2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brothers beloved of the Lord…
I. HE THANKS GOD FOR HIS PAST MERCIES SHOWN TO THEM.
1. For their election. He turns front prophecies of coming terrors to thoughts of hope and consolation. He repeats the words of 2 Thessalonians 1:3, "We are bound to give thanks." He felt the greatness of God's mercies to the Thessalonians. Mercies shown to them were shown to him; he so dearly loved them. It was his bounden duty to thank God for them; how much more was it their duty to be thankful for the grace granted to them! God had set his love upon them; God had chosen them from the beginning. This was the source of their blessedness; not any merits, any good deeds, of theirs. All our hopes rest on the electing grace of God. That thought is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons. It was so to the Thessalonian Christians, especially at this time, when awful anticipations of the coming end were casting a dark shadow over them. That election manifests itself in holiness of life. The seal of the Spirit is the earnest, the pledge, of the heavenly inheritance. God's elect must feel within themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their minds to high and heavenly things. The sanctification of the Spirit is the sphere in which the life of election moves and energizes. And with the growth of holiness in the heart faith is ever deepened and strengthened. The working of the Spirit greatly confirms the faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ; it convinces the Christian soul with a mighty power, with the certainty of intuition, of the reality of the great truths of the gospel, so that the Christian walks in ever increasing faith, in the power of that victory which overcometh the world.
2. For the hope of glory. God had predestinated the Thessalonians to be conformed to the image of his Son; by the preaching of St. Paul he had called them to that state of salvation. They were living in a present salvation; they were looking forwards to a future glory; their high hope was the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. His glory will be the glory of his saints, for he has given it them (John 17:22). They are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. All that Christ has is theirs in hope; for Christ himself is theirs, and they are Christ's. The Christian who cherishes this high and blessed hope must live in continual thankfulness.
II. HE URGES THEM TO STEADFASTNESS.
1. In the life of faith. Stand fast, he says; fight the good fight of faith. You must do your part. God has chosen you; he has given you his Spirit; he has called you to salvation. Yet you must work out that salvation. We need not perplex ourselves with the deep mysteries which thought cannot fathom; in practice, the duty of perseverance follows from the electing grace of God. He has chosen you; persevere, for he gives you the power; be steadfast, for you owe a great debt of gratitude to him who has so greatly loved you.
2. In doctrine. Hold the traditions. St. Paul had taught the Thessalonians by word of mouth. We must remember that in all probability not one of our four Gospels was yet written. The Thessalonians knew the history of our Lord's life and death, and the doctrines of the Christian faith, only through the oral teaching of St. Paul. The First Epistle was the only part of the New Testament Scriptures known to them; probably the only part as yet in existence. St. Paul had taught orally for several years before he began to write. Oral teaching was often misunderstood, often forgotten, as this Epistle shows. But the teaching of an apostle, whether by word or by writing, was a precious deposit, for that which he delivered to his converts he had himself received of the Lord. Be it ours to continue steadfast in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship.
III. HE SUMS UP HIS HOPES IN A BENEDICTION.
1. He points them to God. The clause begins in the Greek with the emphatic αὐτός, himself. We must stand fast, we must persevere; but it is he who establishes the hearts of his chosen; he only is our everlasting Strength, the Rock of ages. The apostle in this place, as in 2 Corinthians 13:14, puts the Saviour's name first, because it is by Christ that we have access to the Father. We feel that this order would have been incongruous, impossible, unless Christ were indeed God; we feel that the singular verb could not be used, as it is twice, in ver. 17, unless he and the Father were one (comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:11). God the Father is our Father, St. Paul says emphatically. He loved us; on his fatherly love rests our election, our hope of glory. He has given already to his saints eternal comfort, a comfort independent of the changes and chances of this earthly life - a comfort eternal, for it rests on him who is eternal; and with that comfort which is present, though not temporal, not confined within the limits of time, he has given also a good hope of future glory, the blessed hope of everlasting lifo with God in heaven. And this he has given in grace, in the encompassing atmosphere of his favour, without merit or works of ours.
2. He prays that God's blessing may still rest upon them. He who loved them, and gave them eternal comfort and good hope, will surely comfort and establish them. His first gifts are a pledge of their continuance. He will not leave his work unfinished. His love is like himself, eternal. He can shed that blessed comfort into the heart, the inmost seat of joy and sorrow. When there is hidden comfort there, outward troubles may cause sorrow, but cannot take away the fulness of joy. He can establish our heart; he can give us that established heart, fixed, trusting in the Lord (Psalm 112:7, 8), which the world, the flesh, the devil, cannot shake. Then we shall speak only words of truth and love, and do only works of righteousness and faith through that inner comfort and strength which comes from God alone.
1. In the midst of dangers there is comfort for the saints; they are in the hands of God; God hath chosen them.
2. Look for the evidence of God's election in holiness of life; without holiness we cannot see him.
3. Be steadfast; make your calling and election sure; take heed lest ye fail.
4. Only God can give "eternal comfort." Seek that precious gift of him; it is given to those whom he stablishes in every good word and work. - B.C.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
WEB: But we are bound to always give thanks to God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth;