If anything, the persecution of the church in Thessalonica has increased since the last letter; yes, this seems certain. Paul’s writings here, after the initial opening, seem to place even more urgency on the situation as he tries to keep the people focused on the thing that is most important of all: their faith.
He begins in verses 3-7 by letting them know that they are held in very high esteem by all of the brethren for their steadfastness in persecution, that they are a model to all other churches. Then, he brings in another element to the discussion, God’s good judgment. God, it would seem, was of the opinion that they were not being given any more than they were able to handle, and that this has been borne out by the fact that they have almost profited by their ordeal, as their faith and love appear to have actually increased through trials. The result of all this is that they will remain firm until the end, when they will receive ample reward. (4-5)
Next, Paul introduces a new idea: Those who have persecuted the church will be sorry for what they have done when the time comes. Verses 6-10 tell of the day when Jesus returns; He will return for judgment. Those who have refused to follow God, those who have caused the faithful to suffer, will be met with judgment and everlasting destruction. Those who have been faithful will have relief and remain in His presence forever. Thus, Paul is seeking to encourage them by letting them know that their plight is known to God, and that He will deliver all of those who are oppressed for His sake; their future is so bright as to make their present difficulties worth the effort.
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this 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
It is important that we read these verses carefully, for they contain insight that is easy to pass right over. In particular, note these words: “and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.” Paul is praying for this, that God will provide their every desire for goodness, and every deed prompted by faith. He isn’t asking God to take away their trial, or grant their every wish, he’s asking for God to provide everything they need to give Him glory through their trial. Once again, to me at least, this doesn’t sound like a modern-day prayer, for Paul is giving God’s will the priority, not human will. Surely, those people would prefer for the trial to go away, wouldn’t you? Yet it would appear that there is a much larger battle going on in Thessalonica, a battle for the souls of men and women everywhere, for all time.
I’d like to share a theory with you, and naturally, you are free to discard it if you don’t find it useful to aid your understanding; fair enough?
Jesus Messiah came, and Satan opposed Him with everything at his disposal, and finally was able to have Him killed, and in so doing, Old Satan stepped right into a trap. I would imagine that round about the time of the resurrection, or at the latest at Pentecost, he recognized that Christ’s Kingdom, indwelt by the Holy Spirit spreading across the planet was his worst nightmare, and thus almost immediately, he launched an all-out frontal attack against it. He used everything he could muster to try and destroy the fledgling Kingdom, concentrating his strength in the power and might of the Romans. Those good brothers and sisters of ours in Thessalonica found themselves under attack on the front lines of this assault, as did others in various places over the next one or two hundred years.
God, thinking for the long term, did not directly intervene to take away the attack, remember that His most notable attribute is restraint, not the unlimited exercise of His awesome power. Instead, God provided those people the spiritual resources that would be necessary for them to not only survive this attack, but to actually grow and prosper spiritually while it continued, for the time had not yet come for Jesus to return. The more Satan tried to destroy the church, the more it grew, and eventually, Satan was forced to change his tactics. Even though the battle rages on, the result of God’s strategy is that literally billions more people became part of God’s Kingdom, including you and me.
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