1. First, Paul has words of praise for his Church at Thessalonica. In view of its faith and its love it was one of the first rank. Patiently it stood firm, and even increased, under crosses of affliction. The apostleís intent in commending these people is to incite to perseverance. He would hold them up to others as an example an illustration of the fruits resulting when the Gospel is preached and received. He also points out in what the edification and success of the true Church of Christ consist. Then he consoles them for their patient sufferings with the mention of the glorious coming of Christ the Lord, which shall mean their final redemption, the recompense of peace and joy for their tribulations, and the bringing of eternalwrath upon their persecutors.
2. This consolation Paul draws from their sufferings and Godís righteousjudgment, by which he makes plain why God lets them suffer here on earth, what is his purpose in it. Looking at the Christian community with the eye of human reason and reflection, no more wretched, tormented, persecuted, unhappy people are in evidence on earth than those who confess and glory in Christ the crucified. In the world they are continually persecuted, tormented and assailed by the devil with all manner of wretchedness, misfortune, distress and death. Even to their own perceptions, it seems as if they surely are forgotten and forsaken by God in the sight of mankind. For he allows them to remain prostrate under the weight of the cross, while others in the world, particularly their persecutors, live in the enjoyment of honor and fortune, of happiness, power and riches, with everything moving to the fulfillment of their desires. The Scriptures frequently deplore this condition of things, especially the Psalms, and Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:19 confesses: ďIf we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable.Ē
CHRISTIANíS SUFFERINGS LEAD TO HAPPINESS.
3. Now, assuredly this state of affairs cannot continue without end; it cannot be Godís intention to permit Christians thus to suffer continually while they live, to die be cause of it and remain dead. It would be incompatible with his eternal, divinetruth and honor manifest in his Word.
9. Paulís further observations, concerning the manner of the judgment to come and the painfulpunishment of the ungodly, is sufficiently clear as rendered, and is also explained in the sermon on the Gospel text. Further explanation here is unnecessary.