Friday, December 04, 2009

2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

V1-5 – 1Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. 3But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

Paul wraps up with a request for prayer, not so much for himself as for the word of God, the gospel, to “spread rapidly and be honored.” He relied wholehearted on prayer for the success of his ministry and the fruition of God’s will (Romans 15:30-31; 2 Corinthians 1:11; Philippians 1:19). He understands what Vincent Cheung says: “We ask God to make His word effective in us and in those who hear us. We ask God to sanctify us by His Spirit and through the truth. We ask God to help us stand firm and hold to the doctrines that have been passed on to us in the apostolic and biblical traditions. To strengthen our brothers, we remind them of the promises and the faithfulness of Christ, and then we ask God to encourage their hearts by a direct action in the soul through these doctrines. Thus Christian life and ministry place all the emphasis on intellectual doctrines, but place all the expectation on gracious divine action to render these doctrines effective in us and in others.”

In v2, Paul reveals his desire to be delivered from evil (Matthew 6:13). He longs for prayer in that regard, and he acknowledges why this prayer is necessary; as Calvin says, “Faith is a gift of God that is too rare to be found in all.” In that acknowledgement, Paul implies that people of faith are to live holy lives, different from the wicked people of the world (Matthew 13:24-30). Paul also encourages all believers in v3 to rely on the faithfulness of God in answering this prayer, not only for Paul, but for all of His children (Malachi 3:6; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:18; James 1:17).

In v4-5, Paul exhibits confidence in the Thessalonians and prays that God would continue to preserve them in their diligence. They loved God and waited patiently for Christ, all the while loving one another.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

What Tiger Teaches Men

Tiger has it all: more money than he could spend; worldwide fame; a beautiful wife; children; pets; houses; boats; a great career; unparalleled talent; endorsements; a photogenic smile; a buff build; a strong work ethic; television worthy personality; and the humility of desiring privacy, such that he and his family could better enjoy themselves in their time together. In other words, he doesn't prideful seek the spotlight, like some of those wanna-be reality TV stars. I've probably left out some things or traits that Tiger himself might mention, could we here from him on the subject. So what does he teach us?

His recent confession regarding "transgressions" against his wife and family teach us that man will not be satisfied in this world. How can a being made for another world be satisfied in this one? Was Tiger satisfied after, or during, his affair(s)? Maybe, but the satisfaction didn't last; in light of this week's revealing news, I am certain of that! Mick Jagger sang, "I can't get no satisfaction. Cause I try." He knows it's impossible, because he tries. Us less-famed men experience the same thing. Satisfaction - ultimate and permanent satisfaction this side of heaven - is elusive. That's what Tiger teaches us. But why? Tiger isn't teaching a new lesson here.

The men of Scripture, especially the patriarchs of old, teach us this lesson, some to heart-breaking, murderous degree. David sought satisfaction when he stayed home from battle and noticed Bathsheba, leading to an affair, a murder for cover-up, the deaths of many children, and polygamy. His son Solomon sought satisfaction in every possible way (see Ecclesiastes) and concluded that man ought to just fear God and obey Him. In other words, godliness is the answer to our thirst for satisfaction.

CS Lewis said, "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." I think Lewis' gets it all right here. He speaks not only of the elusive, even if only temporal, satisfaction, but he sees "desire" as the man behind the curtain. We all stare at satisfaction in wonder and awe. Meanwhile the desire for it is subconscious or subliminal. Satisfaction is the symptom of our trouble (sin), not the cause of it. Rather, desire is the cause of our sin, and that's where the war must be waged.

James 1:14-16 says, "Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don't be deceived, my dear brothers." No, don't be deceived. The problem isn't satisfaction; it's a fine thing to be satisfied. The apostle Paul knew satisfaction: "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:11-13). Hebrews 13:5 says, "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." That's a satisfying thought.

1 Timothy 6:6-9 says, "Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction." There it is! Did you catch it? This passage begins with an admonition to be satisfied; but the enemy in that effort is desire, namely "foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction."

So Tiger, be satisfied with godliness; men, be content in what the Lord provides. Romans 6:12 says, "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires." 1 Peter 2:11 says, "Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul." Galatians 5:16 says, "Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Romans 13:14 says, "Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Galatians 5:24 says, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires."

Scientists' Motives

The search for knowledge? Not always.

"Suppression, manipulation and secrecy...inspired by ideology, condescension and profit"? Sadly so. These are the words of United States Representative James Sensenbrenner, a republican from Wisconsin, responding to the recently leaked controversial e-mails to the White House regarding climate change.

