“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other” (2 Thessalonians 1:2-3).
Paul the Apostle opened this message to the Thessalonian church with a familiar salutation: “Grace to you and peace…” One source offers a helpful summary of these two important elements…
“…(Grace) is God’s unmerited favor which He freely bestows on all who accept Jesus Christ’s substitutionary work for them on the cross by faith. God gives man the opposite of what he deserves: blessing instead of judgment. This is the grace of God. ‘Peace’ is the cessation of hostility which has resulted from Christ’s death; God and people can be reconciled because the debt of human sin has been paid by Christ. Christians have peace with God through the death of Christ. They also experience the peace of God as a result of Christ’s work.” (1)
We should also note that the faith and love expressed by the Christian community in Thessalonica encouraged Paul to express his thankfulness to God. Those characteristics remind us that we can prompt others to respond in a similar manner by the example of our lives. While there may be some who inspire us to respond very differently, we can act as better role models by prayerfully seeking to live in a way that positively reflects upon our relationship with Christ. With this in mind, we should ask for God’s help in enabling us to be (and become) people who motivate others to thank God for the impact we make upon their lives.
Yet even while Paul was thankful for the faith and love expressed by the Thessalonian church, there is a third element that seems conspicuous by its absence. That element is hope. Since faith, hope, and love form a well-known trilogy of Biblical virtues, we may wonder why it is absent from this passage. One commentator addresses that question with an insight that will take on greater significance as we move further into this epistle…
“In the first letter Paul speaks of their ‘work of faith,’ their ‘labor of love,’ and their ‘patience of hope.’ Here he refers to their faith and their love but does not say a word about their hope. That indicates the problem that this letter was written to correct. Paul has learned that they are still confused and uncertain about the coming of the Lord. Their hope is not clear.” (2)
(1) John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Bible Knowledge Commentary [2 Thessalonians 1:2]
(2) Excerpted with permission from The Fire next Time © 1987 by Ray Stedman Ministries. All rights reserved. Visit www.RayStedman.org for the complete library of Ray Stedman material. Please direct any questions to webmaster@RayStedman.org