2 Thessalonians 1
-Overview of 2 Thessalonians
Paul gives a further exhortation to the people of Thessalonica to help them live out their faith and not grow complacent. They expected the “Day of the LORD” to the degree that they had stopped working and were just waiting around for Christ’s return. This was definitely not the point in Paul’s first letter with his encouraging words of comfort in a distressing time of persecution. The persecution the believers were experiencing no doubt helped to lend to the expectation of an imminent ending of the world, but Paul must correct this erroneous view. So that he does under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
AUTHOR: The apostle Paul, joined in his salutation by Silvanus and
Timothy (1:1), and with a reference to his own signature at the end of
the epistle (3:17). Early sources in church history that attribute
this letter to Paul include: Clement of Alexandria (200 A.D.),
Tertullian (200 A.D.), and Irenaeus (200 A.D.).
THE CITY OF THESSALONICA: It was the capital and largest city of the
Roman province of Macedonia. Located on the Egnatian Way, a major road
from Rome to the eastern provinces, the city served as center of trade
and commerce. Today, it is known as Thessaloniki, or Salonica.
THE CHURCH AT THESSALONICA: The establishment of the church is
recorded in Acts 17:1-9. On his second missionary journey, Paul and his
companions (Silas and Timothy) had just left Philippi and passed
through Amphipolis and Apollonia to arrive at Thessalonica. As was his
custom, Paul immediately located the synagogue and reasoned with the
Jews for three Sabbaths concerning Jesus Christ. While some of them
were persuaded, including a great number of devout Greeks and leading
women, the unbelieving Jews became jealous and created an uproar in the
city. Therefore it became necessary to send Paul and Silas away
secretly by night to Berea.
Despite such ominous beginnings, a strong church was established in
Thessalonica (cf. 1:2-10). Mostly Gentile (cf. 1:9), its members
already been the recipient of an earlier letter (First Thessalonians).
TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING: Second Thessalonians appears to have been
written just a few months, possibly a year, after First Thessalonians.
This would place the writing of the epistle during Paul's extended stay
at Corinth on his second missionary journey (cf. Acts 18:1-11), sometime
around 53 A.D.
PURPOSE OF THE EPISTLE: The first epistle to the Thessalonians had
been written in response to news brought back by Timothy who had made a
Encouraged by their steadfastness in the face of persecution, Paul had
From the second letter, it appears that they remained strong in the
Lord despite persecution (cf. 1:3-4). But it is apparent from this
letter that misunderstanding about the Lord's coming was present in the
church. Some of the members were being troubled by false reports (cf.
2:1-2); others had stopped working, perhaps assuming that the Lord's
imminent return meant one did not need to work anymore (cf. 3:11-12).
Paul's purpose in writing this epistle, therefore, is three-fold:
* To encourage them in their steadfastness under persecution
* To correct their misunderstanding about the imminence of the
* To instruct the congregation on what disciplinary action to take
toward those who refused to work
THEMES OF THE EPISTLE: In correcting their misunderstanding about the
return of Christ, Paul explains that the Lord will not come right away
(cf. 2:1-3). Therefore they need to continue with steadfastness and
patience for which they had been commended. A suggested theme of this
epistle might therefore be:
"STEADFASTNESS WHILE WAITING FOR THE COMING OF CHRIST"
Also, the theme of rebellion before the coming of the King of Glory is evident personified by the “man of lawlessness” (the antichrist). God will remove all restraints on evil before He brings judgment on the rebels. The antichrist will attempt and succeed in deceiving many. This means that we should not be afraid when we see evil increase. God is in total control, no matter how bad the world becomes. We can have victory over evil by remaining faithful to God.
Finally, persistence is a key virtue extolled in the letter. The church must not quit working under any circumstance. They must show courage and true Christian conduct. We must never get so tired of doing right that we give up. We can be persistent by making the most of our time and talents. Our endurance will be rewarded.
New American Standard Bible: Life Application Study Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich.: 1995, pgs. 2096-2097.
-Paul’s second known letter the Thessalonians begins with giving of thanks for them because of their growth in the faith and love of Christ and one another. They had become the object of the apostle’s boasting because of their steadfastness and faith in all their persecutions and afflictions that they were enduring (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4). *Application* Your faith and love shine brightest in the darkest places of your life. This is your opportunity to grow in the Lord and experience a new level of closeness with Him as He takes you through the tough times. Shine as lights in this world because of the hope you have in Christ to endure difficulties just as these blessed Thessalonians.
-Now Paul goes into a section on the judgment from God that is coming when Christ appears at His return. God considers it just to repay with affliction those who do afflicting and sinful works on this earth. God will grant relief for the oppressed in their suffering and that is a promise. Jesus will come with His mighty angels in flaming fire inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and are in disobedience to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might (2 Thessalonians 1:5-9).” Christ will be glorified as complete and sovereign ruler over this world in that day and will be revered by all the believers who trusted in the testimony given to them by the eyewitness saints such as Paul and others. Paul’s prayer for them was that they would be made worthy of their calling by God and resolve to complete every good work of faith by His power according to His grace given them (2 Thessalonians 1:10-12). *Application* This is not the nice and kind Jesus that is often portrayed by our society as a benevolent and tolerant Deity who doesn’t really care about sin or injustice excusing every evil thing without penalty. The Old Testament is not the only place where we can find the wrath of God on unbelief and wickedness that is unrepentant. Only a turning to God in faith can excuse the sinner, and although God is patient (2 Peter 3:9), He will in no way leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:7, Numbers 14:18, Nahum 1:3). Turn to Him while you can so that you can receive His grace and mercy!
Verse to Memorize- 2 Thessalonians 1:9