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Many little details and much of the seemingly innocuous language which Paul of Tarsus used in his epistles actually serves to sew together the historic context of the Old Testament with the stated purpose of the Gospel. Denominational Christians remain ignorant, not even conceiving what Paul had actually meant by many of the statements which he had made. So while it may seem that we often spend an inordinate amount of time on paltry details, those details are as necessary to a firm understanding of Scripture as each of ten thousand little nails are to the structural integrity of a house.
Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, Part 1: The Righteousness of God
As we had demonstrated from the circumstances provided in 1 Thessalonians 3:6 when compared with Acts 18:5, where it says “And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ”, Paul had written the first epistle to the Thessalonians shortly after he began to preach the Gospel in Corinth. Timothy and Silas were originally sent to Thessalonika by Paul from Athens, and they were evidently reunited with Paul in Corinth, as we are informed in Acts 18:5, where they reported to him the state of the Christian assembly in Thessalonika, as we are informed in 1 Thessalonians chapter 3. It was that report, along with apparent inquiries that the Thessalonians had made of Paul, which had given him the motivation to write that first epistle to the Thessalonians.
Now there is no definite statement to inform us who had delivered the first epistle to the Thessalonians, whether it was Timothy and Silas who had again made the journey, or whether it was delivered by another. However here as Paul writes this second epistle, Timothy and Silas are with him once again, and they are included in his salutation as they had been in the first epistle. There is also no direct evidence as to when this second epistle to the Thessalonians was written. However since the major theme of the epistle is an elaboration of things which Paul had said in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, it is evident that the first epistle must have compelled the Thessalonians to send Paul further inquiries which he answers here. So it is also evident that this second epistle to the Thessalonians was written from Corinth a short time after Paul had sent them his first epistle.
This account of the writing of Paul’s letters demonstrates that these two epistles which he had written to the Thessalonians are the earliest of Paul’s 14 surviving epistles, and, we would also assert, they are the earliest of his 17 known epistles since there are at least three which are missing. The third of Paul’s surviving epistles is the epistle to the Galatians, which was written either at Antioch or a short time after he departed from Antioch on his way to visit the Galatians, as his journey is described in Acts 18:22-23. It can be clearly demonstrated that all of Paul’s other epistles follow these.
The proximity of the writing of this second epistle to the first letter which Paul had written to the Thessalonians is made evident in the content and context of the epistles themselves. In 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 Paul had described in brief the promised Second Advent of the Christ. Then 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 Paul had said: “1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to be written to you, 2 for you yourselves know thoroughly that the day of the Prince comes as a thief in the night. 3 When they say 'Peace' and 'Security', then suddenly destruction comes upon them, even as a labor pang to her who is with child. And by no means shall they escape.” We shall soon see that this second epistle to the Thessalonians builds on this very theme. So the Thessalonians, or as the Greek spelling goes, the Thessalonikeans, having received Paul’s first epistle, must have written him back asking him to elaborate on those very words. This entire epistle was written for that purpose, as an elaboration of the first few verses of 1 Thessalonians chapter 5.
Now we shall commence with 2 Thessalonians chapter 1:
1 Paul and Silovanos [the Silas of Acts] and Timotheos [or Timothy] to the assembly of Thessalonikeans among the number of Yahweh [or simply “in Yahweh”] our Father and Prince Yahshua Christ. 2 Favor to you and peace from Yahweh our [B and D want “our”; the text follows א, A, I, and the MT] Father and Prince Yahshua Christ.
Once again we see Paul in his salutation give an equal status to Silas and Timothy in association with his ministry, which demonstrates that he esteemed both of them to be peers in his ministry. Silovanos only had that honor in these two epistles to the Thessalonians, and then here in Corinth he disappears from the Biblical narrative until he is mentioned much later in the first epistle of Peter. Ostensibly, Peter’s Silovanos is the same man, as Peter infers that he is well-known among the Christian assemblies of Anatolia which Paul had founded. Silovanos delivered Peter’s first epistle to those assemblies (1 Peter 5:12).
In spite of the fact that many of his fellow-workers were with him when various epistles were written, most notably even Luke and Titus, the only other New Testament figure besides Timothy and Silas who merited such a mention in one of Paul’s opening salutations is Sosthenes, the former leader of the assembly in Corinth (Acts 18:17) who was with Paul in Ephesus where he had written his first epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 16:8, 19).
