The big idea (and themes) of 2 Thessalonians is similar to Paul’s first letter to the Christians in the city of Thessalonica. But 2 Thessalonians provides some much needed clarification on a few topics. Here are some of my notes on the book as well as a chart I created for the book. Blessings on you as you study Paul’s second letter to the Christians in the city of Thessalonica.
The Christian life consists of studying God’s Word, enduring suffering now, while also looking to the future return of Christ.
With all these things in mind, dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you both in person and by letter. (2 Thessalonians 2:15, NLT)
And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers[ref]Greek from every brother.[/ref] who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received[ref]Some manuscripts read you received.[/ref] from us. (2 Thessalonians 3:6, NLT)
Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians (1:1) but also had Silas and Timothy with him. The first verse of 2 Thessalonians is very similar to the first verse of 1 Thessalonians.
Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians in A.D. 52 while in the city of Corinth (see Acts 18:1-17) and shortly after he wrote 1 Thessalonians. For more detailed explanation of the date of this letter see Dr. Ken Hanna’s great book, From Gospels to Glory.
The believers in the city of Thessalonica were going through suffering and hardship (1:4-7; 2:13-17; 3:3-6). But they also were confused about the return of Christ.
- Gratitude (chapter 1)
- Praise in Hardship (1:1-6)
- Preparation for Jesus’s Coming (1:7-10)
- Prayers for the People to Continue Faith (1:11-12)
- Growth (chapter 2)
- Return of Christ (2:1-2)
- Reign of Man of Lawlessness (2:3-12)
- Resolve of the Thessalonians (2:13-17)
- Go (chapter 3)
- Say Prayers for Paul (3:1-5)
- Stay away from Lazy People (3:6-10)
- Stir Up the Work (3:11-18)
1. Stand firm in faith.
The Thessalonians are told to stand firm in their faith in suffering and persecution (1:4-6, 11-12), in the time of the man of lawlessness (2:13-17), and in the Christian life in general (3:3-6).
2. The Return of Christ.
Our Lord Jesus Christ will return with his angels (1:7-10) and when the man of lawlessness is active in the world (2:1-12).
1. Study God’s Word.
Both 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians were written to believers because they were getting confused about whether or not the Day of the Lord had already began as well as the order of the events when Jesus would return. This serves as a reminder to us to always be studying God’s Word so that we will not be led astray with poor Bible teaching.
2. Christ is coming back so work hard.
While we know that Christ is coming back we still need to work hard and live out our Christian faith. We need to stay away from lazy people (3:6), always do good (3:7), and stand firm in the teaching Paul gave us (2:15).