Today you should read: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
When stepping into a new Bible book it’s always helpful to remind ourselves of the context and flow. Check out the Bible Project summary here.
2nd Thessalonians 1 packs a whole lot into relatively few verses. Paul begins the body of the letter by telling the Thessalonians how he brags on them for their faithfulness in suffering (4). Paul clearly states that their suffering will be repaid to those who are the cause of that affliction while they will receive rest (6–7).
The wicked oppressors will face the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (9). We commonly call Hell the place where that happens—eternal destruction away from God’s glory and presence. We understand from this passage and others that the destruction is eternal; meaning a person/soul is not destroyed in a final annihilation sense, but in a continual painful process that never ends. The destruction itself is eternal.
As bad as Hell will be for those who never accept Christ, an eternity with Christ will be that much better (Rom 8:18). Paul said that he rejoices because “our testimony to you was believed.” Understanding the truth about who Christ is and what He accomplished begins by trusting in the Word that tells us that information. We must believe and trust that Paul and the others’ testimony recorded in Scripture. On the backside of salvation, we can look to our experience in a personal relationship with Jesus, but even that is grounded in the truth of the revelation recorded by the apostles and prophets. We do not worship Christ apart from the Word. So, in that sense, this is an incredibly important and powerful detail. One day we will marvel when Christ comes to be glorified in His saints.
Eternal punishment and eternal reward are an incredible aspect of our faith. In Christ, we need not fear Hell. Likewise, if what excites you most about Heaven isn’t a closer relationship with Jesus, you might reconsider the content of your hope. As we see in this passage it is right to hope for a day when suffering will end, but our glory and our hope is in the Servant who Suffered, not the escape of suffering.
I don’t know about you, but reading this passage, I think of those who do not know Christ and how much they need Him. May we, like Paul, share faithfully and prayerfully that our testimony is believed. Living for Him and living in light of the Gospel, may Paul’s prayer be true of us that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate
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