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- 2 Thessalonians
by Mark Dunagan
This second letter to the Thessalonians was probably written shortly after the first letter, some say months or weeks, and thus it is dated around 53 A.D. From 1:1 we learn that Paul, Silvanus and Timothy are still together, and apparently all three are still working in Corinth ( Act_18:5 ). In reading this letter we learn that things have become worse for the Christians in Thessalonica. They are still being persecuted ( 2Th_1:7 ). Stott notes, “They seem moreover to have been asking questions about the rationale of their afflictions. Why do they have to suffer so much? Paul does more than comfort them. He offers them a vindication of the justice of God” (p. 140). We find that some in the congregation still had misconceptions concerning the Second Coming of Christ (2:1ff). In fact, it appears that some false teachers or opponents were trying to undermine the church in this city and possibly were circulating a forged document (supposedly coming from Paul), in which it is claimed that the day of the Lord was imminent (2:2). Paul's first letter had not had much of an impact on the "idlers", as a result Paul commands the congregation to quit providing for such individuals and to withdraw from the unrepentant (3:6-14).
I. Greeting: 1:1-2
II. Gratitude for their faith and love: 1:3-4
III. God's righteous retribution: 1:5-10
IV. Prayer: 1:11-12
V. The Man of Sin: 2:1-9
VI. His followers: 2:10-12
VII. Gratitude and Prayer: 2:13-17
VIII. The request for Prayer: 3:1-2
IX. God's Faithfulness: 3:3-5
X. Discipline for the Idlers: 3:6-15
XI. Closing: 3:16-18
Stott notes, “It was Henry Ford in the witness box, during his libel suit against the Chicago Tribune in July 1919, who declared ‘History is bunk’. Somebody else once suggested that ‘the most accurate chart of the meaning of history is the set of tracks made by a drunken fly with feet wet with ink, staggering across a piece of white paper. They lead nowhere and reflect no pattern of meaning’. Christians who look to Scripture as their authority profoundly disagree with these gloomy assessments. For the God of the Bible is the God of history. The Christian view of history, therefore, is linear. We believe that it will come to a planned end, a grand finale” (pp. 139,140).
In studying this letter we will gain the following valuable insights: (1) There is only one coming of Jesus, in which the righteous are rewarded and the wicked punished (1:6-7). (2) Hell is a just punishment for rejecting God (1:5). (3) Ignorance is not an excuse (1:8). (4) There is something about the gospel that must be obeyed (1:8). (5) Any claimed communication from God that contradicts previously recorded revelation, is known to be false (2:1-5). (6) There would be a falling away (2:3). Hence, the existence of groups which profess to be Christian, but who do not follow the Bible, only confirms the Bible's accuracy. (7) If you do not love the truth, you will end up believing what is false (2:10-12). (8) God will not stop people from embracing false teaching (2:11). (9) God calls people through the gospel (2:14). (10) The only traditions we are to embrace are those which are handed down in the inspired letters (2:15). (11) Fellowship is determined by the writings of the apostles (3:6). (12) Making it easy for people to remain in the wrong, places us in the wrong (3:10).