13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
In this chapter, Paul urges the people of Thessalonica to remain faithful until the Lord Jesus returns, and not to be deceived by false reports of his coming. There will emerge a lawless leader who has the power to lead others astray, but at the right time, he will be overthrown.
In the meantime, says Paul, hold fast to the teachings they have received from him and others who bear the truth. He reminds them that God loves them because they believe in God’s truth, and that God has chosen them through the work of the Holy Spirit, in order to share in Christ’s glory. He wants to encourage them to continue to serve through word and deed.
The believers at Thessalonica were in a different place from us, because they expected Jesus to come at any time. Much time has passed since then, and we do not look for Christ’s imminent return. We hear reports that the end of the world will come on this date or another, but we do not believe it. In a way that is good, but in another, not so much. The Bible tells us we are not to know the time of Christ’s return, but that it will be unexpected, like a thief in the night. On the other hand, we are to be watchful and waiting. We are to keep doing what the Lord expects of us until that time comes.
So may we also stand firm, like those believers long ago. May we hold fast to the teachings of Christ, and be encouraged and strengthened to continue in Christ’s service, by all we say and do. Do it because you are deeply loved. Do it for God’s glory in Jesus Christ.
Dear God, we don’t know the time of Christ’s return. That’s not on us, but on you. Until that day, keep us strong in faith and service, focused on you alone. This we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.