Unger's Bible Dictionary: Second Thessalonians



THESSALONIANS, SECOND EPISTLE TO. The second epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians was written to correct the erroneous notion among the Christians at Thessalonica that the persecutions from which they were suffering were those of "the great and awesome day of the Lord" (Joel 2:31) from which they had been taught to expect deliverance by "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him" (2 Thess 2:1). The theme of this epistle, obscured by the mistranslation of the studybible in 2:2, "the day of Christ is at hand," is correctly rendered in NASB "The day of the Lord has come."


Purpose. Second Thessalonians was written to instruct the Thessalonians concerning the day of Christ "and our gathering together to Him" (2 Thess 2:1) and to settle them in their conviction that in the day of Christ the Lord would appear to translate the living saints and to raise the deceased ones, so that actually the apostle Paul in 2 Thess 2:1 is arguing for a pretribulation out-taking of the church as the Body of Christ. In 2:1-12 he outlines the events of the Day of the Lord that will occur after the out-taking of the church.


Plan. (1) The apostle comforts the Thessalonians in their sufferings (2 Thess 1:4-10). He argues for the imminency of the coming of Christ for His own (2:1). (2) He stresses the fact that the Day of the Lord, so voluminously prophesied in the OT, will not arrive until the apostasy has set in and the "man of lawlessness" has been made manifest (2:2-10). (3) He urges the Thessalonians to faithfulness in view of the coming of Christ for His own (2:13-3:5). (4) He warns the idle and the disorderly to be properly adjusted to the doctrine taught (3:6-15). (5) He shows them how to distinguish his epistles from those of forgers (3:17).


Attestation and Authorship. The essential evidence for this epistle is earlier and more extensive than that of the first epistle. Justin Martyr refers to 2 Thess 2:3-4 in his Dialogue with Trypho, chap. 110. Irenaeus mentions it by name, ascribing it to Paul. Tertullian quotes it as by the "apostle," manifestly Paul, as seen by the context. Clement of Alexandria makes reference to 3:1-2 in Stromata (5.3). The Muratorian Canon, Old Syriac, Old Latin, and Marcion's Canon include it. The epistle is of immense importance eschatologically.



BIBLIOGRAPHY: See Thessalonians, First Epistle to the.

(from The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)

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