1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, 2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith. (2 Thessalonians 3:1–2, NKJV)
The effectiveness of prayer was not an afterthought to Christians of the New Testament age (Jas. 5:16). The apostle Paul often asked brethren to pray for him, and he repeatedly prayed for his fellow Christians (1 Thess. 3:10; Eph. 6:18-19; Phil. 1:9; Col. 1:3, 9; 4:3). In today’s passage, Paul asked for specific prayers, something we ought to do, too. First, he asked for prayers that God’s word would triumph in its purposes (saving the lost and strengthening the saved, v. 1). The gospel was achieving these purposes in their lives (1 Thess. 1:2-9; 2 Thess. 1:3-4). We are confident they joined Paul in praying the gospel would win the race and be honored as other souls believed and obeyed Jesus (Rom. 1:16-17). Second, Paul asked them to pray for mutual deliverance from faithless, unreasonable, and wicked people (v. 2). Like the currents of a flowing river, forces of evil try to sweep us away and drown us in error and sin’s corruption. The Lord is active and faithful to rescue us and guard us against the evil one and his cohorts as we do what His apostles command (2 Thess. 3:3-4). May we offer such prayers daily.
“then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:9, NKJV)
We all need rescuing from the powerful surge of sin that sweeps souls away from God into eternal punishment. God delivers sinners from sin’s bondage and death through the gospel of His Son (Rom. 1:16; 6:17-18; 6:23). God also knows how to deliver godly ones from the trials and temptations they face from “the unjust.” God both delivers the godly while reserving the ungodly for punishment. God “did not spare the angels who sinned,” but cast them into the abyss awaiting judgment (2 Pet. 2:4). God punished the ancient world with a flood while saving Noah and his family (2 Pet. 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:20-21). God turned Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes because they “gave themselves over to sexual immorality” and had “gone after strange flesh” (2 Pet. 2:6; Jude 7). In that moment of judgment God delivered righteous Lot from being “oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked” (2 Pet. 2:7-8). These examples serve to boost and secure our faith in moments of doubt and spiritual struggle. God does not abandon the righteous, nor does He forget the wicked (2 Thess. 1:4-10). The Lord’s day of judgment is coming when the unjust will reap their just punishment. The gospel call from God is to repent while you have the time and the ability to do so. Do not harden your heart. God does not want you to perish, He wants you to repent and obey Him to be delivered from sin’s terrible penalty of eternal death (2 Pet. 3:9).
I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4, NKJV)
Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). David was sure that because he sought the Lord that God heard him and delivered him from his fears. His statement suggests several things worthy of every Christian’s attention and acceptance. First, you can find God when you seek Him. Just as God is “not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27), He is a nearby helper of His children, who put their trust in Him (Hebrews 13:5-6; Matthew 6:9). Next, God listens when His children speak to Him. He knows our needs before we ask, but He expects us to come to Him with faith, confident that He hears and responds (Matthew 6:8; 7:8-11). Third, God is able to deliver you safely through every trial. “If God is for us, who can be against us” is our rally cry of victory in Christ (Romans 8:31). We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37). Let us seek the Lord with full confidence that He hears us and delivers us. We put our faith and hope in Him, and He delivers us from every fear.
23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:23–26, NKJV)
All who die will be raised from the dead because Jesus was raised (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). The resurrection of the dead will be orderly, not haphazard or random. Christ’s empty tomb signaled His defeat of physical death and began the resurrection of the dead. When Jesus returns, those who are His, as well as those who are condemned, will be raised (John 5:28-29). With the resurrection completed, judgment will occur, and Christ will deliver the kingdom to God the Father (Acts 17:31, Hebrews 9:27). Here is a prominent and pivotal truth: Christ will not return to establish the kingdom. When He returns, He will deliver the kingdom to the Father. The kingdom of God exists today; it is the church of Christ (Matthew 16:18-19; Mark 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 29-36, 41, 47). The end or conclusion will occur when Christ comes and raises the dead. If the kingdom begins when Jesus returns, then that is not the end. But, when Christ returns all enemies will have been vanquished, the last one being death itself. When Christ returns, the King and His kingdom will be victoriously presented to God the Father.
16 “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” (2 Timothy 4:16–17, NKJV)
Paul’s faith did not waver as he faced impending death at the hands of lawless men (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Forsaken by friend and foe, he was not forsaken by the Lord (2 Timothy 4:10, 14). Nor did Paul expect Timothy to turn away from him, as he urged him to “Be diligent to come to me quickly” (2 Timothy 4:9). Paul paid a great price as an apostle of Christ. Truly, the Lord showed “him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). Yet even now, surrounded by enemies and facing eminent death, Paul knew his mission, and was not deterred from fully preaching the gospel. Even so, we are faithful to the Lord, knowing He promises not to abandon us in our time of need. We may take courage from the faithful example of Paul, assured that the Lord “Himself has said, ’I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say; ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).