Sermon Notes & References


2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

April 22, 2018

A. The Truth Applied

    1. The Truth

        a. Christ Is Coming Again!

        b. Before Christ Returns …

    2. The Application

B. The Transition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2:13-15

    1. Gratitude for Others’ Salvation (13) 1

    2. Salvation’s Destiny (14) 2

    3. Salvations (15) 3

C. The Blessing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2:16-17

    1. What God Has Done (16) 4

    2. What God Will Do (17)

D. Conclusion

1 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Steadfastness


A. The Truth Applied

    1. The Truth

        a. Christ is Coming Again!

            (A)    this, the parousia, or the arrival of Jesus as Christ the King back into the world was the central theme of first Thessalonians

            (B)    so it is also in this second letter, a part of which is to settle down the minds and hearts of the Thessalonian Christians, which had been stirred up by those proclaiming lies about the second coming

            (C)   so Paul outlines in the first part of chapter 2 some things that must take place …

        b. Before Christ Returns,

            (A)    there will be a terrible falling away from God

            (B)    there will be revealed a terrible lawless one; the man of lawlessness, the man of sin; the Anti-Christ

            (C)   and on these sad facts we spoke last Sunday morning – but let us go on from them to the challenges that arise from them.


    2. The Application

        a. chapter 2:13 begins the second section of this book

        b. this takes the truths of the first section

            (A)    of the reasons for the persecution that they have endured in the present time

                 (1)    that God considers that they will by this prove worthy

                 (2)    that there will be retribution against their oppressors

                 (3)    that Jesus will be glorified in them on this account

            (B)    of the falling away

            (C)   and of the lawless one

        c. so this second part, from 2:13 to the end, teaches the Christian duty in the light of these truths, and particularly that Jesus is coming again

            (A)    which agrees with the title of our series on Paul’s letters to the church at Thessalonica: “Living Forth the Gospel”

            (B)    and now, in verses 13 to 17, in view of the fearful words that have just preceded on apostasy and the lawless one, Paul begins to talk about their duty with words of encouragement


B. The Transition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 13-15

    1. Gratitude for Others’ Salvation (v 13)

        a. “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.”

        b. This verse begins, as did 1:3, “we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren …”, with only the little word “but” added of necessity, for there is here a change of subject

            (A)    Paul’s thankfulness here is not simply social politeness in a letter

                 (1)    rather he understood it as a deep-seated responsibility

                 (2)    such gratitude for them was suitable and appropriate due to the fact of what they had become as Christians in the face of great difficulties

            (B)    yet, just because it is a duty, his thankfulness is no less genuine

            (C)   for it is based upon what God has done in these Christians

        c. the next point in this verse brings us to a difference of opinion among translators: the AV, NAS, NIV and NKJV have “from the beginning”, while others have “as first fruits” or “among the first

            (A)    in NT times, all important documents – such as Paul’s letters to the churches – were written in all capitals, no spaces between words

            (B)    that is one of the reasons for the difference here

            (C)   certainly Paul does use the word “first fruits” in describing the first converts in some of the cities to which he was an evangelist

            (D)   but given the overall force of the verse, I believe the way we have read it for it agrees with its parallel in Ephesians 1:4-5, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will”

        d. Paul is grateful for the wisdom in which God has provided His way of salvation in Christ Jesus – here given in the simplest of terms

            (A)    the gospel is preached

            (B)    the Holy Spirit convinces men of sin

            (C)   people thereby believe and are saved; born again, born from above

            (D)   so that the Holy Spirit continues His work in them of sanctification

            (E)    yet filled with mystery, for in this work there are two parallel truths, which our finite minds cannot bring together

                 (1)    God’s election, or choosing by grace, those who are saved

                 (2)    man’s responsibility to obey the divine invitation & calling

            (F)    on this subject there is this story, “a group of theologians who were discussing predestination and free will. The longer they talked, the hotter it got. And, as you might expect, the dissidents split into two groups. One poor fellow didn’t know which he believed, so he slipped into the ranks of the predestination crowd. They challenged him as to why he was there. “I came of my own free will,” he answered innocently. Frowning, they responded, “Free will? You can’t join us. You get over there!” He retreated to the opposite group and faced the same challenging spirit. “Listen, I was sent here,” he answered honestly. “Leave!” they demanded. “You can’t join us unless you come of your own free will!” 2

            (G)   a bit farfetched, perhaps, but illustrative of the problem of trying to explain God’s inexplicable counsels.

        e. so why, then, should we not with Paul be filled with gratitude to God every time that “There’s a new name written down in glory!”?


    2. Salvation’s Destiny (v 14)

        a. “And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

        b. this verse continues the theme which we noted in the preceding verse

            (A)    as we had already anticipated in our description

            (B)    that the preaching of the gospel – the good news of salvation to be found in Jesus’ sacrificial death for our sins and our guilt, that we might have eternal life – is necessary for His eternal purpose

            (C)   in their case it was as proclaimed by Paul: for each of us it has been by others – but it is the same tried and true gospel

            (D)   and it is by this, that individuals are called – even as described a moment ago – and by the Holy Spirit accept God’s invitation

        c. but now, let us pursue the destiny of that salvation a little further

            (A)    the previous verse has said that a very necessary part of salvation is the process of our sanctification

                 (1)    the process of setting us apart from the world, from its mind-set and life-style

                 (2)    of setting us apart unto God, as His workmamship

                 (3)    of transformation our nature from being “children of wrath” into the “children of light” –( Ephesians 2:3, 5:8)

                 (4)    and where is this all to end?

