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2 Thessalonians overview


Author:  Jeremy Witt
Paul wrote his second letter to the Thessalonikans when he got a report that things had gotten worse due to confusion and failure to do as he suggested. Persecutions had intensified.   In particular to Christ’s return.  There was disagreement and/or misinterpretation of what he said and what he meant.  Some of the Christians were scared about Christ’s return. 
Paul writes to offer hope in the midst of persecution, he wrote to clarify about Christ’s return, and finally, Paul wrote to address the idle or lazy. 
First, what this shows us that even Paul was not the world’s best communicator, so we can relate.  It also shows us how people misinterpret what we say or what we meant despite our best efforts.  That is reassuring to me as I attempt to communicate with you each day.  (Insert lol or hahaha)  This caries itself to our homes, our workplaces, the marketplace, on social media especially, and everywhere in between.  Just think how often we encounter people having differing opinions about what was said. 
So what was miscommunicated or misunderstood?  Some of the people became scared of Jesus’ return.  Some took that Jesus was coming back quickly so they quit working.  They were just waiting.  Some sold everything.  There are people today who do this when they misinterpret Scripture and believe that Jesus is coming back on this particular day.  The issue that one charismatic leader/speaker interprets the Bible to say that these things and will use various passages and interpret those passages in our context to mean that Jesus will return.  Because the person speaks in such a way, they see that interpretation as correct and takes it literally.  This is why Paul addresses the idle as he will in this letter.
Paul breaks this letter down into those three parts as mentioned earlier.  Chapter one offers hope in the midst of persecution. As Paul did in his first letter, he reminds the believers that suffering is a way of participating in God’s kingdom.  He reminds them that the persecution will not last forever.  He prays for them and then moves to the next issue. 
 Chapter two will speak toward Christ’s return and some details before Jesus returns.  Someone had spread information in Paul’s name that Paul never said.  Has that ever happened to you?  This person or persons had said that the day of the LORD had come.   This is why some of the believers were scared.  Someone had their own “cardboard sign” with the “End is here” written on it.   Before we go and look down on these believers, let’s remember that they have been persecuted and were suffering.  It may have appeared to them that the end was there and that Jesus had come like a “thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2)  Christ’s return should not cause fear for the believer but bring hope and confidence.  This person or persons had caused just the opposite of what Paul intended to happen for the believers. 

 Chapter three will address how we should live in light of His return.  This will address the idleness issue.  It addressed those who were irresponsible and refused to work.  He talked about it in 1 Thessalonians and it just had gotten worse.  The cause of this is actually unknown, but some scholars believe it is tied to a cultural issue called Roman Patronage.   This was poor people serving as assistants to the rich.  They would get paid by doing things for these wealthy people but it might also include some “sketchy” or immoral behaviors.  This is what Paul may be referring to when he says, “some of you are leading a disordered life not working, but meddling in the business of others.”  Paul then reminded them how he worked when with them and then prays for them in 3:16-18.

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2 Thessalonians chapter 1


Author:  Jeremy Witt
Notice that more than Paul communicating with this church, but those who have invested in the church previously while on Paul’s 2nd missionary journey.  Encouragement is the key for the first four verses and in verse four, Paul and company merge into the persecution discussion.  Paul speaks of their strength and endurance even though most of them did not feel strong or very enduring.  Notice verse 5 here how Paul points out that God will use our suffering and/or persecution for His glory and purposes.  Justice and making them worthy of the Kingdom of God are just two reasons Paul mentions here.
“Why?” is something that many of us ask while suffering or being persecuted.  At times we may never know “why” and other times we may know, but knowing why still doesn’t make it any easier in most cases.  Paul does something important in this beginning.  He helps answers the “why” question, and he encourages them and tells them that he has been bragging on them to others.  This is encouraging.  This helps build hope and reaffirms that Paul and company care for them.   He does this before he gets to the more difficult subjects that are coming.  Paul also tells them that God is just and that He will deal with those who are causing the suffering and persecution.  They are not being ignored.  The other factor at hand is that Paul had been persecuted in Thessalonika himself.  You can read that in Acts 17:5-9.  He was something speaking from experience rather than someone who did not know how they felt.

One more thing in relation to verse 5.  Many people think that suffering and persecution are a result of sin.  It may be but it can also be a part of something bigger as Paul points out.  To know that “this” is not your fault, but that God is going to use this to bring justice and make you better is reassuring, comforting, and strengthening.  “It isn’t your fault” is a relief mentally and psychologically.  It doesn’t make it any easier physically, but it will spiritually and mentally.  It will help shut Satan and his little imps mouths in our minds!
Verses 7-10 have confused me for years.  In verse 7, “coming” or “he will come” (paraousia-Greek) has a meaning designated for a ruler.  It is the same meaning as Acts 1:11 when Jesus ascended.  It will be in His presence as it once was, but also as in at the end of the age (Matt 24:3) in power and in glory (Matt 24:27) and when He destroys the Antichrist and evil (2 Thess 2:8).  I had previously thought that this was the rapture, but based on this word and where it is used in other places, it appears to be when King Jesus is General Jesus.  He is not the Lamb here, but He is the Lion and you do not want to be on the other side of Him.  But holy cow, do I want to watch that from above or in the Holy Army with Him.  It makes me think of the great movie moments like in Gladiator, The Patriot, or Braveheart. 
With this in mind, verse 11 speaks louder.  “Enable you to live a life worthy of His call” or “count you worthy of His calling” helps me to think more long term than my present circumstances.  Verse 12 continues this line of thought as our aim should be so that “the name of the LORD Jesus will be honored because of the way that you live.”  My prayer for myself is that this can be said of me.  The highest honor we can achieve in this life is to hear,  “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  I think Paul was trying to give hope but also to inspire the believers to “fight the good fight” as well as endure.  It reminds me of that line in Braveheart that sends chills to my spine, “They may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!”  Let’s keep this in mind as we face suffering, persecution, and opposition.  For Jesus and His Kingdom!!!!

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