Allusions to Torah-Obedience in the Book of Second Thessalonians 

Connecting the Gospel to Its Pro-Torah Hebrew Roots

When I was taking a college level biblical Greek class a few years back, the Christian professor and I had a few discussions about the Torah. It was his belief that the epistles in the New Testament contained very few references to the Torah. In his mind, therefore, the Torah wasn’t a very prominent idea in the minds of the apostolic writers. I tried to enlighten him otherwise.

While the epistles might not contain very many outright references to the Torah — especially direct commands to be obedient to the Torah’s standards of righteousness, the apostolic writers weave the fundamental concepts of the Torah through their writings and make countless allusions to the Torah as we shall see in the study below. The Torah was just part of their spiritual and social fabric and background. It was their spiritual foundation, and to them Yeshua the Jewish, Torah-obedient Messiah, who was the Living Word of Elohim incarnate, was simply an extensions or expression of this basic idea of Torah truth and righteousness, and whose example they expected the saints to follow as his disciples.

2 Thess 1:3, Love. The Torah defines how a man is to love Elohim and his neighbor. Biblically speaking, is love merely an emotion, or is it something more? The Bible presents love as an action. Yeshua said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). This action involves obedience to YHVH’s Torah-commandments. Elsewhere, Yeshua sums up the Torah when he quotes the biblical shema, which states that the duty of man is to love YHVH with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength and one’s neighbor as oneself (Mark 12:28–31 cp. Deut 6:4 and Lev 19:18). The shema is a summation of the ten commandments the first four of which show us how to love YHVH, while the last six how to love our neighbor. These ten statements form the foundation or cornerstone of the entire Torah, which expand out of them.

2 Thess 1:5, Righteous judgments of Elohim. As the just judge of the universe, YHVH Yeshua will judge all men at his second coming based on his word — the Torah (Rev 19:11, 15 cp. Isa 11:3–5 and Ps 119:172). He will then offer rewards to his servants based on how well they followed his Torah or not (Matt 5:19).

2 Thess 1:8, Taking vengeance. See notes on 2 Thess 1:5.

2 Thess 1:6, Righteous thing. The Torah defines what the biblical standard of righteousness is (Ps 119:172).

2 Thess 1:8, Know Elohim. One can’t know Elohim without understanding his character as defined by his Torah standards of righteousness. John expressed it this way: “Now by this we know that we know him if we keep his [Torah] commandments. He who says, ‘I knows him,’ and does not keep his [Torah] commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3–4).

2 Thess 2:3, Falling away [Gr. apostasia]. The Greek word apostasia means “defection, rebellion, abandonment, a forsaking, apostasy (see TWOT, AG, Thayer’s, Strong’s, et al).” The only other place this word is found in the NT is Acts 21:21 in reference to the lie that was circulating that Paul was teaching the Gentiles to forsake [apostasia] or reject the law Continue reading