“… the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4).
The patience and faith displayed by the members of the Thessalonian church offered an excellent example for other churches to follow. Paul the Apostle also noted this positive quality in his previous letter to the Thessalonians…
“…you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:7-9 ESV).
The fact that Paul began these letters by focusing upon these positive qualities is something that warrants our attention. In fact, this approach offers a valuable example that we can use in our relationships with others, especially in those instances where we must issue a reprimand (as Paul will impart later in this epistle). As one commentator observes, “…(Paul) once more expresses gratitude for what God is already doing, thus putting the emphasis where it belongs, rather than focussing immediately on areas that need correction or improvement. May his tribe increase!” (1)
As mentioned earlier, two of those positive qualities appear in verse four: “…your patience and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions that you are enduring” (Mounce). The first characteristic (patience) is marked by “steadfastness, constancy, (and) endurance… in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.” (2)
The second characteristic (faith) involves a sincere trust and belief in God that is reflected by a commitment to His will for our lives. Such faith is not the type of “faith” that has no basis in reality (also known as “blind faith”). Instead, Jesus’ resurrection establishes a historical foundation for our faith for He verified His claims and teachings by rising from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).
These elements -patience and faith- enabled the young Thessalonian church to endure the persecutions and afflictions they suffered as a result of their relationship with Christ. We’ll look at some additional examples of patience and faith from the Scriptures next.
(1) Gordon D. Fee, The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians, 1:5-10 Judgment And Salvation Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (p.251)
(2) G5281 hupomone https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g5281