2 Thessalonians: Thanksgiving for Salvation

Peter Barnes: 2 Thessalonians 2:13,14

(29 April 2018)

Verses 13-14 make up what is essentially the gospel in miniature, from election in eternity past to life in the present to glory in eternity future.
1. Giving thanks for God’s past election.

– 2:13. Paul does not thank the Thessalonians for choosing God, but considers he ought to thank God for choosing the Thessalonians.

– the ESV and Jeffrey Weima say that the Thessalonian Christians were chosen as firstfruits, as in Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor.16:15. However, the NKJV and the NIV, as well as Calvin, John Eadie and Richard Phillips, think that the right reading is ‘from the beginning’.

– John Stott on election: ‘although it perplexes our minds, it greatly comforts our hearts’. The context is one of joy and thanksgiving.
2. God’s present means – His Spirit and His truth.

– 2:13. There are two means, the first being ‘sanctification by the Spirit’. ‘To be sanctified’ means ‘to be set apart’, and Paul is saying that we are to be thankful because God chose His people to be saved through being set apart by the Spirit. This is referring to regeneration, to being born again by the Spirit of God. See 1 Peter 1:2.

– the second means is ‘belief in the truth’ as in Acts 20:27.

3. God’s calling to future glory.

– 2:14. Chrysostom and Calvin think that Paul is saying that ‘it vindicates Christ’s glory’ – and it does do that – but the main idea is surely that Christians will possess glory with Christ. Paul is saying what he will say later in the epistle to the Romans – Rom.8:29-30.

The gospel is our great comfort in all trials and threats. But it is the full gospel – of God’s election, the work of His Spirit and His truth, and His promise of glory.