Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 3 Study # 1
Thesis: Beneath the themes of decision-making and the use of power are the constant affirmations of genuinely beneficent motivation.
Introduction: At the end of the paragraph in which Paul determined to focus upon how much grace God had extended to the Thessalonians, he summoned them to steadfastness as a function of real faith and hope.
In the brief paragraph by which he brought the issues of the chapter to a conclusion we find a kind of benediction expressed in a hopeful wish from the apostle. He hopes for even more grace from the Lord and the Father. If he gets his wish, the Thessalonians will be even more invested in the truths of the Gospel than they have been to this point. Thus, this evening we are going to look into the foundations of Paul's expressed wishes.
February 7, 2015
- I. There Are Two Parts to the Expression of His Wish.
- A. Part One is an extended characterization of those toward whom he addresses his wish.
- B. Part Two is the expression of his specific desires for the Thessalonians.
- II. The Extended Characterization.
- A. This is not new to the letter: it begins in 1:1-2 with a deliberate repetition.
- 1. In these verses God is "our Father" and Jesus Christ is "Lord".
- 2. The dominant concept in the letter is "the Lord Jesus Christ" (used 11 times).
- 3. But aside from the repetition in the opening verses, our current text is the only other place in this letter where "father" is found.
- B. The "Himself" is found twice in this letter in reference to the Lord: 2:16 and 3:16.
- 1. This is a kind of echo of 1 Thessalonians 5:23 where a strong emphasis is placed upon "who" is going to pursue the objective.
- 2. In our text, the "Himself" is "our Lord".
- a. This means that we are looking at the issue of "decision making" with reverberations of how those decisions will affect us as we go about our living.
- b. That the overall expression of Paul's wish is in the optative mood indicates that whether, or not, and when, if ever, this "Lord" will interrupt the on-going flow of existence and human experience by imposing His own choices over those of all others will come into play.
- 1) Decision-making is an almost constant factor in the "flow".
- 2) An enormous number of "persons" are continuously making decisions.
- 3) Thus, if the "Lord" makes one, it will be the dominant one over all others.
- 4) And, clearly, Paul wants Him to make such decisions.
- C. The characterization of "our Lord" as "Jesus Christ" is a deliberate focus upon the intentions of the decisions.
- 1. As always, "Jesus" focuses upon both the fact of "salvation" and the act which makes it possible: the Cross as the means to redemption.
- a. The near context (2:11 and 2:13) deliberately focuses upon divine intentionality in this terminology: God acts to save.
- b. But God does not always act to save as those two verses clearly indicate.
- 1) There are those whom He is going to judge because they did not wish to be saved by His methods (the blame is theirs without dispute).
- 2) There are those whom He is going to save because He wishes it (the credit is His without dispute).
- 2. And, as always, "Christ" points forward to the ultimacy of the Kingdom of God with men in its midst.
- a. Both "Christ" and "Lord" share the issue of decision making as a part of their meaning.
- b. But the focus upon the Christ presses in the direction of the character of the Kingdom as the outcome of the King's decisions: righteous, peaceful, and joyful.
- c. This reinforces the issue of divine intentionality: He is bringing many sons to the glory of righteousness, peace, and joy.
- D. The "connected" (and) characterization of the God as "our Father".
- 1. As always, "God" refers to the exercise of Power so that whatever decisions are made by either "Lord" or "Christ" are sufficiently underwritten.
- 2. But, as "Father", there is a deliberate restriction upon the use of the Power: He only acts beneficently toward His children (1 Thessalonians 2:11) even when severity is in view.
- 3. The additional descriptions of this Powerful Father.
- a. He "loved" us; past tense, major focus: Calvary.
- b. He "gave" us two critical gifts.
- 1) He gave us an "eternal paraklesis"; a return to a very common and emphatic thesis in both letters, showing up again in the next verse.
- a) The question is, "How do we take this use in this text?".
- b) I take it in its most basic form: a "constant summons to trust".
- i. A constant commitment to His "fatherliness" as revealed at Calvary.
- ii. An on-going practice of deliberately "trusting".
- 2) He gave us a "good hope".
- a) The "hope" has been defined over and over as the coming of the Son from heaven.
- b) The "goodness" of it has most likely to do with the outcomes of that event in terms of the purging of the creation of the evil and the establishment of the pursuit at all times upon righteousness, peace, and joy.
- c. He rooted all of this "in grace".
- 1) Both as an encouragement to not despair.
- 2) As as an encouragement to look for His working on our behalf.