Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, May 19th, 2024
StudyLight.org has pledged to help build churches in Uganda. Help us with that pledge and support pastors in the heart of Africa.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
2 Thessalonians

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

- 2 Thessalonians

by Thomas Constable



This epistle contains evidence that Paul had recently heard news about current conditions in the Thessalonian church. Probably most of this information came to him from the person who had carried 1 Thessalonians to its recipients and had returned to Paul at Corinth. Perhaps other people who had news of the church had informed Paul, Silas, and Timothy also. Some of the news was good. The majority of the Thessalonians were continuing to grow and to remain faithful to Christ in spite of persecution. Unfortunately some of the news was bad. False teaching concerning the day of the Lord had entered the church and was causing confusion and leading some of the Christians to quit their jobs in expectation of the Lord’s imminent return.

In view of these reports Paul evidently felt constrained to write this epistle. He commended his children in the faith for their growth and faithfulness, corrected the doctrinal error about the day of the Lord, and warned the idle to get back to work.

Almost all conservative scholars believe that Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians from Corinth. The basis for this conclusion is that Paul, Silas, and Timothy were present together in Corinth (Act_18:5). The New Testament does not refer to them being together from then on, though they may have been. Paul evidently wrote 1 Thessalonians from Corinth. The topics he treated in the second epistle seem to grow out of situations he alluded to in the first epistle. They reflect a very similar situation in the Thessalonian church. Corinth, therefore, seems the probable site of composition of 2 Thessalonians.

For these reasons it appears that Paul composed 2 Thessalonians quite soon after 1 Thessalonians, perhaps within 12 months. This would place the date of composition in the early A.D. 50s, perhaps A.D. 51, and would make this the third of Paul’s canonical writings, assuming Galatians was his first. A few scholars argued that Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians before 1 Thessalonians. [Note: E.g., T. W. Manson, "St. Paul in Greece: The Letters to the Thessalonians," Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 35 (1952-53):438-46; and Charles A. Wanamaker, The Epistles to the Thessalonians, pp. 37-45.] But this view has not found wide acceptance. [Note: See Donald A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 543-44.]

"The external evidence for the Pauline authorship of 2 Thessalonians is stronger than for 1 Thessalonians." [Note: Robert L. Thomas, "2 Thessalonians," in Ephesians-Philemon, vol. 11 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 302.]


Three purposes are evident from the contents of the epistle. Paul wrote to encourage the Thessalonian believers to continue to persevere in the face of continuing persecution (2Th_1:3-10). He also wanted to clarify events preceding the day of the Lord to dispel false teaching (2Th_2:1-12). Finally, he instructed the church how to deal with lazy Christians in their midst (2Th_3:6-15).


I.    Salutation 2Th_1:1-2

II.    Commendation for past progress 2Th_1:3-12

A.    Thanksgiving for growth 2Th_1:3-4

B.    Encouragement to persevere 2Th_1:5-10

C.    Prayer for success 2Th_1:11-12

III.    Correction of present error 2Th_2:1-12

A.    The beginning of the day of the Lord 2Th_2:1-5

B.    The mystery of lawlessness 2Th_2:6-12

IV.    Thanksgiving and prayer 2Th_2:13-17

A.    Thanksgiving for calling 2Th_2:13-15

B.    Prayer for strength 2Th_2:16-17

V.    Exhortations for future growth 2Th_3:1-15

A.    Reciprocal prayer 2Th_3:1-5

1.    Prayer for the missionaries 2Th_3:1-2

2.    Prayer for the Thessalonians 2Th_3:3-5

B.    Church discipline 2Th_3:6-15

1.    General principles respecting disorderly conduct 2Th_3:6-10

2.    Specific instructions concerning the idle 2Th_3:11-13

3.    Further discipline for the unrepentant 2Th_3:14-15

VI.    Conclusion 2Th_3:16-18


Bailey, Mark L., and Thomas L. Constable. The New Testament Explorer. Nashville: Word Publishing Co., 1999. Reprinted as Nelson’s New Testament Survey. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999.

Baker, Bruce A. "The Two Peoples of God in 2Th_1:10." Journal of Dispensational Theology 13:38 (April 2009):5-40.

Barclay, William. The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians. Daily Study Bible series. 2nd ed. and reprint ed. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 1963.

Baxter, J. Sidlow. Explore the Book. 6 vols. London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1965.

Best, Ernest. A Commentary on the First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians. Harper’s New Testament Commentaries series. New York: Harper and Row, 1972.

