The Thessalonians experienced great persecution from their Jewish neighbors and Roman rulers. Much like in Jesus’ case, the political authorities were aroused to abuse Christians at the behest of the leaders of the Jewish community. The Jewish residents wielded influence with the government authorities. They used this against the new Christians. The government authorities were stronger and more numerous than the meager collection of new Christians in the Roman cities. They used their positions and their power to abuse the weaker group. In 2 Thessalonians 1:5-6, we read about God’s justice in dealing with the persecutors. It says, “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you.”

We usually associate bullying with childhood. But it occurs at any age. Webster defines bullying as “Abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc.”  We often see bullying in the world around us at every stage of life. God speaks a lot about those who do violence to others without cause just because they are stronger or bigger or have the authority to do so. According to Proverbs 6:16, there are six things that God hates. One of them is “the one who sheds innocent blood.” That’s the bully! Psalm 11:5 also teaches that God hates those “who love violence.” Psalm 5:5 says, “the boastful” will not stand before God. He hates all evildoers. It’s important to have someone who will speak up for us when we’re being bullied. We need an even stronger person to take up our cause. One writer says, “I will never forget having a bottom locker in my fifth-grade year. An older boy in seventh grade chose to open his locker and hit my head. It was cruel, but my older sister stood up to him nearby. Even though it was an unfortunate scenario, having a sister who would stand up for me meant the world. We get to be those advocates for others, but we can only be those helpers if we intentionally open our eyes to the injustices going on around us.”[1]

God hates the bully. He promises to stand up for the innocent parties that are bullied in life. I think this is the promise Paul is making to the Thessalonians experiencing persecution at the hands of the powerful government and the Jewish authorities who are instigating the persecution. The Message Bible Translation, by Eugene Peterson, puts Psalm 35 in very clear terms. It’s all about God’s dealing with bullies. The Psalmist exclaims that my enemies – discouragement, fear, depression, insecurity – rail against me, Lord.  “…God, punch these bullies in the nose. Grab a weapon, anything at hand; stand up for me!” They don’t give me much peace! But I’m certain you won’t let me down. No one loves me like you do! You put your arms around me, and you see me through! As these scourges in my life strive to destroy me, you fight for me. You break their chains and “…let me run loose and free…every bone in my body laughing, singing, ‘God,  there’s no one like you. You put the down-and-out on their feet and protect the unprotected from bullies!” The Psalmist continues speaking about after God delivers him from his bullies. He tells God, “When you do, I will shout, ‘God is great—everything works together for good for his servant. I’ll tell the world how great and good you are. I’ll shout Hallelujah all day, every day.’”

[1] What Does the Bible Say about Bullying  Topical Studies (