Survey of 2 Thessalonians
Book Type: The New Testament's ninth Pauline Epistle; the fourteenth book of the New Testament; the fifty-third book of the Bible.
Author: Paul, Silvanus (Silas), and Timothy, as noted in 2 Thessalonians 1:1.
Audience: Paul wrote this second letter to the church he founded in the city of Thessalonica during his second missionary journey (Acts 17:1–9). Though he lived among these people only a short time, he had already written one letter to them and follows up with a second letter to clear up concerns regarding the day of the Lord as well as dealing with Christian persecution.
Date: Approximately AD 51—52.
Overview: Second Thessalonians consists of three chapters in three broad categories. After a brief introduction (2 Thessalonians 1:1–2), Paul provides a beginning section of encouragement for his readers (2 Thessalonians 1). This encouragement also addresses the coming judgment at Christ's coming (2 Thessalonians 1:5–12).
The second section addresses concerns regarding issues of prophecy (2 Thessalonians 2). Paul tells the Thessalonian believers they were not to be shaken or alarmed. Before the end, the rebellion will come, including the man of lawlessness who opposes God; this seems to be a reference to the future Antichrist. Paul had already spoken about this with these believers (2 Thessalonians 2:5). These events had not yet taken place, but would come about in the Lord's timing. This lawless figure would be defeated by the Lord Jesus (2 Thessalonians 2:8). So, the readers of this letter are not to be concerned, but rather encouraged to stand firm (2 Thessalonians 2:13–17).
The third section requests prayer for Paul, Silas, and Timothy (2 Thessalonians 3:1–5) and warns against idleness. Paul's life is meant to be their example: working hard to meet needs and help others. They are to continue living according to God's ways and not grow weary in doing good (2 Thessalonians 3:13). Paul closes with words of blessing and a greeting in his own hand (2 Thessalonians 3:17).
Key Verses (ESV):
2 Thessalonians 1:6–8: "Since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus."
2 Thessalonians 2:13: "But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth."
2 Thessalonians 3:3: "But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one."
2 Thessalonians 3:10: "For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat."