INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE
THESSALONIANS.

     The circumstances connected with the planting of the Church at Thessalonica, the character of the surroundings, and the trials of the young Christian brotherhood have all been explained in the introduction to the preceding epistle, to which I refer the reader. Those circumstances called for a second letter, which must have followed the first after an interval of only a few months, the only instance save that of the Corinthian letters in which the apostle directed two successive epistles to the same congregation.

      That the Second Epistle is followed soon after the First is indicated (1) by the fact that almost the same state of affairs is described in each: There was persecution and trial, there was an eager expectation of the speedy Advent of the Lord, excepting that in the Second Epistle the excitement had led to greater extremes, and in each certain ones are described who were neglecting their ordinary employments as unnecessary in view of the Lord's coming. Compare 2 Thess. 3:6-14 with 1 Thess. 4:10-12, and 1 Thess. 2:9. In the second place both Silas and Timothy were present with Paul at the writing of each epistle. Compare the opening salutations.

      The reasons for writing the letter are apparent. The conditions that called out the preceding letter still existed, and the information brought by the messenger who had carried the letter showed the need of further instruction. The principal object is to correct the erroneous belief that the day of the Lord's coming was very close at hand. This belief had received the more currency because some reported that Paul had so declared, and had even so stated in a letter. Hence he now shows that certain great events must precede that day, and that these events are yet future. He again enforces the teaching of the Lord that the time is unknown, and charges that all follow their usual employments.

      This epistle, like the First, was evidently written during Paul's long stay at Corinth, and both may be assigned to the same year. [250]

2 Thessalonians 1

1Paul, Silas and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
2Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:1-2

Explanation:

1:1   Paul wrote this letter from Corinth less than a year after he wrote 1 Thessalonians.  He and his companions, Timothy and Silas, had visited Thessalonica on Paul's second missionary journey.  They established the church there, but Paul had to leave suddenly because of persecution.  This prompted him to write his first letter to the Thessalonians, which contains words of comfort and encouragement.  Paul then heard how the Thessalonians had responded to this letter.  The good news was that they were continuing to grow in their faith.  But the bad news was that false teachings about Christ's return were spreading, leading many to quit their jobs and wait for the end of the world.  So Paul wrote to them again.  While the purpose of Paul's first letter was to comfort the Thessalonians with the assurance of Christ's second coming, the purpose of his second letter is to correct false teaching about the second coming.  Paul, Silas, and Timothy were together in Corinth.  Paul wrote this letter on behalf of all three of them.  Paul often included Timothy as a co-sender of his letters (see Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1).  Thessalonica was the capital and largest city of the Roman province of Macedonia.  The most important Roman highway-extending from Rome to the Orient-went through Thessalonica.  This highway, along with the city's thriving seaport, made Thessalonica one of the wealthiest and most flourishing trade centers in the Roman empire.  Recognized as a free city, Thessalonica was allowed self-rule and was exempted from most of the restrictions placed by Rome on other cities.  Because of this open climate, however, the city had many pagan religions and cultural influences that challenged the Christians' faith.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

3We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. 4Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
5All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
11With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. 12We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:3-12

Explanation:

1:3   Regardless of the contents of Paul's letters, his style was affirming.  Paul began most of his letters by stating what he most appreciated about his readers and the joy he felt because of their faith in God.  We also should look for ways to encourage and build up other believers.

1:4   The keys to surviving persecution and trials are perseverance and faith.  When we are faced with crushing troubles, we can have faith that God is using our trials for our good and for his glory.  Knowing that God is fair and just will give us patience in our suffering because we know that he has not forgotten us.  In God's perfect timing, he will relieve our suffering and punish those who persecute us.  Can you trust God's timing?

1:4-6   Paul had been persecuted during his first visit to Thessalonica (Acts 17:5-9).  No doubt those who had responded to his message and had become Christians were continuing to be persecuted by both Jews and Gentiles.  In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, he said that Christ's return would bring deliverance from persecution and judgment on the persecutors.  But this caused the people to expect Christ's return right away to rescue and vindicate them.  So Paul had to point out that while waiting for God's kingdom, believers could and should learn perseverance and faith from their suffering.

1:5   As we live for Christ, we will experience troubles because we are trying to be God's people in a perverse world.  Some people say that troubles are the result of sin or lack of faith, but Paul teaches that they may be a part of God's plan for believers.  Our problems can help us look upward and forward, instead of inward (Mark 13:35, 36; Philippians 3:13, 14);  they can build strong character (Romans 5:3, 4);  and they can provide us with opportunities to comfort others who also are struggling (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).  Your troubles may be an indication that you are taking a stand for Christ.

