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2 Thessalonians

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©Michael Player

Chapter 2:13-17 (ESV)

Posted on May 11, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 2:13-17 (ESV) - But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Question to consider: What do you think about traditions in the church?

After writing about the coming apostasy and the strong delusion that would come upon those who followed after the lawless one, the “but” in the opening verse of today’s passage was to differentiate the Thessalonians from the apostates. So instead of having to pray for those who were deceived to come back to the truth, Paul, Silas, and Timothy were able to thank God for saving them and sanctifying them so that they held firm to the truth.

This phrase “we ought always to give thanks to God for you” was also used at the beginning of the letter to introduce this encouragement to bear up under their persecution and not be deceived by those who were pretending to be Paul and telling them that Christ had already come. Now he closes the thoughts on the matter by reiterating that they should stand firm and hold on to the traditions that they were taught by Paul, Silas, and Timothy either directly or via his letters.

The ones who were trying to deceive them in Paul’s name were interested in getting the Thessalonians to abandon the faith and follow after their lies. When Paul said to hold to the “traditions”, it was in the sense of the things he had taught them, for everything he taught them whether in person or by letter was based on his understanding from the words of Jesus or from the old testament scriptures. Even though Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians were eventually included as part of the New Testament canon of scripture, at the time Paul was instructing them, he would have considered them traditions he was teaching the church.

Today, people shy away from the very idea of traditions in the church as if things that came from previous generations are inferior or tainted. However, tradition is something that unites us with Christians across time and space. We have received creeds, liturgies and practices over the years which are consistent with scripture and proven to be useful for congregations. If a tradition is inconsistent with scripture, it should definitely be abandoned, but we should not throw out a tradition without understanding where it came from, its meaning, and its intended purpose.

Paul ended this section with a benediction to put their minds at ease so that they could get back to putting their hope in the return of Christ.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving us Your unchanging scriptures which help us to know You and give us hope in the midst of a sinful world. Please help us keep a deep sense of tradition, clinging to what is true and teaching others to do the same. Amen.