From the Word
5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering — 6 since indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:5–12, RSV
Whatever the Christian suffers here on earth at the hands of the devil and the world befalls him simply for the sake of the name of God and for his Word. True, as a baptized child of God the Christian should justly enjoy unalloyed goodness, comfort and peace on earth; but since he must still dwell in the kingdom of the devil, who infuses sin and death into human flesh, he must endure the devil. Yet all Satan’s afflictions and the world’s plagues, persecutions, terrors, tortures, even the taking of the Christian’s life, and all its abuse, is wrought in violence and injustice. But to offset this, the Christian has the comforting assurance of God’s Word that because he suffers for the sake of the kingdom of Christ and of God he shall surely be eternally partaker of that kingdom. Certain it is, no one will be worthy of it unless he suffers for it.
Christians should certainly expect this and comfort themselves in the confidence that God will not permit the wrongs of his people to continue unpunished and unavenged. We might think he had forgotten, were we to judge from the facts that godly Abel was shamefully murdered by his brother, that God’s prophets and martyrs — John the Baptist, Jeremiah, Paul and others — suffered death at the hands of bloodhounds like the Herods, Neros and other shameless, sanguinary tyrants of that sort, and this when God had, even in this life, given glorious testimony of their being his beloved children. A judgment must be forthcoming that tyrants may suffer pains and punishments, and that the godly, delivered from sufferings, may have eternal rest and joy. Let all the world know that God does not forget even after death.
This is the consolation which the future judgment at the resurrection of the dead holds, that, as God’s righteousness requires, the saints shall receive for their sufferings a supremely rich and glorious recompense. Paul seems to present, as the principal reason why God must punish the world with everlasting pain, the fact that the world has inflicted tribulation on Christians. This is indicated where we read that Christ shall say on the last day: “Depart from me, ye cursed … inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of these least, ye did it not unto me.”
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 419–21.