1 Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows evergreater; 4 therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for yourperseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. 5 This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering.
Before we jump into the text, we should first understand the purpose of the letter. This letter to the Thessalonians was written shortly after the first. It was written in the same year, in fact. Paul had received word that there was a misunderstanding about his first letter. In talking about the return of Christ, the judgments on the land, and the end of days, they assumed it was happening at that time and that they were being punished. Even though Paul said they wouldn’t because of their righteousness through belief and acceptance of Jesus Christ, they assumed it was all for naught and had since become “idle” and complacent. After all, what’s the point if what you’ve been told doesn’t hold true? This letter was to better clarify that point from his first letter.
That being said, it’s understood that not the entire church had fallen to this confusion yet, but rather a group of “dissenters” (for lack of a better word). After Paul’s greeting, which we see is coming with the support of Timothy and Silvanus, Paul gives thanks at the church’s steadfastness and increase in faith. If we remember, the first letter expressed Paul’s concern for their faith as a young church. He urged them to love one another as brothers and to his delight (and God’s) they have grown in faith and love by seeking after God’s will for their lives as he encouraged them in 1 Thessalonians.
Verses 4 & 5 are a great reminder of Christian living: if we are following God’s will, we will encounter difficulties from the rest of the world. I believe here that Paul is even happy that he has to write the letter, because the enemy is trying to twist things around. If we aren’t serving or following or seeking out God, the enemy is idle, you’re right where he wants you to be.
God tells us time and again throughout His word that we will face trials of many kinds but that it is for a purpose: so that your perfect faith may be complete. This is the fire that refines the steel, which sharpens the blade, which chisels the stone to build us into that which God intended, mighty soldiers of God. As I’ve said before, our belief and faith comes through Christ. This is what I believe Paul is talking about here, being worthy of the kingdom of God. We wouldn’t be able to withstand these difficulties and persecutions without the gift of faith and belief God has given us. Therefore, since we possess it, we can see that it is a result of receiving Christ as our Savior, which makes us worthy of the kingdom of God.
Are you worthy?