in the text).  

God’s judgment (justness) is twofold: to reward believers and pay back unbelievers.  

Believers will experience four things from this God of justice: (1) vindication from people who had troubled (pressed in) on them; (2) relief (rest) from their oppressors; (3) glorification with Jesus when he comes; and (4) sharing in the privilege of marveling at Jesus when he returns.  

Unbelievers will also experience four things from this God of justice: (1) they will be paid back for mistreating Christians; (2) they will be punished (vindictive justice) for not knowing God or obeying the gospel; (3) they will experience everlasting destruction (unavoidable distress and torment. Some scholars would say that since the word means to annihilate and kill that they will cease to exist, known as annihilationism—but the church at large through the centuries has not clung to that doctrine, opting instead for eternal judgment.); and (4) they will experience being shut out from the presence of the Lord.  

Jesus’ return will be glorious. He will be revealed in blazing fire (penal retribution) with his powerful angels. He will be glorified in or with his people. He will be marveled at among all those who have believed. This glorious event can sustain the most discouraged believer.  

Prayer Helps Us Be Strong Through Trials  
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 

Two nuances of prayer are mentioned in these verses. The first is that Paul prayed for the Thessalonians constantly. This is known as the ministry of intercession. Paul prayed for them to be made worthy of God’s calling on their lives. Paul also prayed that their desire to do good—and the good deeds that sprung from it—would produce fruit.  

The second is that Paul prayed for the name of Jesus to be glorified. This means his weighty presence and shining brilliance would be made famous throughout the world. It means that his good news would run and have free course in the world. When prayer sets the mind on Heaven, any trial on earth can be endured.  

Christian Standard

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