Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for May 8

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for May 8


2 Thessalonians 1:3–12  

Paul continues his long-distance pastoring with practical advice to the young church at Thessalonica. It appears some difficulties have arisen in the congregation, matters which he needs to address. Wisely, Paul begins with gratitude.  

Thankful (3–4)

Giving thanks for God’s faithful people is always the right thing to do. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul had praised their work of faith, labor of love and steadfastness of hope. Now, in his second letter, he is encouraged to see their faith is greatly enlarged, and their love grows greater. They are persevering and enduring in the midst of their persecutions and afflictions. They are growing stronger while remaining steady.

Avenged (5–10)

Such a glowing “report card” from Paul is a “plain indication,” he says, that God is preparing them to be worthy of the Kingdom for which they daily suffer. In verse 11, he prays God will indeed consider them worthy of their calling. Since Paul mentions worthiness twice, it deserves our consideration.  “Lord, I am not worthy” said the centurion to our Lord in Matthew 8:8. He was right. In fact, Luke 17:7–10 reminds God’s faithful that when we have done everything Jesus commanded us — everything! — we are to say (mostly to ourselves, I believe), “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” (v. 10). On the other hand, the Lord sees things differently. Hebrews 11 gives the roll call of the Old Testament faithful, many of whom paid the ultimate price, and then adds, “Of whom the world was not worthy” (v. 38). It is no stretch to say our goal should always be to be found worthy.

There is a divine reckoning in store for some people, Paul says. These are those who “afflict you,” who make life difficult, who persecute the faithful. When will this happen? “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.” That’s an awesome scene, as He is “dealing out retribution” to two groups: those who do not know God and those who do not obey the gospel. Our Lord Jesus said those hating believers do not know the Father (John 15:21), and they hate Jesus without cause (15:25).

While warning such people, we should show them the love of the Lord Jesus. In Luke 6:27–28, Jesus told us, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you.” To Jesus, love was not so much an emotion as an action. Love is something we do. Notice He did not promise this would convert them or change their behavior. However, when we demonstrate God’s love to those who persecute us, Christ is honored, Satan is rebuked, critics of the church are often silenced and people are drawn to Jesus.

Worthy (11–12)

What does it mean to be counted “worthy of your calling”? Our calling from the living God as His ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20) and His spokespeople (1 Tim. 4:13) is surely the greatest honor of our lives. No one is worthy. The usual response — Who am I? — makes complete sense. But as Moses found out when he asked that question, the answer is, “You’re nobody, but you are serving the Great I Am” (Ex. 3). And that makes all the difference.

Now, let us go and try to live up to the calling. 

By Joe McKeever
Pastor, writer and cartoonist from Ridgeland, Mississippi.

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