by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 5 January 19, 2014 Dayton, Texas
3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;
4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
1901 ASV Translation:
3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father;
4 knowing, brethren beloved of God, your election,
5 how that our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and [in] much assurance; even as ye know what manner of men we showed ourselves toward you for your sake.
I. The Endurance of The Hope.
A. The content of the "Hope".
1. In the terms of the larger paragraph, the "Hope" is the coming of the Son of God from heaven (1:10).
2. In the terms of the greater context, the "Hope" is expressed in various ways.
a. In 2:12 Paul references the future in terms of a "calling" into "His kingdom and glory".
b. In 2:19 he refers to the Thessalonians as "our hope" and ties it to "the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming".
c. In 3:13 he sets forth an objective of God: "that He may stablish your hearts ... at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ".
d. The longest statement of this "hope" is 4:13-18 where he sets for the specific particulars of our meeting with the Lord in the air to be with Him forever.
e. The text of 5:8 declares that the "helmet" that protects the mind is "the hope of salvation" that is contrasted with "the coming wrath" and is defined in terms of "we should live together with Him".
f. Then, in 5:23 he expresses his desire that God "preserve" your whole spirit and soul and body in a condition of blamelessness unto "the coming our Lord Jesus Christ".
B. The endurance such "Hope" produces.
1. At issue with "endurance" is, always, the question of whether, or not, a person will continue to persist in the attitude/behavior that has resulted in the opposition that exists.
2. At issue with the question of persistence is the question of whether the person who is doing the thing that has created the resistance/opposition has any "hope" of the effectiveness of the persistence.
3. Paul, on multiple occasions, addressed this issue of persistence. A notable text is the claim of 1 Corinthians 15:58 that one's efforts in "the work of the Lord" are "not in vain".
4. One can pretty much tell what another "believes" when that "believer" runs into significant opposition: a "believer" persists because he/she "hopes" to have the desired outcome. If a "believer" discontinues his/her efforts, that tells that "all hope is lost" and the "faith" ceases to exist. Luke addressed this reality in his parable of the soils when he quoted Jesus' teaching in regard to those who are likened unto thin soil over a rock foundation.
5. In Romans 8:25 Paul makes this claim: "...if we hope...we, with patience, wait for...". With "hope" there is an extreme necessity for a clear-eyed grasp of the objective for which one hopes. If, for instance, one "hopes" for the conversion of a loved one, it is not difficult to become "hopeless" for one specific reason: God has not made any commitments to us about that particular objective. Likewise, if we "hope" that we will have an effective ministry in persuading people to trust God, we are just as likely to be overcome by hopelessness if few, or none, respond to our preaching. The cause is the same as the former illustration: God has made no promises about that objective. In order to "hope" we must have a bona fide commitment by God in promise(s) made. In our current text, the "hope" is that Jesus will come again as God has clearly promised with a host of words. From that "hope" derive many lesser "hopes"; all of the things associated with His coming in the promises of God (Romans 15:4). In this regard, God is actually called "The God of Patience" (Romans 15:5).
a. This does raise this question: What is the point of living in "hope" of something that is as likely as not to not occur in one's lifetime?
b. Is there any significant difference between living in "hope" of eternal life at the point of death and living in "hope" of eternal life at the point of the coming of the Son from Heaven?
c. What, after all is said and done, does it matter if one "looks for the soon coming of the Son of Man" or if one "looks for the translation from this world to the next at the point of death"?
1) Does it matter whether one's "expectation" will be fulfilled in one's own lifetime? Hebrews 11:13 actually says, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them from afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."
a) The counter-balance to this idea that it is "ok" to not look for the fulfillment in one's own lifetime is Jesus' statement in Matthew 24:48 that a sense that "my Lord delayeth his coming" will lead to miscreant behavior.
b) Thus, on the one hand, a sense of "despair" that the "hope" will be soon may well lead to flawed behavior and on the other a sense of excitement that the "hope" is established may well lead to extraordinary godliness.
2) It seems apparent, then, that it is not necessary to "hope for" something with the expectation that it will occur in this world during one's own lifetime; it is that we "hope for" something with the expectation that it will occur.
3) What, then, should we "expect" from our "hope"? Not that what we "hope for" will arrive before we die. Rather that what we "hope for" is going to establish the final reality that will determine the way things will be whether we live until that time or die before it. Our conscious existence never ceases because of "death"; it is simply transformed by that event into its "eternal" reality.