2 Thessalonians: Praying for the Gospel, Part 1
Topic: Second Coming Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 3:2–3:5
Paul’s intent in 2 Thessalonians is to address three pressing pastoral matters based on the report he received from Timothy. So far, we have looked at his first two major concerns.
In chapter 1, Paul seeks to comfort the Thessalonians in their suffering. He assures these young, persecuted Christians that God is just in the face of their suffering. He informs them that Christ’s return will mean retribution (vengeance) for persecuting unbelievers and relief (vindication) for persecuted believers. And even though such knowledge would not immediately lessen their present suffering, it would serve to comfort these young, suffering believers by reassuring them of God’s justice regarding the ultimate outcome of their persecutors as well as their own outcome
In chapter 2, Paul seeks to calm the Thessalonians’ fears concerning when Christ’s Second Coming will occur. Very soon after Paul’s departure, false teachers began teaching the Thessalonian believers that the Day of the Lord has already come. Consequently, some of the young believers had become “shaken and alarmed” in their faith (2:2).
Therefore, Paul calms the Thessalonians’ fears by reminding them of two specific, unmistakable events (signs) that must take place before the Lord returns: the rebellion (a great end-time apostasy in the church) and the revelation of the man of lawlessness, who will lead this rebellion. Paul argues that these two events will be so visible and unmistakable that it will be impossible for the Thessalonians to miss Christ’s Second Coming when it occurs. Since none of these events have yet taken place, the Thessalonians (and us!) do not need to be alarmed since it is obvious that the Day of the Lord has not already occurred.
This brings us to 2 Thessalonians 3 and the third pressing pastoral issue Paul addresses in this letter. In chapter 3, Paul seeks to correct the problem of idleness among some of the Thessalonian believers. But, before Paul addresses the problem of idleness, he asks his young converts for prayer.
Paul lived for the advancement and honor of the gospel. However, he understood that he and his apostolic team could accomplish nothing in the face of opposition without God’s powerful intervention. Therefore, in order to ensure the success of his gospel work in Corinth, Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5, makes three prayer requests to the Thessalonians.
In today’s message, we will look at Paul’s first prayer request. In 3:1, Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray for the gospel to spread rapidly and be glorified in Corinth just as it did in Thessalonica.