2 Thessalonians

SECOND LETTER TO THE THESSALONIANS. In the late autumn or early winter of A.D. 52, Paul wrote a Second letter to the Thessalonians from Corinth. This letter supplements his teaching on the second coming of Christ. In his first letter, Christ’s coming is imminent (4:14-5:3), but in this letter “apostasy” and the revelation of the “man of sin” must occur first (2:1-12).

His tone is somewhat more formal than the warm and glowing affection of the first letter, yet there are four prayers for the readers.

Second Thessalonians: Living in Expectation

Writer: Paul, Silas, Timothy

Addressee: To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

Date and Place Written: Summer of A.D. 52 from City of Corinth

Occasion and Purpose: Supplements teaching on Second Coming of Christ in First Thessalonians, where it is imminent (1 Thessalonians 4:14-5:3), but in this Letter “apostasy” and the revelation of “the man of sin” must first occur (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12), which is a sign whereby they could distinguish his correspondence from forgeries (3:16-18). This passage is the reason for the Second Letter. The saints were agitated by the view “that the day of the Lord” (i.e., Tribulation) is already here (2:2).

Key Verse: 2:15

Key Phrases: “Lord Jesus Christ” (9 times) and “Day of the Lord” (2:2)

Key Words: We (22 times); Lord (22); God (18); Jesus (13); Christ (10); Brothers (9); Lawless/ness (4); Revealed (apokalupsis) (4); Come (3); Coming/parousia (2:1, 8-9).


A. Thematic Themes:
1. The Day of the Lord
2. The Coming of the Antichrist
3. The Second Coming of Christ

B. Primary Themes:
1. Paul’s most detailed prophecy of the end-time events, 2:1-12
2. Man of Lawlessness: Papacy or final personal embodiment of the principle of lawlessness?
3. Restrainer: Ruler, Society, God, Holy Spirit, Church?
4. Two Phases of the Second Coming of Christ:
a. Rapture in the Air: Removal of the Saints, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
b. Return to Earth: Judgment on Sinners, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12; 2:1-12

C. Subordinate Themes:
1. Salvation: God’s Part and Man’s Part, 2:13-17
2. Can one reject Truth and then be saved in the Tribulation (2:10-12)?

Style: Eschatological. The tone is somewhat more formal than the warm and glowing affection of the First Letter. Similarity of the two letters is striking, with about one-third parallel. There are mo direct quotations from the OT. There are four prayers for the readers (1:11-12; 2:16-17; 3:5, 16).

The three chapters of Second Thessalonians center on:

1. Commendation and Persecution, 1
2. Correction and Prophecy, 2
3. Commands and Practice, 3

The Outline:


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