• Length: Three chapters
• Author: This letter is attributed to the apostle Paul (1:1), but may actually have been written in his name by one of his co-workers such as Silvanus or Timothy at a later date. Notice that the salutation in 1:1 is the same as in 1 Thessalonians with an extended blessing of grace and peace in verse 2.
• Date: This letter appears to be written much later than 1 Thessalonians, evidenced by its concern for those Christians who were enduring ongoing hardship and suffering for their faith and also by their heightened expectation and confusion surrounding the timing of Jesus’ return.
• Recipients: Thessalonica was the capital city of the region of Macedonia, and served as a vital trade center and port city in the Roman empire. Paul founded the church in Thessalonica shortly after he left Philippi (see Acts chapter 17).
• In 2nd Thessalonians there is a strong emphasis on the phrase “the day of the Lord”. This phrase referred to the anticipated day when Jesus would return again to bring about God’s final righteous judgment. Apparently there were some who were trying to argue that the day of the Lord had already arrived (2:2). This is the only one of the Pauline letters that mentions this appearance of Satan as a part of coming apocalyptic events.
• One of Paul’s concerns is for those Christians who were living lives of idleness, not doing any work (3:11), perhaps because they expected Jesus to show up at any minute and were just waiting for it to happen..
• Paul warns against this notion and makes it clear that Christians believers are to continue with their lives in an active, responsible, and productive manner (“Brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing what is right” 3:13)
• As one scholar summarizes,
“(Paul) urged his readers to keep the faith and to maintain their hope but not to expect the end of the age in the immediate future. God’s plan for the end was in the process of being implemented, but believers must not be too eager, living only for tomorrow and not tending to the needs of today. They must suffer boldly and wait faithfully for the day of judgment in which their longings would be fulfilled and their afflictions vindicated.” *
• Paul gives thanks for the Thessalonian believers (1:3 and 2:13), referring to them as the “first fruits for salvation”, called by God through the work of the Holy Spirit (2:13-14).
• He prays for them, for strength, comfort, and steadfastness. Paul also asks for prayers for his own ministry of spreading the gospel that God’s word would spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere (3:1).
* Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings (Oxford Press, 2000, p.346)