“But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. And we are confident in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we commanded you.”
2 Thessalonians 3.3-4 NTL
The faithfulness of God helps us to recognize and have confidence in the faithfulness of the saints.
Why write a letter to a church like the one in Thessalonica who is faithful?
In the final section of the letter, Paul moves from doctrine to conduct, dealing with the undisciplined among them, after requesting prayer and expressing his confidence in their obedience.
3:1-5. Request for Prayer. As in the first letter, Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray for them, that the Lord’s message may spread quickly. Paul was ever concerned that the gospel reach more and more people (2 Corinthians 4:15; 10:15-16). All his efforts were devoted to the Great Commission as an extension of the Lord’s work in the world. Even though he is an apostle, the reciprocal nature of the faith applies equally. Prayer is the great leveler and feeds the solidarity among God’s family. Likely Paul uses athletic language here, of running, and winning the applause of the bleachers. For the message to be honored would mean received by the hearers and finding a place in the heart for the truth (see 2:10), as it was among the Thessalonians. Those who have honored the gospel can pray for it to be honored by others. The second part of Paul’s prayer request reflects that the gospel advances in the midst of opposition: that we may be delivered from perverse and evil people (v. 2). He asks not for the removal of persecutors, but that their efforts may have no effect on the progress of the gospel (see Philippians 1:12ff). Continue reading
2:1-2. Don’t Be Disturbed. In 1 Corinthians, when in various moments Paul writes, “Now regarding,” it is taken as a reply to questions contained in a letter from Corinth, from the cue in 7:1. With no such cue here, no conclusion can be reached from his use of it in 2:1, although it seems to indicate his main concern in writing this second letter. Evidently Paul has received information since his first letter that motivates him to write and address the false message which taught that the day of the Lord is already here (see 3:11). Paul has already taught in his first letter about the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ and how that all saints will be gathered to be with him. He pleads that they not be easily shaken from their composure, or state of “mind,” which would render them incapable to judge, or disturbed by what they have heard. All spirits or teachings must be examined. Just because someone says so does not make it so. Satan passes himself off as angel of light, his servants as workers of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). So it is no wonder that some spirit or message or letter allegedly from Paul might be a satanic forgery. Continue reading
The Thessalonians were evidently forward-looking people. In both letters Paul discusses the future. In the first, the state of the righteous dead at the coming of Christ. In the second, the relief from persecution they will have at Christ’s coming, and the false teaching that the day of the Lord is already here. The time between the two letters is unknown. Though liberal scholars doubt that Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians, external evidence is strong for his authorship, especially for the second. Those who believe Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians estimate that no more than weeks or a few months interval passed between them, placing the date in the early 50s.
Paul treats three topics, all apparently related: suffering for the Kingdom of God, a false teaching about Christ’s coming, and the undisciplined life of some saints. Apparently, he had received new information (2:2; 3:11), whether by letter or visit is unknown, about the situation in the congregation and was moved to write further on these topics. Continue reading