Sermon Notes & References

Something to Boast About

2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11-12

March 18, 2018

A. Background to This Letter

    1. Paul’s Former Letter and This 1                              1:1-2


    2. Founding of Church at Thessalonica 2


    3. Persecution of That Church 3


B. Thankfulness for This Church                                    1:3-5

    1. His Obligation (v 3) 4


    2. Paul’s Boast (v 4)


    3. God’s Judgement (v 5)


C. Prayer for This Church                                           1:11-12

    1. For Their Being Worthy (v 11) 5


    2. For Christ Being Glorified (v 12)


D. Application

1 2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11-12. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Something to Boast About


A. Background to This Letter

    1. Paul’s Former Letter and This                                                                                                               1:1-2

        a. “1 Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

        b. the address of this letter is almost word for word the same as that of the first letter to the church of the Thessalonians

            (A)    the same two men: Silvanus (a longer form of the name, Silas) and Timothy, are with Paul on this his second missionary journey

                 (1)    Acts 15:40-41, “40 … Paul chose Silas … 41 And he was travelling through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.”

                 (2)    Acts 16:1-3, records Timothy’s being added to the “team”

            (B)    both letters teach about the parousia, the second coming of Christ

            (C)   on this subject, Paul now has more to say, for the reason given in chapter 2, verses 1-2: “1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.” So, it seems that:

            (D)   “Since the sending of the first letter, some one had been imposing upon the Thessalonians a letter in the Apostle’s name, to the effect that the day of the Lord was close upon them; exciting them, and causing them to walk disorderly, and to disregard their own business in life. On being informed of this at Corinth, where he remained a year and a half, he sent this Second Epistle, not contradicting, not even modifying, his former teaching, but filling it out …” 2

            (E)    the internal evidence is that they were written close together, and perhaps only a few months after Paul’s having left Thessalonica


    2. Founding of Church at Thessalonica

        a. Paul and his companions having left Philippi under duress, the account of their journey is resumed in Acts 17: “1 Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a great multitude of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women. 5 But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob … 6 … they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also; 7 and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” 8 And they stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things. 9 And when they had received a pledge from Jason and the others, they released them. 10 And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea …”

        b. but the antagonists from Thessalonica followed them to Berea, “14 And then immediately the brethren sent Paul out to go as far as the sea; and Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 Now those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens;” (Acts 17:14-15)

        c. In Acts 18:5, we are told that after going to Corinth, he was rejoined by Silas and Timothy coming down from Macedonia, updating Paul of the situation there:


    3. Persecution of That Church

        a. this was a church that was founded under opposition and grew up under persecution – Paul’s first letter commended them for that

        b. “6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7)

        c. “1 For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain, 2 but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.” (1 Thessalonians 2:1-2)

        d. “14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, 15 who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. …” (1 Thessalonians 2:14-15a)

        e. these new believers, living under such trials, were on Paul’s heart, so he wrote, “1 Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone; 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith,” (1 Thessalonians 3:1-2)

        f.  and Timothy had returned with a good report, which gave occasion for Paul’s writing of that first letter: “But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you,” (1 Thessalonians 3:6)

        g. and it is on this same steadfastness of this church in the midst of such persecution that Paul again commends them in this second letter


B. Thankfulness for This Church                                                                                                                    1:3-5

    1. His Obligation (v 3)

        a. “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;”

        b. we are often afraid to give praise to people lest it go to their heads

            (A)    with children – and others – it’s easier to point out their faults

            (B)    yet a little praise – often called “positive reinforcement” may go a lot further in correcting and encouraging them to act aright

            (C)   the Bible is not hesitant in giving praise to those deserving of it

                 (1)    David was commended as a man after God’s own heart

                 (2)    John the Baptist’s parents are described, “And they were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.” (Luke 1:6); &c.,

            (D)   and God Himself boasted: “And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”“ (Job 1:8)

        c. but Paul’s thankfulness for them was not simply a polite action

            (A)    rather it was a deep-seated responsibility

            (B)    such gratitude for them was suitable and fitting because of what they had become as Christians in the face of great difficulties

            (C)   Paul had sent Timothy to strengthen and encourage them; with Timothy’s return and news of their faith & love, it was Paul who had the benefit; it was he who was strengthened and encouraged

        d. the cause for this obligation of thankfulness to God is two-fold

            (A)    first: it is God who has worked in this community of believers both to will and to do in them according to His good pleasure

            (B)    second: this church community, when every human instinct would be to give up, had responded by growing in Christian character

        e. and what a way for a church to be identified!

            (A)    there is a prefix in Greek – huper, found in English as hyper – which conveys the meaning “above and beyond” and that is the way that their faith is growing: above and beyond expectations

            (B)    on top of this is their love is abounding, of “each individual one of all of you all unto each of the others” – multi-faceted love


    2. Paul’s Boast (v 4)

        a. “therefore, we ourselves speak proudly (boast loudly) of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.”

        b. now, this is something to boast about!

