2 Thessalonians - Introduction

We will hold on to the traditional view that Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians and he wrote it from Corinth.

It seems that there was a forge letter of Paul sent to Thessalonica. The problem was about the coming of the Lord and the guarantee of salvation. They could have believed that the Lord had already arrived but secretly. They could have believed that how they lived was irrelevant, because their salvation was guaranteed; nothing they did could modify the divine decision. Thus Paul had to deal with these problems and sent another letter, marked by his handwriting (3:17). This letter could have been written soon after 1 Thessalonians, perhaps within 12 months in AD 50 or 51.


Three purposes are evident from the contents of the epistle. Paul wrote to encourage the Thessalonian believers to continue to persevere in the face of continuing persecution (1:3–10). He also wanted to clarify events preceding the day of the Lord to dispel false teaching (2:1–12). Finally, he instructed the church how to deal with lazy Christians in their midst (3:6–15).

Three main teams appear in the second letter.

  1. God’s justice. The new converts have been suffering at the hands of certain opponents, so Paul encourages them with the assurance that when Jesus returns, God will repay all people for their deeds, punishing evildoers and comforting the afflicted (2 Thess 1:5–10). Paul expects that in the judgement that the Thessalonians will be found to have lived lives “worthy” of the kingdom of God, but he continues to pray that this would be the case (2 Thess 1:5, 11–12).
  2. The day of the Lord. This remains in the future. The Thessalonians have gone from thinking that the dead would miss out on the Lord’s return to thinking that the Lord has already returned and they missed it (2 Thess 2:1–2). In response Paul assures them that Jesus’ return will be a glorious manifestation they are sure not to miss, and it will be preceded by a final rebellion by Satan and those under his sway (2 Thess 2:3–12). In order to prevent further confusion all chargers the Thessalonians to hold fast to the tradition he gave them (2 Thess 2:15).
  3. The freeloaders. When Paul was in Thessalonica he found it necessary to emphasise the importance of work (1 Thess 4:11). Certain members of the new church seem to have been all too willing to rely on the charity of their new brothers and sisters. Upon hearing that the problem was ongoing, Paul pened his strongest statement on the matter, instructing the congregation to discipline the erring members (2 Thess 3:6–15).


  1. Greeting (1:1–2);

  2. Apostolic tradition regarding the second coming (1:3–2:17);
    a). Exemplified in the perescution of the Church (1:3–12);
    b). The controversy concerning the second coming (2:1–12);
    c). Encouragement to stand fast in the faith (2:13–17);

  3. Other apostolic traditions (3:1–15);
    a). The apostolic ministry: pray for and obey them (3:1–5);
    b). Holiness: practice orderliness by hard work (3:6–13);
    c). Unity: Admonishing the disobedient (3:14,15);

  4. Benediction and Farewell (3:16–18).

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