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2 Thessalonians



There is greater evidence of the second letter being genuine than the first one. 2 Thessalonians is quoted by almost all the early church fathers and writers. Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Iraneaus and Polycarp are among these early writers who quote from this work of Paul.

Arguments for Paul’s Authorship

1.     Paul identifies himself as the author twice in the book (1:1; 3:17).

2.     The thoughts are Paul’s beyond doubt.

3.     The vocabulary, style and teachings are typical Paul.

Arguments against Paul’s authorship

1.     Eschatology. It is claimed that this book teaches a different view of the end of the world and the second coming that does the first letter. Much is made of the two Greek words (parousia and ephenia) used to describe the second coming of Christ.

2.     Change of Audience. Some attempt is made to say that the first letter is addressed to Gentiles and this one to those with a Jewish background. There is nothing in this letter that a gentile could not understand. Paul had spoken about these things (2:5).

3.     Change of tone and style. It is noted that the first letter is filled with exhortation and encouragement. (1:2; 2:3) The second letter is filled with commands. (3:6, 12)

4.     The Similarities. Some critics ask why the two letters are written in the same time period and on the same subject. This objection fails to consider the situation in Thessalonica at the time of the writing.

Occasion for 2 Thessalonians

This letter has 2 purposes:

1.     Paul wanted to encourage them to grow in their faith (1:3) and to endure persecution (1:4).

2.     Tensions were connected with the anticipation of the second coming (2:2) and some who were busybodies, lazy, not working and living disorderly (3:10-12).

Place and Date of Writing

Paul, Silas and Timothy were still together when this letter was written. After the work in Corinth (Acts 18) there is not other reference to Silas in the book of Acts. There is no evidence that all three were together after Corinth.

It is not possible for a long time to have passed since the first letter. The first letter is dated in the spring of 51 AD and this letter is written a few months later in the same year.

The teaching in 2 Thessalonians

1.     God. There is a similar emphasis on God in both letters. Give thanks to God (1:3; 2:13); He is the source of peace, grace and love (1:2, 12; 3:5); He is the source of comfort and hope (2:16,17); He is the author of salvation (2:13); He counts them as worthy (1:11); and He is their judge (1:5).

2.     Christ. Christ is described with the term “Lord” 12 times in this short letter. He is included in the prayer for strength and comfort (2:16, 17) and He will render vengeance upon those who do not obey him (1:7, 8).

3.     Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is mentioned one time (2:13).

4.     Ethical and Moral Teaching. Brotherly love should continue (1:3); they should grow in faith (1:3); they are to be obedient to the teachings of Paul (2:15; 3:4) and they should be careful to avoid being deceived (2:2, 3). Paul also deals with the busybody and unruly who need correction and discipline (3:6, 14, 15).

5.     The Second Coming. This is the primary topic and reason for writing this letter so soon following the first one. Some were saying the Lord had already come. Others were expecting the return of Christ at any moment. Paul had to tell them that there are certain things that much take place first. (2:1-12)

6.     Paul. Paul reminds them of his oral teachings [traditions] (2:5) and urges them to be obedient to all teachings. He urges them to look to the future when they will be together in God’s presence.


