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2 Thessalonians

General

As with the first letter to the Thessalonians, this second letter is especially known for the things written in it regarding the future. Most of chapters 1 and 2 are about what will happen in the future. A future very imminent and anticipated at the time this letter was written! It is about the revelation of Christ, His presence and the day of the Lord, the apostasy and lawlessness, the restrainer and the coming of the lawless one. All kinds of things that kept the Thessalonians very busy.

Writer, origin and destination

It is Paul, Silvanus and Timothy who are listed as senders of this letter in the opening verse. It is generally believed that Paul sent the letter not too long after the first. As for the things we are accustomed to mentioning under the heading 'Writer, Origin, and Destination', see the previous section on the first Thessalonians letter. Much of what it says there also applies to this second Thessalonian letter.

Structure

A. 1:1 and 2 Letter style and introduction. Grace and peace.
B1. 1:3a Thanksgiving.
B2. 1:3b-5 Reason: their faith, love and perseverance.
B3. 1:6-10 Getting rest and glory.
B4. 1:11 Prayer for the Thessalonians.
B5. 1:12a Let the name of the LORD be glorified...
B6. 1:12b ... and they are glorified in Him.
B7. 2:1-12 Warning.
B1. 2:13a Thanksgiving.
B2. 2:13b Reason: their salvation.
B3. 2:14 and 15 Obtaining glory.
B4. 2:16-3:1a Prayer for Paul.
B5. 3:1b-4 Let the Word be glorified...
B6. 3:5 ...and set their hearts on God's love.
B7. 3:6-15 Warning.
A. 3:6-15 Letter style and conclusion. Grace and peace.

Purpose and content

The purpose that Paul has with this letter is described especially at the beginning of the second chapter.

There were so-called spirit utterances and sermons that caused great unrest among the Thessalonians. There were even letters circulating where someone had written Paul's name. The Thessalonians lived at the time when the Second Coming of Christ (that is, His revelation!) was imminent. Everything was in the light of that coming. We now know that it would all take longer, but that had not yet been revealed at the time of writing these letters. However, everything that would happen would (and will!) happen in a certain order. The believers in Thessalonica - who had come to faith not so long ago - were bombarded with utterances that seemed to come from God, but were not. Therefore they lived under the assumption that the day of the LORD had already come (chap. 2:2). Paul mentions three things in verses 1 and 2 that are directly related to the revelation of Christ:

  • the coming (Greek: parousia; see section on the first Thessalonians letter) of our Lord Jesus Christ;

  • our association (Greek: episunagoogee, meeting) and

  • the day of the LORD.

But with these three aspects, Paul makes it immediately clear that before that happens, the apostasy must first come and the man of lawlessness must reveal himself (vv. 3 and 4). These two concepts ("apostasy" and "revelation of the man of lawlessness") are two aspects of the same thing. The 'falling away' here refers to (a part of) the people of Israel who are falling away from their covenant position, as the wife of the LORD. Throughout the Bible we see that where Israel falls away from the LORD, she does so by following other 'gods'. The latter has to do with the lawless one who sits in the temple and will be worshiped there (by a part of the people of Israel). When these things will play out for the last time, the time has arrived in the period that is called the last week of Daniel and then the last half of it: the time of great tribulation. That time and the events in that time must first take place and then the coming (= presence) of the Lord Jesus, the gathering to Him and the day of the LORD will begin, as Paul writes. So in these things he does not speak about the hope and expectation of the body of Christ, but about the hope of the believers in the Acts time and of believers who will experience these things in the future. They will eagerly await the redeeming revelation of Christ (see chap. 1:5-10).

core text

"But we beseech you, brethren (...) that you not soon lose your senses or be in trouble ..." (chap. 2:1 and 2).