Walking Thru The Bible

New Testament -- 2 Thessalonians

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                  Walking Thru The Bible

                                           2 THESSALONIANS



     AUTHOR:  The author of the book of Second Thessalonians is the Apostle

     Paul.  It was written about AD 50 or AD 51 from Corinth just a short time

     after the dispatch of his first epistle.


     BACKGROUND:  For background on the city of Thessalonica see the study

     sheet "Walking Thru the Bible" on 1 Thessalonians.

       Paul's interest and concern for the new Christians at Thessalonica did not

     end with the dispatch of his first letter to them.  Paul's life was one that

     showed continued prayer and labor for those he had won to Christ.

       The background of 2nd Thessalonians is almost the same as that of his

     first epistle to them.  Paul was still in Corinth and had received a report about

     the church's condition and their reception of his first letter.  Through what

     channel the report came, and whether oral or written, we don't know, but its

     content prompted him to write 2 Thessalonians.


     CONTENTS:  2 Thessalonians was apparently prompted by three main


       1) The persecution of the Christians there had grown worse and was

     leaving some at the point of despair.  

       2) A letter and other representations falsely claiming to be from Paul were

     on the verge of convincing the Christians there that the end-time was already

     present and Christ's return was imminent as evidenced by their suffering.  

       3) The nearness of Christ's return had been misused as a basis for shirking

     vocational responsible even more than at the time of 1 Thessalonians.  This

     problem had become quite severe.


     DATE:  The letter was written during Paul's stay in Corinth on his second

     missionary journey.  Paul, Silas and Timothy were all together and this

     combination is unknown to us after this time.  The date of the letter is just a

     few months after First Thessalonians in AD 50 or 51.


     PURPOSE:  To meet the needs that prompted the Epistle Paul pursued three

     broad purposes:

       1)  He provides an incentive for the Thessalonians to persevere a little

     longer by describing the reward and retribution that God would be handing out

     to their persecutors in the coming judgment.

       2)  Paul wants to make clear that they understand that certain things must

     happen first before the "Day of the Lord" came and thus to prove false the

     claims that the "day" had already arrived (2:1-12).

       3)  Paul issues detailed instructions covering disciplinary steps the church

     should take in correcting those who refuse to work (3:6-15).



       It is obvious that in his first epistle that the subject under consideration in

     chapter 4 is the day of the Lord's return and the resurrection (I Thess. 4:13-18).   

       Apparently a "forged" letter claiming to be from Paul was circulating

     among them and caused confusion (2 Thess. 2;2-3).  Some were speculating

     that the time of Christ's return was imminent and were connecting it with the

     day of God's judgment upon their enemies (the coming fall of Jerusalem in AD



       The term "Day of the Lord" was used among the prophets of the Old

     Testament to refer to a judgment from God where God's people would be

     vindicated and their enemies punished.  It was reference to historical events

     such as the fall of cities and nations to their enemies.  These events were

     "types" of the final judgment of the Lord which will take place at the return of

     Christ and the resurrection of all from their graves.

       Paul uses the term "the day of the Lord" in his first epistle (1 Thess 5:2)

     in the chapter following his discussion of the second coming.  In the second

     epistle he speaks of "the day of Christ" (2:2 "day of the Lord" ASV) saying

     that some were mistaken thinking "the day" was "at hand" and didn't want

     them to be deceived.

       Neither the "day of the Lord" as a day of judgment upon the Jews for the

     rejection of Christ (AD 70 with the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the

     temple, and the nation, Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21);  nor the second

     coming of Christ with the resurrection were at hand.

       Paul then in 2 Thessalonians 2 gives some events that must be fulfilled

     before "the day of the Lord."  The interpretation problem is this:  what is the

     fulfillment of these events of 1) apostasy; 2) and "the man of sin"?  Notice

     these two possibilities:


     I.  Refers to events before the judgment of AD 70.

       In this understanding the "apostasy" would be that caused by the Judiastic

     false-teachers that entrapped Christians again into the keeping of the Law of

     Moses.  The book of Hebrews and Galatians especially deal with this problem

     as do many of Paul's later epistles.


