2 Thess. 2:13-17
2Th 2:13 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: 2Th 2:14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Th 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. 2Th 2:16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 2Th 2:17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
We have in this section thoughts that comfort our hearts, thoughts that establish us in every good word and work, and all of this was in the context of the fact that the saints were still deeply shaken in mind and deeply troubled by what they were told about the end times, that the resurrection had passed, that the Tribulation was taking place right now and that the members of the Body of Christ will actually be going through the suffering and judgment before His Second Coming.
I loved how in the first chapter Paul wrote, 2Th 1:6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 2Th 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 2Th 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 2Th 1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 2Th 1:10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
Remember the church at Thessalonica weren’t just bothered by the thoughts of going through the tribulation but they were also going through horrific persecution, and the fascinating thing about these verses is the mixture of prophesy and mystery. Paul tells them to rest with us in all that persecution.
They were to find comfort in, not the Rapture of the church, but find comfort in what the Lord is going to do to them at His Second Coming.
Is that not jaw-dropping?
You know that has to be some terrible persecution if he tells the saints to look past the Rapture to find comfort in the judgment that will take place upon all of them at His Second Coming.
What will the Lord do? He shall, in flaming fire take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and they shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power…
So the assumption even in Paul’s day was that the Lord may come back for His church at any moment, which would mean that the people persecuting the Thessalonians will inevitably go into the tribulation after the Rapture, and at the end of it all, the Lord will execute His judgment upon them. And the saints in Thessalonica could find comfort in that.
But he also addresses in chapter 2 their concerns about going through the tribulation. He talks about how the Lord won’t come until the antichrist has been revealed and how the mystery of iniquity is already at work, “only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way,” which most believe is the Body of Christ, which is indwelt by the Spirit. We will be gone before the antichrist will be revealed. So don’t believe the false doctrine about the church going into the tribulation and us having to face all those horrors.
I’m reminded of what Paul told the Thessalonians in his first letter, 1Th 1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. We’ve been delivered from the horrors of the tribulation. We’ve been delivered from the Great White Throne judgment. How can we not rejoice in that?
2 Thessalonians 2
Here in chapter 2, Paul punctuates all of this doctrine with the application in vs. 15 with “stand fast, and hold the [grace] traditions which ye have been taught.” By traditions, he means teachings here. Like what Paul said famously in Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. After the tradition of men, after the generational teachings of men, the worldly teachings passed down from one to another. And Paul says here to us in vs. 15 to stand fast and cling to everything Paul has taught us about grace, about what Christ accomplished for us and everything God has made us in Christ. Stand fast in that truth. Hold close to your heart that truth. Make this truth a traditional teaching. Let this truth be generational. Let the proclamation of these grace truths be the tradition of your assembly, passed down from generation to generation, the close adherence to the gospel of grace and everything God has made you in Christ, to be taught until the Lord comes.
Then, Paul brings it all home with the biggest and most important point in this entire chapter and that is that we have been given an EVERLASTING CONSOLATION and GOOD HOPE THROUGH GRACE through which we may always comfort our hearts and be established in every good word and work. You know, this everlasting consolation is just such an amazing thought, an amazing truth to meditate upon, and an unbelievably amazing blessing we all have in Christ.
We have been given in grace an everlasting consolation, a perpetual solace, an eternal comfort, an everlasting peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ because they have a love for us that surpasses all comprehension. And what the Godhead accomplished for us, in us, and through us is eternal, which is why our solace is eternal, why our consolation is eternal just as our gift of salvation is eternal, never to be lost again for all time and forevermore.
3 Aspects that Result in Having an Everlasting Consolation
He says in vs. 13 we’re chosen by God to salvation – how? through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth… This verse is not about God choosing WHO gets saved but HOW we get saved, which is through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, which is after our free-willed acceptance by faith of the Gospel of Grace.
First, what did Paul mean when he said sanctification of the Spirit?
The setting apart, the purifying of the Spirit.
How did He purify us?
Titus 3:5 – “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost…” Our washing of regeneration is our thorough spiritual regeneration by the Holy Spirit in which we are brought from a state of unrighteousness into a state of perfect righteousness by receiving His life. We are regenerated by the Spirit from death to life, no longer dead in our sins in Adam but alive unto God in Christ. This is the death of our old selves, which has been crucified with Christ, and this is the deliverance from our death into His life. This is our liberation from the consequence of sin, from the dominion of sin, from the power of sin, and the impartation of His divine life to us, which is the new man, created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:24).
The moment we believe, we are washed by the Spirit (1 Cor. 6:11). We are transformed by the Spirit. We are translated into the Kingdom of His dear Son, whereby we became new creatures. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). We are metamorphosed into a new spiritual reality, into a new state of being in the world with God’s life inside of us. We are now His perfect workmanship (Eph. 2:10). In the Greek, workmanship is poyeema from which we get the modern word poem. We are His poem. We are His great work of art. We are His masterpiece. We are His perfect work as a result of our spiritual washing of regeneration through the Holy Spirit.
