2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5
Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Brethren, 13-14
Because He is Obligated to God
Paul gives thanks for the brethren at Thessalonica once again (1:3) He tells them these prayers are out of a sense of obligation to show gratitude to God. “We are bound to give thanks to God always for you” (2:13a). Paul gives several reasons why he feels the need to give thanks to God. It is not what they have been able to accomplish of themselves, but what God has been doing for them.
Because They are Loved by God
Paul describes them as “brethren beloved by the Lord” (2:13b). God and Christ have both loved them while they were still sinners (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8). Love is a reoccurring theme throughout both letters, but in particular Paul reminds them of Divine love more than one in this section. When brethren are facing trials it is comforting to be reminded of God’s continual unconditional love.
Because They are Chosen by God
The main motive for the continual thanks of the apostles is given. “Because God from the beginning chose you for salvation” (2:13c). Love alone does not save man from sins. God must choose those who are to be saved. Not all men who are loved will be saved. The choice is not out of chance or a result of prejudice on the part of God. He is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). He had chosen to save those who are in Christ (Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3-5). The term “beginning” points to the day they were baptized into Christ.
Because They are Sanctified by God
This choice to save those whom God loves in Christ is “through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2:13d). This choice could not have happened until they were made holy by the work of the Holy Spirit. How does the Holy Spirit bring sanctification to the lost sinner? Jesus said, ”sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John. 17:17). Without belief in the truth one can not be made holy by the Holy Spirit revealed Word of Truth. This is the truth rejected by those who are perishing in verse ten of this chapter.
Because They are Called by God
Paul tells the Thessalonians they came to be saved because God “called you by our gospel” (2:14a). It is not Paul’s or Timothy’s Good News, but the Truth God sent them to preach to the lost of the city. God called them to salvation through the preaching of the Gospel by Paul and others. This Gospel is the Holy Spirit revealed truth. When they believed it, they were made holy, sanctified or set apart to God who planned for all who are in Christ to be saved.
Because They are Glorified by God
Many men seek self-glorification in this life through educational, financial, athletic, etc. pursuits. Man due to his sin has no glory (Rom. 3:23). However, when a sinner finds salvation through obedience of the Gospel, he shares in the glory of Christ. This is the ultimate result of being saved: “for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2:14b).
Prayer Requests FOR the Brethren, 15-17
œ Prayer For Them to Stand Firm on the Truth From God
With the word “therefore” Paul introduce his desire to see these brethren to “stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught” (2:15a). This language pictures a guard or soldier who stands his ground while firmly gripping his weapon. He will not be run off from the traditions. The term “traditions” has a very negative connotation to many. Often one thinks of the man-made traditions of the Pharisees where were handed down to them from generation to generation (Mark 7:8,9). Yet Paul tells us the source of these traditions: “whether by word or our epistle” (2:15). These “traditions” are the truths of the Gospel preached or written into the letters by Paul (1 Cor. 11:2). Such are not the traditions from men, but traditions handed down to man from inspired men like Paul.
œ Prayer For Them to Have Love From God
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us” (2:16a). Again, Paul reminds them of the love of both the Father and the Savior.
œ Prayer For Them to Have Consolation From God
Additionally, Paul is praying that God may give them other blessings coming from both the Son and the Father. In addition to God loving them, Paul adds “and given us everlasting consolation” (2:16b). The context shows this never ending and ever enduring comfort or encouragement to be a gift of God’s grace. This is something God is already doing which he desires them to remember.
œ Prayer For Them To Have Hope From God
The third blessing from both God and Jesus is “good hope by grace” (2:16c). Hope is good because it comes from God who is both good and faithful to keeps His promises.
œ Prayer For Them to Have Comfort From God
Next, Paul makes the specific requests for God to “comfort your hearts” (2:17a). Their hearts may have been hurting from the false teaching that they had missed the second coming.
œ Prayer For Them to Be Established From God
Paul’s final request for the Thessalonians is that God would “establish you in every good word and work” (2:17b). They needed to be strong in and made strong by every edifying word and righteous deed done by others and themselves.
Prayer Requests OF the Brethren, 3:1-2
¡ The Brethren Should Pray for The Preaching of the Word
When Paul says “finally, brethren” he does not mean the same thing as the preacher who says at the end of his sermon: “in conclusion.” So do not put up your Bibles and grab your song books. Instead, Paul is introducing a new topic for their consideration He has been praying always for them and now requests these brethren would “pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you” (3:1). In his previous letter Paul already commanded them to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Now, the apostle asked them to pray for him and his companions. First, they could pray about the continual and universal spreading of the Gospel to the lost. Just as it was well received by them and by the fair-minded Beareans (Acts 17:11), so they should pray that others will be as open to its message of salvation. Paul would request in a letter to the church at Colossae that they pray for God to open doors of opportunity for the reception of the Gospel (Col. 4:2-4). The other aspect of this request is that the Word be honored as others will hear, examine, and obey it.
¡ The Brethren Should Pray for the Preacher’s Deliverance From Evil
Paul knew he needed the prayers of fellow saints to accomplish his God-given duties. His second prayer requests is “that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith” (3:2). They knew all too well the struggles of Paul with the Jews at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea (Acts 16:25f; 17:6-8,12f). Paul did not have in mind unfaithful brethren, but those who did not believe the Gospel. The character of these men is that they could not be reasoned with and they were openly hostile.
Prayer Requests ABOUT the Brethren, 3:3-5
▸ May They Be Protected
Even if there are evil men in this world who try to hinder Paul and the brethren “the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one” (3:3). The opposition to the Gospel is ultimately the Devil. God is able to help the saints fight off Satan. They could put their trust in him because He has been able to defeat the Devil even while being tempted in the flesh (Matt. 4:1-11). With God’s help every Christian can be strong enough to withstand the attacks of the Devil (Eph. 6:10-18) and they will be well protected by God who will not allow any saints to be tempted and tested beyond what they are able to handle (1 Cor. 10:13).
▸ May They Be Obedient
“And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you” (3:4). Paul is not expressing here confidence in the brethren, but in God who has helped and will continue to assist them. Their continued obedience is to the commandments given by Paul and his companions. This is looking forward to the coming commands concerning church discipline starting in verse six. The term “command” is a military term. Jesus “the captain of our salvation” has commanded his officers, the apostles and prophets, to relay this command to the saints. To disobey Paul’s command is in reality disobeying the Lord’s. “No one is to issue commands except those who have authority to do so, and when they are received they are to be treated as authoritative commands and not as mere suggestions or requests. Facts are to be believed, promises are to be enjoyed, but commands are to be obeyed (Weaver 558).
▸ May They Be Loved
Once again Paul reminds them they are loved of God. “Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God” (3:5a). Perhaps, this could refer to their love for God. The term “direct” means to clear a path or road for easy travel. In this case God can make it easy for them to either understand and receive His love or make it easy for them to love Him. John wrote, “for this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). It is best in this context to understand they are to gain greater acceptance of God’s love for them.
▸ May They Be Patient
In order for the Thessalonian brethren to endure persecution, stand firm on the truth about the Day of the Lord, and to fulfill the difficult commandment to disciplining the unruly, they would need “the patience of Christ” (3:5b). Perhaps, instead of “patience” the term perseverance of Christ would be best. Christ was able to do the will of the Father even when it meant crucifixion. If all the saints had that kind of perseverance no command or persecution would be able to move them away from the Truth.
– Daniel R. Vess