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.
In the New Testament the world is frequently said to be the object of the love of God (John 3:16; Romans 5:8, e.g., it is never said to be the object of the love of Christ. His love to the world was expressed in His death, indeed, but, save in the incident recorded in Mark 10:21, His love is always mentioned with reference to those who believe, whether individually (Galatians 2:20), or collectively the local church (Revelation 3:9), and the church which is His body (Ephesians 5:25). — Vine, page 125.
from the beginning (v.13) — perhaps with the sense of “first fruits,” as the Thessalonians were among the first Gentiles who received the gospel.
for salvation (v.13) — in contrast with the judgment of those who don’t believe
sanctification (v.13) — separation to God by the Holy Spirit
The ministry of the Holy Spirit, which begins with revealing the truth of the gospel to the individual, continues to guide the believer into all truth (John 16:13), “renewing him unto knowledge” (Colossians 3:10); hence, the apostle’s prayers for the converts in Philippians 1:9-10; Colossians 1:9. When they were called through the gospel, it was that they “might know the truth and that the truth might make them free” (John 8:32). — Vine, page 127.
In closing the doctrinal part of this epistle, the Apostle emphasized the vast difference between the outlook for God’s beloved people and for those who have rejected His love and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, the word “salvation” should … be carefully considered in its context. Salvation from what? … What subject has the Apostle been concerned with? The clear answer is the rapture of God’s people to be with Christ and the subsequent manifestation of His wrath upon a Christ-rejecting world.
In the light of the context, then, the “salvation” to which the Apostle refers here is not salvation from eternal judgment, but salvation from “the day of God’s wrath. Note the connective “But” at v.13. …
It is after discussing God’s wrath upon this unbelieving world during the Tribulation, that the Apostle expresses his joy that God has chosen to save believers from this holocaust “through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.”
Thus we have here yet another evidence that the rapture of the Church will precede the Tribulation, and that the members of Christ’s Body will not be called upon to endure the latter. — Stam, pages 134-135.
We were chosen to this salvation “through sanctification of the Spirit” (v.13). Sanctification means to be set apart to God (Exodus 13:2, 12), and we’ve been set apart to be saved by the pre-tribulation rapture.
Normally sanctification is from the unsaved (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), but here it is from the Jewish kingdom saints who will have to go through the Tribulation. That exact phrase “sanctification of the Spirit” is only elsewhere used by Peter to write to “the … elect according to the fore-knowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit” (1 Peter 1:1-2). God foreknew the Jews would go through the Tribulation, so the Spirit sanctified them from us, the people He foreknew would be raptured before it. Peter went on, “that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold…though it be tried with fire” (1 Peter 1:6-7) and that’s Tribulation talk (Zechariah 13:9; 14:1)
This is why Paul went on to say that they’d been chosen to be saved from the Tribulation “through belief of the truth,” Paul’s truth, and why they were called by Paul’s gospel (v.14). If they were called by Peter’s gospel, the Spirit would have separated them to go through the Tribulation. This explains why Paul called us “them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate” (Romans 8:28-29). God predetermined that our destination would be in heaven rather than the earth, so He called us by Paul’s gospel to obtain the glory of the pre-tribulation rapture. Saved Jews under the kingdom program were also called to obtain glory but only after they have “suffered” the Tribulation (1 Peter 5:10). — Kurth
into which (v.14) — salvation
Paul is not thanking God that He saved them from Hell. The word “salvation” has different meanings. Israel was saved from the Egyptians (Exodus 14:13; Jude 1:5). Paul talked about being saved from a storm (Acts 27:31). And in the Thessalonian epistles, “salvation” can refer to salvation from the Tribulation. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). You don’t have an appointment to obtain salvation from Hell—you obtained it when you believed. But you have an appointment to obtain salvation from the Tribulation by the “salvation” of the Rapture (Romans 13:11).
And it is this salvation to which we were chosen, not salvation from Hell. True, the Bible says “He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4), but it doesn’t say we were chosen to be in Christ, it says we were chosen—in Christ. Christ is God’s elect. — Kurth
by our gospel (v.14) — the gospel of grace which Paul preached
for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (v.14) — defining the gospel that Paul preached
In v.14 [Paul] declares that the Thessalonian saints were “called” to this position as God’s beloved, by his gospel, “the gospel of the grace of God.” How often throughout his epistles, he insists upon this and upon the distinctiveness of his apostleship! Moreover, this glad message eventuated for them in “the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now they, with Paul and the other members of the Body, could “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). — Vine, page 135.
glory (v.14) = the outward and visible expression of what is inward and essential
therefore (v.15) — since they were sure of their salvation — Paul urges the Thessalonians to live according to God’s plan for their glorification rather than in lawlessness, which was pressuring them and from which they suffered.
stand fast (v.15) — continuous tense
The word “fast” (v.15) can mean firm or secure, as in how God set the mountains securely in place (Psalm 65:5-6). So when Paul tells us to “stand fast” in the knowledge that God has chosen us to salvation from the Tribulation (vs.13-14), we should stand in that truth as firmly as a mountain. Did you know Paul always told people to stand fast in things in which they weren’t standing fast.
He told the Corinthians to “stand fast in the faith” because they had departed from the faith when they ceased believing in the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:32). He told the Galatians to “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1), the yoke of bondage being the Law of Moses. They had forgotten that “we are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:15). The apostle told the Philippians to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27), because two ladies were feuding (4:2) and the church was taking sides. But Paul told the Thessalonians to stand fast in the knowledge of the pre-tribulation rapture because they weren’t standing fast in it, due to a letter that someone wrote them and signed Paul’s name to (2:1-2). — Kurth
hold (v.15) = to exert strength upon
traditions (v.15) = a handing on, that which has been handed down. In the early days of the age of grace, many of the teachings of Paul hadn’t yet been written down. Believers had to rely on the things they had heard him say (v.5)—things that Paul had heard from God and had handed down to them. Later, when the teachings had been written down and distributed, Paul no longer talked of tradition but of doctrine (1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:12-14). They did, however, have his first letter, which he refers to in v.15 as “our epistle.” The “our” refers to both the spoken word and the epistle—they were to listen to what Paul had to say because God had chosen him to spread the gospel of grace.
How the Apostle keeps exhorting these believers not to falter in their faith in the Lord’s coming for them before the Tribulation breaks! This [was] doubtless because of the persecutions they were suffering. But since Paul’s word to them is also God’s Word to us, we should regard this as an appeal to us today not to be led astray from this precious truth, or to lose it as our “blessed hope.” — Stam, pages 135-136.