ciwlogo_sm.gif An Overview Of The Book Of 2 Thessalonians

The City Of Thessalonica

See the Overview Of The Book Of 1 Thessalonians

The Church Of Thessalonica

See the Overview Of The Book Of 1 Thessalonians

The Writer Of The Second Letter To The Thessalonians

Paul is the author of 2 Thessalonians. As in the case of 1 Thessalonians 1:1, the names of Paul, Silvanus (the Roman name of Silas), and Timothy are all mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 1:1. Silas and Timothy did not author the letter of 2 Thessalonians, as they did not write the letter of 1 Thessalonians. Silas and Timothy are mentioned because they were still with Paul in Corinth and the Christians in Thessalonica knew them as well as Paul. In 2 Thessalonians we again find the personal pronouns “we”, “us”, and “our”, which indicate that Silas and Timothy agreed with what Paul wrote in this second letter to the Thessalonians. 2 Thessalonians 2:5 and 3:17 clearly show that Paul himself was the actual writer of the letter, for in these verses Paul referred to himself with the personal pronoun “I”.

The Recipients Of The Second Letter To The Thessalonians

The Christians of the church in Thessalonica, 2 Thessalonians 1:1

Date Of The Second Letter To The Thessalonians

This second letter was probably written a few months after Paul wrote his first letter to the Thessalonians in late A.D. 51 to early A.D. 52.

The Occasion For The Writing Of The Second Letter To The Thessalonians

Some commentators have thought Paul wrote this second letter to the Thessalonians to clear up confusion caused by his first letter. In his first letter Paul had written about the second coming of Christ. Some have theorized that Paul's having written about the second coming of Christ in his first letter led members of the church in Thessalonica to believe the coming of Christ was most imminent. Those members therefore had quit their jobs, refused to work, and had become idle busybodies and gossips. Thus, the commentators conclude, Paul wrote his second letter to correct the Thessalonians' misconception about the coming of Christ and to admonish them to work.

This explanation seems less than an appropriate conclusion and occasion for Paul to have written his second letter to the Thessalonians. First, the sin of idleness did not erupt after Paul's first letter. It was already a problem before Paul wrote his first letter. In his first letter Paul wrote that the members of the church should make it their ambition to lead quiet lives, to mind their own business, and to work to support themselves (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12). Second, the sin of idleness does not seem to have been a consequence of the Thessalonians' thinking the coming of Christ was imminent. In his first letter Paul did not relate the members' idleness with the second coming of Christ but with their need to work to practice brotherly love. Third, it does not appear that the members of the church in Thessalonica thought the coming of Christ was imminent and soon to happen. Rather, it seems clear that they were being upset by false reports that were supposed to have come from Paul that the day of Christ's coming in judgment had already occurred (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:1,2).

What, then, did lead Paul to write his second letter? It appears that not too long after Paul had written his first letter to the Thessalonians he received news in some way about matters in the church of Thessalonica. These were matters Paul knew he needed to address.

The persecution of the Christians there continued to be pushed by the majority of the Jews who had hardened their hearts against the gospel of Jesus Christ and who continued to be jealous of its success. In the face of this severe persecution the Christians in Thessalonica were remaining faithful. To strengthen them in their endurance they needed Paul's further encouragement. Paul wrote to assure them that as a result of the affliction they suffered they would be counted worthy of the kingdom of God. What was more, they would receive justice for the wrongs being done to them. When Christ returned in judgment he would afflict those who were afflicting them.

Paul had received word that some members of the church were continuing in their sin of being idle busybodies who refused to work to support themselves. It appears that the Greek men shunned manual labor, left the work to their wives and servants, and occupied themselves in gathering for idle gossip. They leeched off of others rather than work to support themselves. Those members needed to be admonished to repent of their sin.

Furthermore, the members of the church in Thessalonica were having their faith shaken by counterfeit messages and reports supposedly coming from Paul that Christ had already returned without their knowing about it. They needed to be reassured this had not in fact happened and that Paul had never said that it had happened.

The Place Where The First Letter To The Thessalonians Was Written

Paul appears to have written this letter while he was still in Corinth and while Silas and Timothy were still with him.

Purpose Of The Second Letter To The Thessalonians

1. To encourage the Thessalonians in their faithfulness in the face of the persecution they were enduring and to assure them that Christ would right the wrong being done to them when he returned to judge the world (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10).

