â€œSeeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.â€ (2 Thessalonians 1:6-7)
The Christians in the young church at Thessalonica, very soon after accepting Christ, underwent severe â€œpersecutions and tribulationsâ€ (v. 4). The apostle Paul wrote to commend them that God had thus judged them to be â€œcounted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also sufferâ€ (v. 5). That is, the kingdom of God was being persecuted when they were persecuted, and God would certainly repay their tormentors in kind. The believersâ€™ tribulations were from men. Those who were being troubled would receive â€œrest with usâ€ from God (â€œrestâ€ here is a noun, not a verb).
The Thessalonians must realize, however, that this righteous recompenseâ€”at least in its full measureâ€”must await the return of the Lord Jesus. They must resist the temptation to repay their persecutors in kind if the opportunity should come. â€œVengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lordâ€ (Romans 12:19). They must simply continue to â€œendureâ€ and â€œsuffer,â€ so that â€œour God would count you worthy of this calling, and . . . That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in youâ€ (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5, 11-12).
The Lord Jesus Himself is our example, â€œthat ye should follow his steps: . . . Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteouslyâ€ (1 Peter 2:21, 23).
â€œIn the last days . . . all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecutionâ€ (2 Timothy 3:1, 12), and latter-day Christians may very well have opportunity to put this ancient counsel to the Thessalonians into present practice. If so, may God give us the grace to endure as they endured! HMM