Belief of the Truth
I’m reminded of Paul writing in 1 Tim. 1:16, “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” Notice how he says here believe on him to life everlasting. Just as Rom. 3:26 says, “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Salvation isn’t just accepting the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as a payment for your sins. You are also accepting by faith who Christ is as the Son of God. You are believing on Him. You are believing in Him. He is the one in Whom ye trusted (Eph. 1:13).
You also have in Rom. 4:5, But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Who justifies the ungodly? God the Father. So you’re not just trusting in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as a payment for your sins, but you are also believing in who He is as the Son of God, and you’re also believing in the fact that it’s God the Father who justifies you according to your faith in His Son. This is the acceptance of the entire package of truth.
Called by the Gospel to Obtain Glory
Paul writes in 2Th. 2:14 “Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here, God’s calling is in the sense of invitation, His invitation to receive His gift of eternal life by faith, and that invitation is through the gospel. The gospel is the instrument of His calling. He calls you. He is the one who must take the step of calling us because with the natural men, there is none that seeketh after God. He invites you to receive His gift through the gospel. So His calling is distinct from salvation. His calling is His invitation to receive eternal life, expressed through the Gospel, and the acceptance of that gift is your salvation. A calling is never a betrayal of man’s free will but rather the articulation of God’s will, the communication of His desire for your life, but us fulfilling His calling is conditional upon our free-will acceptance of the Gospel.
But, see, this calling of God isn’t simply for us to receive eternal life but also to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. I suspect this isn’t just the glory of what Christ accomplished for us and in us, although it includes that. There is also the glory that shall be revealed in us when we receive our glorified heavenly bodies because our bodies will be fashioned like unto His glorified body. When it comes to our heavenly bodies His glory becomes our glory because we’ll be fashioned like unto Him. But His glory is also His inheritance and we’re going to share in that. Rom 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. We are all glorified with Christ together because we’re all joint-heirs, inheriting literally everything.
We’re given all spiritual blessings in this life and we’ll literally inherit everything with Christ in the life to come.
Everlasting Consolation Springs from the All-Sufficiency of the Cross
These three doctrines, sanctification of the Spirit, belief of the truth, and being called by [the] gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ brings us back to the thought now that we have an everlasting consolation and good hope through grace. That’s a funny expression, isn’t it? Wouldn’t good hope through grace be perhaps the biggest understatement in the Bible? Is all of this not the greatest conceivable hope ever in the history of all mankind? But this Greek word for good is good in every sense of the word.
Well, if you look at Webster’s 1828, he has 40 definitions for the word good. So which definition of good does Paul have in mind? I’d suggest he has in mind every sense of the word good. This hope we have through grace is good, it’s valid, not weak, complete or sufficiently perfect in its kind, having moral qualities best adapted to its design and use, virtuous, proper, fit, convenient, seasonable, well adapted to the end, useful, expedient, conducive to happiness, sound, perfect, uncorrupted, undamaged, wholesome, palatable, full, complete, etc. When the hope that we have through grace is good in every sense of the word, then that hope is endlessly beneficial to our souls, beneficial to our souls in every conceivable way that is good, that hope transforms our lives, that hope becomes our happiness, and that hope becomes the anchor of our spiritual lives. But see, the good hope we have is only temporary until the Lord comes. But the consolation is everlasting even after we go home to be with the Lord.
We have also been given in grace an everlasting consolation, a perpetual solace, an eternal comfort, an everlasting peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ because they have a love for us that surpasses all comprehension. And what the Godhead accomplished for us, in us, and through us is eternal, which is why our solace is eternal, why our consolation is eternal just as our gift of salvation is eternal, never to be lost again for all time and forevermore.
Notice how the verse says “hath given us everlasting consolation.” It’s already been given because nothing can undo the all-sufficient work that was done on the cross. Nothing can un-reconcile us from God. Nothing can un-seal us from the Holy Spirit. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. We are declared forever righteous “through faith in his blood” (Rom 3:25). We are “justified by his blood” (Rom 5:9). We have “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7). We are “made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Eph 2:13). We have peace with God “through the blood of his cross” (Col 1:20).
We are declared righteous by God through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, because God sent Him to earth to be a propitiation for our sins, which is a full and satisfying payment for our sins. God the Father is satisfied that the payment of Jesus Christ for our sins is complete. Once we believe and place our faith in that payment, there’s no more wrath. When we believe, when we accept by faith that Christ died on the cross for our sins, that He was buried, and rose again, the righteousness of Jesus Christ is put to our accounts and we are declared righteous. God the Father takes our sins and places Christ’s full and satisfying payment to our accounts. God then sees us righteous. He declares us righteous. There’s nothing but grace and peace between us and God. He’s forgiven “all trespasses” (Col 2:13). He has made us “accepted in the beloved” (Eph 1:6). And we are “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Eph 1:13). We have an eternal consolation because the cross took away our sins FOREVER.
