Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #1158 MP3 Audio File Video File

Relief at the Revelation

2 Thessalonians 1:6-7

Delivered 03/12/23

Good morning, Bereans. We are continuing our study this morning of 2 Thessalonians and today we will be looking at verses 6 and 7 of chapter 1. Paul gives us his salutation in the first two verses. Then verses 3-10 are one sentence in the Greek and their theme is the second coming of Yeshua. Nearly half of 2 Thessalonians deals with problems and issues regarding the second coming of Christ.

We need to understand that these believers were suffering for their faith.

Therefore, we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 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— 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5 ESV

Paul tells us that they were suffering, "in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring… for which you are also suffering."  Remember that a few weeks ago we saw that they were suffering just like the saints in Judea were suffering.

For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Yeshua that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, 1 Thessalonians 2:14 ESV

In Judea, that the disciples were being beaten, that some were being martyred (e.g., John the baptizer, Stephen, James). Notice what Luke writes.  

and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Yeshua, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Yeshua. Acts 5:40-42 ESV

This is the first instance of the apostles receiving a physical beating that Luke recorded in Acts. The word "beat" here is derō, which according to Strong's, means "to flay, that is, (by implication) to scourge, or (by analogy) to thrash: - beat, smite." Thayer says it means, "to flay, skin."

This beating was not a little thing. It was a horrible thing. These men would have been left stripped and bloodied. The number of stripes was to be determined by what was seen as just. But the number of stripes was not be more than forty under any circumstances (Deuteronomy 25:2-3). It was a horrible form of persecution.

In 2 Corinthians Paul writes,

Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 2 Corinthians 11:24-25 ESV

Paul says, "five times he received forty lashes." We see that Paul was being persecuted "at the hands of the Jews." It was the Jews who hated and persecuted Christians. And these believers in Thessalonica were suffering greatly at their hands. And concerning this suffering group, Paul writes,

since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Yeshua is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7 ESV

Whom is he talking to in these verses? He is addressing the believers in Thessalonica in the first century. Verse 1 says: "Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians." He assures them that God is going to repay with affliction those who afflict—any believer all believers? No, those who afflict "YOU"—the believers in Thessalonica in the first century. He would "grant relief to YOU." Clearly, Paul was telling the first-century Thessalonian believers that they would receive relief from suffering. WHEN? When they died? No! He says it would occur "when the Lord Yeshua is revealed from heaven." That's the second coming (called here the Revelation of Yeshua). So, if the Lord has not yet returned two thousand years later, what did this mean to the Thessalonian believers to whom it was written? Nothing! It would have been deceptive to them because the only relief they would get would come at death since the second coming was thousands of years in their future.

Can you show me something in this letter that would indicate that Paul switched his intended audience to people thousands of years in the future?

Richard Mayhue, in his commentary on 2 Thessalonians, writes, "These truths will particularly be true for those who are alive at Christ's second coming and more universally true at the end of the Millennium." So, then they meant nothing to the people to whom they were written. What hermeneutical principle does this violate? It clearly overlooks the principle of Audience Relevance which seeks to discover what the original readers understood a passage to mean. The concern of the interpreter is to understand the grammar of a passage in light of the historical circumstances and context of the original audience.

Are we to believe that Paul wrote this to the first-century believers in Thessalonica who were suffering but that it had absolutely no meaning to them? This would never fly with thinking people.

Mayhue goes on to say that "Paul is not speaking of peace and ease in this life but in eternity, which is the rest (but with a different Greek word) that is spoken of by the writer of Hebrews (3:18–4:11). In other words, those who lived with unrest (tribulation and persecution) for Christ's sake, in this life, will have eternal rest with Christ forever."

So, he is saying that their rest would come at death? That's not what Paul says. He says the rest will come at "the revelation of Yeshua."