3 Obliged we are, always to thank Yahweh concerning you, brethren, just as He is deserving, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of each and every one of you for one another abounds.
Paul had already commended the Thessalonians for walking the Christian walk and caring for one another, as he had told them in chapter 5 of his first epistle, “11 On which account you encourage one another, and you build up one another, even just as you do.” If Christians truly practised Christianity, if they all had lived each day for the edification of their kin and community, demonstrating the Christian love for one another which Christ demands of them, then the Jew and the Arab races, and all the enemies of Christ would naturally have been eliminated from Christian consideration, and would never have posed a threat to Christendom.
In the verse which follows, Paul refers once again to the persecution of the assembly at Thessalonika by Jews and the pagan Greeks whom the Jews had incited, which is evident in Acts chapter 17 and which he had discussed at greater length in 1 Thessalonians chapter 2:
4 Consequently we ourselves are boasting in you among the assemblies of Yahweh, for your endurance and faith in all your persecutions and the afflictions which you are bearing [B has “afflictions you are caught in]:
Here Paul speaks of boasting about the Thessalonians to the other Christian assemblies, and doing so, at the same time he is commending the Thessalonians once again. Ten years after writing this, Paul had written to the Christians at Rome [before he had ever even visited Rome] and he said: “19 Surely that of your compliance has reached to all, therefore I rejoice concerning you...” Then further on in that same epistle he wrote “25 Now with ability you are to stand fast in accordance with my good message and the proclamation of Yahshua Christ; in accordance with a revelation of mystery having been kept secret in times eternal, 26 but being made manifest now, through the prophetic writings; in accordance with the command of the eternal Yahweh, for the submission of faith to all the Nations, in discovering that 27 Yahweh alone is wise, through Yahshua Christ, to whom is honor for the ages.”
Early Christians found comfort that others along with them were sharing in the challenges and trials of the Faith, because it was the proof of the acceptance of the Gospel by the so-called “lost sheep” of the house of Israel. In this manner the Gospel was self-fulfilling, as it was supposed to be. For that reason Paul had told the Corinthians that “the proof of the Anointed has been confirmed in you”, because they had accepted the Gospel as it went out to dispersed Israel. This was presaged by Christ in the Gospel itself (i.e. Matthew 24:14, 26:13). But it was also foretold in the prophets in places such as Jeremiah chapters 30 and 31, and Isaiah chapter 49. For example, the Word of Yahweh says in Jeremiah 30: “Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the LORD; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.” The Gospel of Christ is the news of that salvation. Then in Jeremiah 31: “Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest…. Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. 11 For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he....” The Gospel of Christ is that very declaration. In that same chapter the promise of a New Covenant is made for the houses, or families, of Israel and Judah.
That same Word of Yahweh which had spoken through Jeremiah had also said in Isaiah chapter 49: “7 Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.” And the Gospel of Christ is the message of redemption to those who are truly chosen, while it is a message of condemnation for the enemies of God. In summation, the promised Redeemer of the Old Testament shall choose the same people of Israel which the God of the Old Testament had also chosen, and Christ is that promised Redeemer. Jeremiah was written long after the Assyrian deportations of the great majority of both Israel and Judah, people who were never known to the world as Jews. From these people and those of the earlier migrations from ancient Israel, many of the nations of Europe were formed. Therefore presenting 1 Corinthians chapter 1 here 19 months ago, after discussing the purpose of those same chapters of Jeremiah and Isaiah which we have just cited, we concluded that:
The “proof of the Anointed” is found in the fact that the Word of Yahweh God had prophesied that the nations of dispersed Israel would accept and comply with the Gospel of Christ, and they did. That is what Paul is telling the Corinthians in [1 Corinthians 1:6], as Yahshua Himself said, “My sheep hear My voice”. For that same reason Paul wrote in chapter 15 of his epistle to the Romans that “18 Indeed I will not venture to speak anything of which Christ has not fashioned through me, regarding the compliance of the Nations, in word and deed, 19 by power of signs and wonders, by power of the Spirit of Yahweh, consequently for me from Jerusalem, and in a circuit as far as Illyricum, to have fulfilled the good message of the Anointed.” The Gospel message seeks the compliance of the Nations of Israel to Yahweh their God. In chapter 4 of that same epistle Paul had explained that the Nations to which he brought that Gospel were the same Nations descended from Abraham.
