SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- This is the second letter Paul (along with his ministry apprentices named Silas and Timothy) writes to the Thessalonians, who have a solid foundation of love for each other (see verse 3) and perseverance in the face of suffering (verse 4).
- The Thessalonians were probably discouraged about the people who were persecuting them, so Paul reminds them that God will "pay back trouble to those who trouble you," which "will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven" (verse 6).
- People who do not accept Jesus as their Savior will "eternally" be "shut out from the presence of the Lord" (verse 9), which will not happen "among all those who have believed" (verse 10).
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- People who don't believe in Jesus in this life will spend their eternity after this life shut out from the presence of God. This also means they will be shut out from all that is of God -- love, laughter, beauty, etc. To be totally shut out from God's presence and all that is good and true and beautiful is worse than we can imagine, and it is what hell is. Jesus experienced this on the cross for us, so that those who believe in him wouldn't have to. But those who don't believe will experience this for all eternity.
- Paul gave this information about God’s future punishment to let the Thessalonians know that God is just in punishing people for what they deserve and will make things right in the end. Jesus’ followers never take God’s punishment into their own hands (see Romans 12:19 and James 1:19-20).
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- People can endlessly debate what hell will be like, or why God would allow people to go to hell, but the simple reality is that it does exist and people who don't believe in Jesus will go there. So we need to do everything we can to make sure as few people go there as possible. We need to live lives of love that are attractive to those who don't know Jesus, and to seek to have gracious conversations about faith with people who don't believe, and invite them to come to church with us. Who has God put in your life that you can do all that with this week?