Dubbed by some conservative bloggers, "climategate," there appears to be some purposely exaggerated data to help make the case for global warming, which of course, for those hoping for policy changes from the administration, would encourage the President to take aggressive action more promptly. Sensenbrenner accused certain scientists, namely Phil Jones and John Holdren, of "scientific fascism" and "scientific McCarthyism," and he cited one Jones' e-mail, which read, "I would like to see the climate change happen so the science could be proved right."

Now other scientists have chimed in to declare that these controversial e-mails were on a particular topic that in no way discredits the vast and broad-ranging evidence for the truth of global warming. But that would be expected, right? Doesn't this whole revelation is an episode that gives additional credence to Ben Stein's documentary, "Expelled." Presuppositions are all the more evident as being the set of ideas (ideology) that guides how a person interprets evidence; sadly, even the most intellectual people, have lost sight of their own. Romans 1:22 sums it up nicely, saying, "Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools."

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

V13-17 – 13But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings [or traditions] we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. 16May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Paul closes out this chapter with a return to thanksgiving, contrasting Christians with unbelievers yet again. And there’s a lot of meat in his explanation (1 Peter 1:2). Beginning with “but,” Paul excludes his Christian audience from those described in v11-12. He says, “God chose you to be saved” (v13; cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:4; Ephesians 1:4). Calvin notes, “In short, Paul here does two things; for he confirms faith, lest the pious should give way from being overcome with fear, and he exhorts them to gratitude, that they may value so much the higher the mercy of God towards them.” Paul says that God did this “through belief in the truth,” not because of belief in the truth. Again, in the words of Calvin, “In order that we may know that we are elected by God, there is no occasion to inquire as to what He decreed before the creation of the world, but we find in ourselves a satisfactory proof if He has sanctified us by His Spirit – if He has enlightened us in the faith of His gospel. For the gospel is an evidence to us of our adoption, and the Spirit seals it, and those that are led by the Spirit are the sons of God (Romans 8:14), and he who by faith possesses Christ has everlasting life (1 John 5:12)… Hence it becomes us to rest satisfied with the faith of the gospel, and that grace of the Spirit by which we have been regenerated.”

Then in v14, Paul says that God called believers “to this,” that is, salvation, through the gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Timothy 6:12; Romans 1:6; 8:28-30; 9:24; 1 Corinthians 1:9,24-26; 7:18-21; Galatians 1:15; Ephesians 4:1,4; John 10:3-4; 1 Peter 5:10). In reminding the Thessalonians of God’s calling, Calvin notes that Paul “repeats the same thing, though in somewhat different terms. For the sons of God are not called otherwise than to the belief of the truth.”

Vincent Cheung says, “Doctrines make the difference between heaven and hell, but it is God who causes those whom He has chosen for salvation to believe the right doctrines. The gospel is made effective in the soul of man by a divine inward action, a power that God applies directly to the mind as He controls the thoughts and dispositions of man. Paul credits to this work of God the initial belief in the gospel, the sanctification of the believer, encouragement in the heart, and strength ‘in every good deed and word’ (v17).” Gordon Clark writes, “The Arminians usually hold that God does not cause people to despise the truth nor does He purpose to condemn them for doing so. But this verse says, note carefully, that God plunges them into error in order that they shall be condemned. Non-calvinists will say that God permits, but does not cause, unbelief.” Cheung comments on that saying, “The last sentence implies that Calvinists would say that God does not merely permit, but that He causes unbelief. In other words, he implies that Calvinists affirm the biblical position.”

In v15, Paul commands the Thessalonians to “stand firm and hold to the teachings,” or traditions. He’s not referring to the traditions of the church, as is often considered to be the case in the Roman Catholic Church (Matthew 15:6). But Paul is referring again to his own words (complete and sound doctrine) – either spoken or written – as being divinely inspired (Romans 6:17; 1 Corinthians 11:2,23; 15:3; 2 Timothy 1:13). Cheung concludes, “We ask God to make His word effective in us and in those who hear us. We ask God to sanctify us by His Spirit and through the truth. We ask God to help us stand firm and hold to the doctrines that have been passed on to us in the apostolic and biblical traditions. To strengthen our brothers, we remind them of the promises and the faithfulness of Christ, and then we ask God to encourage their hearts by a direct action in the soul through these doctrines. Thus Christian life and ministry place all the emphasis on intellectual doctrines, but place all the expectation on gracious divine action to render these doctrines effective in us and in others.”

