Vs. 1, 2. "Paul, Silas and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God and Christ." A true church is more than a group of people banded together for religious and social functions. A true church is the work and building of the Father in Christ. He chose us, adopts us, calls us, regenerates us and receives us in Christ (I Cor. 1:30). A local church is a part of the great body of Christ in God and in Christ (Eph. 5:25-32).
Vs. 3. "I give thanks to God for you, my brethren." All blessings come from God (James 1:17, 18). Therefore, "it is meet" (it is fitting) that we should give thanks to God, not only for the presence of faith and love but for the growth of it! Wherever the goodness of God is revealed, it is fitting for us to praise him. The welfare of our brethren ought to be so dear to us that we reckon their blessings to be our own.
Vs. 4. "We glory in you." We mention you with great rejoicing in the presence of other churches. Paul did not boast of their faith to shame other believers or to exalt his ministry, but to encourage other churches to imitate them.
He rejoiced in their patience and faith under great persecution and trial. Patience is the fruit and evidence of faith! There is nothing that will sustain us in trial but faith. The stronger our faith, the better we shall be able to endure trial and affliction. Failure under trial reveals unbelief or weakness of faith.
Vs. 5, 6. There is a twofold lesson here. God's righteous judgment is shown us u in a mirror.
1. The believer whose faith in Christ and love for the gospel bring upon him the wrath of the wicked (and this to try and prove his faith in the wisdom and purpose of God) will be exalted and glorified.
2. The wicked who prosper, who walk in pride and unbelief, having no fear of God's wrath, who mock and despise the grace of God, will be brought down (Deut. 32:35; Phil. 1:28; Ps. 73:12-22). God will set everything right, and justice will take place in his own time!
Vs. 7. "To you who are distressed and afflicted along with the rest of us." God had only one Son without sin, but none without suffering (II Tim. 3:12-14; John 16:33). Christ will come from heaven as a Redeemer to his own people and as a Judge to the whole world. Paul represents the coming of Christ as one of horror and terror for all unbelievers. He will be accompanied by his mighty angels (the angels of his majesty), who will gather the elect and cast the wicked into hell (Matt. 13:41,42; 24:31).
Vs. 8. What is to be the nature of that fire we do not know, but flame and fire are often used in the Scriptures when the anger of God is spoken of. However, two things are noted here:
1. God will vindicate his elect (Luke 18:7). Vengeance is not ours, nor are we to desire it, but rather we are to desire the good of all. Vengeance belongs to God (Rom. 12:19; Heb. 10:30).
2. God will inflict vengeance with a view to his own glory, not only for our sake! This wrath will fall upon those who know not God and believe not the gospel of Christ (John 17:3). Ignorance of God and contempt for the gospel of his Son will bring eternal wrath.
Vs. 9. This shows the nature of the punishment upon those who obey not the gospel destruction without end, undying death and eternal banishment from the presence of the Lord. The perpetuity of death is the opposite of the glory of Christ and the redeemed as the one has no end, neither does the other!
Vs. 10. He will be glorified and admired of all, but he win not have this glory only for himself individually. It will be common to all believers. He shall be glorified in them. They are looked upon as nothing, vile and worthless now, but then they will be precious, full of dignity, when Christ shall pour forth his glory upon them (Eph. 2:7). "You will be among that number because you believed our gospel."
Vs. 11, 12. "With all this in view we constantly pray for you that God will keep you from falling and grant unto you perseverance in his calling; for as the power to believe is of God, So is the sustaining power. We pray that God will fulfil his good pleasure and goodness towards you in Christ and that he will complete the work of faith which he began, so that in all things Christ may be glorified" (Phil. 1:6; I Peter 1:3-5).