David Guzik, in his commentary on 2 Thessalonians, writes, "The Thessalonian Christians were persecuted and had tribulation; and God used it for His glory. But the time of persecution would not last. A day of rest is promised for every believer." So, he is also saying their suffering would end at death. But that is NOT what Paul says.

Stephen J. Cole writes, "The point is, unless Jesus and the apostles were lying or mistaken, He is coming! Mockers will say, 'Where is the promise of His coming?' (2 Pet. 3:4). But they will be shocked and terrified when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in power and glory." No, the point he was making to the suffering Thessalonians was not just that He is coming, but that He is coming SOON!

Chuck Smith writes, "Paul is gonna talk here in a little bit about a period of time that is coming in which God is going to judge the world. There is gonna be a time of tremendous tribulation that is going to come to pass upon the earth. I believe that it isn't far off. This period of great tribulation is described in detail in the Book of Revelation."

So, again, the relief that the suffering Thessalonians would receive isn't far off for us twenty-first century Christians? How does that help them at all? Smith says, "This period of great tribulation is described in detail in the Book of Revelation." You mean that book that was written to the seven churches in Asia minor in the first century. The book that is bracketed by seven time statements? There are two in the first three verses of the book:

  1. "to show to his servants the things that must soon take place" (verse 1)
  2. "the time is near" (verse 3)                                                                                               

There are five time statements in the final chapter (22):                                                          

  1. "to show his servants what must soon take place" (verse 6)
  2. "I am coming soon" (verse 7)
  3. "the time is near" (verse 10)
  4. "Behold, I am coming soon" (verse 12)
  5. "Surely I am coming soon" (verse 20)                                                             

This book is bracketed by seven time statements—seven being the number of perfection, fullness and completion. How do people ignore all this and look for the fulfillment of Revelation in our future?

On the recently launched web site called, Unorthodox Eschatology, which is signed by many of those who also signed the open letter to Gary DeMar demanding that he answer their three questions, it says this:

"We hereby adopt the following position concerning the unorthodox eschatological doctrine of Full Preterism, Hyper-preterism, or any other Eschatological System promoting any one of or all of the following errors which are contrary to the Holy Scriptures, historic creeds, and confessions."

Statement number four addresses the preterist teaching that  "the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is already past and fulfilled (AD70) therefore denying a physical visible return of Christ at the end of history [Acts 1:8-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17].

What is very comical here is that the second biblical reference they use to attempt to refute this preterist teaching (e.g., 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10) is actually a proof text for what they are trying to deny. If this text refers to "a physical visible return of Christ at the end of history," what did it mean to the suffering Thessalonian believers? Nothing!

Let me add here that there is no Scripture that explicitly teaches that Yeshua would return in a physical, bodily fashion. But there are many texts that tell us that His coming would be "soon" to His first-century audience. An understanding of the language of Scripture will help us see that His coming was not to be physical but was to be a coming in judgment on Old Covenant Israel. The judgment was physical; His presence was not.

Our text in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7 clearly tells us that Paul and the Thessalonians expected the return of Christ to happen in their lifetime. The Parousia could not give them relief and punish those who were afflicting them if it did not happen in their lifetime. This is consistent with what Paul had already taught them in the first letter.

and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Yeshua who delivers us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:10 ESV

"And to wait for his Son from heaven"—this is clearly a reference to the second coming of Christ at the end of the age. Nobody argues with or questions that. So, the Thessalonians were waiting for Yeshua to come from heaven at his second coming. Why? If the Lord has not yet returned over 2000 years later, as the majority of the church believes, why were they waiting on Him in the first century? Would you wait for something that you would never experience?

Let's talk about the word "wait." Wait is from the Greek word anameno. It is found only here in the New Testament, but it occurs four times in the Septuagint. Anameno is from ana, which means "upon." Vines says it intensifies the meaning of meno ("abide or remain"). It conveys the meaning of expectant waiting—sustained, patient, trusting waiting. It pictures an eager looking forward to the coming of one whose arrival was anticipated at any time, a waiting for one whose coming is expected. BDAG says it means "to wait for, expect someone or something." You wouldn't wait for something that you didn't expect to happen.