And finally, if you didn’t catch it, there’s a clear testimony to Christ’s divinity in v16-17. Calvin concludes, “When [Paul] ascribes to Christ a work altogether Divine, and represents Him, in common with the Father, as the Author of the choicest blessings, as we have in this a clear proof of the divinity of Christ, so we are admonished, that we cannot obtain anything from God unless we seek it in Christ Himself: and when he asks that God may give him those things which he had enjoined, he shows clearly enough how little influence exhortations have, unless God inwardly move and affect our hearts. Unquestionably there will be but an empty sound striking upon the ear, if doctrine does not receive efficacy from the Spirit.” And so we, along with Paul, give thanks to God “because from the beginning God chose [us] to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

2 Thessalonians 2:6-12

V6-12 – 6And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of His mouth and destroy by the splendor of His coming. 9The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

Paul says to his audience, “You know what is holding him back… the one who now holds it back.” The interchangeable pronouns make this difficult. Is it a he or an it? Is he an it or a he? While Paul says that the Thessalonians know what or who he is, we cannot claim that this truth is self-evident for us. We are right to wonder if this is a personal or impersonal being. Could it or he be an institution? Even God Himself? John Crysostom suggested that the Roman Empire, led by the Roman Emperor was holding back the antichrist. When Rome fell, antichrist was revealed (the dark ages).

Calvin argues differently, saying, “Paul declared that the light of the gospel must be diffused through all parts of the earth before God would thus give loose reins to Satan.” He thinks the spread of the gospel to all nations and people groups is what is holding back the man of lawlessness. Calvin says, “A gracious invitation to salvation was first in order,” then once the gospel spreads to all, “vengeance was ripe after grace had been rejected.” Ultimately, the answer of course is that God Himself is restraining the antichrist through the means of someone or something else. At least this was the case for a time, as Paul wrote to the Thessalonians.

Echoing John’s statement (1 John 2:18), Paul acknowledges that, though antichrist has not yet been revealed at the time of writing, the spirit of antichrist, or “secret power of lawlessness is already at work” (v6). Calvin comments, “[Paul] had foretold the destruction of Antichrist’s reign; he now points out the manner of his destruction – that he will be reduced to nothing by the word of the Lord. It is uncertain, however, whether he speaks of the last appearance of Christ, when He will be manifested from heaven as the Judge. The words, indeed, seem to have this meaning, but Paul does not mean that Christ would accomplish this in one moment. Hence we must understand it in this sense – that Antichrist would be wholly and in every respect destroyed when that final day of the restoration of all things shall arrive. Paul, however, intimates that Christ will in the mean time, by the rays which He will emit previously to His advent, put to flight the darkness in which Antichrist will reign, just as the sun, before he is seen by us, chases away the darkness of the night by the pouring forth of his rays.” So we need not fear, because “Jesus will overthrow [him, or it] with the breath of His mouth” (v8; cf. Isaiah 11:4; Revelation 19:15,21).

In v10, Paul notes that “the man of lawlessness” will deceive only those who are perishing. Christians will not buy into his schemes. But the perishing ones refuse to be saved by hating the truth. Because “they refused to love the truth,” God “sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie” unto condemnation for delighting in wickedness. Remember God hardens those He chooses to harden (Romans 1:18-32; 9:18). They harden themselves as well. Oftentimes the punishment for disobedience is more disobedience. Calvin concludes far better than I could:

“[Paul] limits the power of Satan, as not being able to injure the elect of God, just as Christ, also, exempts them from this danger (Matthew 24:24). From this it appears, that Antichrist has not so great power otherwise than by his permission. Now, this consolation was necessary. For all the pious, but for this, would of necessity be overpowered with fear, if they saw a yawning gulf pervading the whole path, along which they must pass. Hence Paul, however he may wish them to be in a state of anxiety, that they may be on their guard, lest by excessive carelessness they should fall back, nay, even throw themselves into ruin, does, nevertheless, bid them cherish good hope, inasmuch as Satan’s power is bridled, that he may not be able to involve any but the wicked in ruin.

