2 Thessalonians 1:4 – 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.
For the Apostle Paul to sit down, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to write a book of the Bible means that a genuine need for the church existed, and that he loved God’s people so dearly that he would do most anything to love and lead them.
There are four primary reasons why Paul writes his second letter to the church at Thessalonica.
- Persecution. The new Christians in the church were experiencing ongoing and escalating persecution, “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” (2 Thessalonians 1:4). Like every age, the suffering came from non-Christians, including both pagans and religious people (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). The persecution was mentioned in the first letter (1 Thessalonians 1:6, 2:14, 3:3) but time only made matters worse. Anytime God is doing ministry, you can expect Satan to be doing anti-ministry.
In the West, this kind of opposition exists on every front as Christians are fighting to keep their churches open and speech free, are seeing employment at companies becoming increasingly hostile to traditional values, and find themselves constantly berated in mainstream news, social media platforms, and political decisions. Suffering and persecution can be confusing for believers, especially those new to the faith, because they believe that God is powerful and good, yet they must go through hardship without God removing it altogether.
- False Teaching. Like most new Christians, these believers were not yet discerning and more susceptible to false teaching, especially if they claimed to be agreeing with Paul, who became their spiritual father by preaching the gospel and planting the church before having to leave town following a riot that threatened his life (Acts 17:1-9). In the ancient Roman version of fake news, these false teachers wrote a document that was a complete forgery that claimed to be another letter from Paul to be read in the church (2 Thessalonians 2:2). Paul flatly denounces and rebukes these liars saying in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, “Let no one deceive you in any way.”
- Confusion. The new Christians were confused about Jesus’ Second Coming and, like most young believers, had a lot of questions about the end times (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). Like many new Christians, they wondered what happened to believers who died before the resurrection, when Jesus would return, what the signs of His coming would be, and what Heaven and Hell would be like.
- Laziness. Some people in the church were lazy, refused to work, and expected the other believers to pay their bills and meet their needs (2 Thessalonians 4:11-12). Paul addressed this sin in the first letter, but apparently the sluggards had not yet found a job and started paying their own bills (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). Sadly, there are some in every age, including our own, who seek to take advantage of the love and generosity of Christians. These moochers burden believers to house them, feed them, pay their bills, and meet their needs simply because they don’t like to work and wrongly make others feel obligated to care for them and guilty if they do not.
These issues within society and the Church sound pretty familiar in our day as the Bible is both timeless and timely.
Where have you seen persecution, false teaching, confusion, or laziness in the church? If you’re part of a Bible teaching church, thank God for your pastor and church. If you’re not, we’d love to help you find one if you send us an email to [email protected].
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