Bicknell, E. J. The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians. Westminster Commentaries series. London: Methuen, 1932.

Bruce, F. F. 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Word Biblical Commentary series. Waco: Word Books, 1982.

Carson, Donald A., and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005.

Chafer, Lewis Sperry. Systematic Theology. 8 vols. Findlay, Ohio: Dunham Publishing Co., 1948.

Constable, Thomas L. "2 Thessalonians." In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, pp. 713-25. Edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. Wheaton: Scripture Press Publications, Victor Books, 1983.

Darby, John Nelson. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible. 5 vols. Revised ed. New York: Loizeaux Brothers Publishers, 1942.

Dean, David A. "Does 2Th_2:1-3 Exclude the Pretribulational Rapture?" Bibliotheca Sacra 168:670 (April-June 2011);196-216.

Denney, James. The Epistles to the Thessalonians. The Expositors’ Bible series. New York: Hodder and Stoughton, n.d.

Dictionary of the Apostolic Church, Edited by James Hastings. 1915 ed. S.v. "Thessalonians, Epistles to the," by F. S. Marsh.

Dictionary of the Bible, Edited by James Hastings. 1910 ed. S.v. "Thessalonians, Second Epistle to the," by W. Lock.

Donfield, Karl P. "The Cults of Thessalonica and the Thessalonian Correspondence." New Testament Studies 31:3 (July 1985):336-56.

Edgar, Thomas R. "An Exegesis of Rapture Passages." In Issues in Dispensationalism, pp. 203-23. Edited by Weslay R. Willis and John R. Master. Chicago: Moody Press, 1994.

English, E. Schuyler. Re-Thinking the Rapture. Travelers Rest, S.C.: Southern Bible, 1954.

Epp, Theodore H. "The Restrainer Removed." Good News Broadcaster, March 1975, pp. 20-22.

Fickett, Harold L. Keep On Keeping On! Bible Commentary for Laymen series. Glendale, Calif.: Gospel Light Publications, Regal Books, 1977.

Frame, James Everett. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians. International Critical Commentary series. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912.

Gaebelein, Arno C. The Annotated Bible. 4 vols. Reprint ed. Chicago: Moody Press, and New York: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., 1970.

A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. By C. G. Wilke. Revised by C. L. Wilibald Grimm. Translated, revised and enlarged by Joseph Henry Thayer, 1889.

Gundry, Robert H. The Church and the Tribulation. Contemporary Evangelical Perspectives series. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, Academic Books, 1973.

Guthrie, Donald. New Testament Introduction. 3 vols. 2nd ed. London: Tyndale Press, 1966.

Hendriksen, William. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of I and II Thessalonians. Reprint ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974.

Hiebert, D. Edmond. The Thessalonian Epistles. Chicago: Moody Press, 1971.

Hodges, Zane C. Grace in Eclipse. Dallas: Redencion Viva, 1981.

Hubbard, David A. "The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians." In The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, pp. 1361-66. Edited by Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison. Chicago: Moody Press, 1962.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Edited by James Orr. 1957 ed. S.v. "Thessalonians, The Second Epistle of Paul to the," by M. N. Tod.

Ironside, Harry A. Addresses on the First and Second Epistles to Thessalonians. New York: Loizeaux Brothers, 1959.

Kitchens, Ted G. "Perimeters of Corrective Church Discipline." Bibliotheca Sacra 148:590 (April-June 1991):201-13.

Ladd, George E. The Blessed Hope. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1956.

Laney, J. Carl. "The Biblical Practice of Church Discipline." Bibliotheca Sacra 143:572 (October-December 1986):353-64.

Lange, John Peter, ed. Commentary on the Holy Scriptures. 12 vols. Reprint ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1960. Vol. 11: Galatians-Hebrews, by Otto Schmoller, Karl Braune, C. A. Auberlen, C. J. Riggenbach, J. J. Van Oosterzee, and Carl Bernhard Moll. Translated by C. C. Starburk, M. B. Riddle, Horatio B. Hackett, John Lillie, E. A. Washburn, E. Harwood, George E. Day, and A. C. Kendrick.

Lenski, Richard C. H. The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus and to Philemon. Reprint ed. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1964.

Lewis, Gordon R. "Biblical Evidence for Pretribulationism." Bibliotheca Sacra 125:499 (July-September 1968):216-26.

Lightfoot, J. B. Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul. Reprint ed. Winona Lake, Ind.: Alpha Publications, n.d.

