In a few days CU will be heading off on our ‘Orientation Camp’ or CampO. This year we’re going to be looking at the little-read letter in the New Testament ‘2 Thessalonians.’
It’s one of those books of the Bible that often gets forgotten about in Church preaching series, or provokes a “what the dickens?” type response when read in our personal devotions; then we quickly stick it in the ‘too hard’ basket with Revelation and Ezekiel (both excellent and not really too hard books BTW).
But 2 Thessalonians is a cracker and a timely word from God for the days we are living in: It is about a world full of conflict – the persecution of Christians (a global reality filling our news feeds), the Spiritual assault of Satan who deceives with false teachers (any number of those around) and even our own struggles with our sinner’s hearts.
The text might seem tricky, but it isn’t – it’s about hanging onto Jesus and the true gospel about him no matter what.
Here’s a little primer:
The letter was written by Paul (and Timothy) to the recently planted Church in Thessalonica. You can read about them in Acts 17. Paul had been there for only a short amount of time before he was chased out of town for preaching the gospel. The church left behind may have been a little sketchy on a couple of details about the Gospel (particularly the bit about Jesus coming back) So Paul had to write to them just a couple of months after he left – this is 1 Thessalonians.
Cool thing about 1 Thess: it’s the very first bit of the New Testament to have been written down!
2 Thessalonians is the follow up letter written a couple of months later (it’s either the second or third bit of the New testament written – we’re not sure where Galatians fits…).
Paul needs to write for a couple of reasons: They have heard some troubling news, someone told them they missed out on Jesus coming back. and In fact this someone made out that they were Paul himself Also some of the guys there in Thessalonica were still disobeying a command Paul had given them in 1 thess. So he needs to lay a little bit of smackdown.
Why should we bother?
2000 years or so later we’re still facing the same issues that the Thessalonians were: Christians are assaulted by the World, The Devil, and Sin. Paul deals with all of these things and keeps comforting all Christians with Who God is, what he is doing in the world, and encouraging us to stick with Jesus and the good news about him.
It’s an important book because it tells us about Jesus return, it helps us see that Paul’s words hold the authority of scripture, and can shock us into reality.
I’m really looking forward to exploring it with many of you this weekend! And for those of you who don’t make it the audio will be available online when they’re done!