Art Toombs Ministries 

Online Bible Commentary

Set Apart for God 

2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work. (NKJV)


Paul continues his second letter to the Christians at the church in Thessalonica. This letter was written from Corinth, Greece in about 51 A.D. 

In this passage, Paul writes that he and his associates should always thank God for their “brethren” at the church for choosing them for salvation. The literal Greek translation of 13b-14a is: “because chose you God from the beginning to salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; to which he called you through the gospel of us.” 

So they were chosen by God at the beginning, the creation, to be first fruits of God’s people. He chose them because of His foreknowledge that they would accept the gospel. They were “beloved by the Lord” (v.13a) because they accepted Him. They were “chosen” to salvation through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and the gospel (v.13b). The Christians chose to believe the gospel, and God knew that they would, so He first chose them (v.14a). Since God chose them, they will “share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v.14b). 

Paul then exhorts his brothers and sisters at the church to “stand fast” and “hold ” to the teachings written to them and spoken to them by Paul and his associates (v.15). The church at Thessalonica was undergoing intense persecution at this time, which was one of the main reasons Paul immediately followed up his first letter with this second letter. So Paul is encouraging them to continue to believe the word of God and not to be deterred by persecution. 

Paul then leaps into a prayer for his brothers and sisters. He first brings to mind that the Lord loves them, and through His grace gives them “everlasting consolation and good hope by grace” (v.16). Paul’s prayer is that the Lord will encourage them and strengthen them to move forward in doing good works and preaching the gospel (v.17). Paul did not want the focus of the church to be diverted by persecution. So he asked the Lord to encourage them and strengthen their resolve in advancing the gospel, despite the persecution. 

We, as Christians, were chosen by God at the beginning. He knew that we would accept His word, the gospel. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:5). We were set apart for God, sanctified, before we were born. We belong to Him. He knows everything about us. He knows us better than anyone on earth knows us. He is our Heavenly Father, and our Abba, our Daddy. He loves us and only wants what is best for us. 

He knows that we are being persecuted for our faith, and that more is yet to come. Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians is the prayer for every Christian – that we be encouraged by the Lord as we walk through this persecution, knowing that He is walking alongside us, and that we be strengthened by Him to continue to hold steadfast to our beliefs and to continue to speak the word of truth, the gospel, to a broken world.