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2 Thessalonians

A Daily Bible Study in 7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and Daily Application

Sunday (2 Thessalonian 1:1-4)

Salutation

1:1 From Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1:2 Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Thanksgiving

1:3 We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith flourishes more and more and the love of each one of you all for one another is ever greater.

1:4 As a result we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions you are enduring.

Prayer

Lord, Your impact upon faithful believers is increased-maturity, increased-love, and an increased-witness of Your saving grace and power. May I be found increasingly-surrendered to You as Lord of all of my life so that I may also be Your instrument of salt and light in this world.

Summary & Commentary

Paul began with his customary salutation (in this case specifically referencing Silvanus and Timothy as joining him in the salutation), reminding his readers of their common fellowship due to their relationship with God through Jesus the Christ.

He included a message from “God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” which read “Grace and peace to you …”

[Note: Since the believers had already received the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit it would not have been appropriate for Paul to bring greetings from that member of the Trinity.]

Paul then praised them for their love for one another and observed that he, and those with him, “... ought to thank God always for you” because of the choice of the Thessalonians to obey the Lord God and in loving one another.

He continued “As a result we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God” [local gatherings of believers where Paul preached and taught during his travels and through his letters].

Paul concluded “... for your perseverance and faith in all persecutions and afflictions you are enduring.”, to emphasize that they were not remarkable for faithfulness in-ease but under-duress.

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God was sending His message “Grace and peace to you ...” to the Thessalonians because they were living obediently - with love for one another.

Discuss

What are some practical ways that your fellowship may improve the degree to which they love one another, and as a result also earn a blessing from the Lord God that is “Grace and peace …”?

Reflect

There is an apparent linkage between the common challenge of “persecutions and afflictions” challenging the members of the Thessalonian fellowship of believers (The Church) – because of their faith - and the quality of their love for one another.

Share

What is an example of a small group of believers, or of a larger fellowship, whom you reference as a positive example, one worthy of praise and emulation (boasting), within the Christian family elsewhere? What is it specifically about them that earned them that standing?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a way that your fellowship may enhance the way that you love one another.

Action:

Today whether I have a role in leadership, or am a member, I will pray for and practice ways that we may love one another -- either by refraining from an action or tradition that interferes - or introducing some previously ignored piece of Biblical teaching.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (2 Thessalonians 1:5-12)

Encouragement in Persecution

1:5 This is evidence of God’s righteous judgment, to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which in fact you are suffering.

1:6 For it is right for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you,

1:7 and to you who are being afflicted to give rest together with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.

1:8 With flaming fire he will mete out punishment on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

1:9 They will undergo the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his strength,

1:10 when he comes to be glorified among his saints and admired on that day among all who have believed – and you did in fact believe our testimony.

1:11 And in this regard we pray for you always, that our God will make you worthy of his calling and fulfill by his power your every desire for goodness and every work of faith,

1:12 that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer

Lord, You will enforce perfect justice upon those who have chosen the world over the Truth, and you promise to encourage and equip us as we make ourselves available instruments to You work in this world. May I find joy in the promise of eternity without imperfection and every opportunity to be Your hands and feet while I remain here.

Summary & Commentary

Paul’s context for the Thessalonians was to assure them that upon the return of Christ the enemies of Christ who had afflicted Christians would themselves be afflicted.

He provided motivation for evangelistic missions, as no one filled with love would want this to happen to anyone “With flaming fire he will mete out punishment on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will undergo the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might.”

When he wrote “... when He comes to be glorified among His saints and admired on that day” he wanted them to remember the Lord God’s title for believers and His desire that we give-glory to Christ.

When he wrote “...among all who have believed -- and you did in fact believe our testimony.”, he was teaching that only some are saved, that some hear and turn away, and that some hear and believe and surrender to the truth.

Paul then prayed that the Lord God would bless their desire for “... goodness and the work of faith”, so that they would know they were not expected to do His ministry without His blessing and provision.

He concluded with the purpose of an ultrafidian, beyond saving-faith, walk “... that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Interaction

Consider

At the return of Jesus He will bear His glory to those who have believed in Him and have admired and glorified Him as He brings us home to Heaven.

Discuss

Why would there be affliction and destruction for those who have rejected Christ and who have afflicted His family (saints, believers)?

Reflect

The Lord God’s promise is to bless to those who desire “... goodness and the work of faith”.