       The identity of the "man of sin:"

       A.  This could be a reference to Nero who "deified" himself and had

     incense burned before his image in the temples.  In the fifth year of his reign

     Nero murdered the famous Roman teacher and philosopher Seneca who was

     his tutor and chief adviser and a restraining influence in his life (2:7).  Nero

     became a severe persecutor of Christians putting to death Paul and Peter.

       B. It could possibly even be the Jewish priestly hierarchy which defied

     God's revelation and undertook to stifle God's Word and enforce its own

     traditions on all Jews.

       A strong argument for one of these interpretation is Paul's statement in 2:7

     that this "mystery of iniquity" was already at work.


     II.  Refers to events fulfilled by the Papacy before second coming.

       This interpretation views the "apostasy" as Catholicism and the "man of

     sin" to be the Pope who made himself the vicar of Christ on earth.  Many have

     held to this view especially since the time of the Protestant Reformation.


     III. Refers to some yet unfulfilled event before second coming.

       This interpretation looks for a greater "apostasy" to occur in the

     "Christian" faith in the future than has yet arrived on the scene.  "The man of

     sin" is often equated with the "Anti-Christ" that John spoke of in I John 2:18

     (written in the AD 60's, of whom John said there were "many" and "even now"





     I.   Paul deals with some personal matters:  1:1-12

       A. Paul extends a brief salutation 1:1-2

       B. Paul's thanksgiving over their spiritual progress 1:3-4

       C. Encourages continued faithfulness amid suffering 1:5-10

       D. Prays for God to strengthen their lives 1:11-12

     II.  Concerning the Day of the Lord:  2:1-17

       A. Paul disclaims teaching that the Lord's coming is imminent 2:1-2. 

               The Lord's coming nor the Day of the Lord will come till:

       B. An apostasy ("rebellion") ensues 2:3

       C. The man of sin be revealed  2:3-12

     III.  Paul's appeals to them 2:13 - 3:15

       A. Paul appeals for their firmness in the faith 2:13-17.

       B. He appeals for their prayers 3:1-5.

       C. He appeals for discipline toward those walking disorderly 3:6-15

     IV.  Concluding benediction and greeting  3:16-18




          2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6



     1.   Paradosis is the Greek word translated "tradition."  It is defined as that

               which is given over or handed down by word of mouth or in writing, and

               can refer to the substance of teaching from whatever source, including the

               Divine (2 Thess. 2;15; 3:6; 1 Cor. 11:2).  This is the sense in which it is

               used in our text.

     2.   "Traditions" as used in the sense of "traditions of men" are religious laws

               and regulations originating in the minds of men and handed down orally

               and/or in printing from generation to generation.

          Jesus frequently denounced such traditions and warned disciples that

            following them makes the word of God "of none effect"  (see Matthew

            15:2, 3, 6;  Mark 7:3, 5, 8, 9, 13; Colossians 2:8; 1 Peter 1:18; Galatians



     I.   Warning Against Walking Disorderly 


       A. "For we hear that there are some which walk among you

               disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies." 

               (2 Thessalonians 3:11)

       B. "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord

               Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every

               brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the

               tradition which he received of us."  (2 Thessalonians 3:6)


     II.  Are we "Holding Fast" or Forsaking our Traditions?


       A. "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions

               which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our

               epistle." (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

       B. 2 Thessalonians 3:6.  (See I, B, above)

       C. Carelessly following after sin.

       D. Deliberately "toying" with sin. 


     III.  Following Christ  the Apostles.


       A. The "tradition" of Christ and the Apostles.

       B. Walking orderly in the way of Christ and the Apostles.



-- Windell Gann -- Walking Thru the Bible -- http://home.hiwaay.net/~wgann/walk.htm

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