2 Thessalonians



by Ken Cayce



Ken Cayce All rights reserved.


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2 Thessalonians Explained





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Book of 2 Thessalonians Explained



Title: In the Greek New Testament, 2 Thessalonians is listed as "To the Thessalonians". This represents the Apostle Paul's second canonical correspondence to the fellowship of believers in the city of Thessalonica (compare 1:1).


Author - Date: Paul, as in 1 Thessalonians, identified himself twice as the author of this letter (1:1, 3:17). Silvanus (Silas), and Timothy, Paul's co-laborer's in founding the church, were present with him when he wrote. Evidence, both within this letter and regarding vocabulary, style and doctrinal content, strongly supports Paul as the only possible author. The time of this writing was surely a few months after the first epistle, while Paul was still in Corinth with Silas and Timothy (1:1, Acts 18:5; in late A.D. 51 or early A.D. 52).


Background - Setting: For the history of Thessalonica (see introduction to 1 Thessalonians). Some have suggested that Paul penned this letter from Ephesus (Acts 18:18-21), but his eighteenth month stay in Corinth provided ample time for both of the Thessalonian epistles to be authored (Acts 18:11).


Apparently, Paul had stayed apprised of the happenings in Thessalonica through correspondence and/or couriers. Perhaps the bearer of the first letter brought Paul back an update on the condition of the church, which had matured and expanded (1:3); but pressure and persecution had also increased. The seeds of false doctrine concerning the Lord had been sown, and the people's behavior was disorderly. So, Paul wrote to his beloved flock who were:


(1) Discouraged by persecution and needed incentive to persevere;


(2) Deceived by false teachers who confused them about the Lord's return; and


(3) Disobedient to divine commands, particularly by refusing to work.


Paul wrote to address those 3 issues by offering:


(1) Comfort for the persecuted believers (1:3-12);


(2) Correction for the falsely taught and frightened believers (2:1-15); and


(3) Confrontation for the disobedient and undisciplined believers (3:6-15).


Historical - Theological: Although chapters 1 and 2 contain much prophetic material because the main issue was a serious misunderstanding generated by false teachers about the coming Day of the Lord (Paul reveals that the Day had not come and would not until certain other events occur), it is still best to call this "a pastoral letter". The emphasis is on how to maintain a healthy church with an effective testimony in proper response to sound eschatology and obedience to the truth.


Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians is a follow up to the first. It appears to have been written shortly after 1 Thessalonians, in response to certain reports that had come to the apostle regarding the Thessalonians' progress (3:11). Paul was still in Corinth and unable to leave his work there. However, he continued to maintain a keen interest in the little church to the north which had shown such promise (1:3-4), despite some continuing serious problems.


While Paul was encouraged by their faith and steadfastness, he could see that many in the assembly were still very confused about the second coming of Christ. Paul even suggests the possibility that some are deliberately misrepresenting his teaching on this all-important subject (2:2). The possibility of such a deception is supported by counterfeit letters purportedly written by the apostle.


He exhorts them to pay special attention to his signature so that they may distinguish the genuine letters from the false (3:17). Paul knows the ultimate source of this trouble is Satan himself, the "evil one" (3:3), and he is confident that the Lord will protect them.


Nevertheless, this misunderstanding had left many in the church to forsake their occupations, to lead undisciplined lives, and to breed unrest among the people by becoming busybodies and beggars, living off those who still maintained gainful employment (3:6-15). Still others had become discouraged, thinking the day of the Lord had already begun and that they had somehow missed it.


They had expected Christ to destroy their enemies. Yet they were still suffering persecution. Paul addresses these problems. He explains that while the time of the Lord's coming cannot be predicted, it will be a spectacular event that no one could miss. Furthermore, if the day of the Lord had already begun, then many other events would already have taken place (2:1-12).


Since they had seen none of these events, they could be sure they had not missed the Lord's return. In the meantime, they should take heart in the fact that from the start, God's purpose was to include them in the glorious event of Christ's coming (2:13-14). As for those who were presuming upon the good graces of their brethren, they should get to work or expect not to eat (3:6-15).


Theme:

Eschatology dominates the theological issues. One of the clearest statements on personal eschatology for unbelievers is found (in 1:9), Church discipline is the major focus of (3:6-15), which needs to be considered along with (Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; Gal. 6:1-5; and 1 Timothy 5:19-20), for understanding the complete Biblical teaching on this theme.





