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Bible Commentaries
2 Thessalonians

McGarvey's Commentaries on Selected BooksMcGarvey'S Commentaries

- 2 Thessalonians

by John McGarvey

INTRODUCTION TO THE EPISTLE

That the second Epistle to the Thessalonians was written very soon after the first is apparent from the fact that the two Epistles show that practically the same conditions existed in that church, and also from the fact that Silas and Timothy join with Paul in both letters; and it can not be shown that these three men were ever together after the earlier part of Paul’s ministry in Corinth. We would therefore date this letter in the latter part of A. D. 52 or the early part of A. D. 53. Jesus had left the world about twenty-three years before, promising to return at an indefinite date. This indefiniteness gave free scope to the conjectures of his early followers, until the clear teaching of his apostles brought about a better understanding. There are evidences in the first Epistle that the Lord’s coming was a subject of great interest to the Thessalonians. It seems likely that at the date of that Epistle the disciples there were expecting the Lord’s return in the near future; for they were grieving over the thought that their loved ones who died would thereby be cut off from all participation in the joys of that coming--a joy which those still living fully expected to realize. In correcting this false view as to the dead, Paul had not thought it needful to specify that all would likely die before the Lord came, since in his teaching while in Thessalonica he had shown that the events which God had decreed should intervene before the coming of the Lord, were of such a nature as to necessarily require much time. Thus the idea that the Lord’s return would take place in the near future remained uncorrected by him, for he was not really aware that it prevailed. Moreover, certain passages in his first Epistle could be, and evidently were, misconstrued to favor the idea, and were used to foster and strengthen it. See 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:6 . Again, traditional sayings of the apostle were appealed to in confirmation of this erroneous notion, and, as a consequence of all this, the church was excited and troubled. The design, therefore, of this second Epistle was to correct the error as to the Lord’s coming, and thus restore tranquility to the church. To do this the apostle reminds them of his former instruction, wherein he showed that the rise and fall of the man of sin must precede the coming of the Lord. Having corrected the doctrinal error, he closes his Epistle, as usual, with prayer and admonitions and a benediction.

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