“Lest the wicked should complain that they perish innocently and that they have been appointed to death rather from cruelty on the part of God, than from any fault on their part, Paul shows on what good grounds it is that so severe vengeance from God is to come upon them – because they have not received in the temper of mind with which they ought the truth which was presented to them, nay more, of their own accord refused salvation. And from this appears more clearly what I have already stated – that the gospel required to be preached to the world before God would give Satan so much permission, for He would never have allowed His temple to be so basely profaned had He not been provoked by extreme ingratitude on the part of men. In short, Paul declares that Antichrist will be the minister of God’s righteous vengeance against those who, being called to salvation, have rejected the gospel, and have preferred to apply their mind to impiety and errors (Proverbs 8:36)…

“Thus, those that perish have no just ground to expostulate with God, inasmuch as they have obtained what they sought. For we must keep in view what is stated in Deuteronomy 13:3, that the hearts of men are subjected to trial, when false doctrines come abroad, inasmuch as they have no power except among those who do not love God with a sincere heart. Let those, then, who take pleasure in unrighteousness, reap the fruit of it. When he says all, he means that contempt of God finds no excuse in the great crowd and multitude of those who refuse to obey the gospel, for God is the Judge of the whole world, so that He will inflict punishment upon a hundred thousand, no less than upon one individual.”

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5

V1-5 – 1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. 3Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness [or sin] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 5Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?

Paul begins now, after his introduction, to expound the end times for his concerned audience. He speaks of the end times as “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him.” Vincent Cheung says, “The matter [of] ‘our being gathered to Him’ …is easily confused with our being ‘caught up…to meet the Lord’ (1 Thessalonians 4:17), but the terms are not the same. Rather, it resembles the language used in Matthew 24, where Jesus says that His angels with ‘gather His elect from the four winds’ (v31). But the prophecy there concerns the destruction of Jerusalem (see Matthew 23:35; 24:2), which would happen in ‘this generation’ (Matthew 23:36; 24:34), that is, within His own generation in the first century.” Cheung, a postmillennialist, relies on Keith Mathison for this comparison, which is good, but the only way I see to align “our being gathered to Him” and Jesus’ angels “gather[ing] His elect” as something other than the eschatological rapture is to say that elect martyrs will be gathered to Christ as the persecution hits Jerusalem in 70 AD. This may fit, but I still believe that Paul is speaking more about the final Judgment Day, which seems to correspond with the rapture and second coming of Christ.

Furthermore, Calvin paraphrases Paul saying to the Thessalonians, “As you set a high value on the coming of Christ, when he will gather us to himself, and will truly perfect that unity of the body which we cherish as yet only in part through means of faith, so I earnestly beseech you by his coming not to be too credulous, should any one affirm, on whatever pretext, that his day is at hand.” Calvin continues, saying that since Paul, “in his former Epistle adverted to some extent to the resurrection, it is possible that some fickle and fanatical persons took occasion from this to mark out a near and fixed day. For it is not likely that this error had taken its rise earlier among the Thessalonians. For Timothy, on returning thence, had informed Paul as to their entire condition, and as a prudent and experienced man had omitted nothing that was of importance. Now if Paul had received notice of it, he could not have been silent as to a matter of so great consequence. Thus I am of opinion, that when Paul’s Epistle had been read, which contained a lively view of the resurrection, some that were disposed to indulge curiosity philosophized unseasonably as to the time of it.” In other words, Paul doesn’t want his audience to jump to conclusions about the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Moving on, some false teachers had apparently taught – even claiming to be Paul – “that the Day of the Lord has already come” (v2), but Paul denies that teaching, and instead implies that the day of the Lord (along with the second coming of Christ and rapture – 1 Thessalonians 4:17) will happen after antichrist is revealed (v3). (Again, some commentators allow for double fulfillment of “the day of the Lord,” temporally being at the destruction of the Temple and finally / eternally at the Judgment Day.) The Thessalonians, and we as well, are to guard against false prophecies, reports, and letters (v2).

In v3, Paul speaks of rebellion. The word is “apostasia,” but scholars aren’t sure what he means. It could be the falling away of many professing believers in the church (Matthew 24:6; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; Jude 17-19), the apostasy of Jewish people, their political revolt against Rome that brought the Temple’s destruction in 70 AD, or a general, worldwide rebellion against God, such as the neo-atheism of the 21st century. Whatever the meaning, religious or political rebellion, notice that Paul does not actually use the term “antichrist,” as John does (1 John 2:22), but his description of “the man of lawlessness” nevertheless is undeniably identical to John’s antichrist. And as some scholars believe, the identity of this man is Roman Emperor Nero. But others see some person in the future, or even a particular earthly kingdom, to fill this role. Calvin says that Paul’s use of these descriptive and terrible terms “tend to stir up the pious to a feeling of detestation, lest they should degenerate along with others.” He has much more to say on this passage:

“We have here, however, a remarkable passage, and one that is in the highest degree worthy of observation. This was a grievous and dangerous temptation, which might shake even the most confirmed, and make them lose their footing – to see the Church, which had by means of such labors been raised up gradually and with difficulty to some considerable standing, fall down suddenly, as if torn down by a tempest. Paul, accordingly, fortifies beforehand the minds, not merely of the Thessalonians, but of all the pious, that when the Church should come to be in a scattered condition, they might not be alarmed, as though it were a thing that was new and unlooked for.”

