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Future Glory | Present Trial: 2 Thes. 2:13-17

Future Glory | Present Trial :: The Sight of Pain
October 10, 2021 :: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

As we approach this text at the end of 2 Thessalonians 2, we must recall the wider context of persecution, affliction, suffering as well as false teaching and concerns about the end times. All of these collide in this simple text, which is part theology, part prayer.

2:1-12 is a treatise in messy form. The many passages that mention the Antichrist are brought together, out of order and with both reference and allusion, to bring correct teaching and theology back into line. The false teacher(s) had obviously chosen this area as a point of attack.

Immediately after this treatise, with a quick transition, Paul’s tone becomes slightly more pastoral, soft and precise. He knows that the church needed encouragement in their pain and plight. He also knew that they needed truth. Thus 2:13-15 is a theological recap and reminder, then 2:16-17 is a glorious prayer that undergirds and further informs the theology.

Speaking of the plight of the Thessalonian church, consider what Matthew 4:23-25 teaches us about pain, as a great example. Notice what Jesus did - all of what Jesus did in this passage. Notice what horrific and debilitating things were brought to Jesus.

Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.
—Matthew 4:23-25

Real pain in people’s lives drove these people to Jesus, not away from Him. It then stands to reason that God can and does use pain and suffering in the lives of people for His good purposes.

Pain is a part of God’s curriculum for life. It’s not an elective we can avoid or a course we can simply audit from afar. Its lessons must be learned if we’re to grow. However, when it comes to suffering, most of us want to skip class. The always uncomfortable and sometimes grueling labor of enduring dark days of suffering - whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual - can tempt us to drop out of God’s program of sanctification. Yet if we keep at it, strengthened and comforted by the Holy Spirit, we will receive the greatest graduating gift imaginable: “an eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
—Chuck Swindoll

This seems to be the case for the young Thessalonian church. Paul references their suffering quite a bit in both the first and second letters. Then after profiling the “man of sin,” the Antichrist, in 2:1-12, he concludes that chapter with a marvelously woven tapestry of theological encouragement and a prayer.


Group Discussion Questions:
  1. Since our study and discussion last week (2:1-12), what have you thought about the subject (end times, Antichrist, Satan, etc.) since our last meeting? Do you have any questions or thoughts to share with the group?
  2. How does 2 Thessalonians 2:13 relate to 1:3-4 and 1:11-12? What are the common words and themes?
  3. How would you define salvation? What are the biblical aspects of the general term salvation found in the Scripture? (HINT: rescue from physical harm or death; being declared righteous by faith in Jesus; the progressive process of growing personal holiness; the final culmination of God’s redemption in glorification) Which aspect is seen in this passage? Why?
  4. How would you define “sanctification”?
  5. Reread 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15. What aspects of theology are seen here?
  6. What are the things or actions that God does in this text? List them out and discuss them.
  7. What are the points of command or direct application in this text? List them out and discuss them.
  8. Take these commands and specify them into contemporary points of application and transformation for you.
  9. What is your favorite part about Paul’s prayer in 2:16-17? Why?
  10. Close your group time in prayer for each other.

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