Second Thessalonians is Paul’s follow-up to his first letter to the church in Thessalonica in Greece. Paul wrote this letter after receiving a report that the issues he addressed in his first letter had not only continued, but worsened.

Persecution against Christians had intensified, and church members were growing increasingly scared and confused concerning Jesus’ return.

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians to encourage and challenge them and to clarify some issues that were causing fear and confusion.

In Chapter 1, Paul encourages the Thessalonians to remain faithful despite intensified persecution. He reminds them that suffering is a normal part of following Jesus, and that when we suffer, we share in Christ’s suffering. He reminds the church of the tragic reality that those who reject a relationship with God on earth will get what they chose in the end: eternal separation from Him.

In Chapter 2, Paul clarifies the church’s confusion about the coming Day of the Lord. There were people in the church who were twisting Paul’s teaching and telling others that Jesus had already returned—leaving the Thessalonians behind. Paul rebukes this false teaching.

Some of the language in Chapter 2 is confusing. Paul references a “man of lawlessness” who will one day set “himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming Himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). Many Bible scholars have debated the meaning of this passage. Paul is very brief and vague in his writing, but the purpose is not to cause more speculation about the end times, or when Jesus will return, but to challenge believers to remain faithful and stand firm until He does return to defeat evil once and for all (2 Thessalonians 2:13-18).

Paul ends his letter with a challenge to work hard and avoid idleness. There were people in the church who were not only lazy, but irresponsible.

Paul reminds church members that he worked hard to provide for himself so that he could be generous toward others. He encourages them to imitate Christ’s love by working hard,so they can provide for themselves and be generous as well. He then challenges the church to avoid idle people: “Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer” (2 Thessalonians 3:15).

THEMES

Faithfulness despite persecution: One of the main issues Paul tackles in this letter is the reality of Christian persecution and the call to remain faithful. Paul reminds readers that devotion to Jesus and having an eternal relationship with God far outweigh the sufferings Christians may face.

Hope in the second coming of Christ: Paul explains that it is a privilege to suffer for Christ because life on earth is not what Christians should live for. In each chapter, Paul refers to the coming Day of the Lord, when Christ will return to earth to raise the dead, judge all people and deliver evil its final blow. This is what Christians hope for, and this hope allows them to look at life circumstances with an eternal perspective.

KEY PASSAGES

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

2 Thessalonians 3:1-15

HOW DOES THIS FIT INTO GOD’S STORY?

Second Thessalonians reminds us that what we hope for determines what we live for.

Jesus is coming again soon, so Christians can stand firm, remain faithful, work hard and persevere through all of life’s challenges, because they know that eternal life is guaranteed for all who call upon the name of the Lord.