Wednesday, December 21

Called According to Paul: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

An explanation of this series of posts can be found here. You'll find the previous five posts in the series listed under Current Series in the sidebar.

In this post, the verses under inspection are 2 Thessalonians 2:13 and 14.
But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. He called you to this salvation through our gospel, so that you may possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NET)
What is there to learn about the way Paul uses the word call from this passage? I'm going to start in verse 14, since that's where the word call is found, and work backwards from there.

  • In this case the call is to salvation, and it comes through the preaching of the gospel. Some of the earlier passages we looked at seemed to suggest that the call to salvation was the work of the Spirit, since it was a call with divine power behind it. And in this passage too, in verse 13, we see that salvation comes through the Spirit's work. However, here in verse 14, we see that the powerful call of the Spirit to salvation works in conjunction with (or through) the preaching of the gospel.

  • The purpose of the call is "so that you may possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." In other words, God has called these Thessalonians to salvation so that the character and nature of the Lord Jesus Christ would be displayed in them. We've seen previously that this salvation call is a call to holiness, and the idea is similar here.

  • This call is associated closely with God's choice: God "chose you...for salvation" and then "called you to this salvation." God's choice precedes God's call. God's call works out in time what God's choice established "from the beginning." * We've already seen the grounding of the call to salvation in a choice made before time in 2 Timothy 1:9.

  • This calling is also associated with God's love. It comes to "brethren loved by the Lord." Romans 1 has a similar association of the call with God's love.

Does it seem like these are starting to be repetitive? That's good, because it shows that we're getting at the way Paul tended to use the word call--the particular nuances he gave to it, and the things he associated it with it--over and over again. We're beginning to develop an understanding of the usual meaning Paul gives to this word when he uses it in regards to God's calling.

What do you see that I missed? What can you see in this passage about the meaning of the word called when it is used by Paul in regards to the call of God?

*Yes, I know there's a textual variant here. It either reads "as a first fruit" or "from the beginning". For more explanation, read note 27 here in the NET translational notes.
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