In the Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary, Gilbrant states that In classical Greek, anamenō means "waiting or staying in wait." The word carries the sense of anticipation of an impending event. One such example is the use of anamenō in describing an army waiting for the enemy to attack.

I think that the fact that the first-century believers in Thessalonica were waiting for Christ's coming from heaven tells us that they expected to see it in their lifetime. Why look for something you will never see? Other verses in this letter imply that they expected this coming during their lifetime.

For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 1 Thessalonians 4:15 ESV

Do you remember the timing that is giving for this letter?  It was written in A.D. 50/51. So, the imminent coming of the Lord was 19 to 20 years away from the time this letter was penned. During the course of this time, some of them would die, but some would be alive at the coming.

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 ESV
But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 1 Thessalonians 5:4 ESV

So, the first-century Thessalonian believers looked for the second coming in their lifetime. They expected to see it. Why? Where did they get this idea? Well, they must have been taught this by Paul and Timothy. And they most likely got it from their Lord Yeshua. Yeshua taught that his Parousia would happen in that generation, within a 40-year period. He taught that some of his disciples would still be alive. Paul taught the Thessalonians that some of them would live to see it. It was now only 20 years away.

In his book "The Apocalypse Code" Hank Hanegraaff writes,

Preterists present their interpretation of "this generation" in the Olivet Discourse as an unassailable apex of their system. However, is their interpretation the most compelling given the usage and context of the term in Matthew's Gospel? I don't think so. The typical futurist interpretation is that this verse refers to a future generation, or time frame. The typical preterist interpretation is that this verse refers to a past generation, or time frame. A problem presents itself in that both of these interpretations fail to adequately account for several important interpretive factors.

In the Gospel of Matthew, the phrase "this generation" is primary used in the pejorative sense towards a people group; Israelites who rejected Him. To view this as a "time frame" reference (i.e., 40 or 80 years) goes against the usage of the term in Matthew. This term isn't used in a quantitative manner (years on the earth); rather, it is used in a qualitative manner (describing people with certain spiritual qualities). If we view this term as descriptive of those in ethnic Israel who reject Messiah (which has continued since the first century) not only are we within the bounds of the usage of "this generation" in Matthew, but this interpretation also fits best with both the immediate context and the whole of Scripture.

Hanegraaff says that "It is used in a qualitative manner (describing people with certain spiritual qualities)." This is not true in Matthew 24. The Greek word used for generation is genea, which according to Strong's, means "a generation; by implication an age (the period or the persons): - age, generation, nation, time." And please note that Yeshua said "this" generation. Yeshua uses the near demonstrative "this." Every time "this" is used in the New Testament, it always refers to something that is near in terms of time or distance. Yeshua doesn't say "that" generation or "some" generation referring to a different generation than the one He was speaking to. He said "this generation," in other words, the very people to whom He was speaking. If you look at the way Yeshua used the word "generation," I think it will be abundantly clear that it always refers to His contemporaries—the Jewish people of His own period.

Back to 1 Thessalonians 1:10. Paul closes chapter one by saying, "Yeshua who delivers us from the wrath to come."  What wrath is this? This is the wrath that Yeshua predicated would come upon Jerusalem and upon all who rejected Yeshua. Who is the "us" that Yeshua delivers from the wrath? It is Paul and the Thessalonians. If they are going to be delivered from the wrath, they must be around when the wrath happens.

What "wrath" is it that Yeshua was delivering these Thessalonians from? I think we see the answer in chapter 5.

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Yeshua the Christ, 1 Thessalonians 5:9 ESV

If we back up in this chapter, we see that the context is the day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is the return of Christ to judge apostate Jerusalem and to consummate the New Covenant.

