Sunday, 17 September 2017
…so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 2 Thessalonians 1:4
Paul had just noted the exceeding growth of faith among the believers as well as their abounding love toward one another. Because of this, he encourages them by saying, “so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God.” In this, he is not boasting in them as the object of boasting, but rather the subject of it. The actual object of such a boast is in the Lord who was working among them and through them in their increased faith and love. This is what faith in Christ is intended to do, and so Paul and his companions used those in Thessalonica as examples of how an effective church, centered on the Lord, should interact – with their God (faith) and among one another (love) of the previous verse.
Paul then continues by explicitly noting their “patience and faith.” In the context of the New Testament, the idea of patience here is “endurance.” It is a steadfast attitude which is centered on the fact that God enables a person or group to remain under whatever challenges or trials He has allowed them to face. This is coupled with their “faith” which is confidence in God despite those challenges and trials. Such is certainly the case here, because he then specifically notes the “persecutions and tribulations that you endure.”
The persecutions are specific and targeted attacks against them. It indicates anyone who was directly irritating them, badgering them, or even bringing troubles against them physically. The tribulations are more general, and they are indicative of difficulties which hem someone in, even to the point where it seems there is no avenue of escape.
Between the persecution and tribulations, others might simply get up and leave, feeling that the trouble outweighed the benefits. But the hope of those in Thessalonica was steadfast, and so they endured through all that came their way. Their faith told them that they were to receive a kingdom which will not be shaken, and so they remained fixed on that and continued to serve God with reverence and fear.
Paul will explain the benefits of their steadfastness, and he will explain what will come to those who had been persecuting them. In the end, their patience and endurance would be rewarded. They knew this, and Paul’s words will come as both a reminder and a continued encouragement to them. They are words which should be considered and applied to our own lives now because, until the Lord returns, there will always be persecutions and tribulations for the Lord’s faithful.
Life application: As Paul’s letters are prescriptive for the church age, it’s important to understand that teachings of prosperity, health, wealth, and good times are misguided; and at times, they are shown to be ridiculous. The true benefits of calling on Christ are set for a future date. Any times of blessing in this life are to be accepted with thanks, but are not to be expected as if we are entitled to them.
Heavenly Father, every good blessing we have has come from You. But should times of trial, persecution, and tribulation come, grant us the strength to endure through them. Help us to keep our hope on that which lies ahead. This world is temporary, and every happy time is temporary as well. But what You have promised is eternal, and it will be coming at some wonderful time ahead. May we fix our hope on that, and stand fast in our faith now – through good times and bad. Amen.