Paul has written this second letter to the believers in Thessalonica to encourage them in their time of persecution and to address an attempt by a person or persons unknown to us, to deceive them into thinking that Jesus had already returned and left them behind. In this final portion of chapter 2, after his discussion of what was really going on in their midst, the larger picture of the great battle between God and Satan, he returns to encouragement. For anyone who still doubts what has been under discussion in 2:1-12, this should set the record straight, for Paul set up the context of the letter as encouragement, addressed the problem of the attempted deception, and now returns to encouragement. This is not the context of Paul delivering a section for the sole purpose of teaching eschatology and events that would happen thousands of years in the future.
In the first 2 verses, Paul expresses his thanksgiving to God for the Thessalonians, not just because they are persevering in a hard time, but because they are among the very first to respond to God’s call to salvation through the gospel. To be sure, that call was also made to their oppressors, but their oppressors refused to respond, preferring to attack God’s message in league with the one who will one day be exposed, to their everlasting shame. For those who have responded in faith to the call of the gospel, this is a glorious message.
Verse 15 comes to the main point as Paul tells them to stand firm in their faith and to hold on to all that he has taught them, whether in person or in his letters. For us, the admonition is the same today: Stand firm in your faith no matter what this world may throw at you, for you are in a glorious position through your faith in Jesus Christ. This position is so wonderful, that no trial or hardship in this life can begin to cast even so much as a shadow over it.
Verses 16-17 are Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians, that God would give them all of the strength and endurance they would need to hold firm, that God would continue to bless them by working in and through them to advance the same gospel by which they have been saved from slavery of sin and death, and into the glorious freedom that we have in Christ Jesus.
It is my hope and prayer that each one of us would take the same encouragement from our study of these things, that we would learn the lessons as Paul taught them, and that we too might come to stand firm in our faith no matter what our circumstances may be, and that in and through each one of us, God’s truth and call to repentance would shine forth in a dark world as a beacon of hope to everyone we encounter along our journey through this life as followers of our Lord Jesus Christ.