In chapter 3 Paul says.

so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Yeshua with all his saints. 1 Thessalonians 3:13 ESV

This is the third time in this letter that Paul mentions the "coming of the Lord." He mentioned it at the end of chapter 1. He mentioned it again at the end of chapter 2. We don't really have a time indicator in 2:19. This is unusual. But 3:13 says, "that he may establish YOUR hearts…at the coming of our Lord." Paul clearly indicates that they would see the second coming. Just in case the three times that Paul has mentioned the second coming in this letter so far has not convinced you that the Parousia was to happen in the lifetime of the first century Thessalonians, look at what he says in chapter 4.

For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 1 Thessalonians 4:15 ESV

"Coming" here is again Parousia. Notice what Paul says. "We who are alive…at the Parousia of the Lord." Is that a clear enough time statement? Paul taught that he and many of the Thessalonian believers would be alive when the Lord returned at the Parousia.

The view that the church holds on the Parousia is at odds with Paul's teachings. So, who got it wrong? Was it Paul or the majority of the church?  The Church at large is still waiting for the Parousia, over two thousand years since it was prophesied. But Paul said the first-century believers would see it. Who is right?

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 ESV

Paul prays that the Thessalonians will be blameless "at the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Christ"— the word "coming" here is Parousia. This has been the theological focus of the entire book. This is the sixth time in this letter that Paul mentions the "coming of the Lord."

The expression "at the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Christ," should not be understood as "until His coming" as translated by the KJV. The focus is on the first- century Thessalonian believer's spiritual state at the time of the second coming. He says, "sanctify YOU completely." This was to happen while some of them were still living.

The return of Yeshua is mentioned in every one of the New Testament books except for Galatians (where it is alluded to) and the very short books of second and third John and Philemon. The return of Christ is a major theme of the New Testament. As you study this theme of the return of Christ, you will find that the first-century church expected the Lord to return in their lifetime. They thought this because Yeshua taught a first- century Parousia, and so did all the New Testament authors.

In light of all of this clear timing, why does the majority of churchianity today reject a first-century coming of Christ? Why can't they see this? I think it is because they look for a physical coming of Christ. Just like the Jews missed the first coming of Christ because they were looking for a physical deliverer, the church has missed the second coming.

With that as an introduction, let's dig into the language of our text.

"Since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you"—this is an implied first-class conditional sentence Such a construction assumes a statement to be true from the author's perspective or for his literary purposes. God's judgment is just.

"Repay"—is the Greek antapodidōmi which Thayer Defines as: 1) "in a good sense, to repay, requite 2) in a bad sense, penalty and vengeance." We see antapodidōmi used in Romans 12.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."  Romans 12:19 ESV

"Vengeance is mine, I will repay."  This is a quote from Deuteronomy 32:35 which deals with the Lord's giving vengeance. The writer of Hebrews also quotes this.

For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people."  Hebrews 10:30 ESV

The Lord is going to "repay with affliction (thlipsis) those who afflict (thlibō) you." Yahweh is a God of vengeance.   The Greek text suggests that it is just in God's sight (dikaion para theō̧) to recompense the persecutors with affliction. Thlipsis is a noun and means "anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble." And thlibo is the verb and means "to afflict, narrow, throng, suffer tribulation, trouble."

Some have observed that both references to trouble are from the same Greek word (thlibo /thlipsis, participle followed by noun) and that this reflects the Tanakh notion of lex talionis ("an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth"). The point of this is to underscore the certainty that persecutors will be paid back at the judgment day.

"For behold, the LORD will come in fire, and his chariots like the whirlwind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment, and by his sword, with all flesh; and those slain by the LORD shall be many. Isaiah 66:15-16 ESV

Here "Yahweh is the avenger." The Lord will bring vengeance on sinners, on those who reject Him and His Word. Matthew puts it like this.

His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."  Matthew 3:12 ESV

God was also shown as righteous when those who persecuted the Thessalonians were repaid with tribulation according to their evil works.

