2 Thessalonians 1

1 This letter appears to have been written shortly after the first one. In it, Paul addresses three specific areas. The first being the continued persecution of the church, the second concerned a report that the Rapture had already happened, and the third was directed at those who had become idle.

Paul indicates that Silas and Timothy were writing the letter with him, as they did with the first letter, and that it was to the church of Thessalonica. He reminds them that they are in God and that He is their Father. Christians have a "kinship" with God and one another because of our adoption into His family. Christians are to show, at the minimum, an ideal family type of love and concern. He also reminds them that they have a Lord (or Ruler) in Jesus. Jesus is the King of His people, and He deserves respect and obedience.

2 Because of the work that Jesus did by dieing on the cross, Christians have attained the grace (unmerited favor) from God. Jesus died for sins, which allows anyone to be reconciled with God who believes in Him. Through this reconciliation process we gain peace with God. As Paul does, we should remind each other of these things.
3 Paul commends the Thessalonians for their continued growth in the faith, and even expresses it as an obligation. How could he not give thanks for them? Their primary area of improvement has been in their love for one another. Paul was particularly thankful that God had been able to effectively work through him to start a church like this. It gave him great joy to see its continued progress.
4 Paul did not hesitate to use the Thessalonian church as a model for others. Despite persecution and hardships, the church was flourishing and had a positive reputation. Undoubtedly, knowledge of this would have encouraged the Thessalonians to continue improving.
5 Paul took the perseverance and faith of the Thessalonians as evidence that they would be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God. Christians are saved by grace through Jesus, of course, and our perseverance through trials and temptations confirms it. Some might feel that Christian suffering is a sign of God neglecting His children. Instead, it is part of His righteous judgment. Allowing Christians to suffer confirms the depth of their convictions, builds godly character, and makes a distinction between them and the ungodly world around them.

Paul implies that their suffering has a positive effect for the Kingdom of God. It can cause the Christian community to bind closer together, become more focused on Christ, and build the character of the individuals. All of these make the Church stronger. It can also pique the curiosity of some who might want to know why Christians would willingly suffer for their faith. The truth of the Gospel demonstrated through the convictions of its followers will encourage some who do not know God to seek and find Him.

6 Paul assures them first that those who persist in persecution will be punished. Verse 8 indicates that this punishment will be for those who never turn to Christ. Remember that Paul had persecuted the Church before Christ called him, so he knew it was possible for persecutors to become advocates.

This verse is not so much to make Christians "happy" that their enemies will be punished as to assure them that God does see what is happening and will bring about justice. Perhaps it should also invoke a special concern towards those who make it very obvious that they reject what God has revealed.

7 Paul also assures them that they will find relief, but the implication is that it will not come until Jesus returns. Even though the missionaries were not with them during the persecution, they were very familiar with it, and also longed for relief. So while persecution continues, the Christian is to have a proper perspective of it.
8 One of Jesus' objectives when He returns is to punish those who have rejected establishing a good relationship with Him as declared in the Gospel.
9 Those who persist in ignorance of or disobedience to God evidence themselves as His enemies, and they will pay the penalty. Some people think this verse speaks of annihilation, but the idea is of eternal ruin, not the extinguishing of being (see Acts 24:15). The eternal destruction of rebellious people will take place in hell where they will never again have the chance to fulfill their true purpose in life, which is to have a loving relationship with God.

There are several places in the Bible where hell is described. It is couched in terms of fire, darkness, and pain. Several have questioned the validity of such statements supposing that they are merely symbolic or hyperbole. However, the reality of what hell will be like is probably worse than what can be conveyed by words. The key to defining what hell is, is determining what hell does not have. This verse makes it clear that what hell will lack is the presence of God. We only need to look at some of the characteristics of God to see the significance of this. God is love (1 John 4:16) and every good thing comes from God (James 1:17). To be separated from Him means to be separated from everything that can be considered loving and good. Even though this world is infected with sin, God still blesses everyone to various degrees (Psa 145:9, Mat 5:45, Acts 14:17), and these good things mitigate the hardships of life. Those who choose to live apart from Him in this life on earth will find that they will not only continue in separation from Him forever, but His blessings as well.

10 The believer, however, will marvel at Jesus when He comes. We recognize His majesty now, but we cannot possibly imagine the extent of His glorious power and grace towards us until we see it. We have a loving relationship now, but then we will have a fulfilled relationship that will not be hindered any longer by sin.

God will be glorified and vindicated Himself by proving to all His created beings, whether they are with or against Him, that He is able to redeem and transform sinful people to make them fit to stand in His presence. He is glorified by His work in Christians and our positive response to Him.

11 So it is because of the future hope of heaven that Paul prayed for and encouraged the Thessalonians to live right before God. Christians have been called to lives of righteousness, and we need to work diligently to do so. The Holy Spirit in our hearts gives us both the desire and the power to do every work that our faith calls us to.
12 The "name" of Jesus refers to every aspect of who He is.

Only His grace makes us fit for heaven, and our work is a testimony to this. Therefore, our work glorifies Jesus, not ourselves. Jesus glorifies us by granting us access to heaven, and we glorify Him by our faith and love in word and action for Him.