God's righteous judgment is beyond doubt (2 Thess. 1:6)
Paul picks up the theme of the righteousness, justice, or righteous judgment of God.
"For after all it is only just" = Here Paul uses a 1st class conditional clause which indicates that the object is assumed beyond doubt to be true.
Repay = to pay back in kind. Literally Paul says, "To the ones afflicting you, affliction." He uses the Greek word thlipsis in both cases to show the idea of payment in kind.
If there were any doubts that God would repay those who persecute His children, Paul puts it to rest here. There will be a future judgment of the wicked!
When will this judgment take place? (2 Thess. 1:7)
Relief is also guaranteed for the persecuted. Just as it is right to punish the wicked, so it is also right to give rest to the afflicted.
Relief (anesis) = letting loose; relaxing the pressure. This is a fitting antidote to thlipsis (pressure; oppression). Paul himself also desires this kind of relief.
It will not happen until a future event which has four characterics:
The revelation (unveiling; manifestation) of the Lord Jesus (see Lk 17:30).
From heaven (see Acts 1:11).
With the angels of His power (see Mt 13:41-43; 16:27; 25:31).
In flaming fire (see Is 66:15; Dan 7:9-10).
This description cannot be referring to the "Rapture" when Church-age saints will be resurrected and meet the Lord in the clouds. This description clearly points to the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the Tribulation to judge the wicked and to establish His millennial kingdom on the earth. At that time all of the wicked will be put to death, and ultimately all of the wicked dead will be resurrected to stand before the Great White Throne judgment (Rev 20:11-15). There they will be eternally condemned and cast into everlasting fire.
What will happen at this judgment? (2 Thess. 1:8-9)
"Dealing out" = giving. "Retribution" = a just punishment; a penalty that is deserved.
There are two classes of people who will experience this retribution:
Those who do not know God. To know God is to know His holy character, His will, his hatred of sin, and His saving grace toward mankind. Many people have kept themselves completely ignorant and have none of this knowledge of God.
Those who do not obey the gospel. Other people do know something about God and His plan for saving mankind, but they do not act on this knowledge by submitting to the gospel and receiving God's free gift of salvation.
These people will pay the penalty. Eternal destruction is not annihilation, but living in a state of complete ruin.
There are two things these people will be separated from:
The presence (face) of the Lord = a relationship with the actual person of God.
The glory of His power. This power is His internal, inherent power that manifests itself outwardly in glorious ways at His coming.
What else will happen at His coming? (2 Thess. 1:10)
When (hotan) is indefinite, indicating that the exact time of His coming is not known.
Two additional descriptions apply to that day when He comes:
He will be glorified in His saints. At that time the world will see His glory manifested in the ultimate redemption of His saints.
He will be marveled at among all who are believers. All believers will finally see Him in all His glory (see 1 Jn 3:2)
The last phrase could be translated: "Among all who have believed (and therefore among you), for you believed our testimony." The Thessalonians themselves were in this category of people who have believed.
Paul's prayer to summarize and close this chapter (2 Thess. 1:11-12)
There are four things Paul asks in his prayer:
That God will count you worthy of your calling. Paul asks that God would enable them to "walk worthy of the calling" they have already received (see Eph 4:1), so in that future day this would be acknowledged.
That God would fulfill with power:
Every desire for goodness = goodness of will; every good resolve that leads to good actions.
Every work of faith = that God would continue to empower them to accomplish works which further His will and plan (see 1 Th 1:3).
That the character and behavior of the believers would bring glory to the name of the Lord.
That these believers would also benefit from the glory of the Lord.
Points of Application:
Since the final judgment of unbelievers is an established fact, this should motivate believers to continue sharing the gospel message with those God brings into our lives.
Believers should continue to keep their destination firmly in view. when Christ returns at His Second Coming, we will be with Him to see the fulfillment of what Paul has talked about in this section of Scripture!
We should always make it our ambition to walk worthy of the calling of God on our lives so that His name would be glorified. We should continue to cooperate with the Holy Spirit who empowers us to contribute to the fulfillment of His plan in our lifetime.