October 19, 2011

Thursday after the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Thursday after the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps.27, 1 Kings 16:29, 2 Thess. 2:13-3:5
Evening - Ps. 31, Job 10:1-18, Mt. 13:1-23

Commentary
2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5

Doom and destruction await the man of sin and all who reject the Gospel of salvation in Christ alone (2:10-12). What a contrast this is to the state of those who believe in Christ unto salvation. We may tremble for those who do not believe, but we, like Paul give thanks for those chosen for salvation (2:13-14). We give thanks that we are sanctified by the Spirit and enabled to believe the truth. We know we were called into this grace by the proclamation of the Gospel. Note that Paul calls it "our Gospel" (2:14). He does not mean it belongs to him, or that he made it up. He means it is the Gospel Christ gave to the Church through the Apostles, and which Paul and the other Apostles preach and teach. It is what is often called the "Apostolic Faith."

Paul's desired outcome of enduring hardship and persecution to preach the Apostolic Faith is that those who receive it will continue in it until the Lord receives them into Heaven forever. Thus, he encourages the Thessalonians to "stand fast," a military term meaning to stand your ground in the face of enemy attack (2:15). They are to "hold" or embrace the "tradition which ye have been taught." This is not the tradition of men which the Pharisees produced and followed in preference to the Scriptures. It is the Gospel and the knowledge of Christ given by Christ through the Apostles. At the time of Paul's writing, it is probable that the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John, had not been written. So the Church relied on the testimony of the Apostles as guided by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:12 and 13). During their ministry it is likely that the Apostles began to write some things down, and as they aged, they compiled the Gospel accounts. But only the Gospel of Peter, known to us as "Mark" because Mark wrote it as Peter dictated it, existed, at the time Paul wrote 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and the Thessalonians did not have a copy.

More of the joy of the Christian, as opposed to the doom of the unbeliever, is expressed through a benediction found in verses 16 and 17. It is basically a prayer that all the good things Christ died and rose again to procure for His people, would be given in abundance. to the Thessalonians. These are the things that will comfort their hearts; things like faith, hope, assurance that they are in Christ and that His promise of forgiveness and Heaven will not fail. Having this comfort, Paul prays that they will be established in every good word and work.

In 3:1-2 Paul asks the people to pray for him. He asks that the word of the Lord, the Gospel, would have "free course, and be glorified." "Free course" means to run free, to be unhampered so it may go where it will. Paul is asking that it will not be hampered by him, either by his own human frailties, nor by the persecution he faces for it. He is asking that persecution and trials would not stop him from proclaiming the Gospel. That the Gospel would be "glorified" means that people will receive it in faith and become followers of Christ: that they will recognise it as the word of God, as the truth, and will honour it in their lives and in their hearts, regardless of opposition, persecution, or cost.

His confidence is not in people, but in the Lord (3:4). The Lord is faithful and will establish them in the faith, keep them from evil and enable them to do what Paul commands them as their Apostle and pastor in the Lord.

The last phrase of verse 5 is important in the context of the earlier discussion of the Return of Christ. Paul prays for them to be directed "into the patient waiting for Christ." He asks them not to become distracted from the daily Christian life and their regular duties in this world, by a constant preoccupation with the time of the Lord's Return. They are to look for His Return. They are to live in anticipation of it. They are even to pray for it, "Thy kingdom come." And they are to be patient, tending to the business of being God's Church on earth until that Day arrives.

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