The church has a magnificent design to it. And one of the wonderful aspects of the church is that it is built for burden bearing. In the church, we are called and equipped to bear each others burdens. And at the conclusion of Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians, he offers words of encouragement to those who are weary from doing good and rebukes those who would take advantage of the generosity and sacrificial kindness of others.
Paul has repeatedly prayed for the Thessalonians. Here, Paul asks for reciprocity. He asks them to pray for him and for the spread of the gospel. One of the primary ways God intends the church to participate in his mission is through prayer. Prayer advances the Kingdom.
Paul is writing to a church that is suffering doubts and is thrust into confusion. So he writes to bring stability to their instability by reiterating several truths to anchor their life in.
In this week's verses Paul is addressing false teaching regarding "the day of the Lord" that has taken root at the church at Thessalonica. Many at the church are have come to believe that the day of the Lord–that great day of judgment–is upon them. While the source of this teaching is unclear its effect is clear: Great distress throughout the church. What we will see in these verses is Paul’s attempt to comfort and reassure the church by refuting the false claim and reminding them of about the sequence of events that necessarily proceed the Lord’s return.
The young church in Thessalonica is enduring significant affliction and persecution for their faith in Christ. And in their communication with Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, they ask, why are they having to suffer so much? Why doesn't God stop their persecution? Paul and his companions respond that God has good purposes even in their unjust suffering and they share with them the hope of Heaven.
Paul writes a second time to the church in Thessalonica to strengthen their faith in the midst of great suffering. He praises God that their faith is not failing, but growing. We learn from their example, that faith in Christ is not static, but dynamic. Furthermore, our faith can and should be growing no matter our earthly circumstances.
Paul continues instructing the Thessalonians in how to conduct themselves when they come together to worship the Lord. And he encourages them with the wonderful truth that God is working in and through them to sanctify them. Their growth in holiness is sure for God is faithful.
The character of the Church must be patterned after the life and teaching of Christ and the character of any given church is shaped by conduct of her people. In these verses Paul provides instruction as to how God’s people should relate to one another with a specific emphasis on what are often some of the most challenging: Our relationships with those in authority and our relationships with those who require us to dig a little deeper to love well. Through Paul's instruction we will see that each one of us has an opportunity to contribute significantly to the Christlike character of the church.
In their exchange of letters, the Thessalonians ask the Apostle Paul the question we all want an answer to, when will the Lord return? Paul teaches them that the Day of the Lord will come unexpectedly and that for Christians, our focus needs to be on making ourselves ready for his appearing, not on dates. He further encourages them that they need not fear the Day of the Lord. For some it will lead to judgment, but for them, it will lead to their full salvation and even greater union with Christ.