2 Thessalonians


2. Warning and instruction, 2:1-17

ii] Thanksgiving and encouragement


Paul now thanks God for the salvation of the Thessalonians and encourages them to hold firmly to the teachings he has passed on to them.


i] Context: See 2:1-12.


ii] Structure: This passage, Thanksgiving and encouragement, presents as follows:

A 2nd Thanksgiving, v13-14;

Appeal / exhortation, v15;

Prayer, v16-17.


Malherbe suggests that the passage is an interlude.


iii] Interpretation:

Wanamaker argues that in this passage Paul is still focused on the issue of "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." In v13-15, "Paul seeks to demonstrate that the readers have no reason to be shaken in their beliefs regarding the day of the Lord and more particularly their own participation in the salvation to come with that day by virtue of their call and election. Since they have assurance of their future salvation, Paul directs them to stand firm and hold fast to the traditions taught to them. This will ensure their victorious participation in Christ's parousia", Wanamaker. To this end Paul prays that the Lord Jesus will accomplish this in their lives, v16-17. There is much to commend this interpretation, although it is possibly somewhat forced. At least we can follow Fee who argues that the passage serves to bring "the preceding argument to its proper conclusion." Each element in the passage, namely the thanksgiving, v13-14, a concluding exhortation, v15, and a concluding prayer, v16-17, are "demonstrably related to the preceding argument", with each playing their part in the conclusion.


iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 2:13

Probatio: 2nd. Proof, 2:13-15: i] The thanksgiving, v13-14. This thanksgiving serves "to reassure the Thessalonian believers, in light of the immediately preceding recital of judgment on their enemies, that they themselves are destined to share in Christ's own glory", Fee. It is worth noting that the phrase "saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit" would likely cause Paul to choke; it is anything but Pauline and and requires careful exegesis. A person in Christ, through faith, is covered by the faithfulness of Christ such that they possess a state of holiness in the presence of God (now and forever) which, through the renewing power of the Spirit, they will seek to live out (be what they are) in their daily life, albeit imperfectly. The Christian life, when viewed as progressive sanctification, is often perceived as shaped by a Spirit inspired dedication to Biblical law. This approach inevitably leads to the heresy of nomism, a heresy denounced by Paul in his letters to the Galatians and Romans.

de "but" - but, and. Adversative, or probably better contrastive; "but".

hJmeiV "we" - The pronoun is emphatic by position. "We" (Paul and his apostolic team), on the other hand, are well able (compelled even) to give thanks for you Thessalonian believers because you do not face condemnation as do those who have not believed the truth (v12)". "As for us", Bruce.

eucaristein (eucaristw) pres. inf. "[we ought always] to give thanks. The verb ofeilomen, when it takes the sense "be obligated" = "we must, we aught", as here, takes an infinitive. The infinitive may be classified as complementary, completing the sense of this verb."

tw/ qew/ (oV) dat. "God" - [we ought always to give thanks] to God. Dative of interest, advantage.

peri + gen. "for" - Expressing reference / respect, "with reference to, concerning, about", or advantage, "on behalf of, for", as NIV, ie. standing in for uJper.

hgaphmenoi (agapaw) perf. pas. part. "[brothers] loved" - having been loved. The participle is adjectival, limiting "brothers"; "brothers who have been loved by the Lord." "Lord" presumably referring to "God" (Malherbe) rather than "the Lord Jesus" (Fee).

uJpo + gen. "by [the Lord]" - Expressing agency; "by".

oJti "because" - that. Here probably expressing cause/reason, as NIV, although possibly forming an object clause / dependent statement, indirect speech, expressing the content of the thanksgiving. Either way, Paul is establishing "the grounds for his thanksgiving", Malherbe.

aparchn (h) "from the beginning" - firstfruits. The NIV has followed the variant ap archV, although Metzger notes that aparchn is to be preferred; "he chose you as firstfruits for salvation", Bruce.

eiJlato (aiJreomai) aor. "[God] chose" - This word, not commonly used by Paul, expresses a very Pauline view of the divine initiative in salvation. The choice is, of course, not necessarily the election of individuals for salvation, but an exercise of the divine will for of a class of people, here believing Thessalonians.