1.     Salutation 1:1-2

2.     Encouragement in Persecution 1:3-12

a.     Thanksgiving 1:3-4

b.     Judgment at Christ’s coming 1:5-12

                                                    i.     Encouragement in troubles 1:5-10

                                                   ii.     Prayer for God’s blessings 1:11-12

3.     Explanation of the Day of the Lord 2:1-17

a.     The Day is not already present 2:1-2

b.     Events preceding the Day of the Lord 2:3-12

                                                    i.     First, the rebellion 2:3

                                                   ii.     The man of lawlessness 2:4-5

                                                 iii.     The restrainer taken away 2:6-7

                                                 iv.     The man of lawlessness 2:8-12

c.     Thanksgiving and Admonition 2:13-15

d.     Prayer for the readers 2:16-17

4.     Exhortation to the church 3:1-18

a.     Request for prayers 3:1-2

b.     Expression of confidence in the Lord 3:3-5

c.     Working with the disorderly 3:6-16

                                                    i.     No tolerance for disorderly 3:6

                                                   ii.     Example of the authors 3:7-9

                                                 iii.     No work, no food 3:10

                                                 iv.     Appeal to the disorderly 3:11-13

                                                  v.     Stern treatment for disorderly 3:14-15

d.     Conclusion 3:16-18

                                                    i.     Prayer of readers 3:16

                                                   ii.     Sign of authenticity 3:17-18


Chapter One

1.     Paul is the author. Timothy and Silas are with Paul and “join” him in sending greetings. This opening verse is similar to the first letter.

2.     “Grace and peace” is a common greeting in Paul’s letters. (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor.1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Phil. 1:2; Col. 1:2; Titus 1:4) Both verses one and two combine “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

3.     Paul often begins his letters by expressing gratitude for the faith of those to whom the epistle is addressed. Their faith was growing exceedingly. They showed love for each other.

4.     Paul rejoices in their patience and faith in the face of persecution and afflictions. They have learned to endure. (1 Thess. 2:14)

5.     A manifest token indicates proof to the readers that they were able to endure. They were “fit” or “suited” for the kingdom of God. Their suffering is brought about because of their loyalty to the kingdom.

6.     God is righteous and will judge all men righteously. “To recompense” means he will pay back with a full and complete payment. God is a God of mercy and love. He is also a God of justice and wrath. (Rom. 11:22; Gal. 6:7)

7.     “Paying back” is not limisted to punishment of the wicked. It also includes a reward for those who have suffered affliction. There will come a time when those who suffer affliction can rest, relax, and find relief from the affliction. The rest will come at the “revelation” of Jesus, when he comes from heaven. He will bring flaming fire and the angels of God to render the wrathe of God.

8.     Vengeance belongs to God, not man. Daniel 7:13-14 teaches that Jesus will be given a kingdom, dominion and authority to execute judgment. “Vengenace” does not indicate a vindictive spirit of retaliation, but expresses thought in administering justice. The vengeance is rendered upon two groups of people: [1] Those who are inexcuasable because they refused to know God; [2] Those who decide they will not obey the gospel. Perhaps, the first group refers to Gentiles and the second to Jews. “Obey the gospel” implies that there are commands involved with the good news which one must accept and obey.

9.     Both groups mentioned above will suffer punishment. The word “punishment” is from a Greek word for the legal term for the result of a law suit. We would call it “punitive damages.” The punishment comes from an unbiased judge. The punishment is described as: [1] Eternal; [2] Destruction; [3] Separation from God; [4] Exclusion from any blessing or reward. Some of the punishment in hell is the awareness of being banished from the Lord’s presence. Remember, there is no punishment if one is not conscious of it or has no memory of their life on earth.

10. This verse shows both the certainty of Christ’s coming and the uncertainty of when he will come. There is one coming, not two, three, seven or more. The purpose of his coming is two-fold. [1] “To be glorified with his saints.” Christ will be glorified when all the faithful saints are gathered together in glorified bodies. [2] “To be marvelled at.”  All will marvel ( surprise mingled with admiration) at his demonstration of love, grace, power, and wisdom. All the bellievers will marvel in that day. “In that day” indicates - - [1] The day is singular. [2] A day of punishment for those who know not God and those that do not obey the gospel. [3] A day of victory for the faithful.

11. “The end”indicates that the second coming will be the end of time, the end of this world, the end of wickedness, the end of affliction, hardship and persecution, the end of suffering. Paul continues to pray for them to remain faithful so that “the end” will be a time of rejoicing and victory. The “calling” in Thessalonians is: [1] A calling to salvation by believing and obeying the gospel. (2 Thess. 2:13-14); [2] A calling to the entrance of the eternal state. (1 Thess. 1:12; 5:24) Paul prays that they will have the things they desire as they demonstrate the “work of faith” with power.

