2 Thessalonians 1 - May The LORD Turn His Face...
Take a moment to appreciate God's blessing by considering His curse.
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2 Thessalonians 1 (ESV)
1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church
of the Thessalonians
God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Grace to you and peace
God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right,
your faith is growing abundantly,
and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
4 Therefore we ourselves
boast about you
in the churches of God
for your steadfastness and faith
in all your persecutions
and in the afflictions that you are enduring.
5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God,
that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—
6 since indeed God considers it just
to repay with affliction those who afflict you,
7 and to grant relief
to you who are afflicted
as well as to us,
when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
11 To this end
we always pray for you,
that our God
may make you worthy of his calling
and may fulfill
every resolve for good
and every work of faith
by his power,
12 so that
the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you,
and you in him,
according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
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2 Thessalonians 1 Summary
Paul opens this second letter in almost the same exact manner he did with the first: by acknowledging how their faith, hope and love is producing tangible results that inspire other communities of Christians. Verse 3-4 contains a useful test you can apply to yourself:
Is your faith growing?
Is the love you have for fellow Christians increasing?
Is the hope that comes from your faith and love building up strong perseverance for the trials to come?
When we talk or think about God, we're almost always focused upon His goodness, His love and His providence in our lives. Certainly God's grace, mercy and peace are good things to focus on!
But v5-10 turn our attention to an aspect we probably don't focus on enough: the righteous judgment of God. Those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel face a fearsome future:
They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord... (v9)
Literally translated, Hell will be a place where God turns His face against those there.
The great theologian and preacher RC Sproul describes this as the reverse benediction, contrasting it with the familiar blessing given in Numbers 6:24-26:
The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.
Sproul uses this passage from 2 Thessalonians 1 and others like it to communicate the horror of God's curse upon those who do not turn to Christ:
May the LORD curse you and abandon you;
May the LORD turn His face from you and keep you in darkness and judgment;
May the LORD turn His face away from you and remove His peace from you.
As you pause from your normal work and activities for a time of thanksgiving, be sure to thank God for bathing you in the righteousness of Christ so that He could once again turn His face towards you a give you peace.