            (B)    gloriously!

                 (1)    the parousia of our Lord Jesus Christ is intimately connected to glory

                 (2)    the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ in His church: as described in 1:9-12, which tells how the wicked will be taken “from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marvelled at among all who have believed – for our testimony to you was believed. … 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.”

                 (3)    but there is also the glory that will be shared by the church as

                     (a)    in this verse: “that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (NIV), “the obtaining of the glory” (AV, NKJV), and “gain the glory” (NAS)

                     (b)    this is a consummation; the final summing up of what is now taking place: “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

                     (c)    and again, “but just as it is written, ‘things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him.’” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

                     (d)    or, as expressed by John, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.” (1 John 3:2)

                     (e)    and, let’s not rush past this verse: “For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:53-54)

            (C)   this is the destiny to which the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is taking us … let us praise the Lord!


    3. Salvation’s Obligation (v 15)

        a. “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.”

        b. just because we can do nothing to earn our salvation

            (A)    either before the fact by good works and such things

            (B)    nor after the fact by worship and Christian service

            (C)   does not mean that the Christian has no responsibilities, no duties, no obligations

            (D)   and one such obligation is given in this verse

        c. is the work of sanctification one-sided on the part of the Holy Spirit, or co-operative between the regenerate nature and the Holy Spirit?

            (A)    some deny the latter, saying we cannot pull ourselves up, that in this as in salvation we must depend wholy upon God

            (B)    yet I do not believe that our trust in God is in any wise diminished if we seek to live holy lives: rather it is an act of obedience to God

            (C)   and it would seem that we have been saved for this purpose and by salvation, unbound from sin, and enabled to do so: “If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36 NAS)

        d. the quality that we are called upon to exercise, and that around which the entire passage before us today revolves, is steadfastness.

            (A)    what has gone before in this passage – the reiteration of basic truths of our faith – is to remind us to be steadfast

            (B)    what follows – Paul’s blessing and prayer for the church – is to show where we can have the power enabling us to be steadfast

            (C)   steadfastness in the gospel truth that brought us to salvation

            (D)   standing firm and holding vigorously onto God’s word

            (E)    the word translated ‘traditions’, literally means, ‘things handed over

                 (1)    traditions, like habits, can be good or bad

                 (2)    here they are good, for they are words of inspired apostles, in agreement with teaching of the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit

            (F)    such words are the articles of our faith and respecting these we should pay heed to Jude 1:3, “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.


C. The Blessing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2:16-17

    1. What God Has Done (v 16)

        a. “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace,”

        b. one of the distinctives of the letters of Paul – and this in no way denies their inspiration by the Holy Spirit – is how often he breaks forth into prayer or blessing right in the midst of them – so he does here

        c. how many blessings begin by reciting what God has already done!

            (A)    it is as we pause, meditate upon his promises, and then consider how they have been fulfilled, that we can take assurance in calling for His future blessing

            (B)    it was on the fact that Joshua could say to Israel,

                 (1)     “Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the Lord your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed.” (Joshua 23:14)

                 (2)    he could go on to say that if they would continue to follow the Lord they would be blessed; but if not, then they would not

        d. so here we are reminded who it is who has saved us

            (A)    it is the Lord Jesus Christ who is mentioned first – for it is His work on the cross that had opened our way to salvation and to God

                 (1)    on Billy Graham’s grave marker is the reference, John 14:6, (“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”)

                 (2)    Jesus’ sacrifice enabled righteous God to pardon our sins

            (B)    if is from this fact then, that He becomes our heavenly Fathr

        e. then a reminder of what that salvation involves

            (A)    it is on account of the love of God – the grammar of the sentence suggests that it is the love of God the Father that is in view

            (B)    and on this account we have been given eternal comfort – the everlasting calling alongside of help – specifically the Comforter, the Holy Spirit – we enjoy by God’s ever-presence

            (C)   on top of this there is our good hope

                 (1)    it is good because it is steadfast and sure, & has a good result

                 (2)    it is not “hope so” but rather the solid expectation of a sole heir after a will has been drafted – a NT use of this word

        f.  what God has already done in salvation is the base of …


    2. What God Will Do (v 17)

        a. “comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.”

        b. if He is the God who has given us eternal comfort

            (A)    and don’t think of that word in terms of a comfortable easy chair

            (B)    but rather as eternal God coming alongside His child to help

        c. in particular, strengthening our hearts

            (A)    we associate the heart primarily with love, with a person’s emotions

            (B)    but the Biblical use of the term is different

                 (1)    the heart is a person’s innermost being

                 (2)    the heart expresses all that person’s life means

                 (3)    the heart stands for a person’s will

            (C)   so that now that we are new creations in Christ

            (D)   Paul’s prayer, given with deep assurance, is that God gives strength to that new person that we are,

            (E)    so that indeed we will be able to stand firm; indeed, having done all, to stand firm.


D. Conclusion

    1. What more can one say?

        a. when God has already done such great things for us

        b. and with this blessing of Paul poured out upon his readers

        c. let us, indeed, take hold of the promise and stand firm in faith in God.




© 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

              NLT         New Living Translation © 1996 Tyndale Charitable Trust

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

              NRSV             New Revised Standard Version © 1989 National Council of Churches of Christ

              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:

              Barnes –  Notes on the New Testament, et alia, by Rev Albert Barnes, Gall & Inglis, Edinburgh

              BM       Biblical Museum, Editor James Comper Gray, ca 1870

              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

              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.


‘Dropping Your Guard’, by Charles R. Swindoll, Kerux illustrations #1577