2 Thessalonians 1
This epistle contains evidence that Paul had recently heard news about current conditions in the Thessalonian church. Probably most of this information came to him from the person who had carried 1 Thessalonians to its recipients and had returned to Paul at Corinth. Perhaps other people who had news of the church had informed Paul, Silas, and Timothy also. Some of the news was good. The majority of the Thessalonians were continuing to grow and to remain faithful to Christ in spite of persecution. Unfortunately some of the news was bad. False teaching concerning the day of the Lord had entered the church and was causing confusion and leading some of the Christians to quit their jobs in expectation of the Lord’s imminent return.
In view of these reports Paul evidently felt constrained to write this epistle. Almost all conservative scholars believe that Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians from Corinth. The topics he treated in the second letter seem to grow out of situations he alluded to in the first letter. It appears that Paul composed 2 Thessalonians quite soon after 1 Thessalonians, perhaps within 12 months. This would place the date of composition in the early A.D. 50s, perhaps A.D. 51, and would make this the third of Paul’s canonical writings, assuming Galatians was his first. (Constable’s Notes on 2 Thessalonians, p. 1)
1. Read 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12. What seems to be the intent of Paul’s writing again to the Thessalonians?
2. By what affectionate term does Paul refer to his readers and why?
3. Which words, including names, are repeated in this section?
4. Read 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12. Discuss Paul’s commendation of the Thessalonians’ behavior in verses 3 and 4.
5. In what ways would their behavior encourage Paul himself? Read also 1 Thessalonians 3:5,10.
6. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:3 again, noticing the mention of their faith, hope and love. Compare to 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 to determine which one is not mentioned. What do you think happened?
7. In verse 5, what comfort does Paul give them concerning God’s judgment? Read Psalm 89:14; John 5:30 and 2 Peter 2:9-10 for more information.
8. Paul describes God acting in the role of an Avenger in verse 6. Define “avenger.”
9. In what ways would God act as their/our Avenger? See also Romans 12:19. David well knew of this part of God’s character. See Psalm 143:12.
Historical Insight: In the future God in His justice would punish the Thessalonians’ persecutors and give rest to his readers as well as to all Christians who suffer affliction for the gospel. This will take place when Jesus Christ returns to the earth in judgment. This is not a reference to the Rapture. (Constable’s Notes on 2 Thessalonians, pp. 4-5)
9. How would knowing this give relief to the Thessalonians? See also 1 Peter 5:8-10.
10. Gaining Perspective: Have you recognized a time when God acted as your Avenger? Describe what happened and how you felt.
11. Read 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12. According to verse 8, who would receive the retribution? Explain why. See also John 5:24-30 and Acts 17:30-31.
12. Paul defines eternal hell in verse 9. How does he describe it?
13. Deeper Discoveries (optional): Jesus talked about hell and judgment more than anyone else in the Bible. It was the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23). He came to pay that penalty for sin. Use your concordance to find references in the gospels that reveal more about hell.
14. Gaining Perspective: Do you have a problem accepting the reality of hell?
· Reread all the verses given above and do your own study if needed to see what the Bible consistently says about this destiny for the unbeliever.
· How should this information impact your concern for the unbeliever? Does it?
15. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Paul talks twice about their being counted or made worthy. Define “worthy” using a dictionary.
16. Explain what Paul means in v. 11 when he says, “that our God will count you worthy of your calling.” See also Philippians 1:6; 27-30. Add your own cross-references.
Scriptural Insight: “Paul consistently made what god has done for believers the basis of his appeals for them to lead lives in keeping with their destiny. Christians do not live worthily in order to obtain salvation but because they have been granted salvation.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, p. 716)
17. How do we participate in the glorifying of Jesus Christ? Read John 17.
18. Gaining Perspective: How should this information impact the way you choose to live today?