“As, however, interpreters have twisted this passage in various ways, we must first of all endeavor to ascertain Paul’s true meaning. He says that the day of Christ will not come, until the world has fallen into apostasy, and the reign of Antichrist has obtained a footing in the Church; for as to the exposition that some have given of this passage, as referring to the downfall of the Roman empire, it is too silly to require a lengthened refutation. I am also surprised, that so many writers, in other respects learned and acute, have fallen into a blunder in a matter that is so easy, were it not that when one has committed a mistake, others follow in troops without consideration. Paul, therefore, employs the term apostasy to mean – a treacherous departure from God, and that not on the part of one or a few individuals, but such as would spread itself far and wide among a large multitude of persons. For when apostasy is made mention of without anything being added, it cannot be restricted to a few. Now, none can be termed apostates, but such as have previously made a profession of Christ and the gospel. Paul, therefore, predicts a certain general revolt of the visible Church. ‘The Church must be reduced to an unsightly and dreadful state of ruin, before its full restoration be effected.’”

“From this we may readily gather, how useful this prediction of Paul is, for it might have seemed as though that could not be a building of God, that was suddenly overthrown, and lay so long in ruins, had not Paul long before intimated that it would be so. Nay more, many in the present day, when they consider with themselves the long-continued dispersion of the Church, begin to waver, as if this had not been regulated by the purpose of God.”

Paul’s prophecy of the antichrist’s behavior in v4 reminds of Daniel’s little horn (Daniel 7:8,20-21; 8:9-12; 11:31-36) and foreshadows John’s apocalyptic sea beast (Revelation 13:1-8). See also the imagery of Isaiah 14:13-14 and Ezekiel 28:2. Whichever interpretation we choose here actually impacts our views of the end times. If these signs Paul gives have already happened (fulfilled by Nero), then nothing remains to precede Christ’s second coming. If however, we still await “the man of lawlessness,” then Christ’s return is not as imminent as we might like it to be, for he must become revealed to the public, set himself up in the “Temple” (either figurative or literal), proclaim to be God, and work fraudulent miraculous signs before Christ returns to destroy him. And some, including Calvin (and maybe MacArthur), would suggest that the office of Pope in the Roman Catholic Church fits this description perfectly.

Finally, Paul expects the Thessalonians to remember that he already explained this when he was with them (v5). His passion and memory for the truths of God extend far beyond the average layperson. But the expectation is that we will all strive to be like Paul in both his passion for the things of God and his efforts to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

Monday, November 30, 2009

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

V11-12 – 11With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. 12We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ [or God and Lord Jesus Christ].

Paul concludes this opening chapter with prayer. He remembers the faith of Thessalonians as well as the coming judgment and prays that God would preserve them and further sanctify them (v11). He mentions God’s calling again, and it hearkens us back to 1 Thessalonians 2:12 and foreshadows his coming teaching in 2 Thessalonians 2:14. He also talks about being counted worthy again. This verse is somewhat difficult to translate (Calvin renders it, “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power”) and therefore interpret. But we can acknowledge that in issuing this prayer, he reminds the Thessalonians that perseverance and sanctification are all of God.

Next, Paul reveals why he prays this prayer. It is so Jesus “may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God” (v12). Calvin says, “He calls us back to the chief end of our whole life – that we may promote the Lord’s glory. What he adds, however, is more especially worthy of notice, that those who have advanced the glory of Christ will also in their turn be glorified in Him.” Therefore, says Calvin, “If we are not worse than stupid, we must aim with all our might at the advancement of the glory of Christ, which is connected with ours.”

Finally, you see the alternate translation at the end of v12. This is either Paul’s repeat conveyance of the intimate unity between Father and Son (as in 2 Thessalonians 1:1,2; 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 3:11), or a clear testimony to the Deity of Jesus Christ (Romans 9:5; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1). The Greek phrase could truly be rendered either way. Soli Deo Gloria!