“The Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”
When commentators seek to determine why a biblical author wrote a particular book of the Bible, they frequently look for clues in the structure of the book they are considering. They have to do this because the biblical authors rarely say something as explicit as “The reason why I am writing this book is . . .” In the case of 2 Thessalonians, Paul’s use of the word “finally” in 3:1 helps us understand the Apostle’s primary aim in writing the epistle. As is clear from the many verses that follow 2 Thessalonians 3:1, the word “finally” does not indicate that Paul has nothing further to say. Instead, the term indicates that Paul has completed the body of the epistle, the main argument of the letter. Since the preceding section in chapter 2 deals chiefly with the events that come before the return of Christ, we see that Paul’s chief purpose in writing was to address some confusion about the last things on the part of the Thessalonians. He had other reasons for writing, to be sure, but his chief end was to address the eschatological (end times) questions of his audience in order to establish them in the faith so that they would stand firm in the truth (2:1–17).
Standing firm in the truth would give the Thessalonians a solid basis from which they could pray for the success of the gospel and the deliverance of Paul and his co-laborers from those who did not have faith in the gospel (3:1–2). But as we see in today’s passage, the failure of some to have faith in Christ should not discourage us. The faithlessness of men and women by no means negates the faithfulness of God to His promises and to His people. Paul makes this clear in today’s passage when he reminds us that the Lord will establish us and guard us against the evil one (v. 3). Yes, we should pray to be delivered from the evil one (see Matt. 6:13), but we should never think that it is not God’s will to give us such deliverance. The Lord, in fact, delights to rescue us from Satan and his minions. We who trust in Christ alone will all experience ultimate deliverance from the devil, for we will live forever in a renewed creation while our enemy and his followers will suffer forever in the lake of fire (Rev. 20–21). Satan can have no lasting victory over the people of God.
Paul expresses his confidence “in the Lord” that the Thessalonians will be established and will have their love for God sustained (2 Thess. 3:4–5). He knew his original audience would persevere not in their own strength but in the grace and power of the Lord.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
One of the most precious truths about the Lord is that even if others are unfaithful, He is always faithful to us. We never need to doubt that He is working out His good purposes for us, and we must cling to this truth especially when we cannot understand what He is doing. In fact, we do not need to understand what He is doing; we need only to know that He is always perfectly faithful.