So when Christians of the first century were pleased to hear that other communities in Europe had accepted the Gospel, it is because they understood the fact that these prophecies concerning the children of Israel in captivity were being fulfilled in them. This fundamental Christian message was the reason why Christians were persecuted by the Jews, as Luke recorded in Acts 22:21-22, and as Paul explicitly attested in Acts chapter 26:6-7 where he said “6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: 7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.” Therefore here in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, Paul will explain just who those Jews who persecute the Truth actually are, just as he had in another way in Romans chapter 9.
But first, remarking upon the Thessalonians and commending them for having “endurance and faith in all your persecutions and the afflictions which you are bearing” [in verse 4 of this chapter] Paul continues by referring to that suffering and persecution as:
5 a token of the righteous judgment of Yahweh, for which you are to be deemed worthy of the kingdom of Yahweh, for which you also suffer.
As it says in Isaiah chapter 53, which is an explicit prophecy of the Gospel, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?” But in more detail, in another Messianic prophecy the difficulty by which the gospel is accepted is foretold. Addressing the “drunkards of Ephraim” as well as the rulers of Judah, and the sins by which they had made a covenant with death, the Word of Yahweh says in Isaiah chapter 28: “16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. 17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. 18 And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. 19 From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report. 20 For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.” We have a similar English expression which goes “You made your bed, now lie in it.” For men, there has always been a reluctance to do that. However the Gospel of Christ is the message of life, and the dissolution of that covenant with death.
Where Paul mentions the “righteous judgment of God” writing here to the Thessalonians, he can only mean to refer to that very same judgment and righteousness which had been promised by God in Isaiah in connection with the Christ, by which the covenant with death made by the ancient children of Israel is disannulled. The righteousness of Yahweh God in Christ is explained once again in Isaiah chapter 46: “12 Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted, that are far from righteousness: 13 I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.” Many modern translations confound that last passage, evidently not believing what it says, but the original King James English is correct. Brenton’s English rendering of verse 13 is a very fair translation of the Septuagint Greek, and it says: “13 I have brought near my righteousness, and I will not be slow with the salvation that is from me: I have given salvation in Sion to Israel for glory.”
So the righteousness of Yahweh is for the salvation of Israel, directly connected by Isaiah to the salvation of Israel, and the salvation in Zion is to Israel for glory, and that is the stated purpose of the Gospel of Christ as stated by the prophet over 700 years before the birth of Christ. As the Word of God likewise promises in Isaiah chapter 45, “19 I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.… 25 In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” So once again, the righteousness of God is directly related to the salvation and glory of the children of Israel. Where in Isaiah 46:12 we read that Yahweh had said “Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted, that are far from righteousness: I bring near my righteousness”, we see corroboration that “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death”, as it says in the Proverbs. So Israel only has true righteousness where it seeks the “righteous judgment of God”, as Paul has said here. And that “righteous judgment” has only been promised to ancient Israel, and it has been promised to all of Israel and all of the seed, or descendants, of Israel without exception. It has been promised in spite of their sins, and not because of their goodness, as they themselves have never been good and have always done evil, even going so far as forsaking the covenant with God and making a covenant with death.
This same theme is found in Jeremiah as well. In Jeremiah chapter 23 we see an oracle against the shepherds of ancient Israel, who had caused the sheep of the flock to be scattered. Therefore the Word of Yahweh says in response: “5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 8 But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.”
These words in Jeremiah chapter 23 do not refer to Jews, but rather they refer to people scattered in the “north country” long before the modern Jews had ever come into being, and none of those people were ever known to the world as Jews. Josephus, the Judaean historian, knew in part who they were and had called them the “upper barbarians”. But in ancient history and archaeology it can be established that they became known as Kimmerians, Sakans and Scythians, Parthians, among other more specific tribal names. Isaiah chapter 41 is probably the most-cited chapter of the Old Testament throughout our presentations of Paul’s epistles, but again we cite it because it too explains what is the righteousness of God: “8 But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. 9 Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. 10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Here it should be evident, that the righteousness of God is what He does to uphold His Word, which in relation to the children of Israel is found in His promises to the Old Testament patriarchs. So if all of Israel is not saved, then God is not righteous. But fortunately for us, our God is a righteous God and He will keep His Word.
Next, as we have already stated, Paul begins to elaborate on certain things that he had written to the Thessalonians just a short time earlier, in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5. It is apparent that they must have written back to him after receiving his first epistle, asking him for such an elaboration.
