Along with 1 Thessalonians, the early church unanimously attributes 2 Thessalonians to the apostle Paul. It was also included in the canons of Marcion (approxiamtely 140 AD) and Muratori (approximately 175 AD), and Irenaeus (approximately 180 AD) quotes it by name. It was also apparently known to Ignatius (approximately 140 AD), Justin, and Polycarp (approximately 100 AD), and there are possible references to it in the Didache (approximately 150 AD).
After receiving Timothy’s report and sending the letter known as 1 Thessalonians, Paul receives another report about the reception of that letter, and this prompts him to write a second letter to the Thessalonian congregation. This letter, known as 2 Thessalonians, was therefore most likely written within a few months after 1 Thessalonians and also from the city of Corinth since Silas is still mentioned as a coauthor with Paul and Timothy (2 Thessalonians 1:1) but is not mentioned following Paul’s Second Missionary Journey.
See the introductory page on 1 Thessalonians for more information.
Paul’s first letter to the Christians in Thessalonica tried to address a number of issues within the congregation, but apparently further instruction and encouragement were needed, especially with a false letter allegedly from Paul apparently having been circulated (2 Thes 2:2; 3:17). Thus Paul once again writes to the Thessalonians to give more guidance about the Last Day and about Christian living until that day.
After first giving thanks to God for the Thessalonian Christians’ faith and perseverance despite persecution, Paul confronts the false report that the Day of the Lord (the Last Day) has already come (2 Thes 2:1-2). He instructs them that the Day of the Lord cannot come until the “man of lawlessness,” also known as “the Antichrist” (see Dan 7:25; Dan 8:23-25; Dan 11:36; 1 Jn 2:18; Rev 13:5-6), is revealed. But Paul also assures them that God will overthrow this man of lawlessness and will help the Thessalonians stand firm until the end (2 Thes 2:8,13-17).
Paul also includes a longer and stronger warning against idleness in this letter (2 Thes 3:6-15) than in his first letter (1 Thes 4:11-12), even including instructions to church members about what must be done if anyone does not take the warning to heart (2 Thes 3:14-15). After giving this warning Paul gives his final greetings, which he writes in his own hand so the Thessalonians know this letter was indeed from him (2 Thes 3:17).
- 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10
- 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
- 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
- 2 Thessalonians 3:3
- 2 Thessalonians 3:11-13
- 2 Thessalonians 3:14
- Thanksgiving for the Thessalonians’ faith and for God’s just judgment (2 Thessalonians 1)
- The Day of the Lord and the Man of Lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2)
- Request for prayer, warning against idleness, and final greetings (2 Thessalonians 3)