Some years ago, I spray-painted a white stripe across the lower end of my driveway. I was prompted to such action out of concern for my two daughters -- Bethany and Katie. I did not want the girls to ride their bicycles too close to the street, (where traffic often rushed by) and be injured -- thus the boundary.
At first, the girls were a bit confused as to its purpose. I assured them that the stripe was there because of my love for them, in addition to my concern for their physical welfare. In the intervening years, they never crossed over the stripe.
It is interesting to note that when we go to the Bible toady, we often find God's white strips (i.e., commandments). The purpose of these commandments is not because God wants to rob us of our liberty, pleasure and our enjoyment, or that he -- for some selfish reason -- wants to restrict our behavior. Rather, they are in the Bible because God loves and cares for us. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 3:5).
Are you staying within God's white lines? Are you living inside his divine boundaries? He put them there for our benefit!
Despite the fact that these two letters were penned around 51-52 A.D., they continue to be as fresh and as relevant as ever (2 Peter 1:3). Consider but one excerpt from the apostle's inspired hand: ". . . When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his might angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction form the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power, when he comes, in that day, to be glorified in his saints and to be admired among all those who believe . . ." (2 Thessalonians 1:7b-10a). What was Paul's point? Don't despair -- remember Christ's revelation! Carefully study the following:
The word, "revealed" (v. 7), Greek -- apoklupsis, has reference to an unveiling or disclosure,1 the uncovering of a secret;2 the term implies concealment.3 Christ will be hidden or concealed until such time the Father chooses to disclose him (1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:7, 13; 4:13). "His presence, which is a reality for Christian men here on earth, will at His Coming be made known to all"4 (Revelation 1:7). Now note the three-fold nature of this promised revelation:
1. It will be a revelation of Christ's AWESOME POWER (vv. 7b-8a)! "From heaven . . ." (Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 4:16). The phrase emphasizes not only Christ's origin, but also his authority. "He comes from the dwelling place of God with the authority to God to execute judgment and recompense."5 "With his mighty angels . . ." (Psalms 103:20). These divine agents will escort the Lord at his return (Matthew 24:31; 25:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). Their purpose will be to execute his bidding (Matthew 13:41, 49). "'In flaming fire . . .' Literally, the phrase is 'fire of flame,' and refers to a ball of fire that lashes out flames."6 This is a vivid depiction of both divine majesty as well as judgment (Exodus 3:2; 19:16-20; Isaiah 29:6; 66:15; Psalms 50:3; Acts 7:30; 1 Peter 3:10).
2. It will be a revelation of Christ's TERRIBLE VENGEANCE (vv. 8b-9)! The word, "vengeance," Greek -- ekdikesin, means to vindicate (Luke 18:7; Romans 12:19; 2 Corinthians 7:11).7 "The literal meaning of which is 'out of justice or righteousness,' indicating this is not out of vindictiveness nor from a feeling of indignation, but a righteous punishment for evil deeds (Rev. 16:7).8 The word "conveys the idea of a firm administration of justice."9
Note the identity of the recipients of divine vengeance: ". . . those who do not know God," and "those who do not obey the gospel" (Romans 1:28; 10:3, 16; John 8:55; 17:3; Romans 11:30). Note also the nature of divine vengeance: (a) "punishment," Greek -- dike, refers to execution of sentence;10 (b) "destruction," refers not to annihilation, but ruination;11 not a loss of being, but the loss of well-being.12 "When we say a car is 'destroyed' in a wreck we don't mean there is nothing left (i.e., annihilation), we, rather, mean that what is left is destroyed (i.e., ruined) so that it won't serve the purpose it is made for . . ."13 and (c) exclusion, tells us that those who neither know or obey God will be in the presence (Matthew 7:23; 8:12; 25:41) of the Almighty, nor will they behold his glory, Greek -- doxa, radiance, majesty and might (Isaiah 2:10ff).
3. It will be a revelation of Christ's UNSURPASSED GLORY (v. 10)! The phrase, "to be glorified," Greek -- edoxazo, suggests that those who have believed will reflect, demonstrate, demonstrate and exhibit his glory. Likewise, "to be admired," Greek -- thaumasthenai, denotes the idea of wonder or amazement.14 Children of God will participate in this glorification and admiration because they have believed!
The Second Coming was a source of confusion and sadness to the Thessalonians. Recognizing this, Paul forwarded a message of correction and hope to lift their troubled spirits. We, too, need these uplifting words! Remember Christ's revelation! "Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).
1. Ronald A. Ward, Commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1973.
2. Earnest Best, A Commentary on the First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians, 1972.
3. John Eadie, A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Epistles to the Thessalonians, 1877.
4. William Neil, The Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians, 1950.
5. I. Howard Marshall, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1983.
6. Michael Hatcher, Studies in 1 and 2 Thessalonians and Philemon, Dub McClish, ed, 1988.
7. A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. 4, 1931.
9. Leon Morris, The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians, 1991.
10. Ralph Earle, Word Meanings in the New Testament, 1974.
12. Thomas H. Holland, Lasting Truth About Last Things, 1998.
13. Earl Edwards, Commentary on I and II Thessalonians, 1998.