The emphasis on the vengeance of God is calculated to encourage the brothers and sisters in the face of great adversity, supplying them with an eschatological perspective that will enable them to endure in their present situation.

"And to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us"—the word "relief" here is from the Greek word anesis which means "relaxation or (figuratively) relief: - eased, liberty, rest." In the New Testament it commonly denotes relief from some type of affliction. To whom is this promise of relief given? "You who are afflicted." Clearly, it is promised to the first-century Thessalonians. Paul says that "God is going to repay with affliction those who afflict you and give YOU that are afflicted rest."

"As well as to us"—Paul says God will give rest to US as well. From this, it is clear that the apostolic circle was also suffering persecution.

Do you think that the believers in Thessalonica saw this as good news? This gave them hope in the midst of their suffering. Relief was coming. Not right away; it would be about 19-20 years. But it was coming. Do you think that Paul was giving them false hope?

When will the unbelievers receive judgment and the believers get rest?  "When the Lord Yeshua is revealed from heaven"literally "at the revelation of the Lord Yeshua." In the other texts in these letters that speak of the coming of the Lord Yeshua, the author refers to the event as the parousia (1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1), but here it is described as his "revelation." There is no verb. Apocalypsis means "to clearly reveal." This refers to the Second Coming of Yeshua. Paul uses this same word in 1 Corinthians 1.

so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Yeshua the Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Yeshua the Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:7-8 ESV

The time of God's righteous judgment will be the Second Coming/Resurrection Day/Judgment Day.

 This is what John says in Revelation.

"Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. Revelation 22:12 ESV

Yeshua was to "repay" at the second coming.

Paul then describes the apocalypse by three prepositional phrases. The coming of Yeshua is described simply as "from heaven," "with His mighty angels," and "in flaming fire."

"From heaven"this does not merely indicate his origin but also stresses his authority. He comes from the dwelling place of God with the authority of God to execute judgment and recompense.

The idea of a disclosure of one's presence from an invisible dimension instead of a directional movement from a geographical location is apparent also from considering Paul's other uses of "revelation" to describe Yeshua's appearances to him.

"With his mighty angels"—"the angels of his power" (angelōn dynameōs autou). The possessive pronoun "His" modifies power, not angels. It is not His mighty angels, technically, it is the angels of His power. A number of texts describe how these beings will accompany the Lord in his coming (1 Thess. 3:13; Matt. 16:27; 24:30–31; 25:31; Mark 8:38; and Zech. 14:5).

And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. Mark 13:27 ESV
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Matthew 25:31 ESV
It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, Jude 1:14 ESV

This coming is a judgment coming and Christ is not coming alone. "Literally, in or among holy myriads." [Vincent's Word Studies]

The preposition "with or among" presents the coming Lord as surrounded by a vast concourse of court attendants. The word in the Greek is hagios which refers to holy ones, and here it is a reference to angels not to believers. Christ's second coming was accompanied by angels.

For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Matthew 16:27 ESV

Christ comes with His angels. That idea is repeated over and over in passages dealing with the second coming.

"In flaming fire"—confusion exists whether this phrase goes with verse 7 or 8. The NASB puts it in verse 7 the ESV in verse 8. If it goes with v. 7, it relates to the angels; if it goes with v. 8, it relates to judgment. I think it should be connected to verse 8 and, therefore, it refers to the judgment. Isaiah says,

"For behold, the LORD will come in fire, and his chariots like the whirlwind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment, and by his sword, with all flesh; and those slain by the LORD shall be many. Isaiah 66:15-16 ESV

This is how Peter describes the day of the Lord at the second coming.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 2 Peter 3:10 ESV

So, Paul is telling the suffering first-century believers at Thessalonica that God will give them relief from their suffering at the second coming of their Lord Yeshua the Christ in their lifetime. But it would have meant nothing to them, in fact, it would have been deceptive and cruel for Paul to teach them that relief from their suffering would come at His appearing if the second coming was thousands of years in their future.

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