Also available as MP3: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-3 – The Signature of Paul
Since this epistle is from Paul (1:1) that makes it different from all other New Testament epistles, which were to the Jews (e.g. James 1:1). But now that Israel has lost her favored nation status with God, she is now just another one of the nations, so Jews today must look to the apostle of the nations for their instructions (Rom.11:13).
“Silvanus” is a the full name of Silas, the man beaten and jailed with Paul in Philippi who then helped Paul found the Thessalonian church. As cowriter of the first epistle (1:1) Silvanus is part of the “we” (2:2), and there was no Silvanus in Philippi, only a Silas. So Paul mentions Silas in this opening salutation since the Thessalonians knew and loved the man who suffered with Paul and then helped found their church, along with “Timotheus” (v.1).
“In God the Father and the Lord” (1:1) is a reference to their position in Christ.” We are born into Adam but are baptized into Christ when we get saved (ICor.12:13; 15:22)
“Grace” means “gift” (Eph.2:8). We saved by grace, but Paul extends these saints more grace because grace is God’s panacea, His answer for every problem in life. It is the answer to the carnality of the Corinthians (ICor.1:3), the legalism of the Galatians (Gal.1:3), and everything in between, and that runs the gamut of all of our needs.
Paul offers “peace” to these saints who already had peace with God (Rom.5:1) because it is easy to think that you have lost your peace when you sin. So Paul opens this epistle by extending them peace to remind them that they didn’t make their peace with God by being good and so they couldn’t lose their peace by being bad, and the same is true for us.
The word “bound” (1:3) means “under legal or moral obligation.” The Greek word is translated “debt” or “owe” elsewhere. Paul felt he owed a moral debt to God to thank Him that the faith and love of the Thessalonians had grown because He had prayed that their faith and love would grow (IThes.3:10-12). No wonder he said he was bound to thank God for them “as it is meet,” for it is not meet or fitting to not thank God when He answers prayer.
How does faith grow? By the Word (Rom.10:17)! So they grew their faith by studying the Word. So why would Paul thank God that they had studied? Well, you thank God for food because without the rain He sends (Mt.5:45) food won’t grow, and you thank Him when faith grows because it wouldn’t grow without Him. Many men study the Word and don’t believe in the deity of Christ, His virgin birth, or that they’d be happier in life if they followed His rules.
Their charity or love also grew, and this too was of God, for many men study the Word and get puffed up (ICor.8:1), which makes them look down their noses at others that don’t know as much as they do, not love them, so Paul was bound to thank God their love had grown as well.
They already loved others with a love that stretched beyond their borders, but Paul prayed their love would increase more (ITh.4:9,10). He was never satisfied with anyone’s spiritual state, and we shouldn’t be with ours either!
In Paul’s first epistle he thanked God for their faith and love and hope (ITh.1:2,3), but doesn’t mention their hope here. Their hope was not just the Rapture (Tit.2:13), it was the pre-Trib rapture, that God will call us home before the Tribulation. Because of the tribulations the Thessalonians were enduring (1:4), they had begun to believe that they were in the Great Tribulation. But Paul had said “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22), and had told these very Thessalonians the same when he was with them (ITh.3:3,4).
The troubles of the Tribulation are all sent from God. Even those that come from Satan are just God using him as a chastening tool. Your troubles do not come from God, they are not “acts of God” as the insurance companies claim. But you serve a God that can bring good things out of your troubles (Romans 8:28), good things like patience, experience and hope (Rom.5:3,4).