Glorified or judged? – 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

The prayers of Paul

This is a series on the prayers of St Paul found in the letters attributed to him in one of the orders he is believed to have written them. Letters to the same place or person will be treated together with the first letter to that destination.

This prayer follows a passage on God’s justice. Verse 8 mentions “inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God.” but only a short scan through online resources such as Blue Letter Bible and Bible Hub chears up the meaning of this verse. It may not mean what you think it means. Firstly the word ekdikēsis is not consistently translated as vengeance in this verse across different translations of the Bible and no translation consistently translated ekdikēsis as vengeance. The context of ekdikēsis is always about justice and not about the lawless vengeance of a vendetta.

Secondly, the tense in the Greek for “do not know God” is more directly “do not seek to know God,” It is people who have made a conscious decision against God, not those who have not had the chance to hear about God.

Free images of “Lady Justice” from Wikimedia Commons

11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfil every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

I will get around to the prayer, but more on the context of the justice of God: God will sort it out at the end of time when he comes to rule the world. this is a revelation from Paul to help the persecuted Thessalonians, and the big reveal is that the judge is Jesus.

Jesus is the judge, so we can be reassured that he will be as fair and patient, giving them time to repent as he was with us. He has not finished with us yet either, would Paul be praying that God would fulfil every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power if he considered us a finished work?

God’s judgement is deferred because he desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4). Also in the Old Testament, he said, “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:22). God is patient so that everyone who can be saved will be saved. The call goes out to everybody in the world, we Christians are part of God’s plan that his word should be preached to everybody in the world without exception.

The return of Jesus as judge of the world is the key to understanding the prayer that follows it. All is made right in the end. The justice of God is a threat only, in this letter, to those who willfully oppose God. To those who love God, those who follow God, the justice of God is something to long for.

You do not have to wait until the end of time, though praying for it to hurry up and arrive is in here. God takes our imperfect actions and starts perfecting them in the here and now, when this happens God is glorified in us and we are glorified too. This was Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians and this is my prayer for all who read this post.

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