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Introduction to 2 Thessalonians


Summary of the Book of 2 Thessalonians

This summary of the book of 2 Thessalonians provides information about the title, author(s), date of writing, chronology, theme, theology, outline, a brief overview, and the chapters of the Book of 2 Thessalonians.

Author, Date and Place of Writing

Paul's authorship of 2 Thessalonians has been questioned more often than that of 1 Thessalonians, in spite of the fact that it has more support from early Christian writers. Objections are based on internal factors rather than on the adequacy of the statements of the church fathers. It is thought that there are differences in the vocabulary (ten words not used elsewhere), in the style (it is said to be unexpectedly formal) and in the eschatology (the doctrine of the "man of lawlessness" is not taught elsewhere). However, such arguments have not convinced current interpreters. A majority still hold to Paul's authorship of 2 Thessalonians.

Because of its similarity to 1 Thessalonians, it must have been written not long after the first letter -- perhaps about six months. The situation in the church seems to have been much the same. Paul probably penned it (see 1:1; 3:17) c. a.d. 51 or 52 in Corinth, after Silas and Timothy had returned from delivering 1 Thessalonians; see also Introduction to 1 Thessalonians).


Inasmuch as the situation in the Thessalonian church has not changed substantially, Paul's purpose in writing is very much the same as in his first letter to them. He writes (1) to encourage persecuted believers (1:4-10), (2) to correct a misunderstanding concerning the Lord's return (2:1-12) and (3) to exhort the Thessalonians to be steadfast and to work for a living (2:13 -- 3:15).


Like 1 Thessalonians, this letter deals extensively with eschatology (see Introduction to 1 Thessalonians: Theme). In fact, in 2 Thessalonians 18 out of 47 verses deal with this subject.


I.           Introduction (ch. 1)

A.   Greetings (1:1-2)

    • Thanksgiving for Their Faith, Love and Perseverance (1:3-10)
    • Intercession for Their Spiritual Progress (1:11-12)

                    II.        Instruction (ch. 2)

    • Prophecy regarding the Day of the Lord (2:1-12)
    • Thanksgiving for Their Election and Calling (Their Position) (2:13-15)
    • Prayer for Their Service and Testimony (Their Practice) (2:16-17)

III.        Injunctions (ch. 3)

    • Call to Prayer (3:1-5)
    • Charge to Discipline the Disorderly and Lazy (3:6-15)
    • Conclusion, Final Greetings and Benediction (3:16-18)

──New International Version


Introduction to 2 Thessalonians

The second epistle to the Thessalonians was written soon after the first. The apostle was told that, from some expressions in his first letter, many expected the second coming of Christ was at hand, and that the day of judgment would arrive in their time. Some of these neglected their worldly duties. St. Paul wrote again to correct their error, which hindered the spread of the gospel. He had written agreeably to the words of the prophets of the Old Testament; and he tells them there were many counsels of the Most High yet to be fulfilled, before that day of the Lord should come, though, because it is sure, he had spoken of it as near. The subject led to a remarkable foretelling, of some of the future events which were to take place in the after-ages of the Christian church, and which show the prophetic spirit the apostle possessed.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on 2 Thessalonians

2 Thessalonians General Review
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 Ac 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
included Jason (Ac 17:9), Aristarchus, and Secundus (Ac 20:4).  It had
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. Ac 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
quick trip there while Paul was in Athens (cf. 1 Th 3:1-3,6).
Encouraged by their steadfastness in the face of persecution, Paul had
exhorted them to holiness in view of the Lord's coming (cf. 1 Th 
3:12-13; 5:23).
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 
     Lord's return
   * To instruct the congregation on what disciplinary action to take
     toward those who refused to work
THEME 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:
KEY VERSES:  2 Thessalonians 2:15-17
   "Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you
   were taught, whether by word or our epistle.  Now may our Lord Jesus
   Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given
   us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your
   hearts and establish you in every good word and work."
   1. Salutation (1)
   2. Greetings (2)
      1. Thanking God for their growing faith and abounding love (1:3)
      2. Boasting to others of their patience and faith in all their
         persecutions (1:4)
      1. Suffering will make them worthy of the kingdom of God (1:5)
      2. God will repay those who trouble them (1:6)
      3. This will occur when Jesus is revealed from heaven (1:7-10)
   C. HIS PRAYER FOR THEM (1:11-12)
      1. That God would count them worthy of their calling (1:11a)
      2. That God would fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness
         and the work of faith with power (1:11b)
      3. That the name of Jesus might be glorified in them, and they in
         Him, according to the grace of God and Christ (1:12)
   A. DO NOT BE TROUBLED (2:1-2)
      1. Concerning the coming of the Lord and our gathering to Him
      2. By false reports, as though the day had come (2:2)
      1. A falling away must occur, and the man of sin revealed (2:3-5)
      2. The man of sin is being restrained, though the mystery of
         lawlessness is already at work (2:6-7)
      3. When the lawless one is revealed, the Lord will destroy him 
         with His coming (2:8)
      4. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of
         Satan, and will mislead those who do not have a love for the 
         truth (2:9-12)
      1. Thankful to God for their election through sanctification by
         the Spirit and belief in truth, having been called by the 
         gospel to obtain glory (2:13-14)
      2. A call to stand fast and hold to the traditions taught by word
         or epistle (2:15)
      3. Prayer for their comfort and establishment in every good word
         and work (2:16-17)
      1. Asking them to pray that the word of the Lord might have free
         course, and he be delivered from evil men (1-2)
      2. Expressions of confidence in the Lord, and in their obedience
      3. Praying that the Lord will direct their hearts into the love 
         of God and patience of Christ (3:5)
      1. To withdraw from those who do not follow apostolic tradition
         and example (3:6-9)
      2. Especially those who will not work (3:10-12)
      3. Don't grow weary in doing good, and avoid those who do not 
         obey the words of the epistle (3:13-15)
   1. A prayer that the Lord bless them with His peace and presence
   2. A confirmation of his authorship of this epistle (3:17)
   3. A benediction of grace from the Lord Jesus Christ (3:18)
1) On which missionary journey was the church at Thessalonica 
   - Paul's second missionary journey
2) Where can we read about the establishment of the church at 
   - Ac 17:1-9
3) What two letters were written to this congregation?
   - 1st and 2nd Thessalonians
4) From where and when did Paul write 2nd Thessalonians?
   - From Corinth, sometime around 53 A.D.
5) What length of time had passed between the writing of the two 
   - A few months, maybe a year
6) Why did Paul write 2nd Thessalonians (see Purpose Of The Epistle)?
   - To encourage them in their steadfastness under persecution
   - To correct their misunderstanding about the imminence of the 
     Lord's return
   - To instruct the congregation on what disciplinary action to take 
     toward those who refused to work
7) What has been suggested as the theme of this epistle?
   - Steadfastness while waiting for the coming of Christ
8) What are the key verses of this epistle?
   - 2 Th 2:15-17
9) According to the outline above, what are the three main sections of
   this epistle?
   - Encouragement in persecutions (chapter 1)
   - Enlightenment about the coming of the Lord (chapter 2)
   - Exhortations to Christian living (chapter 3)


--《Executable Outlines