Paul is not thanking God that He saved them from Hell. The word “salvation” has different meanings. Israel was saved from the Egyptians (Ex.14:13; Jude 1:5). Paul talked about being saved from a storm (Acts 27:31). And in the Thessalonian epistles, “salvation” can refer to salvation from the Tribulation. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord” (ITh.5:9). You don’t have an appointment to obtain salvation from Hell, you obtained it when you believed. But you have an appointment to obtain salvation from the Tribulation by the “salvation” of the Rapture (Romans 13:11).
And it is this salvation to which we were chosen, not salvation from Hell. True, the Bible says “He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph.1:4), but it doesn’t say we were chosen to be in Christ, it says we were chosen—in Christ. Christ is God’s elect:
“Behold…Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth…He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles” (Isa. 42:1).
Christ is the only man God could delight in. When we go to the polls, we have to hold our nose and vote for the lesser of two evils. Not God! He delighted to elect Christ to rule the Gentiles in the kingdom. And the way that Jews became part of His elect was by faith in Him. But God also chose Christ to rule the angels in heaven, and when we believe in Him, we become part of that elect (ICor.6:3).
We are also “predestinated” (Eph.1:5), but that doesn’t mean God predetermined our destination to heaven as op-posed to hell, it means to heaven as opposed to the earth where Israel will rule the Gentiles. Remember, “we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated” (Eph.1:11). Our inheritance is to judge angels, but was told, “thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles” (Isa.54:3). But you’re predestination to go to heaven in the pre-tribulation rapture, is the salvation Paul felt “bound” to thank God for.
“Bound” means under legal or moral obligation. Even
under the Law, thank offerings were voluntary, and Paul wasn’t under the Law (Rom.6:14). But he felt a moral obligation to thank God they were saved from the Tribula-tion for them, since they were no longer thanking God for it now that they lost the hope of the pre-trib rapture.
Anytime God does anything, someone should thank Him. The unsaved don’t thank Him for the sun and rain He gives them (Mt.5:45), or for “life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25), so we should thank God for them.
We were chosen to this salvation “through sanctification of the Spirit” (IITh.2:13). Sanctification means to be set apart to God (Ex.13:2,12), and we’ve been set apart to be saved by the pre-trib rapture.
Normally sanctification is from the unsaved (ICor.6:9-11), but here it is from the Jewish kingdom saints who will have to go through the Tribulation. That exact phrase “sanctification of the Spirit” is only elsewhere used by Peter to write to “the…elect according to the fore-knowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit” (I Peter 1:1,2). God foreknew the Jews would go through the Tribulation, so the Spirit sanctified them from us, the people He foreknew would be raptured before it. Peter went on, “that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold…though it be tried with fire” (1:6,7) and that’s Tribulation talk (Zech.13:9;14:1)
This is why Paul went on to say that they’d been chosen to be saved from the Tribulation “through belief of the truth,” Paul’s truth, and why they were called by Paul’s gospel (IIThes.2:14). If they were called by Peter’s gospel, the Spirit would have separated them to go through the Trib-ulation. This explains why Paul called us “them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate” (Rom.8:28). God predetermined that our destination would be in heaven rather than the earth, so He called us by Paul’s gospel to obtain the glory of the pre-trib rapture. Saved Jews under the kingdom program were also called to obtain glory but only after they have “suffered” the Tribulation (I Pet.5:10).