The purpose of such a prayer is that the name of Jesus will be glorified. “In you” refers to their daily lives, their conduct, their desires for goodness. A genuine Christian will bring glory to him because he is recognized as Lord. (Matt. 5:16; 2 Cor. 9:13; 2 Pet. 2:9, 12)
Chapter Two


1.     This begins a new section. This is not related to chapter one. In ch. 1, the emphasis is on the judgment and the punishment of the wicked. Ch. 2 is concerned with the coming of the “man of sin.” The term “gathering together” is found only one other time in the NT (Heb. 10:25 “assembling of ourselves together”). Here - It refers to the gathering of the saints at the second coming of Christ. This is the same time as 1 Thess. 4:13-18.

2.     There was some misunderstanding about the coming of Christ. NOTE: There is a difference in “misunderstanding” and “false doctrine.” Most of the ISSUES that have divided the body of Christ have NOT been doctrine, they have been about methods, opinions, personal prefrences, etc. Here the flaw was in the misapplication of Paul’s teachings. “Shaken” is from a word meaning “to shake, to cause ot move, to waiver or totter.” Notice the word “quickly”, which shows that they did not give long and proper consideration to the matter. If the message is oral or written, from Paul or another, it should not shake their faith. Many were preaching, “The day of the Lord is at hand” - lit. “is now present”. (See Rom. 8:38 “things present”; 1 Cor. 7:26 “present distress”) NOTE: Paul denies that it is now. J. B. Lightfoot translates this “is imminent.” His note states, “The Apostle does not deny that the day of the Lord may be near. He asserts that it is not imminent.” Some were teaching that the coming had occured in a silent and invisible way. (2 Tim. 2:17-18)

3.     A strong warning is given to any who would “beguile” them wheter through wicked intent or mislead into wrong thinking. Church history shows how many are quickly lead away by every new fad that comes along. RED FLAG - MARK THIS DOWN - BE ASSURED - - - Christ will not come until there is a falling away first. NOTE: if apostasy is impossible, Christ will never come. The “man of sin” must be revealed. This man is so under sin that he is the embodiment of it. The “son of perditon”, others translate “lawless one.” Both terms fit the state of total evil, sin, lawlessness. This same term is used to describe Judas in John 17:12.
     There has been much discussion about the identity of this man of sin. Is this a specific individual - Nero? Is this an office - Pope or Emperor? Is this a teaching - (pick a false doctrine that would lead men away)? Many suggestions have been offered - Hitler, Stalin, Henry Kissenger, Nero, the Pope. None of these fits the text.
     Whoever or whatever this refers to - [A] It was clear to the readers of the first century; [B] It was already at work; [C] Had already taken place by the time later books of the Bible were written. (Rev. 1:3)

4.     Here is the description of this “man of sin” - -
A. He opposes God - This word means, “to be set against, adversary, to oppose.” Those who oppose God, reject his teachings, deny the Son of God could be part of what is being considered here.
B. Exalts himself - This is in the middle voice (what one does for himself) so this is not a man that others have exalted. Here is one who has literally exalted himself over God and every concept of deity.
C. Sits in the temple of God - He takes a seat, positon, authority as places himself into God’s place. The temple could refer to the church, individual Christians, or the literal temple in Jerusalem.
D. Setting himself forth as God - Literal “announcing that I myself am God.” Not that he is the God of Jesus and Christians, but that he is God, the absolute and exclusive God.

5.     This information is not new. Paul preached about these things when he was there in person. The readers are now remined of that teaching. The word “told” means a repetition of the teaching (as a parent says, “I told you a 1,000 times to stop that.”)

6.     Since I told you many times, and now am writing this letter, YOU KNOW. “That which restraineth” implies that something was a restraining force. This could refer to the Jewish state, the Roman state, Pau himself, or some other strong influence on the church (James, for example). Some have suggested that the restrainer was the Holy Spirit, preaching of the gospel, or God’s providence in the world.
     He will be revealed in his own season. When it is the proper time. We do not know who chooses the proper time - the man of sin, God, church, world affairs. If you take the view that the restraint is God’s providence, then the proper time would be when it fit in God’s scheme for this revelation.