Share

When have you observed an example of God’s blessing upon someone whose desire was “... goodness and the work of faith”?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to desire “... goodness and the work of faith”.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer pray in agreement with me for a new-found desire from the Holy Spirit, opportunities to express that desire in practical ministry, and to share in thankful-celebration the Lord God’s answer.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)

The Day of the Lord

2:1 Now regarding the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to be with him, we ask you, brothers and sisters,

2:2 not to be easily shaken from your composure or disturbed by any kind of spirit or message or letter allegedly from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.

2:3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.

2:4 He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God.

2:5 Surely you recall that I used to tell you these things while I was still with you.

2:6 And so you know what holds him back, so that he will be revealed in his own time.

2:7 For the hidden power of lawlessness is already at work. However, the one who holds him back will do so until he is taken out of the way,

2:8 and then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy by the breath of his mouth and wipe out by the manifestation of his arrival.

2:9 The arrival of the lawless one will be by Satan’s working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders,

2:10 and with every kind of evil deception directed against those who are perishing, because they found no place in their hearts for the truth so as to be saved.

2:11 Consequently God sends on them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false.

2:12 And so all of them who have not believed the truth but have delighted in evil will be condemned.

Prayer

Lord, You have given us a promise and a hope, peace and the indwelling presence of Your Holy Spirit. May I be among those who faithfully-cling to You when trouble comes.

Summary & Commentary

Paul warned against accepting the false claim that the Lord had already returned and he provided a critical-checkpoint or test for those who wished to know when the return of the Lord would be imminent rather than merely speculative:

“For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God.”

Paul explained that “... the hidden power of lawlessness” was already active in the world, and that it was deceiving people but was restrained by the Lord God.

[Note: Paul elsewhere had warned that in the later days of the End Times the deception would be so powerful and sophisticated that “... the very elect” would be vulnerable - but for the protection of the Lord through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit].

He noted that the time would come when “... the one of lawlessness will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy”. The lawless one is a tool of Satan [not Satan himself] but on behalf of Satan will use “... all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, with every kind of evil deception.”

Paul identifies the target of Satan’s agent (the “lawless one”) as “... those who are perishing because they found no place in their hearts for the truth”. God allows, indeed enhances, their vulnerability to the fullest deception so as to complete the path of condemnation they have chosen for themselves.

[Note: This fits the Biblical pattern where God “... hardened the heart” of Pharaoh, a heart that was already hardened against truth, believing himself to be a god.]

Interaction

Consider

The vulnerability of the unsaved versus the safety of the saved, even as the saved may be deceived to a considerable degree, not so far that their salvation is lost.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to recognize deceivers, despite their clever deceit, aided by Satan’s use of “... all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, with every kind of evil deception” (in order to bring them false credibility) – so that members of your family and fellowship would not be vulnerable to that deceit?

Reflect

The Lord God’s consistent practice, from the early days of Old Testament history through the present, has been “... giving them over to the lust of their flesh” - referring to those who find “... no place in their hearts for the truth”.

Share

When have you witnessed an example of someone who came into a fellowship or other community where believers and non-believers gathered and used clever deception to draw believers away from righteous living, or non-believers away from the truth that could lead them to salvation. What happened?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to direct and empower you to pray for discernment among believers within a specific fellowship so that they may defend themselves, and non-believers who visit, from deceivers - predecessors of “the lawless one” who represent “... the hidden power of lawlessness” or perhaps even “the lawless one” himself when he arrives.

Action:

Today, to the degree to which I am able I will encourage, equip, and serve in a ministry within my fellowship which teaches the Word with a special emphasis upon the essential truths of the Lord, spiritual discernment, and Biblical spiritual warfare.

[Note: “Biblical spiritual warfare” has been specified as there is much teaching about spiritual warfare that is not Biblical.]

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17)

Call to Stand Firm

2:13 But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

2:14 He called you to this salvation through our gospel, so that you may possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2:15 Therefore, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold on to the traditions that we taught you, whether by speech or by letter.

2:16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope,

2:17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good thing you do or say.

Prayer

Lord, You used Your Gospel to call humankind to salvation, and You sanctify those who respond. May I humbly surrender daily to Your sanctifying process.

Summary & Commentary

Paul repeated his recognition of the Thessalonians as “... loved by the Lord”.

He reminded them that they were saved “... through our gospel” the means of salvation that God had chosen “... from the beginning”.

