THURSDAY, MAY 14
SCRIPTURE: 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.