1:5-7   There are two dimensions of the relief mentioned by Paul.  We can gain relief in knowing that our sufferings are strengthening us, making us ready for Christ's kingdom.  We can also gain relief in the fact that one day everyone will stand before God; at that time, wrongs will be righted, judgment will be pronounced, and evil will be terminated.

1:7-9   The everlasting destruction that Paul describes is the lake of fire (see Revelation 20:14)-the place of eternal separation from God.  Those people who are separated from God in eternity no longer have any hope for salvation.

1:11, 12   Our calling from God, as Christians, is to become like Christ (Romans 8:29).  This is a gradual, lifelong process that will be completed when we see Christ face to face (1 John 3:2).  To be worthy of this calling means to want to do what is right and good (as Christ would).  We aren't perfect yet, but we're moving in that direction as God works in us.

2 Thessalonians 2


The Man of Lawlessness

1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. 3Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

Explanation:

2:1...... Paul describes the end of the world and Christ's second coming.  He says that great suffering and trouble lie ahead, but evil will not prevail, because Christ will return to judge all people.  Although Paul presents a few signs of the end times, his emphasis, like Jesus (Mark 13), is the need for each person to prepare for Christ's return by living rightly day by day.  If we are ready, we won't have to be concerned about the preceding events or the timing of Christ's return.  God controls all events.

2:1, 2   In the Bible, the day of the Lord is used in two ways: it can mean the end times (beginning with Christ's birth and continuing until today), and it can mean the final judgment day (in the future).  Because some false teachers were saying that judgment day had come, many believers were waiting expectantly for their vindication and for relief from suffering.  But judgment day had not yet come;  other events would have to happen first.

2:2   Prophecy, report, or letter could refer to the fact that false teaching had come from: (1) someone claiming to have had a divine revelation; (2) someone passing on a teaching as though it were from Paul; or (3) someone distributing a letter supposedly written by Paul.

2:3   Throughout history there have been individuals who epitomized evil and who were hostile to everything Christ stands for (see 1 John 2:18; 4:3; 2 John 7).  These antichrists have lived in every generation and will continue to work their evil.  Then just before Christ's second coming, the man of lawlessness...the man doomed to destruction, a completely evil man, will arise.  He will be Satan's tool, equipped with Satan's power.  This lawless man will be the antichrist.  It is dangerous, however, to label any person as the antichrist and to try to predict Christ's coming based on that assumption.  Paul mentions the antichrist, not so we might identify him specifically, but so we might be ready for anything that threatens our faith.  If our faith is strong, we don't need to be afraid of what lies ahead, because we know that this lawless man has already been defeated by God, no matter how powerful he becomes or how terrible our situation seems.  God is in control, and he will be victorious over the antichrist.  Our task is to be prepared for Christ's return and to spread the gospel so that even more people will also be prepared.

2:3......   When Paul first wrote to the Thessalonians, they were in danger of losing hope in the second coming.  Then they shifted to the opposite extreme-some of then thought that Jesus would be coming at any minute.  Paul tried to restore the balance by describing certain events that would happen before Christ's return.

5Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders,

2 Thessalonians 2:5-9

Explanation:

2:6, 7   Who holds back the lawless one?  We do not know for certain.  Three possibilities have been suggested: (1) government and law, which help to curb evil; (2) the ministry and activity of the church and the effects of the gospel; or (3) the Holy Spirit.  The Bible is not clear on who the restrainer is, only that he will not restrain forever.  But we should not fear this time when the restraint is removed-God is far stronger than the man of lawlessness, and God will save his people.

2:7   The secret power of lawlessness is already at work means that the work that this antichrist will do is already going on.  Secret means something no one can discover, but something God will reveal.  Lawlessness is the hidden, subtle, underlying force from which all sin springs.  Civilization still has a veneer of decency through law enforcement, education, science, and reason.  Although we are horrified by criminal acts, we have yet to see the real horror of complete lawlessness.  This will happen when the one who holds it back (possibly the Holy Spirit)...is taken out of the way.  Why will God allow this to happen?  To show people and nations their own sinfulness, and to show them by bitter experience the true alternative to the lordship of Christ.  People totally without God can act no better than vicious animals.  Lawlessness, to a certain extent, is already going on, but the man of lawlessness has not yet been revealed.

