Closing the Gap – Week 36 Study Guide

By September 16, 2018Small Group Study Guide

Commentary— 2 Thess. 1:8-9

He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.”

Chapter summary: Salvation (1:1–2) The letter started by identifying Paul, Silas, and Timothy as its senders. No doubt Paul was the primary author. The letter’s beginning followed the pattern of most Pauline letters (see 1 Thessalonians). Encouragement (1:3–12) The Thessalonians were commended for their growing faith and their maturing love and patience. Paul offered praise and thanksgiving to God for their lifestyles. Paul offered hope to his readers by noting the forthcoming reversal in God’s judgment of the present roles of the persecuted and the persecutors. While the Thessalonians were at that time facing persecution, the persecutors had to face judgment at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who reject the good news of the Gospel “will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord.” God’s people can be encouraged by knowing they will be vindicated at the Lord’s coming and will realize they have neither believed nor suffered in vain. The first chapter concludes with Paul’s prayer that God’s purposes for the church will be fulfilled in them. Paul expressed his desire that glory will be ascribed to Christ for all He will do in the lives of the believers.[1]

1:8 do not know God. Does not refer to those who have never heard of the true God but to those who refuse to recognize him (cf. 2:10,12 and note on 2:10; Ro 1:28). do not obey. The Gospel invites acceptance, and rejection is disobedience to a royal invitation.

“…those who do not know God” Knowing God is not just mental assent to facts about God, but personal loyalty to Jesus as Lord and God (see Matt 7:21–22; Luke 6:46).[2]do not obey” Refusal to do what God commands. Disobedience is an indication of distrust in God.

“Gospel” [Message] The good news of Jesus Christ whose life, death, and resurrection make relationship with God possible. Those who oppose the Gospel will face God’s wrath (see 1 Thess 2:14–16). Paul gives a brief definition of the gospel in 2 Tim 2:8.[3]

1:9 destruction. Since salvation implies resurrection of the body, annihilation cannot be in mind here. The word means something like “complete ruin” (see Mt 7:13). Here it means being shut out from Christ’s presence. This eternal separation is the penalty of sin and the essence of hell (cf. Rev 20:14 – 15; 21:8,27). Those who reject Jesus Christ will be separated from God’s presence and glory. This punishment will be everlasting (compare 2 Thess 2:16). Paul’s language recalls similar descriptions of God’s final judgment in the nt (e.g., Matt 25:46; Jude 7).[4]

 

Study Guide – Use whichever questions below work best for your group!

Read—the passages.

2 Thess. 1:8-9

He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord
and from the majesty of his power.”

Objective: Close the gap on Faith and love by reaching out to others with the good news of Jesus.

Reflect—Unpacking/going deeper

  • Last week we looked at John 3:16-18. Verse 16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” And then Jesus went on to say … “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” Verse 16 is famous for its love and hope but what is sometimes missed is the conditional nature of that hope. The love is unconditional and inclusive the hope is conditional and exclusive “whosever.”
  • Why is it easy for us to look at the unconditional and inclusive part of verse 16 and move quickly over the exclusive “whosever” part of the passage? In what ways does missing the exclusive nature of the gospel fail people?
  • Our passage for today engages the conditional nature of our hope. The context for this verse was a suffering and persecuted Church. Those who opposed the Gospel were brutally attacking the Church. The passage is a reminder that God is the final judge, it was not intended to be a celebration of the destruction of non-believers, but rather an encouragement to not become embittered, and to leave justice in the hands of God.
  1. Take a moment and think about justice. What can we learn about it from our passage?
  2. How should we respond to injustice?
  3. How does rightly understanding justice work as an encouragement for us?
  4. How is this passage both a comforting truth and a terrifying truth?
  5. Why is it easy to think about the “legendary” unjust getting their due, but difficult to see the more “normal” people around us who reject the Gospel experiencing the justice of God?
  • Do questions about God’s sovereignty, human responsibility, Heaven, Hell, and suffering immobilize you?
  1. God is not asking us to have all the answers, he simply wants us to trust Him enough to have confidence that what you believe is true, and in spite of the things you don’t yet know.
    So what is it that is keeping you from trusting enough?
  2. What is one thing you could do today to help you move with humility and confidence into the lives of those God has given you to love with the message of the Gospel? Will you live it and tell it today?
  3. Remember this principle: as you move faithfully into what God has given you, He will give you more. More knowledge, more power, more influence, more intimacy with Him. As you think on this, in what ways does it encourage you? How does it help you with difficult situations?
  • Think about the exclusivity of the claims of Christ. Why are these so troubling and infuriating to some?
  1. How might the same people who get so upset about the exclusiveness of the Gospel be just as dogmatic in their own truth claims? How are they being exclusive with their own beliefs?
  2. To live with perpetually “open options” is not wise and generous. In fact, it is unwise and ruinous. It’s not really even possible. You have to decide everyday how you will live and those decisions require conclusions about what is and is not true.
    1. What will you believe about Jesus? Is He who he said He was? Is He a reliable source for understanding what is ultimately real? How does He “stack up” against others who propose to speak about what is real?
  • 2 Thess. 1:8-9 is a hard passage, but it’s the reveal truth of God. It’s best if we don’t try and sit in judgment on what it is saying; we must simply let it sit in judgment on us. What God has revealed to us because of His great mercy (and this verse, along with John 3:16-18 are revealed truths), let us never doubt His word.
    1. Have you believed the Gospel? Have you personally transferred trust from self to Christ?
      What is it that you need to turn away from?
    2. As a believer, will you trust God with the hard things that you don’t fully understand?
    3. Going forward will you reach out to others to others with the good news of Jesus.

 

[1] Dockery, D. S. (1998). The Pauline Letters. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary (p. 600). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (2 Th 1:8). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (2 Th 1:8). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (2 Th 1:9). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Leave a Reply