eiV "to be [saved]" - to [salvation]. Usually taken to express purpose here, but possibly better "to/toward" = "with the object of salvation", salvation both now and not yet; "God chose you as firstfruits for salvation. "

en + dat. "through" - in, by. Usually taken as instrumental "expressing the means by which salvation comes about", Wanamaker, but possibly local "denoting the spiritual state in which the eilato eiV swthrian was realized", Ellicott. Either way, this state (God's sovereign grace operative in the Thessalonians for salvation) is realized en both "sanctification of Spirit" and "belief of truth."

pneumatoV (a atoV) gen. "[the sanctifying work] of the Spirit" - [holiness / sanctity / consecration / dedication] of spirit. The genitive, "of spirit" is usually taken to be verbal, subjective, as NIV, with "spirit" referring to "the Holy Spirit". The noun aJgiasmoV is usually understood to mean "sanctification", and this with the verbal genitive "of Spirit", serves to express the progressive work of the Holy Spirit "to purify the converts as to ensure that they are presentable at the Parousia of Christ", Morris, a work "completed at the Parousia when Christ is glorified in his holy ones", Bruce. Although rejected by most commentators, "spirit" may refer to the human spirit, with the verbal genitive, "of spirit", taken as objective, "sanctification of your spirits", cf. Findlay. Yet, the verbal genitive, as a classification, is often speculative, especially when when the genitive is used by a person with a Hebraic background (the Hebrew genitive is adjectival). So, Paul may well be using the genitive adjectivally, here prompting the translation "spiritual dedication", expressing the substance of a personal reliance on Christ. If this is the intended sense the following phrase would be appositional.

pistei (iV ewV) dat. "through belief" - in/by faith. Referring back to en the dative is usually taken to be instrumental; "through / by means of belief / faith."

alhqeiaV (a) gen. "in the truth" - of truth. The genitive is usually taken to be verbal, objective, as NIV; "acceptance of / belief in the truth", ie. "truth" is the object of the "faith"; "putting their trust in the truth", Fee, with "truth" = "the gospel." Of course, as with "spiritual dedication" an adjectival sense is possible where "truth" limits "faith", a "truth" type of "faith" = "gospel based faith." The point, though, is clear enough, the operation of God's sovereign grace for salvation rests on a person's spiritual dedication / gospel faith - the truth being the gospel, the truth of God's sovereign grace for salvation realized in the faithfulness of Christ.


ekalesen (kalew) aor. "he called" - he called. Often used in the sense of "invited". God invites us to share in the state of salvation.

eiV o} "to this" - to which/this. "Whereunto", AV. The antecedent is surely "salvation", although the pronoun o} is neuter whereas "salvation" is feminine. In fact, there is no neuter singular antecedent. Morris suggests that it refers to "the whole of the previous expression", but probably better "the state of salvation", which state is defined in the appositional clause in the second half of the verse, "that you might obtain the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ."

dia "through [our gospel]" - through, by means of [the gospel of us]. Instrumental. The Thessalonians were invited by God to share in the state of salvation by means of "our gospel", ie. through "the gospel we preach", Bruce.

eiV "that" - to, for. Possibly expressing purpose / end view, "in order that, so that / with a view to", and often translated as such. Malherbe notes the clause is likely to stand in apposition to the clause introduced by eiV o} and as such explains the goal of God's calling.

peripoihsin (iV ewV) "you might share" - the obtaining, possession. Used in 1Thes.5:9 of obtaining salvation, and here of obtaining the glory of Christ; "so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ", ESV.

doxhV (a) gen. "in the glory" - The genitive is usually treated as verbal, objective, as NIV, "to gain the glory", Moffatt, but it may also be treated as adjectival, of definition, "toward that possession which consists of the glory ..." "When Paul talks of obtaining the glory of Christ he has in mind the eschatological transformation of the people of God into the form of Christ's divine existence", Wanamaker. Such is salvation!

tou kuriou "of [our] Lord" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive - it is the Lord's glory that we possess; "the glory which is to be found in the Lord Jesus Christ", Cassirer.


ii] Admonition, v15. "In this verse Paul returns to the principal concern of this chapter: the stability of the Thessalonian Christians in the face of the false teaching", Green, ie. that the day of Christ's "coming / presence", the day when he executes judgment on a sinful word, has already occurred.