            (A)    not one individual, but an entire church family – brothers & sisters in the Lord – that models what a church should be

            (B)    the preceding verse has spoken of their faith and love in which they not only persisted but nurtured and kept on growing

            (C)   now Paul’s boasting is for their faith and perseverance under the burden of persecutions and afflictions

                 (1)    you may have seen a picture of Atlas holding the world up on his shoulders – although we know that is not Atlas but the one, true God – that is what the word endure conveys

                 (2)    moreover, the word is in the present tense so Paul says that even as he is writing he knows they are enduring these things

            (D)   they are enduring persecutions – specific acts by specific people; what started with Jason being dragged before the magistrates has been a way of life for Christians in Thessalonica ever since

            (E)    they are enduring afflictions – not overt acts to which they can point, but the subtleties of discrimination: to them the butcher sells the oldest and poorest cuts of meat

        c. how they are handling this – following, as it were, the Master’s words to turn the other cheek – is an example to the other churches

            (A)    and Paul was not silent in making this lesson known

            (B)    “Why can’t you be like the church at Thessalonica?”, is the question which he perhaps asked the church at Athens or Corinth

            (C)   may we, too, when things do not seem to be going smoothly for us as a church body, endeavour to follow them in faith, love and perseverance in the things of the Lord


    3. God’s Judgement (v 5)

        a. “This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering.”

        b. verse 5 is a transition verse, and we shall look at it more fully when we shall return, Lord willing, to look at the central part of this chapter

        c. but suffice it for now that God is in concurrence on this matter of the worthiness of the church at Thessalonica for otherwise He would not have trusted them to undergo the suffering that they have had – just as He trusted that Job under Satan’s molestation would vindicate God


C. Prayer for This Church                                                                                                                          1:11-12

    1. For Their Being Worthy (v 11)

        a. “To this end also we pray for you always that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power;”

        b. having given thanks for their being worthy of the kingdom of God

            (A)    suitable ambassadors, as it were, for the church of Jesus Christ

            (B)    Paul, after dealing with a subject that arises from the matter of God’s judgement on their behalf, returns to pray that this may continue for them

            (C)   not only in reputation, not only as the object of Paul’s boasting

            (D)   but in point of fact: in God’s estimation

                 (1)    God has already counted them so in the past

                 (2)    that is why He has allowed them to be refined in the furnace of affliction

                 (3)    now as the process continues, so may they continue

                 (4)    it is to this end that Paul adds his prayers, so needed for their victory, just as we also need prayers if we are to be victorious

        c. that they are to be worthy of their calling: of their vocation

            (A)    not simply that vocation whereby daily bread is earned

            (B)    rather the divine vocation by God that calls people to salvation

            (C)   as Paul wrote of this calling: “8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,” (2 Timothy 1:8-9)

            (D)   that is the lesson the Thessalonians were learning; that is the one which we are to be learning as well

        d. it is one thing for a church to be so filled with faith, love, endurance as to bring commendation; but let us remember the ultimate purpose:


    2. For Christ Being Glorified (v 12)

        a. “in order that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

        b. we covet these quality for the people of God

            (A)    not merely for our own satisfaction

            (B)    or that they can be used as an example

        c. but that the Name of Jesus Christ be glorified in us

            (A)    the Name of Jesus Christ of referring to His Divine Nature, of all that He is, of all that He has done, of all for which He stands

            (B)    we, for good or bad, affect the Lord’s reputation

            (C)   we may bring glory to His Name when we reflect His character

            (D)   but disrepute when we live self-centred rather than Christ-centred lives


D. Application

    1. Let these words be to us

        a. a comfort of God’s purpose to make us worthy of the kingdom

        b. an inducement to live so as to bring glory to Him

        c. a rebuke when we fall short of what God has intended us to be


    2. what a challenge! But by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s work we can meet it.




© 2018 by Garth Hutchinson, Faith Fellowship Baptist Church of Aurora (Ontario): may be distributed or quoted freely, only let this be done to the glory “of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus ii.13). Except as noted otherwise, quotations are from the New American Standard version, used by permission. Various other English versions of the Holy Bible may be used in this sermon. Explanatory additions to the Bible text are shown in [braces]. Version identifiers are:


              AV          Authorized (King James) Version of 1769

              NAS        New American Standard version © 1960, 1995 The Lockman Foundation (usually the 1995 edition)

              IGNT              Interlinear Greek New Testament, Zondervan Publishing, 1956; as well as other Greek Texts as W&H, Nestle, etc.

              NIV         New International Version © 1984 by the International Bible Society

              NKJV              New King James Version © 1979 Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers

              Philips     The New Testament in Modern Englis, J. B. Phillips, Geoffrey Bles Ltd

              RSV        Revised Standard Version © 1946, 1952 National Council of Churches of Christ; Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd

              WEY               The New Testament in Modern Speech © 1902, 1912 R. F. Weymouth

Some of the commentaries and resources used in the preparation of this message are identified as follow:

              BM       Biblical Museum, Editor James Comper Gray, ca 1870

              CP   -      Decision, July & August 1962, Open Your Bible, by Dr Sherwiood E. Wirt

              EBC             The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, © 1986 Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 49530, MI:

                             1, 2 Thessalonians: Robert L. Thomas

              EGT             The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Hodder & Stoughton; 1903

                             1 & II Thessalonians, by James Moffatt

              JFB  -      Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Jamieson, Fausset & Brown; S. S. Scranton & Co. 1872

              Gill       Exposition of the Old Testament, Exposition of the New Testament, by John Gill, D.D.

              Kerux –   The sermon & illustration data base compiled by Rev. David Holwick at the web-site,

              NCBC –    The New Century Bible Commentary – 1 and 2 Thessalonians – I. Howard Marshall – Wm B. Erdmans

              RWP             Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, by Dr. A. T. Robertson

              TTB      Thinking Through the Bible, Rev’d John McNicol, D.D., © 1944 by the author; The Upper Canada Tract & Book Society.


BM, in loc.