2 Thessalonians 1 What would Paul give thanks for?
If Paul was alive today, and knew us as a church, what would he give thanks for? He thanks God (v3) for two things in the church in Thessalonica: their faith (trust and loyalty towards God) was growing, like a flourishing plant; and their love (commitment and concern towards each other) was increasing and overflowing (see 1 Thes. 3:12 – Paul’s prayer was being answered).
He also boasts to other churches about the perseverance and faith of the Christians in Thessalonica. They are going through difficult times, enduring persecutions and trials (v4), suffering for the kingdom of God (v5), and facing trouble (v6). Paul is impressed with how well they are coping with all this, and sees it as evidence that they are truly God’s people. He refers (v7) to the day when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. This glorious and marvellous day (v10) will bring relief and salvation to God’s people, but for those who those who do not know God and refuse to obey the gospel of Christ, this day will bring everlasting destruction, and they will be forever shut out from the presence of the Lord, who is in himself the source of all light, life and goodness. Those who refuse to submit to God in this life will be punished in the next – a dreadful and sobering reality that should drive us to our knees in prayer.
According to v11, the return of Jesus is a stimulus to our praying. When we’re praying for one another, the thought of the wonderful things God has in store should encourage us in our praying, that we may be counted worthy – that we should seek to the best of our ability, depending on the help of his Holy Spirit, to live up to our calling. Paul always prays with eternity in mind. Obviously it’s right that we should pray about the concerns, pressures and opportunities of this life, but we should always do so from the perspective and priorities of the next life.
What drove and motivated Paul in his praying for others? Why did he pray for them as he did? He was driven by a burning desire that the name of Jesus should be glorified in the lives of those for whom he prayed. Paul wanted everyone and everything to see and know how great, marvellous and gracious Jesus is. How will people see that? By looking at his people and seeing how we live in faith, love and perseverance. God’s glory is displayed not only in the heavens, but also in his people – including those who make up Gateway Church! May God help us to grow in our faith, increase in our love, and persevere through these difficult and troubling days.