AUTHOR AND TITLE:
As with 1 Thessalonians, this letter was also written by Paul (cf. 1 Thess. 1:1). However, Paul’s authorship of this epistle has been questioned more often than that of 1 Thessalonians, even though it has more support from early church writers. There is no evidence among the writings of the early church fathers that his authorship was ever doubted.
In fact several fathers mentioned Paul as the author of this epistle in their writings. It was not until the 19th century that certain questions were raised about the authorship of this epistle. The doubts came from rationalistic critics who likewise refused to accept the Bible’s claim to divine inspiration. Regardless, external and internal evidence support Paul as the author.
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 scholars. A majority still hold to Paul’s authorship of 2 Thessalonians.1)NIV Study Bible Notes, Zondervan, 1985, electronic media.
As the second letter to the church at Thessalonica, this epistle is called in the Greek text, Pros Thessalonikeis B, the “Second to the Thessalonians.”
DATE: A.D. 51-52
Because the historical circumstances are very similar to those of 1 Thessalonians, most believe it was written not long after the first letter—perhaps about six months. While conditions in the church were similar, the persecution seems to have grown (2Th 1:4-5), and this, with other factors, led Paul to write this letter from Corinth sometime in A.D. 51 or 52 after Silas2)Silas: a leading member of the Early Christian community, who later accompanied Paul on parts of his first and second missionary journeys [From Wikipedia] and Timothy3)Timothy: Timothy (Greek: Τιμόθεος; Timótheos, meaning “honouring God” or “honored by God”) was the first first-century Christian bishop of Ephesus, whom tradition relates died around the year AD 97. He was from the Lycaonian city of Lystra in Asia Minor, became Paul’s disciple, and later his companion and co-worker. The New Testament indicates that Timothy traveled with Saint Paul, who was also his mentor. [From Wikipedia], the bearers of the first letter, had returned with the news of the new developments.
THEME AND PURPOSE:
Second Thessalonians was evidently prompted by three main developments that Paul heard about:
(1) there was the news of increasing persecution which they were facing (2Th 1:4-5),
(2) to deal with the reports of a pseudo-Pauline letter and other misrepresentations of his teaching regarding the day of the Lord and the rapture of the church (2Th 2:1f.), and
(3) to deal with the way some were responding to belief in the imminent return of the Lord. This belief was still being used as a basis for shirking their vocational responsibilities.So the apostle wrote to deal with the condition of idleness or disorderliness which had increased (2Th 3:5-15).
To meet the needs that occasioned this epistle, Paul wrote this epistle to comfort and correct. In doing so he pursued three broad purposes.
(1) to give an incentive for the Thessalonians to persevere by describing the reward and retribution that will occur in the future judgment of God (2Th 1:3-10),
(2) to clarify the prominent events belonging to the day of the Lord in order to prove the falsity of the claims that the day had already arrived (2Th 2:1-2), and
(3) to give detailed instructions covering the disciplinary steps the church should take in correcting those who refuse to work (2Th 3:6-15).
The key words or concepts are
• “retribution,” and
all revolving around the return of the Lord in the day of the Lord. In fact, in this epistle, 18 out of 47 verses (38 percent) deal with this subject.
1 Thessalonians, the focus was on
• Christ coming for His Church (2Th 4:13-18) where as in
2 Thessalonians, the focus is on
• Christ coming with His Church in judgment on the unbelieving world(2Th 1:5-10; 2Th 2:3, 12).
Chapter 2 (2Th 2:1-17) is key in that it corrects a serious error that had crept into the Thessalonian church which taught that the day of the Lord had already come. Here the apostle taught them that the day of the Lord had not come and could not until certain events had taken place, not for the rapture of the church which is imminent, but for the day of the Lord, Daniel’s seventieth week.
CHRIST AS SEEN IN 2 THESSALONIANS:
A major theme of this book, especially chapters 1 – 2 (2Th 1:1-2:17), is the return of Christ in judgment when He will put down all rebellion and bring retribution. Second Thessalonians anticipates Christ, the coming Judge.
Apart from the salutation and benediction, the book easily divides up into five sections:
• I. Salutation or Introduction (2Th 1:1-2)
• II. He Commends and Comforts Regarding Persecution (2Th 1:4-12)
• III. He Corrects and Challenges Regarding the Day of the Lord (2Th 2:1-17)
• A. In Relation to the Present (2Th 2:1-2)
• B. In Relation to the Apostasy (2Th 2:3a)
• C. In Relation to the Man of Lawlessness (2Th 2:3b-4)
• D. In Relation to the Restrainer (2Th 2:5-9)
• E. In Relation to Unbelievers (2Th 2:10-12)
• F. In Relation to Believers (2Th 2:13-17)
• IV. He Commands and Convicts Regarding Idleness (2Th 3:1-16)
• A. The Confidence of the Apostle (2Th 3:1-5)
• B. The Commands of the Apostle (2Th 3:6-15)
• V. His Concluding Benediction and Greeting (2Th 3:16-18)
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||NIV Study Bible Notes, Zondervan, 1985, electronic media.|
|2.||↑||Silas: a leading member of the Early Christian community, who later accompanied Paul on parts of his first and second missionary journeys [From Wikipedia]|
|3.||↑||Timothy: Timothy (Greek: Τιμόθεος; Timótheos, meaning “honouring God” or “honored by God”) was the first first-century Christian bishop of Ephesus, whom tradition relates died around the year AD 97. He was from the Lycaonian city of Lystra in Asia Minor, became Paul’s disciple, and later his companion and co-worker. The New Testament indicates that Timothy traveled with Saint Paul, who was also his mentor. [From Wikipedia]|