Paul’s second letter to the brethren at Thessalonica was probably written from Corinth about 49-51 A.D., shortly after his first letter. The reason for the second letter could be a sense of urgency because someone was sending letters to the church at certain locations falsely claiming to be from Paul or another apostle. Consider 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2:
“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.”
Further evidence of this is found in 2 Thessalonians 3:17, where Paul closes the letter with: “I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.” Such a wicked and cruel deception was probably done by someone simply wishing to discourage Gentiles from Christianity, or by someone whose only intention was to harm the church. Either way, the latter was the effect, of course.
We know that the Thessalonians already had some distress because in the first letter, Paul had needed to reassure them. False teachers had made them to grieve for those who had already “fallen asleep,” thinking that they were gone forever – that only those alive when Jesus returned would be taken to heaven. Paul devotes 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 to explain to them concerning this. And just as in 1 Thessalonians, the bulk of this letter is geared toward the second coming of Jesus.
It seems now they had fallen prey to the idea that the second coming had already occurred, and they were very afraid of being left behind. To make matters worse, they were being persecuted – and that in itself just made these fears worse. It may be that this was the cause of another problem Paul addresses in the letter. In 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, he spends some time speaking about reports he had received that there were those among them that had stopped working, and so they were sponging off of others and generally becoming “busybodies” in their idleness. Perhaps this false notion of the second coming had something to do with this problem.
Paul’s message was that unbelievers will be condemned, and the righteous will be saved when Jesus does return, and there will not be any that are not included. And of course, Christians should not take advantage of the charitable character of their fellow Christians, and should “not grow weary in doing good.”
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.