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
2:1-12. Paul’s Work in Thessalonica. After mentioning the “character” of his work in 1:5, Paul now proceeds to describe it in this section, perhaps as a defense against his slanderous countrymen who would drive a wedge between him and his converts. His service among them was characterized by tenderness and selflessness. So he addresses them as brothers and sisters, as family in Christ who are all “loved by God” (1:4) and share his love among themselves. That his coming to them was not purposeless or without result was evidence that they had been convinced of his earnestness. He cites the mistreatment received in Philippi and the courage in our God as proof that the appeal made in his message to turn to God did not come from error or impurity or with deceit. (NLT sharpens this connection between verses 2 and 3.) An insincere preacher out for money would not have continued under the persecution that Paul received. Such courage showed he was approved by God to declare his gospel and his motives were not to please people but God, because he remembers that is it God who examines our hearts. The Lord sees at this moment why we do what we do, which means that he will judge our intentions and actions in the last day. People’s opinions last but briefly, and gaining their approval is an exercise in futility, but God’s approval counts for time and eternity. People judge actions, but God examines the heart; only he is able to judge fully and fairly. Continue reading
Four short chapters chocked full of good truths. Tell us something today about Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Or his time there. Or about the city. From history to theology to ecclesiology, whatever, but give us a jolt from the gospel in that place and time, so that our spot on earth today may be enlivened and enriched.
This letter is on my mind because I tried to listen in last night to the live Engage! podcast, featuring Danny Petrillo from Bear Valley on Philippians. My browser kept crashing, however, which I think was due to a bad connection. So I want to go back and listen again later.