therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.2 Thessalonians 1:4(NASB)
The Lord Jesus told His disciples some important truths concerning the trials and difficulties that are inevitable in a fallen world, where men are lovers of themselves and sin has taken root in the heart of humanity.
Jesus explained that under this world system, which is subject to the rule of Satan, those that trust in Him would inevitably go through tribulation. However, in order that they might have the peace of God in their heart, He said encouragingly, "but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."
The saints in Thessalonica were undergoing such severe persecution and pain, that they had started to fret that they had missed the gathering together of the church, at the Rapture. They feared that they had entered the great and terrible Day of the Lord - about which Paul had taught in his earlier letter.
This second epistle from Paul was quickly written to allay those fears, and to denounce a false teaching about the Day of the Lord, which had recently infiltrated the Church. Paul was writing to set out clearly, the chronological events that would lead up to the revealing of the 'man-of-sin', and to remind them of the necessity for the Christian Church to be removed into the presence of the Lord, before this 'son-of-perdition' is identified on the world scene.
But before Paul started to detail the process and procedure of end-time events in this epistle, he greeted the Thessalonian believers with some lovely, uplifting words of great encouragement, "therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God.. for your perseverance and faith, in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions, which you endure."
Following his customary greeting of, "grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ", Paul started to express his deep gratitude for the growing faith and abounding love of these precious believers, towards one another - and also towards Paul himself, and his fellow-labourers in the Lord - (Silvanus and Timothy).
Paul was justifiably proud of the beautiful way that these believers conducted themselves. They showed patient endurance and faith in God's promises, despite the unrelenting persecution and tribulation they were currently undergoing - particularly at the hand of their Roman oppressors. And so he wrote, "therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you, among the churches of God, for your perseverance and faith.. in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions, which you endure."
Paul was able to use this group of Christians as an example of godly practice, in his conversation with other groups of believers. The endurance they displayed in the midst of reprehensible oppression and numerous trials, was a testimony to their patience, perseverance, and faith.
It was only right that Paul offered this well-earned encouragement and reassurance to these beleaguered saints... to persevere in the midst of terrible trials, by commending them for their Christian commitment when they were undergoing such pressures, persecution, temptation, and trials.
It is not surprising that this little set of saints had become confused about the Rapture of the Church, the unveiling of the man-of-sin, the time of Jacob's trouble, and great Day of the Lord, when beset with such intense persecution on the one hand, and such gross false teaching on the other. They had been taught that Christians are not appointed to go through the wrath of God, and yet they were undergoing tremendous persecution.
Paul had already taught them that the Day of the Lord would come as a thief in the night and would overtake an unbelieving world with great tribulation. He had explained that these unbelievers would be plummeted into a time so terrible, that there had never been a day like it before. "But YOU are not appointed unto wrath" he had assured them, "for the trumpet will sound, the dead in Christ shall be resurrected from their graves.. and then we that are alive and remain will be caught up, together with them, into the clouds.. and ever be with the Lord."
This teaching was to be a comfort to them - but these dear believers had become frantic, because a false theory was circulating that they had missed the Rapture, and had been thrown headlong into the Great Tribulation! Paul had to write this second epistle, to remind them that ALL Christians will have to go through some terrible times of tribulation and persecution in this world, but that they had not missed the Rapture and were not in the middle of the Great Tribulation.
Paul wanted to remind them that the Christian life is not an easy thing, but lovingly commended them for their perseverance in the midst of the deep distress they were going through - and so he wrote, "therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions, which you endure."
In a world where we are increasingly beset by difficulties and dangers, trials and tribulation, persecution and pain, false teachings and unbiblical doctrines from so many quarters, let us set our face as a flint to trust in the Lord with all our heart. Let us familiarise ourselves with the truth of Scripture and demonstrate patient endurance amidst the persecution and problems we have to face.
Let us seek discernment in a sea of apostate teachings and trust in the Lord with all our heart... and let us read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the inerrant Word of God - which alone is able to make us wise unto salvation.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word, which teaches the truth. Help me to read the Scriptures with a teachable spirit, and prevent me from being manipulated into any incorrect interpretation, by false teachings or unbiblical doctrines that cause me to lose the peace of God in my heart, which Jesus has promised to all who trust in Him. I pray that as we face these increasingly difficult times, I will patiently endure the trials and tribulations I may be called upon to endure, for Christ's sake. Help me to stand fast in the faith, to pray without ceasing, to rejoice in the Lord always, and in everything to give You thanks and praise. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.