Awaiting His Son

The saints in Thessalonica responded to the preaching of the Gospel by turning from “idols to serve the living and true God.” Their life orientation changed radically because of their new faith in and allegiance to Jesus Christ. Rather than a comfortable life in Macedonia, they chose a path that virtually guaranteed opposition and persecution.

Paul uses two infinitive clauses in the Greek sentence to express how disciples are to live in this world.  First, they must turn from idols “TO SERVE a living and true God.” It is not enough to exercise faith in God or Jesus, the believer must also forsake his or her old sinful ways.

Rock Formation - Photo by Venti Views on Unsplash
[Photo by Venti Views on Unsplash]

Second, believers are “
TO AWAIT his Son from Heaven.” Paul thus anticipates his later discussion about the “arrival” of Jesus when he will resurrect dead believers and the entire Assembly will “meet” him as he descends from Heaven. It is this hope that enables the disciple of Jesus to endure the trials and tribulations of this life - (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The Son of God will “arrive from the Heavens,” the same man whom “God raised from the dead.” As he so frequently does, Paul anchors the future hope of the Assembly in the past resurrection of Jesus – (1 Thessalonians 4:13-15, 1 Corinthians 15:12-25).

It is the same Jesus who was resurrected by God who is now “rescuing” his disciples (“Jesus, who is rescuing us out of the coming wrath”). The English term ‘rescue’ translates a Greek present tense participle that means “rescue, deliver, save” (rhuomai - Strong’s Concordance - #G4506). The present tense signifies an action in progress - Jesus is in the process of rescuing his saints.

The description of being “rescued from wrath” echoes the story of the deliverance of the three Jewish exiles from the “burning fiery furnace” of Nebuchadnezzar.

The Babylonian monarch threatened to sentence anyone who refused to worship his “great image” to death. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refused to do so, in his “wrath,” the king threatened the three men:

  • Whensoever you hear the sound of the trumpet… If you bow down and worship the golden image which I have set up, good. But if you do not, in the same hour you will be cast into the burning fiery furnace; and who is the God that shall DELIVER YOU out of my hand?”– (Daniel 3:15-17).

These Jewish exiles refused to participate in idolatry. Instead, they looked to the Living God to rescue them:

  • Our God whom we serve is in the heavens, and He is able TO DELIVER us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will RESCUE US from your hands, O king. However, if not, we will NOT SERVE YOUR GODS, nor worship the image which thou hast set up.

The Lord did indeed rescue Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego to the astonishment of King Nebuchadnezzar and his entourage of princes and magistrates.

Likewise, Jesus is “rescuing” his people from the wrath that is “coming.” The two present tense Greek participles refer to two processes that are at work in the present life of the Assembly - RESCUE for some, but WRATH for others. Both processes will consummate at his “arrival from Heaven.”

Mountain Dusk - Photo by Daniel Gregoire on Unsplash
[Photo by Daniel Gregoire on Unsplash]

Disciples of Jesus must not be dismayed by the opposition that results from their allegiance to Jesus Christ. His “
arrival” or ‘Parousia’ will bring rescue and salvation for those who wait patiently for him through thick and thin, but also punishment and “wrath” for those who refuse to respond to the Gospel by “turning from idols to serve the Living God.”

  • Endurance of Hope - (The Thessalonians received the Gospel in tribulation but remained faithful while eagerly anticipating the return of Jesus)
  • Crown of Glory - (If the Thessalonians continue to emulate the apostolic example, they will receive the Crown of Glory when Jesus arrives from Heaven)
  • Appointed for Tribulation - (The disciple who faithfully bears witness to the Gospel and Jesus will endure tribulation and persecution for his sake)



The Living Word

The Suffering Servant