[Note: They were saved through the Gospel, which was communicated to them through fellow humans, per the choice of the Lord God. They had to choose to respond to the invitation of the Gospel, surrendering everything, submitting their all. Then they were saved]

Paul celebrated again that “... we ought to give thanks for you always” because of their faithfulness yet challenged them once again to “... stand firm and hold onto the traditions that we taught you”.

He concluded with a prayer:

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father, who loved us and by grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good thing you do or say.”

Interaction

Consider

The relationship between the elements of the Lord God’s plan for salvation;

He would provide the elements of the gospel story (Jesus comes, Jesus lives without sin, Jesus calls together His disciples - and among them His Apostles, Jesus teaches, Jesus sacrifices Himself for us, Jesus rises from the dead, Jesus walks and teaches, Jesus ascends home to heaven, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit),

… and His choice to save those who hear the gospel and respond in faith to His invitation to surrender their meaningless life and doomed eternity to His Lordship and the gift of and eternity

... and being made perfect for heaven.

Discuss

What are some ways that you, and your fellowship, may “... stand firm and hold onto the traditions that we taught you” - without the traditions of man displacing those of the Lord God?

Reflect

Paul, and those closest to him, celebrated fellowships characterized by faithfulness.

Share

When have you observed a practical example of an individual, sub-group, or fellowship who have earned celebration for their intentional faithfulness to the teachings of the Bible?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to identify a place where the traditions of man have, in your life or that of your fellowship, displaced those of the Lord God – even in subtle ways.

Action:

Today I will prayerfully partner with the Holy Spirit to discard the human traditions and to restore the Biblical teachings of Paul and the other New Testament writers.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (2 Thessalonians 3:1-5)

Request for Prayer

3:1 Finally, pray for us, brothers and sisters, that the Lord’s message may spread quickly and be honored as in fact it was among you,

3:2 and that we may be delivered from perverse and evil people. For not all have faith.

3:3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

3:4 And we are confident about you in the Lord that you are both doing – and will do – what we are commanding.

3:5 Now may the Lord direct your hearts toward the love of God and the endurance of Christ.

Prayer

Lord, You use us to spread Your Word, You ask us to pray for one-another, and You strengthen and protect us for the task You have set before us. May I be found faithful in directing my heart toward You my Lord and Savior.

Summary & Commentary

Paul requested prayer that “The Lord’s message [essentially, the Gospel] may spread quickly and be honored as in fact was among you.”

He continued with what was both a personal request and one he shared in-common with the Thessalonian believers “... and that we may be delivered from perverse and evil people. For not all have faith.”

[Note: It is clear in Paul’s next sentence that he intends that this prayer be for himself, as well as for those gathered with him, but also to include the Thessalonians by his use of “But ...” and of “... you”.]

Paul encouraged them “... But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

He complimented and reassured them “And we are confident about you in the Lord that you are both doing -- and will do -- what we are commanding.”

Paul then closed with a prayer “Now may the Lord direct your hearts toward the love of God, and the endurance of Christ.”

Interaction

Consider

Paul the Apostle and the believers in Thessalonica shared a common challenge, harassment from unbelievers.

Discuss

What are some practical the ways that “The Lord’s message [essentially, the Gospel] may spread quickly [to believers and the not-yet-saved] and be honored ...” within your fellowship?

Reflect

Paul’s promise was that “... the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

Share

When have you observed an example of “... perverse and evil people ... [who do] not all have faith” coming into a fellowship, or the life of an individual, and trying to undermine their faith.? What happened?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you ways that “The Lord’s message [essentially, the Gospel] may spread quickly [to believers and the not-yet-saved] and be honored ...” within your fellowship, and in your personal ministry activities, to a greater degree than is now occurring.

Action:

Today I will make myself available as a more-intentional instrument of the Holy Spirit in His evangelizing and discipleship work.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15)

Response to the Undisciplined

3:6 But we command you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from any brother who lives an undisciplined life and not according to the tradition they received from us.

3:7 For you know yourselves how you must imitate us, because we did not behave without discipline among you,

3:8 and we did not eat anyone’s food without paying. Instead, in toil and drudgery we worked night and day in order not to burden any of you.

3:9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give ourselves as an example for you to imitate.

3:10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this command: “If anyone is not willing to work, neither should he eat.”

3:11 For we hear that some among you are living an undisciplined life, not doing their own work but meddling in the work of others.