7.     This “mystery” was already at work. Mystery refers to that which is concealed, hidden. This hidden, under the surface work, was now becomeing visible. Still mostly hidden, but enought was known about it to know it was already working.
     Here the restrainer is considered a person. In verse 6 “that which” is present active neuter. Here it is masculine. This passage is difficult to put into English. It does seem clear the the evil was at work and would be of a limited duration. It was not yet fully revealed. Like the man of sin, there has been much discussion about the identity of the restrainer.

8.     “Then” is in contrast to “now”. “Shall be revealed” is used for the third time (3, 6, 8).  This lawless one = [A] Whom the Lord will slay; [B] There is significance of the his coming.
     The Lord shall slay with the breath of his mouth = He shall be destroyed by teaching of truth. (See Rev. 1:16; Heb. 4:12) This teaching will bring to nought the appearing of this lawless one. “Manifestation” (Gk. epiphaneia). “Coming (Gk. parousia) is the common term for the second coming.
     Many have tried to make a distintion between these two terms. They want epiphaneia to refer to the “rapture” phase and parousia to mean the visible coming to set up the kingdom. NOTE: In this verse both words are used about the same event.

9.     This coming is in contrast to the coming of Christ. This coming is according to the working of Satan. He is not Satan. He is working in harmony with Satan and in agreement with Satan.
     “Sings and lying wonders” “Sings” = observable acts “Wonders” = something exceptional which causes wonder or marvel. “Lying” = this power, sign, wonder is false and its purpose is to deceive.

10. All kinds of deception will take place. Like Satan, he will use all kinds of deception on them that perish (lit. “them that are perishing”). He wants to keep the lost, lost. Here the unbeliever is mentioned. Satan wants to deceive Christians, also.
     Satan want to keep them lost. They do not love the truth. If they loved the truth, they would obey it and be saved. Why are they lost? Because they have chosen to not receive the truth.

11. Because they do not love the truth, God sends them a working of error. (See Rom. 1:18; 2 Cor. 4:4) This is a “strong delusion” sent from God. God always allows men to choose their own way. This is the same principle as in Romans 1:24, 26, 28. (See Is. 66:3-4) It may well be said that the means by which one is deceived is God’s permissive agency - not God’s direct agency. God did not MAKE them believe a lie. They had already decided.

12. They will be judged because the choose not to believe the truth. This shows that: [A] God is not “forcing” them to believe a lie; [B] Gos is just in his action. They had pleasure in rejecting the truth. To reject truth = rejection of God, rejection of the Bible, rejection of Jesus, rejection of worship. It is the opposite of all that is truth.

13. Paul now returns to the matter of the brethren there. He is glad for their stand, even in the face of this rising man of sin. The word “bound” shows that this was something he just had to do. How did they avoid believing this lie of the man of sin? Answer - The chose to believe the truth. The resul is sanctification and salvation. Sanctification = set apart for God. There is a clear contrast between those who believe not the truth and those who believe the truth. The truth = God revelation of how men can be made righteous through Jesus Christ, that is, the gospel.

14. Our salvation is that into which we are called. This refers to the time when we heard the gospel and believed it. When we respond and obey the gospel, we are hearing the call of God. God still calls people in the same way today. The purpose of this calling is to obtain the glory of Jesus Christ.

15. “SO THEN” - Because you have been called, obeyed the gospel, believed the truth, stand fast. Don’t be led astray. Don’t believe the lie of the lawless one. In contrast, keep the traditions (oral teachings handed down) as they were taught by Paul. Some of this teaching was oral and some was in his two letters to them. Only those communications from Paul were to be accepted. Any other message must be weighed against the teachings of Paul. (See also Gal. 1:8-9)

16. Paul’s ends the chapter with a prayer for them. He makes these points:
A. God loves us.
B. He gave us eternal life.
C. He gives us comfort.
D. Only God can offer us hope.

17. E. God will comfort our hearts.
F. We will be established in every good work and teaching.


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