2 Thessalonians


The author of this epistle identifies himself as Paul (2 Thess. 1:1; 3:17). The early church and biblical scholarship throughout most of history have held to its Pauline authorship. Some modern scholars have argued that 1 and 2 Thessalonians present different theological perspectives on the end times, and therefore Paul wrote the first but not the second epistle. Some scholars also identify the “man of sin” (2 Thess. 2:3) with the legend of the return of Nero from the dead (Nero redivivus), which arose after Paul had died. Neither of these arguments warrants the conclusion that Paul is not the author. First, the teachings of both epistles on the coming of Christ are quite compatible. Second, the idea of an antichrist goes back at least to the prophet Daniel (Dan. 11:36). It would be remarkably hypocritical for the author to write severely against deception and lies (2 Thess. 2:3,9-12) and to commend “the love of the truth” (2 Thess. 2:10) if he were presenting himself under a false name. The best reading of the epistle is that it was written by “Paul,” the apostle closely associated with Silvanus (or Silas) and Timotheus (or Timothy) (1:1; Acts 15:40; 16:1-3; 2 Cor. 1:1,19)—the same three persons mentioned in the opening of 1 Thessalonians.


Though a few scholars have argued that 2 Thessalonians came before what we call 1 Thessalonians, they have no definitive proof. Paul writes of an “epistle” he previously sent to this church (2 Thess. 2:15), which most likely refers to 1 Thessalonians. It appears that 2 Thessalonians was written several months after 1 Thessalonians (see Introduction to 1 Thessalonians), during Paul’s second missionary journey. He probably wrote from Corinth where Silas and Timothy had joined him (Acts 18:1,5).


The coming judgment against those who persecute the glorious saints of Christ.


To balance the expectations in the church about the end times, revealing that Christ’s coming has not yet happened, but when it does, He will come with judgment and glory.


The Contribution of 2 Thessalonians to Redemptive Revelation

This is a short epistle but it contains very important teaching, both theological and practical. Its burden is to correct a misunderstanding that had evidently been reported to Paul as having harmfully influenced the faith of the Thessalonian believers. The error Paul corrects is the mistaken idea that Christ’s second coming was just moments away (2 Thess. 2:1). Before Christ returns, he says, there must be revealed a notable enemy of God on the stage of history called “that man of sin” (2 Thess. 2:3). Evidently some of the church members at Thessalonica had been so influenced by the expectation of an immediate coming of Christ that they were not working to support themselves and their families. Paul denounces this as utterly immoral. He lays down the healthy principle that if any do not work, neither should they eat (2 Thess. 2:10). If a church member does not work, he is choosing to starve. Then he should be judged “disorderly” (2 Thess. 2:11). Such persons should be made to feel “ashamed” (2 Thess. 2:14).


  1. Salutation: Grace and Peace (2 Thess. 1:1-2)
  2. Courage for Suffering Saints (2 Thess. 1:3-12)
    1. Thanksgiving for Faith, Love, and Endurance (2 Thess. 1:3-4)
    2. Judgment on Persecutors and Glory for Saints (2 Thess. 1:5-10)
    3. Prayer for Power and Glory (2 Thess. 1:11-12)
  3. Correction of Mistaken End-Times Expectations (2 Thess. 2:1-12)
    1. The False Report of the Day of Christ (2 Thess. 2:1-2)
    2. The Rise and Destruction of the Man of Sin (2 Thess. 2:3-12)
  4. Confidence in Salvation and Call to Prayer (2 Thess. 2:13-3:5)
    1. Thanksgiving and Exhortation to Elect Saints (2 Thess. 2:13-15)
    2. Prayer for Comfort and Strength (2 Thess. 2:16-17)
    3. Request for Prayer for the Mission (2 Thess. 3:1-2)
    4. Assurance and Prayer for Endurance (2 Thess. 3:3-5)
    5. Command to Discipline Disorderly Brothers (2 Thess. 3:6-15)
  5. Farewell: Peace and Grace (2 Thess. 3:16-18)

Extracted from: Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible Notes(Beeke, Joel R. 2015. Reformation Heritage Books).

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