Friday, July 24, 2015

Blessed Tho Pressed

Good morning,

Now we find ourselves at the end of 2 Thessalonians 2 and in verses 16-17 reading one of Paul's beautiful blessings.  There are so many beautiful blessings and benedictions in the Bible!

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.

I am amazed that, despite their terribly adverse circumstances, Paul declares the Thessalonians blessed!  (Remember, they were undergoing intense persecution at the time of this writing. They were "blessed tho pressed"!)

The first thing we need to see from these verses is that Paul is affirming the co-equality of the Son with the Father, by using in the Greek a singular verb, not a plural form, indicating that the two are equal.  (Paul used this same word construction in 1 Thess. 3:11.)

The word "loved" here is agape love (Greek: agapesus), perfect, holy love. 1

Our Triune God (although the Spirit is not mentioned in this phrase) has not only loved us but has given us "everlasting consolation", or in some translations "eternal comfort".  The Greek word used for "consolation" or "comfort" is "paraklesin"2, which you may recognize as the English "Paraclete" - - - "one who walks alongside".  This is the same word/name given by Jesus to the Holy Spirit, The Comforter.
Note the Amplified Bible's version of John 14:16 - - -

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever
 The Holy Spirit, like the Father and Son, IS from everlasting to everlasting.

Now, what about this "hope"?  People often read the word "hope" in connection with Paul's remarks about heaven and salvation and incorrectly deduce that neither is certain.  The Greek word for "hope" is "elpida", which Strong's Concordance translates as an expectant certainty, "an expectation of what is sure" 3.

And, how do we have this sure salvation?  By God's own grace to us, through His Son, Jesus.  Verse 17 hinges on verse 16.  It is because of this truth, this certainty of Heaven, that we can be comforted no matter the circumstances.  It is also this certainty and this grace which establish us in good works and words.

This is a key tenet, making Christianity different from all other religions.  Whereas all other religions require the follower/devotee to work for salvation, Christianity affirms the disciple's works as evidence of his/her salvation.  Our good works flow from what has already been accomplished in our spirits by the Holy Spirit.

Make no mistake: we are unable in and of ourselves to accomplish anything good.  It is our Triune God, working within us, who produces good works and good words.  As Paul says here, it is the Lord Jesus and God the Father who "establish", or as the NASB put it, "strengthen" us.

What a beautiful blessing and prayer to meditate on today!  No matter what trial we are currently experiencing, we have the certainty that God perfectly loves us and continues to bless us.

Heavenly Father, we rejoice in Your Triune-ness, Your Trinity.  As one of my favorite hymns says, "God in three Persons, blessed Trinity".  Thank you for first loving us with agape love and then for establishing Your children, grounding us in the eternality of Your glorious salvation, strengthening us to perform Your work on the Earth.  This is the source of our peace and our joy.  We praise You today for Your magnificence!  In Jesus' name, amen.


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