Friday, January 20, 2012

Repaying with affliction those who afflict you


2Thess 1:5-10  This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering--  (6)  since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you,  (7)  and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels  (8)  in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  (9)  They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,  (10)  when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

Several times we have discussed audience relevance when looking at the writings of the New Testament. Here is an interesting case. Paul is writing to the saints in Thessalonica. The Thessalonica church is made up of the believing Jews that Paul convinced in Acts chapter 17 and the Gentiles that also believed as a result of Paul’s preaching.

Paul founded the church In Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-4.)  He went into Thessalonica, found a Jewish synagogue, and began to preach the gospel to them. Some of them along with some Greeks that attended the synagogue became believers. It did not take long for the Jews to become jealous of Paul and cause problems (Acts 17:5-10.) They tried to stir up the authorities by claiming that he was seditious against Caesar.  As a result Paul and company went on to Berea, and though they found more noble Jews there that searched the scriptures, the Jews from Thessalonica were able to stir up trouble for them there also. So much so that Paul was forced to leave town.

Despite all of the turmoil and persecution that the unbelieving Jews perpetrated on the church, the Thessalonian believers were very faithful to the gospel and the news of their love spread abroad (1Thess 1:4-6.) This is the historical context behind the message of Paul to the Thessalonians in both of Paul’s letters to them.

So, when he wrote to them in 2 Thessalonians chapter one, he was referring to this situation and this specific persecution. Further, it was brought about in large part by the unbelieving Jews in Jerusalem that were part of the rulers. Look at what Paul says to them in the above indented passage: (6)  since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you,  (7)  and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels  (8)  in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  (9)  They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,  (10)  when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. I have underlined the parts of the passage that I would like to use to point out the thesis of this blog post.

First off he says that it is just to repay with affliction those who afflict you. This has to mean the first century believers. It cannot be put off two thousand years later. The you in this passage is the Thessalonians. So then, the affliction is coming to the unbelieving Jews in the first century that are contemporary with the audience that Paul is addressing. Jesus is coming in flaming fire and vengeance against the unbelieving Jews in the first century. To see this any other way does violence to the clear meaning of the text.

Therefore, you cannot push the rest of the letter out past the time of the audience of the letter. 2Thessalonians 2 and the man of sin, the strong delusion and everything else covered in the letter are directly attached to the first century time frame. It can be no other way. In view of this we must find a way in which Jesus came in flaming fire in the first century and that has to be with the siege of Titus of Rome in 70AD.

6 comments:

  1. Jimbo! Excellent! The same applies to Revelation as well. Historically fulfilled and for those in the 1st Century. Love the clear simplicity of keeping Scripture in its historical context. Thanks for the refreshing sip of cool water!

    Roger

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  2. just finished reading the unraveling of revelation by patrick stone. Have you read it? It's along this same line. If we are past revelation, then where does that leave us?

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  3. Hi Melanie,
    I have not read that particular book as of yet. However, I believe that prophecy was fulfilled in the time frame that written to. Your question is a good one and for me the answer is we are in the New Heaven and Earth which is synonymous with New Covenant. I will be writing soon on the use of heaven and earth in biblical poetry. David Curtis has done a brilliant job in writing about heaven and earth here >>http://bereanbiblechurch.org/transcripts/eschatology/heaven_and_earth.html<< it is a fairly short read.

    We are now one with the Father and we are restored by the last Adam to a 24/7 relationship with God. I don't want to take the room here to answer completely. I guess, I should start a series of blog posts based on your question... in fact, I think that is a splendid idea.

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    Replies
    1. We are IN Christ and HE is in US.
      We are ONE...forever

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  4. Thank You I will be looking forward to it.

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  5. Yes, this letter was to the first century time frame, but those right now will have to be held accountable for not knowing God and not obeying Him.

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