Lowery, David K. "A Theology of Paul’s Missionary Epistles." In A Biblical Theology of the New Testament, pp. 243-97. Edited by Roy B. Zuck. Chicago: Moody Press, 1994.

Manson, Thomas W. "St. Paul in Greece: The Letters to the Thessalonians." Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 35 (1952-53):428-47.

_____. Studies in the Gospels and Epistles. Manchester: University of Manchester, 1962.

Marshall, I. Howard. 1 and 2 Thessalonians. New Century Bible Commentary series. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., and London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott Pub. Ltd., 1983.

Martin, D. Michael. 1, 2 Thessalonians. The New American Commentary series. N.c.: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995.

McCall, Thomas S. "How Soon the Tribulation Temple?" Bibliotheca Sacra 128:512 (October-December 1971):341-51.

_____. "Problems in Rebuilding the Tribulation Temple." Bibliotheca Sacra 129:513 (January-March 1972):75-80.

McLean, John A. "Another Look at Rosenthal’s ’Pre-Wrath Rapture.’" Bibliotheca Sacra 148:592 (October-December 1991):387-98.

McNeile, A. H. An Introduction to the Study of the New Testament. 2nd ed. revised by C. S. C. Williams. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965.

Milligan, George. St. Paul’s Epistles to the Thessalonians. Evangelical Masterworks series. Reprint ed. Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, Co., n.d.

Morgan, G. Campbell. Living Messages of the Books of the Bible. 2 vols. New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1912.

Morris, Leon. The Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians. Tyndale New Testament Commentary series. London: Tyndale Press, 1966.

_____. The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians. New International Commentary on the New Testament series. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1959.

_____. The Gospel According to John: Revised Edition. New International Commentary on the New Testament series. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995.

The NET (New English Translation) Bible. First beta printing. Spokane, Wash.: Biblical Studies Press, 2001.

Peterson, Robert A. "Does the Bible Teach Annihilationism?" Bibliotheca Sacra 156:621 (January-March 1999):13-27.

Powell, Charles E. "The Identity of the ’Restrainer’ in 2Th_2:6-7." Bibliotheca Sacra 154:615 (July-September 1997):320-32.

Poythress, Vern S. "2 Thessalonians 1 Supports Amillennialism." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 37:4 (December 1994):529-38.

Reese, Alexander. The Approaching Advent of Christ. London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1937; reprint ed., Grand Rapids: Grand Rapids International Publications, 1975.

Rice, John R. The Coming Kingdom of Christ. Wheaton: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1945.

Robertson, Archibald Thomas. Word Pictures in the New Testament. 6 vols. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1931.

Rosenthal, Marvin. The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990.

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. First and Second Thessalonians. Moody Colportage Library series. Chicago: Moody Press, 1959.

Showers, Renald E. Maranatha Our Lord, Come: A Definitive Study of the Rapture of the Church. Bellmawr, Pa.: Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1995.

_____. The Pre-Wrath Rapture View: An Examination and Critique. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2001.

Stanton, Gerald B. Kept from the Hour. Fourth ed. Miami Springs, Fla.: Schoettle Publishing Co., 1991.

Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. S.v. "olethpos," by J. Schneider, 5 (1967):168-69.

Thiessen, Henry Clarence. Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1962.

Thomas, Robert L. "1 Thessalonians." In Ephesians-Philemon. Vol. 11 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. 12 vols. Edited by Frank E. Gaebelein and J. D. Douglas. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978.

_____. Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2002.

Thornton, Larry R. "Salvation in the Tribulation in Light of God’s ’Working unto Delusion’." Calvary Baptist Theological Journal 3:2 (Fall 1987):26-49.

Walvoord, John F. The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation. Contemporary Evangelical Perspectives series. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976.

_____. The Holy Spirit. 3rd ed. Findlay, Ohio: Dunham Publishing Co., 1958.

_____. The Millennial Kingdom. Revised ed. Findlay, Ohio: Dunham Publishing Co., 1963

_____. The Thessalonian Epistles. Study Guide series. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979.

_____. "Will Israel Build a Temple in Jerusalem?" Bibliotheca Sacra 125:498 (April-June 1968):99-106.

Wanamaker, Charles A. The Epistles to the Thessalonians. New International Greek Testament Commentary series. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., and Exeter, England: Paternoster Press, 1990.

Wiersbe, Warren W. Be Ready. BE Books series. Wheaton: Scripture Press Publications, Victor Books, 1980.

Wuest, Kenneth S. Prophetic Light in the Present Darkness. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1955.

Ads FreeProfile