2 Thessalonians 1:1-3

2 Thes. 1:1 “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;”

“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:”
Paul according to his writing custom began by identifying the writer or writers and to whom the letter was addressed. This was, of course, Paul’s second letter to the church at Thessalonica. Also, according to Paul’s custom he credited God as being the reason of the church he addressed as he said they were in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. All true churches are in God our Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
According to Paul’s custom he began his letters with the salutation of God’s grace and peace, citing God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ as the source of that grace and peace.

“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;”
In his first letter to the church at Thessalonica Paul spoke of their work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope. At the time of Paul’s first letter this church manifested to others their faith, love and hope. They manifest these things to such a degree that they were examples to the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.

Now Paul speaks of the fact that their faith growth exceedingly. In this the church at Thessalonica is an example to the Lord’s churches in all ages. It should be a truth to all the Lord’s churches that each church would have a desire and strive so that their faith would grow exceedingly.

This brings us to ask the following questions:

     1. Where did our faith come from?
     2. What is faith?
     3. What is required for our faith to grow?

In answer to the first question our faith comes from the Lord. As the scriptures teach that Jesus is the author (initiator) and finisher (completer) of our faith: Heb. 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Moreover faith is a part of the ninefold fruit of the spirit as stated to us in Gal. 5:22, 23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Faith comes as a result of the spiritual birth. Before a person is born of the Spirit he does not have faith.

Next, we pause to make a distinction between “the faith” and our individual faith. At least 20 times in the New Testament we read of “the faith.” “The faith” is that teaching of doctrine and practice set forth in the New Testament for the Lord’s church on earth. Jude told us: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

In contrast, the faith we receive when we are born of the Spirit enables us to believe and to seek God. Faith’s connection to the gospel is set forth in Rom. 1:16, 17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Here we are told that the righteousness of God is revealed from one person who has faith to another person who has faith. In this example faith serves as both a transmitter and a receiver of the word of God. The word of God is transmitted from one person who has faith to another person who has faith and the receiver is to live by faith.

We can conclude that faith is more than just believing the word of God but also living by the word of God and trusting in the Lord and his word.

Now we ask, “What is required for our faith to grow?” The principle of growth in faith is similar and comparable to the growth of muscles in our bodies. An infant has the same number of muscles as a mature body builder. The muscles of the body builder are much stronger and larger than the muscles of the infant. There are at least two simple and basic requirements for the infant’s muscles to grow and he later become and have the strength of the body builder. Those two requirements are good nutrition and exercise, especially, exercise against resistance.

Growth in faith spiritually can be compared to the physical growth of muscles. First there is the need of good nutrition. For the child of God to grow in faith exceedingly he must have applied himself to the study, reading, hearing, and meditation upon the scriptures. This is the best spiritual nutrition for a child of God.

Second the growth in faith requires the exercise of our faith and especially exercise against resistance. Without resistance our faith would not grow much. If our faith was never put to the test then how would we or others know that we even have faith. James said: James 2:18 “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.”

The church at Thessalonica was undergoing much persecution and affliction as we read in 1 Thes. 2:14-16: “For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.” Also, verse 4 of this letter speaks of their persecutions and afflictions.

Persecutions, afflictions, trials, and temptations are the resistance by which if we exercise our faith, then our faith will grow. Please notice the following verses:

     1. Rom. 5:3-5: “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

     2. James 1:2-4: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

     3. 1 Pet. 1:5-7: “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”

There are many examples in the Old Testament of the growth of the patriarch’s faith through persecutions, afflictions, trials, and temptations.

Next, Paul speaks of the charity of each member of the church at Thessalonica toward each other abounding. When our faith grows, one way it is manifest is by our charity abounding. It has been my observation that the individuals whose faith is growing are usually the individuals whose charity abounds. A great example of this is found in 2 Corinthians, chapter 8 concerning the churches of Macedonia. 2 Cor. 8:1 “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. 6 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.” The members of the church at Macedonia were undergoing a great trial of affliction and were in deep poverty, yet, this trial of their faith abounded unto the riches of their liberality which manifested their charity abounding towards the needy saints who had less than they did.