2 Thessalonians 2: 13 – 17 Stand firm
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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.
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
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“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”
This single sentence holds a great deal of encouraging teaching.
Paul is giving thanks for the steadfastness of the Thessalonian Christians in the face of persecution. He addresses them as “brothers and sisters loved by the Lord”. That’s a wonderful thought, isn’t it? That we, as faithful Christians, are “loved by the Lord”.
“God chose you”. Just as the Thessalonians were chosen, so are we. Another matter about which we can rejoice!
“Firstfruits” This is a reference to the Jewish practice of making an annual offering of produce to God. A man was expected to offer a tenth of what he produced of the traditional seven agricultural products, namely wheat, barley, grapes (in the form of wine), figs, pomegranates, olives (in the form of oil), and dates. Furthermore, it was the best of the harvest that was offered. When Paul refers to the Thessalonians as “firstfruits”, he is celebrating them as a wonderful offering to God. We, too, are an offering to God.
“To be saved”. After this mortal life we will stay joyfully in the presence of God and Jesus.
“Through the sanctifying work of the Spirit”. After God has called us, and we have responded with faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit deepens our relationship with Jesus, helps us to love each other better, and strengthens and empowers us to do God’s will.
“And through belief in the truth.” The Thessalonians accepted Paul’s teaching and believed in Jesus. They accepted that Jesus had been raised from the dead by God, and had been given power and authority. That is our faith, too, and, like the Thessalonians, we have been saved.
Thank you for loving me. Thank you for choosing me as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
In Jesus’ name, Amen