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2 Thessalonians 1:1-12

The Thessalonians are undergoing persecution. To what extant is not clear, except they are to be held up as a model to all the other churches - so it is probably pretty severe. To them it is severe enough that they think they are in the tribulation, and have missed the Rapture. Paul addresses that in this letter.

There may have been a forgery or alternate letter that was in conflict with Paul's previous letter. Maybe further muddying the waters regarding Christ's return. Support for this is embedded in the idea that Paul made a big deal of saying he signed this letter with his own hand in 2Thess3.
2Thess2:3 "We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing." NIV

Paul mentions faith and love, but omits their "patience (steadfastness) in hope (certain expectation) of Jesus' return. I disagree with the commentary of bible.org. Since a main concern of the letter regards Jesus' return, there does seem to be merit in the idea that the Thessalonians are unsure and confused on the issue. Certainly then they are not "steadfast with certain expectation" of Jesus'return. Thus by leaving out praise for their "hope" Paul is not condemning them, but it is left out, because right now the Thessalonians do not have this "certain hope".

As the apostolic father of this church Paul may be concerned that when "hope" goes eventually the faith and love will weaken also - thus the urgency in writing this letter to the church.
"Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring."

1) This is evidence:
"God is revealing by their endurance in suffering that they are worthy of the kingdom of God, having been made worthy by faith in Christ. The fact that they could stand up under pressure was evidence that they had been truly put into the kingdom of the Son of God's love and taken out of the kingdom of darkness and of Satan." - Ray Stedman

2) It reveals the condemnation of the "world". In Hebrews 11:
"Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison....the world was not worthy of them."

You may be nothing in the eyes of the world, but in God's eyes you are SOMEONE.

3) God is just. He will take care of those who afflict you and give you rest (relief).

Over and over in the OT, God says leave vengeance to Him. In the end it will all be taken care of - some may not like that idea - but how could a Just and righteous God operate any other way?
When will this happen and who will be punished? What will be the punishment?

When Jesus returns (appears) in judgment - this is the Second coming at end of Tribulation - not the Rapture.

Who will be punished?
"He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." (2Thess2:8)

You can know God, but if you do not believe and receive Jesus - you will be punished. If you do not know God there is no way to fulfill the second condition.

What is the punishment:
"They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power" NIV

Some use this verse to say the punishment will be annihilation. I see how when looking at this verse in isolation - they come up with that view. the problem is the word "destruction" combined with being separated from the Lord.

"destruction" - Gk. "olethros" can also mean "ruin".

So which is it? everlasting destruction (implying annihilation) or everlasting ruin (implying eternal punishment).

To find the truth one should always test Scripture against Scripture.

In Matthew 13:41-42, the disciples explicitly asked for an explanation of the parable. Jesus explicitly answered:

"The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Ok, John, perhaps weeping and gnashing of teeth precede annihilation.

In Matt 25:46, the sheep and goats discourse is not a parable, and in the end Jesus says:
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Punishment is Gk."kolasis" meaning "correction, punishment, penalty".

For Scripture to be consistent - concept of annihilation for wicked is not an option.

For other verses citing eternal punishment see the link.
So who is left?

The believers:
"on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you."

Not all those who have "done good things", not all those regardless of their "religious affiliation", but all those who have believed (acknowledged, believed, and trusted) Jesus Christ. That is the lone criteria for salvation - it is said or implied over and over in the Bible. That is why the Bible (unlike other religious tomes) can have large chunks (pages) torn out and the message is still there. The Holy Spirit is consistent in the message and Word of God.
Paul ends 2Thess1 by describing his prayer for them - note:
"...and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith."

-every good purpose of yours prompted by your faith

-every act prompted by your faith.

In other words, not things rooted in "self" or "pride", but rooted in Christ. Which is as it should be if we abide in Him, and He in us.

These are the things that will be measured in rewards phase of heaven. things rooted in Christ will pass "muster", while acts of self will be discarded as the "wheat and chaff in a fire".

Jeremiah 23:21-25:38

As I read today’s text a passage from 1st Peter is brought to my remembrance,

For the time has come for judgment to begin with God's household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God? And if the righteous is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?
(1 Peter 4:17-18 HCSB)

God always judges His people first, and then He goes to the nations. We have been rocked by church scandal these past decades. Believers are either angry or embarrassed when things are exposed. But the scandal can be seen as a good thing, God is cleaning out His church and changing the dirty diapers of His people. Then after the church is cleansed, the nations, the people who are not his people, those who have rejected God are dealt with. We have nothing to fear if we are keeping attuned to the voice of the Lord. As long as we not only listen but actually hear what Thus Saith the Lord, we will come through stirred, but not shaken. The remnant God designated to survive the shaking out, as Mike has discussed in his comments about the good and bad figs, may not fit our understanding of what we judge to be good or evil, but our understanding is flawed if not inline with what God has decreed.

I find Mike’s explanation of God’s cup of anger very interesting and I see the judgment of God in a different light and not at odds with His Character, Mercy and Grace.

Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can keep standing when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire, like a launderer's soap. (Malachi 3:2 NET.)

We have read in our earlier readings that when man came face to face with God, He/She was always fearful that they would not live and were surprised when they did, why? Sin cannot stand in the presence of God, just like dirt cannot stand in the presence of a good through cleaning with soap. By its very nature, dirt has to “flee” when soap shows up and is applied. When we stubbornly rebel holding on to our sin, when God shows up the sin we so tenaciously hold onto will be washed away in the rinse. If we are clinging to that sin, we will go down the drain with it.

The judgment we see in the scriptures only come about because man is stubbornly clinging to sin which leads to death. He/She refuses to separate from that which is destined to go down the drain.

Grace and peace,

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