2 The 1:3-12 chiastic structure
1a) 2 The 1:3-4 We thank God always for you;
1b) 2 The 1:5-7 Tribulation for the ungodly when Jesus is revealed;
1b.1) 2 The 1:5-6 God will repay with tribulation those who trouble you;
1b.2) 2 The 1:7 When Jesus is revealed from heaven with His angels;
central axis) 2 The 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God;
2b) 2 The 1:9-10 Destruction for the ungodly when He comes in that Day;
2b.1) 2 The 1:9 These shall suffer everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord;
2b.2) 2 The 1:10 When He comes, in that Day glorified in His saints;
2a) 2 The 1:11-12 We pray always for you.
The Thessalonians were being persecuted and endured tribulations caused by those who did not believe as they did, who did not receive or believe the testimony and preaching that Paul preached among them. Those who did not believe, were those who did not know God, and did not obey the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. God wants to be known, and not only known about, but known in a continuing, growing relationship with man. He is our Father and loves us as much (and more so) as earthly fathers love their children. If you are a father or a parent you have barely begun to scratch the surface of the depth of God’s love for His children.
But as a parent, what is your response when someone makes it their mission to persecute your child? You make an end to the persecution, by whatever means necessary. God feels the same way, but is also in the unique position of wanting His children’s persecutors to also come to know Him, to also become His child. The testimony of faith and patience despite suffering witnesses to the unbeliever of the validity of the faith of the persecuted. So God doesn’t recompense the persecutors right away. He leaves room for His children’s witness to work.
But if those who do not believe do so until the Day of His return, until the Day the door to the wedding feast will be shut (Mat 25:10), then they will receive, for the tribulation they have meted out against the children of the living God, tribulation in their turn. Their tribulation will be, flaming fire, everlasting destruction, and separation from the presence of the Lord forever. The God whom they refuse to know will grant their request. My heart quakes in fear for them! Father, let my witness, even mine, speak with logic more compelling than words!