6 For indeed it is righteous with Yahweh to repay those afflicting you with affliction,
The apostle Peter said in his first epistle, “16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” Likewise, in the very next verse from where we had just cited Isaiah chapter 41 in reference to the salvation of Israel and the righteousness of God, the Word of Yahweh says: “11 Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. 12 Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought.” This is a Christian promise, because properly Christians are the same children of Old Testament Israel in the “north country” to whom those promises were made, according to Paul himself in statements such as those found in Romans chapter 4, 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and Acts chapter 26. During three hundred years of persecution, while there was also a massive propaganda campaign and an infiltration of early Christianity by Jewish thought and ideas, if not by Jews themselves, by the fourth Christian century this aspect of the purpose of the Gospel was lost to a newly universal church, in spite of the fact that it is clear in the words of the apostles and the prophets, and shrouded in the annals of history. By the fourth century, Christians had forgotten the plain fact that the nations of Paul’s ministry were indeed the nations descended from the ancient dispersions of the Israelites, as he himself had explicitly stated, in Romans chapter 4, 1 Corinthians chapter 10, Acts chapter 26 and elsewhere.
As it says in the 44th Psalm, which Paul himself had cited in Romans chapter 8, “22 Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. 23 Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever. 24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression? 25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth. 26 Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies' sake.” Next Paul mentions a promise of relaxation for those who are being afflicted, and with that we shall search out the greater historical reasons for this affliction:
7 and to you who are being afflicted: relaxation [or rest] with us at the revealing of Yahshua the Prince from heaven with the Messengers of His power,
The people of Yahweh God had a promise of rest from the time that the nation was founded, if indeed they would obey His commandments. In Exodus chapter 33 Moses inquires of Yahweh and says “... if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.” The response which he received is: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”
In Deuteronomy chapter 3, where two-and-a-half tribes are left in the land of Moab east of the Jordan, we read where Yahweh addresses those tribes: “18 And I commanded you at that time, saying, The LORD your God hath given you this land to possess it: ye shall pass over armed before your brethren the children of Israel, all that are meet for the war. 19 But your wives, and your little ones, and your cattle, (for I know that ye have much cattle,) shall abide in your cities which I have given you; 20 Until the LORD have given rest unto your brethren, as well as unto you, and until they also possess the land which the LORD your God hath given them beyond Jordan: and then shall ye return every man unto his possession, which I have given you.”
Then, where the larger number of tribes are about to cross the Jordan, in Deuteronomy chapter 12 we read: “1 These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth. 2 Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: 3 And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. 4 Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God. 5 But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come… 8 Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes. 9 For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you. 10 But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety; 11 Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there...”
So the children of Israel were promised a period of rest, once all of their enemies were destroyed. This historical example serves as a type, as a model for the history which was to come, and for this same reason the Creation of God was described in an allegory of six days, after which Yahweh God rested on the seventh, which is His rest. This we read in the 95th Psalm, referring back to that very time of Moses and Joshua in the Exodus: “8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. 10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: 11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.”
The children of Israel failed to do what they had been commanded, and for that reason they failed to enter into Yahweh’s period of rest at that time, and they still fail. However the promise of rest still stands and they shall ultimately enter into it, as Paul says in Hebrews chapter 4, where he is also speaking of the ancient Israelites in comparison to those now in Christ: “1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it [so they had no resulting works]. 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. [Meaning that all of these things were foreseen by God.] 4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 Again, he limiteth a certain day [meaning that a certain day was designated], saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus [meaning Joshua of the Exodus] had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. [The promise of relaxation which Paul mentions here.] 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”
If the children of Israel were explicitly promised a period of rest exclusive of all other people, and these Thessalonians can share in that rest along with the Hebrews which Paul had also addressed, then these Thessalonians must be descendants of the ancient Israelites as well as Paul’s Hebrews. Otherwise, the Thessalonians have no share in the promise of rest, and Paul had no business making common the Word of God, and perverting the promises. However history indeed shows that the Thessalonians descended from ancient Israelites, and therefore Paul is right to imagine that they could have a share in that promise.
The children of Israel were commanded to exterminate all of the enemies of Yahweh their God who were in Palestine, and in reference to that command we read a warning in Joshua chapter 23: “11 Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God. 12 Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you: 13 Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.” So, many years later as it is recorded in Judges chapter 2, it became clear that the Israelites would indeed fail to do as they were commanded: “1 And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. 2 And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? 3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you. 4 And it came to pass, when the angel of the LORD spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept.”
