New Testament Survey: The Book Of Second Thessalonians
The Book Of Second Thessalonians
- Paul (2 Th 1:1)(2 Th 3:17)
(For more on Paul see: Survey: Biography Of Paul)
- Both the internal and external evidence points to Paul writing this Epistle. The doctrine, style, and manner of thought are all Pauline, and resemble 1st Thessalonians. Just as when Paul wrote 1st Thessalonians, Timothy and Silas are still with him (compare: 1 Th 1:1 and 2 Th 1:1).
- That Paul wrote this Epistle has never been questioned until this century. The main reason it has been questioned is simply because the language of 2nd Thessalonians differs from Paul’s other letters in a few ways: (i.e. it is more formal and uses at least 10 words not used elsewhere). Most scholars, however, do not give much credibility to these claims.
- The early church fathers (Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, Eusebius) agreed that Paul authored this book.
- Most agree that this was the 3rd of the 13 Epistles that Paul wrote.
- This letter was the shortest of the 9 letters that Paul wrote to the churches.
- Chapters: 3
- Verses: 47
- 51 or 52 A.D. (Likely 2 to 6 months after 1st Thessalonians)
- Christians at the church in Thessalonica.
(2 Th 1:6-9)(2 Th 2:11-13)(2 Th 3:3,6,14-15)
- It appears that the bearer of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians may have returned with news as to what had been occurring in the church since Paul wrote that letter. The good news was that their love for one another had grown as Paul had encouraged, and their faith was also increasing (2 Th 1:3). The bad news was that their persecution may have been even worse. In addition, erroneous beliefs had crept into the church. Many believed that the “day of the Lord” was already at hand.
- This may have been partly a misunderstanding of what Paul meant in his first letter when he said Christ’s second coming would be sudden and could happen at any time (1 Th 4:13)(1 Th 5:2). However, it also appears that a counterfeit letter may have been circulating that was purported to have come from Paul (2 Th 2:2).
(As we have discussed in previous surveys, Paul often dictated his letters to another person, but signed them with his own hand so that people would know it wasn’t a forgery. This letter seems to make this very clear as he draws attention to the fact that he personally signed it (2 Th 3:17).)
- However this false belief had spread, one result was that many people had stopped working (2 Th 3:6-15), thinking it would be unnecessary in view of the Lord’s coming.
- In light of these things, Paul had several purposes for writing 2nd Thessalonians:
1. First, to again encourage and strengthen the new believers, and commend them for their faith and endurance in the midst of persecution.
2. To deal with the false belief that the “day of the Lord” was at hand. He did this primarily by pointing out that several things will occur before this takes place:
There will be a great apostasy (2 Th 2:3).
The man of sin, the son of perdition will be revealed (2 Th 2:3).
That man (Antichrist) will sit in God’s Temple and declare himself to be God (2 Th 2:4).
The restrainer must be removed (2 Th 2:7).
3. To confront those who had stopped working and encourage them to get back to work (2 Th 3:6-13).
- Just as in 1st Thessalonians, the second coming of Jesus is the primary emphasis of this letter. Of the 47 verses, 18 deal with this.
- The word “disorderly” is used 3 times (2 Th 3:6)(2 Th 3:7)(2 Th 3:11) in 2nd Thessalonians. This word is not used anywhere else in the New Testament.
- The Epistle is in five divisions:
1. Salutation, 1:1-4.
2. Comfort, 1:5-12.
3. Instruction concerning the day of the Lord and the man of sin, 2:1-12.
4. Exhortations and apostolic commands, 2:13-3:15.
5. Benediction and authentication, 3:16-18.
(Survey from Scofield Reference Notes [1917 ed.]: Public Domain)