3:12 Now such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and so provide their own food to eat.

3:13 But you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing what is right.

3:14 But if anyone does not obey our message through this letter, take note of him and do not associate closely with him, so that he may be ashamed.

3:15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Prayer

Lord, You have warned that we are influenced and perceived by the company we regularly keep, and so we are wise to fellowship with believers. May I be salt and light among the unsaved but still be intentional about investing significant time with my believing peers.

Summary & Commentary

Paul addressed the need for accountability to protect the well-being of individual believers and of the larger fellowship “... keep away from any brother who lives an undisciplined life”.

He reminded them that he chose bi-vocational ministry so that he might bring a hard-word without any hint of compromise or of hypocrisy, though he noted once-again that he had a right to accept and to expect support.

Because a correct teaching of a critical Biblical message might be undermined by the failure of a leader to choose sacrifice over truth Paul felt that his compromise was necessary as an example.

Paul’s message was “If anyone is not willing to work, neither should he eat.” This was directed at lazy and selfish believers who were taking advantage of the Thessalonians commitment to care for their own.

He continued “For we hear that some among you are living an undisciplined life, not doing their work but meddling in the work of others.”, implying that if one wants to voice an opinion one needed to earn the right through service to the fellowship.

Paul’s message to the slacker “... we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ ... work quietly and so provide ... own food to eat.”

To prevent this matter from escalating into one of division he counseled a low-level of social ostracizing, yet added the boundary “... do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”

Paul included an encouragement to the more mature believer to remain above the fray “... do not grow weary in doing what is right.”

Interaction

Consider

Sloth and the abuse of the good will of others is not only a recent problem in society.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to promote a positive work-ethic within the body of believers, to implement some accountability, and to do both without un-loving legalism and/or rigidity?

Reflect

Do you see that in your own life, in the lives of the leaders of your fellowship, and/or in the lives of others in the larger “Church” (body of believers) a Pauline-willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the Lord God’s truth?

Share

When have you observed examples of abuse of financial support in the fellowship where the intervention of accountability and discipleship produced a healthier attitude and conduct on the part of the offender?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal a place in your life where you have been spiritually slothful, leaving it to others to do the work of ministry or the work of spiritual warfare, content to write a check, delegate to “the professional ministers”, and/or to merely warm a seat on Sunday.

Action:

Today I have decided to finally listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and step-up into the ministry for which the Lord God has prepared me.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (2 Thessalonians 3:16-18)

Conclusion

3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all.

3:17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, which is how I write in every letter.

3:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Prayer

Lord, You are with us all through Your Holy Spirit, and You give us a peace that passes all understanding – given this fallen world and the harassment of the enemy. May I rest from the challenges of this world in Your peace and may I share the reason for my peace with others.

Summary & Commentary

Paul concluded 2 Thessalonians with a simple yet profound prayer “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.”

He wrote “The Lord be with you all.”

[Note: Paul was not intending to suggest that the Lord was not always with them, of course He was as they all had His indwelling Holy Spirit. In keeping with his earlier writing he intended that the teachings of the Lord be found in everything that they said and did so that it would be as though He was literally walking alongside them.]

Paul added an interesting parenthetical remark “I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, which is how I write every letter.”

[Note: The NET translator’s notes observe that Paul’s letters were dictated and physically transcribed by others but that he added some longhand text at the end of each as a sort of certificate of authenticity.]

His final words of this letter “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.” underlined his awareness that they faced many challenges and that His grace empowered them to have peace in the storm and peace among themselves.

Interaction

Consider

Paul made an extra effort to protect the integrity of the true message of God from the many false ones that the Enemy continuously-promoted. Even though Paul suffered from troubles with his hands, likely as the result of strenuous manual labor making tents and many violent assaults, he still penned some text to signify the authenticity of his letters.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to walk more closely with the Lord? Perhaps a regular reminder of some sort that He sees everything that you do and hears everything that you say? The goal being to steadily grow to where He is in more and more of whatever you do no matter where you may be.

Reflect

Does Paul’s prayer “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.” comfort you?

Share

What is an example of someone who lives as if they truly believe that “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to make you more profoundly aware that He sees everything that you do and hears everything that you say.

Action:

Today I am committing to seek practical ways to walk more closely with the Lord in order to steadily grow to where He is in more and more of whatever I do wherever I may be.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study – The series, “2 Thessalonians” – prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in March of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.