MP3: The Tribulation Road Thru 2 Thessalonians 1
Hosts: Nathan Jones & Vic Batista
Welcome to The Truth Will Set You Free podcast teaching series titled “The Tribulation Road!” Vic Batista and Nathan Jones will be teaching through the Bible’s prophetic book of 2 Thessalonians in a verse-by-verse study. We will begin this study by providing a little background and context to the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica.
A Little Background
Nathan Jones: I may live in the Dallas, Texas area where I serve at Lamb & Lion Ministries, but my family happens to all live back East. So, I’ve got to travel back and forth in order to spend time with them when I’m not writing letters via email or text. My situation is very much like what we will be reading about in 2 Thessalonians. The Apostle Paul is writing his own letter in order to reconnect with the family he had established back in a town called Thessalonica, located in what today is Greek Macedonia. Paul desired to bring his church family a little encouragement, a message from the Word of God, and prayers. Paul had been kicked out of the town by an angry mob shortly after he’d founded the new church, so he was seeking fellowship by the only method left to him — a letter.
Vic Batista: Likewise, most of my family is back in New York City in the Bronx, though some of my immediate family live here in Florida. It’s nice to be able to visit family back home and reconnect with them. How hard it must have been for Paul not to be able to return to Thessalonica without receiving a beating or jail time!
Before we proceed farther into 2 Thessalonians and down the Tribulation Road, let’s recap a little bit from Paul’s first letter which the Bible titles “1 Thessalonians” which explores the predominant subject found in that book — the Rapture.
Nathan Jones: The Apostle Paul and his evangelism team had traveled to the town of Thessalonica, one of the major cities in the Roman Empire, as missionaries in order to plant a church. Almost as soon as Paul and crew had arrived in town, he started up a church made out of new converts to Christianity.
Unfortunately, though, wherever Paul went, he also created enemies who were hostile to the Gospel. These people didn’t like the message of Jesus Christ as Savior. It messed with their polytheistic beliefs and industry which supported the worship of the many gods and goddesses. A number of hostiles had Paul driven out of town.
Paul and crew being kicked out of town just a few weeks after forming this new church left his group of baby Christians all on their own. They still depended on Paul’s teaching about faith in Christ, and they naturally still had a lot of questions. Once he’d reached a neighboring town, Paul wrote a letter to the church in Thessalonica which the biblical canonists labeled “1 Thessalonians.” I am sure Paul didn’t call his letter “1 Thessalonians,” but once added to the biblical canon it was given that title.
Paul wrote this first letter to encourage them as their church was being persecuted for believing in Jesus Christ. He revealed to them that one day Jesus Christ would return to catch up, we use the word “rapture” in the place of “catch up” or to “bring up” or to “snatch up,” those who had accepted Jesus as Savior and bring them all up to Heaven. That’s what Paul taught, especially in 1 Thessalonians 4.
As we begin our study of 2 Thessalonians, which is Paul’s follow-up letter to the church in Thessalonica, we will learn that he likely wrote it while staying in the town of Corinth. It could have been written in the same year as the first, as most theologians believe. The little church in Thessalonica was still growing, but they naturally still had questions, and so Paul was writing to answer any further questions.
Vic Batista: Because this was a new church — a baby church — there would naturally be certain questions they needed answering and doctrines to be reminded about. We’ll learn there were definitely some misunderstandings going on there about the Rapture and what happens to people after they die.
God’s Grace and Peace
Nathan Jones: Paul gave the typical greeting he offered in many of his letters, and this one is no different. Second Thessalonians 1:1-2 reads:
“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Vic Batista: I just love that opening because it’s so full of offerings of God’s grace and peace. You will never really experience true peace apart from the grace of God.Vic Batista: You will never really experience true #peace apart from the #grace of #God. Click To Tweet
Nathan Jones: Yes, and as we read through the letter we will come to see that the Thessalonians remained quite worried, so they really had not yet embraced that peace. Not only were the church members suffering due to those who were persecuting them, but they also hadn’t yet embraced the peace that Paul had previously taught them about. Their Christian walk was still incomplete. And so, Paul was going to complete that training here in 2 Thessalonians.
Right out of the gate Paul reminded them that God is our Heavenly Father, that Jesus Christ and the Father are one and the same, and so God is the One who provides true peace and grace to the Church. God’s grace is granted through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ who died on the cross so that when anyone puts their faith and trust in Him they will never suffer God’s wrath and judgment. Rather, the Christian receives God’s grace. We are given blessings instead of curses.
You will find that Paul in almost every letter he wrote to the churches he’d planted provided a reminder to the church that God is very gracious. He’ll grant you His peace. You only have to accept it. That’s great news and should provide encouragement to all of us who are believers in Jesus Christ. This God-given peace applies to all of us who live under God’s grace. You can embrace God’s peace even though the many trials and troubles which swirl around you. Christians can live in the eye of the storm and be at peace with God and our fellow man as long as we are wrapped in God’s grace.Nathan Jones: #Christians can live in the eye of the storm and be at peace with #God and our fellow man as long as we are wrapped in God's #grace. Click To Tweet
Vic Batista: Trouble does inevitably come, as Christians were never promised an exemption from hard situations. Every day it seems that here in the United States of America and around the world Christians are embroiled in difficult situations and enduring great turmoil. Great political turmoil is being waged in our own country right now. Believers in Jesus Christ always seem to have some challenges that they must go through, but God is always merciful. God is gracious. God will see us through every type of trouble and challenge, and therein lies our peace.
Nathan Jones: It’s funny how as Christians we get caught up in our own day-to-day difficulties and those difficulties happening to our families and friends, but then we start forgetting about God’s grace and peace. We start worrying, and then we start doubting. That’s never meant to be the condition for the Christian. The condition of the Christian should always be secure in knowing that God’s grace rests on us and that we have His peace. That, of course, doesn’t mean that we won’t have to deal with trouble, but it does mean that we will abound with peace and joy during those troubles. What a great situation to be in! No matter how much the winds of trouble assail us, and the tides of persecution lap against us, Christians can still be at peace during all of these troubling situations.
In the second part of our travels along the Tribulation Road and our verse-by-verse study of 2 Thessalonians, we will learn more about what these trials the Thessalonians were having to endure.