ara oun "so then" - so therefore. Drawing a conclusion.

sthkete (sthkw) pres. imp. "stand firm" - A military term referring to standing one's ground in the face of attack; "take a solid stand, brothers", Junkins.

kai "and" - and. Possibly here epexegetic, serving to introduce an explanation of how to stand firm, namely by holding on to / getting a firm grip on Paul's teachings.

taV paradoseiV (iV ewV) "the teachings [we passed on to you]" - the traditions [which you were taught]. The "traditions" are those teachings passed on to the believers, here those from Paul and his team. "For us these traditions are embodied in the documents of the New Testament", Morris. Sometimes used negatively, eg. Jewish traditions = nomist teachings.

eite ..... eite "whether ........ or" - either ..... or. An adversative conditional construction. Dividing the tradition into the two modes by which it is conveyed, ie. by oral communication and by letter.

dia + gen. "by [word of mouth]" - by means of [word]. As with di, "by [letter]", instrumental, expressing means.


iii] Paul now prays for the Thessalonians, that they may be encouraged in the Christian life, and this through the one who is the source of eternal encouragement, v16-17. His prayer is directed to the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father, it is directed to the One who, by his favor, constantly surprises us with his love, and inspires us with courage and confidence.

In rhetorical terms, these two verses may be classified as the peraratio, a recapitulation of the main themes in the form of a prayer.

de "-" - but, and. Morris suggest that the particle here is slightly adversative. Paul has urged the Thessalonians into action, but they can't do this in their own strength. Malherbe, on the other hand, thinks it is transitional and so, as NIV, not translated.

paraklhsin (parakalew) aor. opt. "May ........ (v17) encourage" - may he encourage, console. Optative expressing a wish-prayer.

oJ kurioV hJmwn IhsouV CristoV kai oJ qeoV oJ pathr hJmwn "our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father" - the Lord of us Jesus Christ and God the Father of us. The placement of the Son in front of the Father is rather unusual. Note also that the verbs parakalesai, "encourage", and sthrixai, "establish", v17, are singular, but surely apply both to the Father and the Son. Paul is obviously making no distinction between the two, although he is not setting out to make a strong trinitarian statement.

oJ agaphsaV (agapaw) aor. part. "who loved [us]" - the one having loved [us]. As with douV, "having given", the participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting by describing the Lord Jesus and God the Father, or either the Lord Jesus, or God the Father - the article covers both participles. Being aorist singular, the action may refer to a single past even, eg. the death of Jesus. On the other hand, the "salvation" of v13 may be in Paul's mind where the tense of the participle "having been loved" is perfect, giving an imperfective aspect, in which case the loving and giving continues and this from God the Father, along with Jesus.

en + dat. "by [his grace]" - by, in grace. Instrumental, expressing means. It is unclear what this adverbial phrase goes with, either: i] the participle "having given", as NIV, or ii] both participles, "having loved and having given by his grace."

aiwnian adj. "eternal [encouragement]" - "Eternal", an attributive adjective limiting "encouragement", a state realized "when he brought us into the state of salvation", Morris.

agaqhn adj. "good [hope]" - "Good" functions as an attributive adjective limiting "hope". A rather strange statement. There are many hopes, many in the scriptures, eg. "a living hope", "blessed hope", "firm hope", .... here we have a "good hope": "a wonderful hope", CEV; "unfailing hope", Phillips; "solid hope", Junkins; "well-founded hope", Berkeley; "confidence", Peterson; "so sure a hope", REB.


taV kardiaV (a) "[encourage your] hearts" - The entire person. "Encourage the hearts, or inner beings, of the Thessalonians in their particular situation of persecution", Wanamaker.

en "in" - in, on. Here local, expressing space/sphere, as NIV.

panti ...... agaqw/ "every good" - every ...... good. Although not together in the text it is likely that these adjectives serve to modify both nouns, "every good deed and word"; "to do and to speak all that is good", Barclay.

ergw/ kai logw/ "deed and word" - "That you may abound in doing (in deed and word) what is good."


2 Thessalonians Introduction



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