2. To clarify that Paul had never said that Christ had already come in judgment and to instruct them that Christ would not return until after the Great Antichrist, the man of sin, had been revealed (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).

3. To encourage the Thessalonians to discipline the idle busybodies in their midst so they would repent of their sin (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15).

Outline Of The Second Letter To The Thessalonians

Part 1: Greeting, 2 Thessalonians 1:1,2

Part 2: The Persecution Of The Thessalonians From God's Perspective, 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12

A. The Thessalonians' growing faith and brotherly love in the midst of the severe persecution they were enduring was reason to thank God, 2 Thessalonians 1:3,4

B. What was happening to the Thessalonians was evidence that God's judgment is right. He would afflict those who were afflicting the Thessalonians and give relief to the Thessalonians when Christ comes in his glory, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

C. A prayer in behalf of the Thessalonians that they may glorify Jesus, 2 Thessalonians 1:11,12

Part 3: The Coming Of Christ In Judgment Will Be Preceded By The Coming Of The Man Of Sin (The Great Antichrist), 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

A. The Thessalonians should not have their faith shaken by counterfeit reports supposedly from Paul that the day of Christ's coming in judgment had already occurred, 2 Thessalonians 2:1,2

B. Paul foretells the coming and the end of the man of sin (The Great Antichrist), 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12

1. Before the day of Christ's coming in judgment there would be an apostasy, a desertion from and a denial of the gospel of Christ, when the man of sin would be revealed, 2 Thessalonians 2:3

a The man of sin is the son of destruction, for he is doomed to that end, 2 Thessalonians 2:3

b The man of sin would oppose and exalt himself over everything that is called God and is worshipped and honored, 2 Thessalonians 2:4a

c The man of sin would set himself up in the visible church of God on earth, taking the seat of authority in which he would display himself as God, 2 Thessalonians 2:4b

c.1 Paul had told the Thessalonians these things while he was with them, 2 Thessalonians 2:5

d At the time of Paul and the Thessalonians in the first century this man of sin was being restrained, 2 Thessalonians 2:6,7

d.1 From Paul the Thessalonians knew what was restraining this man of sin until the time when God would allow him to be revealed in the world, 2 Thessalonians 2:6

d.2 The mystery of lawlessness that surrounded this man of sin was already at work at the time of Paul and the Thessalonians in the first century, 2 Thessalonians 2:7

2. When the restraint was removed, the lawless man of sin would be revealed plainly in the world. His presence in the world would continue until the day of judgment when Christ appeared, whose Word would destroy this man of sin, 2 Thessalonians 2:8

3. The coming of this man of sin would be according to the work of Satan with powerful miraculous signs, which would deceive those who are perishing because they refused to love the truth of Christ's gospel, 2 Thessalonians 2:9,10

4. Because of their rejection of Christ's gospel, God would send upon those who are deceived a powerful delusion to believe the lie of the man of sin about how to be saved. This would lead to their being condemned, 2 Thessalonians 2:11,12

C. Thanks be to God for his choosing the Thessalonians for salvation through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and faith in the truth of Christ's gospel, through which gospel God called them to faith, 2 Thessalonians 2:13,14

D. An encouragement and prayer that the Thessalonians would stand firm in their faith and hold to the teachings of God's Word, 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17

Part 4: Exhortations, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-15

A. A request for the church to pray for the spread of the Word and for the Lord's protection of his faithful servants (Paul, Silas, Timothy) who preached that Word, 2 Thessalonians 3:1,2

1. An assurance that the same Lord would also strengthen and protect the Thessalonians from the devil, 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5

B. Discipline the Christian brother who is guilty of the sin of idleness, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

1. Separate from those who live a disorderly life and will not work but leech off of others, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-9

2. Those who will not work should not eat, for the will of Christ is that each one should work to support himself, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13

3. Discipline the idle Christian by separating from him in order to admonish him as a brother, 2 Thessalonians 3:14,15

Part 5: Conclusion, 2 Thessalonians 3:16-18

A. Closing prayer, 2 Thessalonians 3:16

B. Closing greeting, 2 Thessalonians 3:17

C. Closing benediction, 2 Thessalonians 3:18


 

Unpublished work. Copyright 2001 JCS of Christian Inconnect. All rights reserved.  No part of this document may be reproduced for distribution or publication without prior permission from Christian Inconnect.

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