But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this, he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
- Paul should always give thanks for the Thessalonians.
- The Thessalonians were beloved by the Lord.
- God chose the Thessalonians as the first fruits to be saved.
- God chose the Thessalonian through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
- God called the Thessalonians to Paul’s gospel.
- God called the Thessalonians so they could obtain the glory of Christ.
- Because God chose the Thessalonians to they were to stand and hold tightly to the things Paul taught them.
- Paul taught the Thessalonians by spoken and written words.
- Jesus and God the Father gave Paul comfort and hope through grace.
- Paul prayed the Jesus and the Father establish the Thessalonians in every good work and word.
In the preceding verses, Paul tells the Thessalonians about the coming rebellion. Paul also talks about the man of lawlessness or anti-Christ. Paul now encourages the Thessalonians. They are not among those whom God will send judgment.
Notice how Paul encourages. He does so by reminding the Thessalonians God chose them. They did not choose God. As Jesus said told his disciples in the upper room, “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen.” (John 13:18) Later Christ said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…” (John 15:16)
So often we take a doctrine intended to encourage us and twist it into a concept of fear. “What if I am not one of the elect? Oh no!” You are worrying about the wrong things. The doctrine of election should comfort us. God chose us. We did not choose God. Our salvation is not dependent on us. God will preserve us because He chose us. God assures us of our salvation because God initiated it and God will sustain us.
Paul reminds the Thessalonians why the man of lawlessness will not deceive them. God chose them. Satan had no power over them. Paul tells the Thessalonians God chose them as the first fruits. He is using this as a metaphor by applying a custom of the old law. The first fruits were set aside for a sacred offering. Those God has called are set aside for a sacred offering. We have been set aside and sanctified by the Spirit.
Paul ends the sentence with, “and belief in the truth.” This has confused many to think that we have something to do with the assurance our own salvation. Paul is not negating what he has just said.
God, Himself, causes belief. “Therefore, God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (v11-12) We, by nature, seek the pleasures of unrighteousness. So, we believe whatever we think will bring us pleasure. God must change our heart. He must change our beliefs so we seek after Him. Again, it is all God who changes our hearts. It is God who causes us to seek after Him.
Well if it is all God, why does Paul say to stand firm and hold on tight to what he taught? Would not God take care of it all? Paul’s encouragement here is not to preserve the Thessalonians’ salvation. It is so they may enjoy and rest in Christ.