In the book of Second Thessalonians, the apostle Paul wrote to encourage those who were facing persecution and to correct a misunderstanding about the timing of Christ’s return. The teaching about the Lord’s return promoted idleness in this young church. The imminent coming of Christ should never make us idle; we should be even more busy – living purely, using our time well, and working for his kingdom. We must work not only during easy times when it is convenient, but also during difficult times. Christians must patiently watch for Christ’s return, and work for him while we wait.
The letter begins with Paul’s trademark – a personal greeting and a statement of thanksgiving for their faith. He mentions their perseverance in spite of their persecution and trials and uses this situation to broach the subject of Christ’s return. At that time, Christ will vindicate the righteous who endure and will punish the wicked.
Paul the directly answers the misunderstanding concerning the time of the events of the end times. He tells them not to listen to rumors and reports that the day of the Lord has already begun, becasue a number of events must occur before Christ returns. Meanwhile, they should stand firm for Christ’s truth, receive God’s encouragement and hope, pray for strength and for the spread of the Lord’s message, and warn those who are idle. Paul ends with persona greetings and benediction.
Almost 2,000 years later, we stand much closer to the time of Christ’s return; but we also would be wrong to see his imminent appearance as an excuse for idle waiting and heavenward gazing. Being prepared for his coming means spreading the gospel, reaching out to those in need, and building the church, his body. As you read Second Thessalonians, then, see clearly the reality of his return and your responsibility to live for him until that day.
Second Thessalonians was written by the apostle Paul, in the company of Silvanus (Silas) and Timotheus (Timothy) (II Thessalonians 1:1).
Second Thessalonians was written between A. D. 50-54, after Paul’s visit, during his second missionary journey. Probably written from Corinth in Achaia a few months after the first epistle.
To Whom Written:
Second Thessalonians was written to “the ekklesia of the Thessalonians” (Second Thessalonians 1:1).
The purpose of the book of Second Thessalonians was to alert the leadership in Thessalonica about the false epistle written to the believers there by an impostor claiming to be Paul, saying that the day of the Lord had already come and that they had somehow missed it. Paul also addressed those among the Thessalonians who had refused to work and were taking advantage of the generosity of their brothers who were supporting them. Paul wrote to condemn these and to establish the principle that one who will not work shall not eat.
To download a PDF outline of Second Thessalonians click here.
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