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New Testament Survey

2 Thessalonians


Second Thessalonians

Key Verse(s):

Key Chapter(s):

Key Word(s) or Concept(s)


     What is the relationship between this letter and the first one to the Thessalonians?

            Can you find the key concepts?

                        How does Paul use them?

            Is this a letter of comfort like 1 Thessalonians?

Suggested Reading beyond the Key Chapter(s):

Second Thessalonians

Silas and Timothy carried Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians and have now returned with news of the developments in response to the first letter. Paul is still most likely in Corinth during the first missionary trip. In response to the conditions existing in Thessalonica, Paul pens this second letter of exhortation. The letter would have been written in A.D. 51/52.


Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2

Paul’s first letter to this church dealt with the concept of Jesus Christ coming to claim His Church Body. In this letter, we see the church returning with Christ in judgment (1:5-10; 2:15). Jesus is Lord of all and this gives Him the right to Judge all.

The church at Thessalonica is already facing increased persecution (1:4-5). Much of this pressure comes from the existing false teachings on the rapture (2:1-3). This second chapter sets forth to correct these false beliefs. The letter, then, is one which stresses endurance (2:15) in the face of these attacks and teaches the church how to live in the face of the imminent return of the Lord.


Scripture teaches that we should always be ready for the return of Christ. This concept of imminence does not mean that we know with certainty the event will occur today or tomorrow. Rather the concept is that the Second Coming of Jesus is “on the point of occurring.” It could happen at any moment, but it does not have to occur immediately. Apparently, the Thessalonians had misunderstood Paul’s first letter, believing they had missed the return of Christ, viewing it as being immediately rather than imminently.

Outline and Considerations

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
2 Thessalonians 2:15

Chapter 1 contains Paul’s assurances to a church undergoing continued persecution (1:1-6). The Apostle sets forth the assurance of God’s continued care for His people (1:7-12). The return of Jesus will bring glory to both God and the Church (1:10-12).

Chapter 2 is the great teaching on the man of sin. There will be great apostasy in the in the church (2:2) and the man of sin, the son of perdition will be revealed (2:3-4).

We saw earlier in our Introduction that apostasy is a turning away from and a denial of God. The best discussion of apostasy in Scripture is in 2 Timothy 3.


The man of sin, the son of perdition, is the Anti-Christ, as opposed to the many anti-Christs which have been with us through the centuries (1 John 2:18). This man is the little horn of Daniel (Dan 7:8; 8:9). He is also the willful king described by Daniel 11:36. The cited verse from 1 John shows the anticipated arrival of the true Anti-Christ. John gives a fuller description of this man and his assistants in Revelation (13:1-10 for the Anti-Christ, the “beast from the sea” and 13:11-18 for the false prophet, “the beast from the earth”).

The Person restraining the Anti-Christ even today is the Holy Spirit who works through the Church (2:5-8). Only the power of God prevents evil from truly running rampant throughout the world today. The time of Noah is an example of a world without the restraint of the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit did not indwell people during the time of the Old Testament. All but the eight souls on the Ark perished at the time of that judgment. How much worse will it be during the Tribulation? The Anti-Christ is further described in 2:9-12. I believe these verses are especially important to us, for they put forth great emphasis on our need to evangelize whenever possible. Paul writes:

11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
2 Thessalonians 2:11-12



I believe this passage is one which helps to teach that those who go into the tribulation having already heard the Gospel stand condemned for their hardness of heart, just as Pharaoh stood condemned. While it is not possible to know at what level a person must hear the Gospel message to so stand condemned, I believe that this Scripture teaches those who have believed the lie are turned over to the Devil for eternity.

These first two chapters, then, set the stage for Christ the Judge. Read 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9:

7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;


Here is Jesus Christ the Judge!


Unfortunately, in 2:2 the King James has “mistranslated” the word “Christ” creating a mix of doctrine. A composite view of Scriptures shows that the “Day of the Lord” is that extended time period beginning with the Rapture and ending with the millennium and the final judgment of Satan. This is the fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies dealing with God’s judgment on the Gentile nations and wicked mankind (Isa. 2:12f.; Ezek. 13:5; Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11; Zeph. 1:7, 14; Zach. 14:1). Peter’s two letters use this approach. Passages such as 2 Thessalonians 2:2 help to relate this Day of the Lord to the Second Coming of Christ. It should be noted, however, that this Second Coming of Christ in judgment as set forth in this epistle is the Coming of Jesus with His Saints to end the tribulation and commence the millennium.

Compare this to other references to the Day of Christ which provide a definition for this Day as a day of rejoicing and not a day of judgment. It is on the Day of Christ that the Lord comes for His saints (see the chapter on 1 Thessalonians). The Day of Christ is the positive description of the end time events, while the Day of the Lord is the negative description. The manuscripts used by the King James have the word Christos in 2:2. However, the critical manuscripts have determined that the proper word in this verse is kurios, “Lord.” This better fits the context of this letter of judgment.

Remember the pronouncement of Jesus before the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:17-21)?

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Luke 4:18-19

This statement of Christ is a reading from Isaiah 61:1 ,2. However, when He read the passage, Jesus does not conclude all of verse 2. He stops in the middle. The acceptable year of the Lord is the First Coming of Christ which will run until the Rapture, the Day of Christ. The Day of the Lord is the balance of Isaiah 61:2, the day of judgment, the Tribulation.

To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
Isaiah 61:2

Chapter 3 contains the instructions to the saints on how to live during this time before the Lord’s return. The church is to remain in prayer and to labor for the Lord. Notice that Paul presents these teachings in the form of “commands,” using this verb four times in eight verses (3:4, 6, 10, 12).



Is Jesus ever coming back?

      How can you know?

How are you gong to live until then?



If you knew Jesus was returning tomorrow at 9:00 A.M., what steps would you take to be ready to meet Him face-to-face?

Is the man of sin a person or a system?

              Or both?

              Is it important to you which he is?




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