So within one generation from their weeping, as that same chapter describes, the children of Israel were infiltrated and corrupted by the Canaanites whom they failed to slaughter: “11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: 12 And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. 13 And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.” And instead of perpetual rest, the children of Israel would have perpetual sin and perpetual war, as we read in Judges chapter 3: “1 Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan; 2 Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof; 3 Namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baalhermon unto the entering in of Hamath. 4 And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses. 5 And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: 6 And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods. 7 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.”
The ancient children of Israel failed to destroy the enemies of Yahweh their God, as they were commanded, and therefore they never entered into the promised period of rest, which is the True Sabbath, which Yahweh their God had offered them. That promised rest was supposed to be a rest from war and from all the troubles they had previously faced, such as the slavery in Egypt and the Exodus and subsequent years of wandering. All of the subsequent history of the Adamic race, and especially of the children of Israel as that part of the race which has been the focal point of the purpose of God, has hinged upon their failure to destroy their enemies 3,500 years ago. The balance of the Old Testament is an account of punishment, restoration, backsliding and more punishment, in an endless cycle until the children of Israel finally realize that the only thing that can save them is obedience to their God, and that is the obedience to the Gospel of Christ which was exhorted by Paul of Tarsus. That is what he had called the “the compliance of the Nations” in Romans chapter 15, as all the nations to whom he preached had descended from those same ancient Israelites.
Their failure is also why we live with Jews today. Presenting chapter 2 of this epistle, we hope to see that the enemies of Christ were those same enemies of Yahweh God whom the children of Israel were told to destroy in the Old Testament, and in that chapter Paul describes them as coming from Satan. In regard to them it says in Jude, where the apostle had quoted from Enoch, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” It is this same event which Paul described in verse 7 here as “the revealing of Yahshua the Prince from heaven with the Messengers of His power”. Now Paul continues his description by describing their coming:
8 in a flame of fire [א, A, and the MT have “in a fire of flame”; the text follows B and D] providing vengeance to those who do not know Yahweh, and to those who do not obey the good message of our Prince Yahshua, 9 those who shall pay a penalty: eternal destruction, from the presence of the Prince, and from the effulgence of His strength, 10 when He shall come to be honored among His saints, and to be admired with all those who believe (because our testimony to you was believed) in that day.
In verse 10, the Greek preposition ἐν is both “among (His saints)” and “with (all those)”, the choices being determined by the context, as ἐν may mean “in… at… upon… in the number of… amongst… among… in or with… [or] within...” (Liddell & Scott).
Presenting 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 here recently we discussed the Rapture of the Wicked, the destruction of all of the enemies of Yahweh God at the Second Advent of His Christ, which is described in the prophets as well as the Revelation of Christ. We elucidated the fact that the scriptures promise that the children of Israel themselves would have a part in that destruction, and therefore, as it says in Obadiah, “...the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.” So that flame of fire may be allegorical.
Where Paul says that Christ “10 when He shall come to be honored among His saints, and to be admired with all those who believe (because our testimony to you was believed) in that day”, he shows a confidence that the saints, meaning the people of Yahweh, who are in the world when this finally happens will indeed have this understanding, so as to honor Christ when He comes to destroy all of His enemies “because our testimony to you was believed”, and again we see the self-fulfilling prophecy of the Christian Scriptures. We must not be deceived into thinking that the Jews would have preserved the Scriptures if Christians themselves had not preserved them, as the Jews are those very enemies of God of whom Paul speaks here. If Christians had no cognizance of Old Testament Scriptures, the Jews would have been happy to have destroyed their own copies long ago.
The apostle Peter remarked on the return of the Christ in light of Christ’s own statement, “For just as the days of Noah, thusly shall be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:37). So Peter said in chapter 3 of his second epistle: “6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” But even that does not necessitate that the reference to fire be taken literally, and it may be an allegory referring to the wrath of the people of God.
Now this is the justice of Yahweh; this is the Righteousness of our God: that all of His enemies are utterly destroyed. And because the children of Israel had failed to do so, they shall be punished until they recognize Him and they are finally willing to do so. The Righteousness of God is that all of those who are of His Creation are ultimately preserved, and all of those who are corruptions of His Creation are ultimately destroyed. As Christ had said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” Therefore we see, once again, the purpose of the Gospel as given by Zacharias and recorded by Luke: “68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies [into whose hands they were delivered 1500 years earlier] might serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.”
