May 24, 2019 · Courtney Jacob
Faith is a journey, not a destination.
You’ve likely heard that saying before. It’s a spin on a quote often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Both phrases are so ubiquitous that their original source is understandably difficult to determine. One thing we do know is that neither phrase is biblical. Yet, the former saying offers a concise summary of the broad scope and breadth of topics included in Apostle Paul’s second letter to the Christians of Thessalonica. Paul may have written 2 Thessalonians over 2,000 years ago, but its truth is still relevant today. In our Groundwork series, “2 Thessalonians,” we’ll study this letter to harvest the encouragement and essential teaching it contains for our day-to-day faith.
An Emphasis on Spiritual Growth
When Paul wrote his first letter to the Thessalonians, they were new Christians. Before teaching them anything else, he reaffirmed what he had taught them in person: Jesus Christ is all you need. Once he was sure that fact was utterly clear, he went on to teach the Thessalonian Christians about authority, about morality, and about death and Christ’s return, a subject about which they were particularly confused.
Some time after this, Paul wrote his second letter to the Christians of Thessalonica. Like any good mentor, he followed up his previous teaching— praising their growth, clarifying and reaffirming what he taught them before, and encouraging continued progress. He cared deeply about their spiritual growth and his care shows through his encouragement and subsequent teaching. We benefit from his praise and encouragement for the Thessalonians too; by studying Paul’s letter, we gain insight for recognizing spiritual growth in our own lives and we receive encouragement in our own faith.
Paul contends that the Gospel should have a transformational impact on our lives. His teaching and encouragement reiterate his belief that we are changed by our salvation through Jesus Christ. It’s not possible for us to remain the same if the Holy Spirit has truly grabbed hold of us and Paul is confident that this change will manifest itself in our behavior and evident spiritual growth.
2 Thessalonians and Christ’s Return
We also benefit from Paul’s teaching to the Thessalonians about a topic that is still of the utmost interest to Christians today: Christ’s return. So many of us have questions about the End Times. We long for clarity and seek precise answers. We desire to know what to look for and desperately don’t want to miss it or inadvertently end up on the wrong side of God’s judgement.
Lucky for us, Paul talks about Christ’s return again in his second letter to the Thessalonians. Apparently, the Thessalonian Christians needed clarity because other teachers had come along and created confusion (sound familiar??). Paul affirms his past teaching about Christ’s return and we find assurance and clarity for ourselves about the End Times.
New and seasoned believers alike need encouragement as we traverse the journey of faith. When the world sends mixed messages and confusion sets in, encouragement reinforces our resolve to remain steadfast in our quest toward Christlikeness. I invite you to find encouragement for your faith through our Groundwork series “2 Thessalonians”:
- Encouragement for a Growing Faith - 2 Thessalonians 1
- About Christ's Return - 2 Thessalonians 2
- Living Spiritually - 2 Thessalonians 3
...and together we’ll dig into Paul’s teaching to receive the encouragement and wisdom we need to flourish in faith and grow spiritually in our daily lives as we wait eagerly and patiently for Christ’s return.