2 Thessalonians 1:1-7 … There’s much to note as we begin the second letter to the growing church at Thessalonica. Less than a year passed between the first and second letters. Paul seems to have heard, probably from travelers, that the church was enduring persecution as they faithfully followed the teaching Paul had provided. The opening verses reflect love and support as well as praying for God’s grace and peace for them. It’s noteworthy that Paul mentions that he always boasts about the Thessalonian church as he visits other churches (v.4). I think that’s a useful observation. It seems to me that it’s been a long, long time since I’ve heard one church compliment another; we ought to be bragging internally and externally about our churches! Verses 4, 5 and 6 all refer to persecution and suffering. It’s unquestionable that the Thessalonian church was persecuted by various factions, including Jews who were incensed that they were worshipping Jesus as Lord. The persecutors certainly included pagan idol worshipers who would resent any kind of talk about One True God.
The text gives perspective for believers … God is just and all that He does is right … and when things don’t seem to go right, God is in charge, He will handle our enemies, and bring relief as we need it (v.6). Now, we should note something totally different in verse 7. Previously (in 1 Thessalonians) we learned that, in the Second Coming, the Lord Jesus will be coming on the clouds and we will meet Him in the air to be with Him forever (1 Thessalonians 4:17). But now, in 2 Thessalonians 1:7, note that the Jesus will come in blazing fire with powerful angels to bring relief to suffering believers and to “pay back trouble” (v.6). This doesn’t sound much like the rapture we read about earlier and it’s not. The Second Coming is a sequence of events that begins with the calling out of the church, which we call the “rapture” … then other events will occur, including judgment, which is what 2 Thessalonians will clarify for us.