We have an Everlasting Consolation Because of the Love of God
Notice how he says in 2 Th. 2:16, Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, “Which hath loved us.” The love of God the Father, who crafted this entire grace program before the world was ever created, who thought of how we will be saved before we were ever lost, who wanted us to stand before Him holy and without blame, God the Father Himself is the fountain of all the blessings we have in Christ. From this fountain all our consolation flows forever. The solace, the comfort, the peace, the love – lasts FOREVER.
The consolation is everlasting because God’s love for us is everlasting.
Eph 1:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Eph 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, Eph 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
Notice in vs. 2, our Father. God is not our Father just by virtue of being our creator, but when we accept His Son by faith He becomes our Father. He is not just our Father but a Father who blesses us with all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places and makes us accepted in the beloved, as beloved as His Son.
Acceptance isn’t just, “we accept you.” It’s receiving the fulness of His divine love. God makes us objects of His grace according to all the love that’s in Him, and all is “to the praise of the glory of his grace.”
This praise encompasses all the heights and depths of the grace of God the Father blessing us in Christ. First, we find that God the Father is the author of all blessings. Second, we learn the blessings are made possible in Christ. All is in Christ. We’re blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Thirdly, we read what kind of blessings we receive in Christ, “all spiritual blessings,” that is, blessings given by the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit. God the Father has the entire trinity involved in our redemption and He shows us as much favor as He shows His only begotten Son. He could not do more for us, and He would not do less.
He has risen up to the fullest character of His love by blessing us in all this grace where He regards us as His dearest Beloved, as dear as His Son.
Not only that, God the Father loved us so much that He had us in mind before the foundation of the world and He willed for us to live in this amazing victory program of grace made possible by the all-sufficient sacrifice of His Son on the cross whereupon all those who place their faith in Him get the righteousness of Christ imputed to them and they become holy and without blame before God in love and predestinated to be full grown adopted sons of God and joint-heirs with Christ.
Gal. 1:4 tells us Christ “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” So God the Father willed before the foundation of the world that a payment should be made for the sins of all mankind so that we today may be freed from sin and made alive unto God for His good use. And so Christ said, “I will make that payment.” And the Holy Spirit said, “I will guarantee that payment with the earnest of Myself.” Before the world was, this was our place in the heart of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in which they purposed to give us an elevated position of grace and peace in Christ. This victory program we’re in by God’s grace was willed by God the Father, made possible through the sacrifice of Christ, and made complete through the baptism of the spirit.
In vs. 6, we have “the glory of His grace” whereas in vs. 7, we have “the riches of His grace.” It may be noticed here, that there is a difference between “the glory” and “the riches” of His grace. The riches of His grace is a warehouse so vast, the riches cannot be inventoried. The glory of His grace is the magnificence, the brilliance of His grace. The riches of His grace displays the vastness of His love in all His blessings to us, but the glory of His grace displays the brilliance of all that He is, His holiness, His righteousness, His justice when it comes to sin, and His love, His mercy, and His unfathomable grace. The praise of the glory of the grace of God the Father flows from what He feels and will do in order to manifest Himself to us and to have an intimate, loving relationship with us, and the riches of His grace is the vastness of His love in all His blessings to us.
We have in Rom. 8:31 these beautiful words, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Paul goes through in the previous chapters detailing our state of guilt and condemnation—and Christ’s accomplishment for us and our justification. Then came the knowledge of our identification with Christ, of our spiritual baptism into his death, burial, and resurrection, and our deliverance from sin’s power.
Here, in Rom. 8, we’ve arrived at the “immovable mountain-top of our position in Christ” and “God’s uncaused unalterable attitude toward us.” God is eternally for US. Nothing in time or in eternity can tear apart our relationship with Him. God is for us. All of us. We may have failed, but He is for us. We may have stumbled and fallen, but God is for us. We may not bring much fruit some days, but God is for us. God forever commits Himself for His children who placed their faith in His Son. GOD IS FOR US. The Creator of the universe, the Upholder of all things, the Redeemer God Himself, is eternally and unwaveringly for us!
Rom 8:32 tells us He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? God the Father has literally given us all things. He’s given us all spiritual blessings in this life. He’s given us an everlasting consolation because He determined before the world was created that we would be saved by sanctification of the Spirit, belief of the truth, after being called by [the] gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, which means that we’ve obtained not just the glory of what Christ accomplished for us and in us, not just glorified bodies fashioned like unto His heavenly body, but we’ve also obtained the glory of His inheritance.
We’ve literally been given all things, all spiritual blessings in this life and everything else in the life to come.
How can we look at these verses, think about the overwhelming gracious character of God the Father, and not feel the need to praise Him every day?