Paul says here that all of the enemies of God are destroyed at His coming, and then referring to Christ he says that “He shall come to be honored among His saints, and to be admired with all those who believe”, and this is evidently a reference to what had also been prophesied in Ezekiel chapter 39, speaking of the removal of the wicked. This prophecy is parallel to that given in Revelation chapter 20, where it is described that in the last days Satan gathers all of the nations of the world, which are in both places described as Gog and Magog, and leads them against the Camp of the Saints, which represents the nations of the Christian people of Europe. We shall cite Ezekiel 39 at length here, and see that this shall be another lengthy process which is already underway:
“1 Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: 2 And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel [this is being accomplished through Jewry and Liberalism at this very time]: 3 And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand. 4 Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. 5 Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. [This description coincides with the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” in Revelation chapter 19 as well as the surrounding of the “Camp of the Saints” in Revelation chapter 20.] 6 And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD. [That fire may well be the house of Joseph which destroys the Jews, as it is described in Obadiah.] 7 So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel. 8 Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken. 9 And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years [which may indicate a prophetic period of 2,520 years]: 10 So that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall burn the weapons with fire: and they shall spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord GOD. 11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamongog. 12 And seven months [or a prophetic period of 210 years] shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land. 13 Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord GOD. 14 And they shall sever out men of continual employment, passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it: after the end of seven months shall they search. 15 And the passengers that pass through the land, when any seeth a man's bone, then shall he set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamongog. 16 And also the name of the city shall be Hamonah. Thus shall they cleanse the land. [And here the fulfillment of Obadiah 15-16 is realized, in reference to the other peoples of the world who shall be as though they had never been.] … 21 And I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them. [The nations are the nations of Israel, as Jeremiah and others promise that they are the only nations which remain.] 22 So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward. 23 And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword. 24 According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions have I done unto them, and hid my face from them. 25 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name... 29 Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.” This is the day in which Yahweh God is truly glorified, as Paul says here and as we have read in Ezekiel 39:13.
These promises in Ezekiel are Christian promises, since they are reiterated by Christ Himself in Revelation chapters 19 and 20 and as Paul of Tarsus, who at this time is writing over 40 years before the Revelation was written, looks forward to their fulfillment here. And as Paul explains, the glorification of Yahweh our God is fulfilled when all of His enemies are destroyed, and, according to Ezekiel, the prophecies concerning all of the non-Israelite peoples who are organized against the nations of Israel by Satan (who is the Jew) which are found in Micah, Obadiah, Jeremiah, Isaiah and the Revelation of Yahshua Christ are finally all fulfilled.
So Paul concludes with a prayer for God’s true chosen people:
11 For which we also pray for you always, that our God has deemed you worthy of the calling, and would fulfill every satisfaction of goodness and work of faith capably,
And as Christ referred to Himself as the alpha and the omega, the first and the last in the Revelation, we read a plea by Yahweh to the children of Israel in Isaiah chapter 48: “12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.” Men cannot choose God. Rather, it is God who does the choosing, and He has chosen and called only those same Old Testament children of Israel. So it says in Isaiah chapter 49: “7 Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.” If the Thessalonians were not of the descendants of ancient Israel, Paul of Tarsus would have had no ministry there. So the response of the Thessalonians to the news of their salvation in the Gospel is also described just as Ezekiel had described it:
12 in order that the name of our Prince Yahshua would be honored by you, and you by Him, according to the favor of our God and Prince Yahshua Christ.
Cleaving to the message of the Gospel, men have a firm line of defense against the devil. So Paul continues to encourage his readers to do so here, offering the promises of the Gospel as a source of comfort. He will continue to do so in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, where he continues to elaborate on the substance of his words in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5.
There we shall see, that the same apostle Jude whom we have cited here as corroboration for Paul, who quoted from Enoch in reference to the vengeful return of the Christ and the destruction of the enemies of Yahweh, had also written concerning how those enemies had infiltrated the body of Christ from the earliest times. As we have seen here from Deuteronomy, that infiltration and the resulting corruption had happened as early as one generation from the time of Joshua’s death, almost immediately after the conquest of Canaan. This will also be the subject for the next presentation of Paul’s second epistle to the Thessalonians, where discussing chapter 2 we see Satan revealed in Paul’s own writing, and Jude shall corroborate him once again.