2:9   This lawless one will use counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders to deceive and draw a following.  Miracles from God can help strengthen our faith and lead people to Christ, but all miracles are not necessarily from God.  Christ's miracles were significant, not just because of their power, but because of their purpose-to help, heal, and to point us to God.  The man of lawlessness will have power to do amazing things, but this power will be from Satan.  He will use this power to destroy and to lead people away from God and toward himself.  If any so-called religious personality draws attention only to himself or herself, his or her work is not from God.

10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

Stand Firm

13But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
16May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

2 Thessalonians 2:10-17

Explanation:

2:10-12   This man of lawlessness with his power and miracles will deceive those who have refused to believe God's truth.  God gives people freedom to turn their backs on him and believe Satan's lies.  If they say no to the truth, they will experience the consequences of their sin.

2:13   Paul consistently taught that salvation begins and ends with God.  We can do nothing to be saved on our own merit-we must accept God's gift of salvation.  There is no other way to receive forgiveness from sin.  Paul is encouraging the Thessalonian believers by reminding them that they were chosen by God from the beginning.  Sanctification is the process of Christian growth through which the Holy Spirit makes us like Christ.

2:14   God worked through Paul and his companions to tell the Good News so that people could share in Christ's glory.  It may seem strange that God works through us-fallible, unfaithful, untrustworthy human creatures.  But he has given us the fantastic privilege of accomplishing his great mission-telling the world how to find salvation.

2:15   Paul knew that the Thessalonians would face pressure from persecutions, false teachers, worldliness, and apathy to waver from the truth and to leave the faith.  So he urged them to stand firm and hold on to the truth they had been taught both through his letters and in person.  We also may face persecution, false teachings, worldliness, and apathy.  We should hold on to the truth of Christ's teachings because our lives depend on it.  Never forget the reality of Christ's life and love!

2 Thessalonians 3


Request for Prayer

1Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. 3But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.

2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

Explanation:

3:1-3   Beneath the surface of the routine of daily life, a fierce struggle among invisible spiritual powers is being waged.  Our main defense is prayer that God will protect us from the evil one and that he will strengthen us.  The following guidelines can help you prepare for and survive satanic attacks:  (1) take the threat of spiritual attack seriously;  (2) pray for strength and help from God; (3) study the Bible to recognize Satan's style and tactics; (4) memorize scripture so it will be a source of help no matter where you are; (5) associate with those who speak the truth; and (6) practice what you are taught by spiritual leaders.

Warning Against Idleness

6In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. 10For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."
11We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. 13And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.
14If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. 15Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

Special Greetings

16Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
17I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write.
18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-18

Explanation:

3:6-10   Paul was writing here about the person who is lazy.  Paul explained that when he and his companions were in Thessalonica, they worked hard, buying what they needed rather than becoming a burden to any of the believers.  The rule they followed was If a man will not work, he shall not eat.  There is a difference between leisure and laziness.  Relaxation and recreation provide a necessary and much needed balance to our lives; but when it is time to work, Christians should jump right in.  We should make the most of our talent and time, doing all we can to provide for ourselves and our dependents.  Rest when you should be resting, and work when you should be working.

3:6-15   Some people in the Thessalonian church were falsely teaching that because Christ would return any day, people should set aside their responsibilities, quit work, do no future planning, and just wait for the Lord.  But their lack of activity only led them into sin.  They became a burden to the church, which was supporting them; they wasted time that could have been used for helping others; and they became busybodies.  These church members may have thought that they were being more spiritual by not working, but Paul tells them to be responsible and get back to work.  Being ready for Christ means obeying him in every area of life.  Because we know that Christ is coming, we must live in such a way that our faith and our daily practice will please him when he arrives.

3:11, 12   A busybody is a gossip.  An idle person who doesn't work ends up filling his or her time with less than helpful activities, like gossip.  Rumors  and hearsay are tantalizing, exciting to hear, and make us feel like insiders.  But they tear people down.  If you often find your nose in other people's business, you may be unemployed.  Look for a task to do for Christ or for your family, and get to work.

3:14, 15   Paul counseled the church to stop supporting financially and associating with those who persisted in their idleness.  Hunger and loneliness can be very effective ways to make the idle person become productive.  Paul was not advising coldness or cruelty, but the kind of tough love that a person would show for a brother of sister.

3:18   The book of 2 Thessalonians is especially meaningful for those who are being persecuted or are under pressure because of their faith.  In chapter 1 we are told what suffering can do for us.  In chapter 2 we are assured of final victory.  In chapter 3 we are encouraged to continue living responsibly in spite of difficult circumstances.  Christ's return is more than a doctrine; it is a promise.  It is not just for the future; it has a vital impact on how we live now.