In Paul’s second letter, he again gives thanks for things that have improved since his first letter – their faith is growing abundantly and their love is increasing and steadfastness continuing in affliction. In 1 Thessalonians he thanked the Lord for their work of faith, labour of love, and steadfastness of hope.
They are suffering under persecution and affliction, so Paul tells them a little about the judgement that will happen in the coming age, after Jesus returns.
They have nothing to fear because of their faith and love of the Lord! Their names are in the Lamb’s book of life, so they won’t be judged for sin. They will be considered worthy in the kingdom – judgement is about repayment, v.6, relief, v.7, and punishment for those who have been persecuting them, v.9.
Punishment consists of eternal destruction – which hints at annihilation rather than ongoing punishment, although there are other passages that talk of hell being ongoing. That destruction is being away from the presence of the Lord. Hell is permanent separation from the presence of God.
Judgement for the believer is about our inheritance, not whether we get into heaven or not. That is sure – eternal life guaranteed by saving faith. This is about the ‘well done good and faithful servant’. The reward for works of faith, labour of love and steadfastness in hope. God sees what we have done with the favour He has given us and rewards it.
Keep pressing on, not working for favour, but from it! Keep on with the labour of love, the works of faith and being steadfast in hope.