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2 Thessalonians 1
2 Thessalonians 2
2 Thessalonians 3

2 Thessalonians 1



2 Thessalonians Chapter 1

2 Thessalonians 1:1 "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:"


We see the same three names associated with this letter as we did with the first letter. Silvanus here is Silas "Latin". The Latin for Timothy is Timotheus. We see in this greeting, Paul is agreeing that these Thessalonians are in Christ. This is not a church that has strayed away. It is a church that has made up its mind that the Lord Jesus is coming back right then. It is grounded and rooted in the Father and in the Lord Jesus.


2 Thessalonians 1:2 "Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."


This is a greeting that Paul uses very often. It makes this letter most assuredly Paul's letter.


2 Thessalonians 1:3 "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;"


"We are bound to thank God": There is a spiritual obligation to thank God in prayer when He accomplishes great things in the lives of His saints. That was the case with the obedient Thessalonians, who had demonstrated growth in faith and love since the first letter. This was in direct answer to Paul's prayers (1 Thess. 1:3; 3:12).


"Your faith groweth": Paul cannot help but say once again how impressed he is with their spiritual growth (1 Thess. 1:2-10). This no doubt, reflects the brevity of his stay there. Their testimony suggests that his earlier fears have been dispelled (1 Thess. 3:5-10).


Paul has no complaint about their faith, or their charity. This is a church that is growing in the knowledge of God. They are more than generous helping with the other's needs. The only thing that could be wrong with this is if they are doing this because they think the Lord will be back immediately. If they are giving from a free heart, there is no error in that.


2 Thessalonians 1:4 "So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:"


"Patience and faith": Nowhere was their growth in faith and love (verse 3), more evident than in the way they patiently and faithfully endured hostilities and suffering from the enemies of Christ. Although there was no need to speak, since the Thessalonians' lives spoke clearly enough (1 Thess. 1:8). Paul's joy before the Lord over their perseverance bubbled up.


Paul is using this church at Thessalonica as an example to the other churches of how they should conduct their affairs. He knows the persecutions have been great, they have endured them like good soldiers.


They are not only generous in their giving, but they are patient, as well. It seems that Paul can find no fault with them. Paul is simply amazed at their faith and patience under such tribulations and persecutions.


2 Thessalonians 1:5 "[Which is] a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:"


"Token" means literally "evidence."


"Of the righteous judgment of God": Another translation would be "for" the righteous. Paul is not saying that their suffering reflects God's judgment rather that it will be "evidence" used in judgment against those who persecute them. God will righteously repay trouble to the wicked (verses 6-8).


"Counted worthy": Their suffering does not qualify them for the kingdom. Instead it is a privilege extended to those who are genuinely members of the kingdom.


"Manifest" is to make real. It seems they are enduring this suffering for the possibility of being counted worthy before God.


"Suffer": Having a right attitude towards suffering is essential and that required attitude is concern for the kingdom of God. They were not self-centered, but concentrated on God's kingdom. Their focus was not on personal comfort, fulfillment and happiness, but on the glory of God and the fulfillment of His purposes.


They were not moaning about the injustice of their persecutions. Rather, they were patiently enduring the sufferings they did not deserve (verse 4). This very attitude was positive proof that God's wise process of purging, purifying, and perfecting through suffering was working to make His beloved people worthy of the kingdom (2:12), by being perfected (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 5:10).


For believers, afflictions are to be expected (1 Thess. 3:3), as they live and develop Christian character in a satanic world. Suffering is not to be thought of as evidence that God has forsaken them, but evidence that He is with them. Perfecting them (Matt. 5:10; Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 12:10).


So, the Thessalonians demonstrated that their salvation, determined by faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ, was genuine because they, like Christ, were willing to suffer because of God and His kingdom. They suffered unjustly as objects of man's wrath against Christ and His kingdom (Acts 5:41; Phil. 3:10; Col 1:24). "Kingdom of God" is used here in its spiritual sense of salvation.


Romans 8:17 "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together."


1 Peter 2:20 "For what glory [is it], if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer [for it], ye take it patiently, this [is] acceptable with God."


2 Thessalonians 1:6 "Seeing [it is] a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;"


"It is a righteous thing" refers back to the righteous judgment of God cited in the previous verse.


"God to recompense": Just as the righteous judgment of God works to perfect believers (verse 5), so it works to "repay the wicked (verse 8). Vindication and retribution are to be exercised by God, not man, in matters of spiritual persecution (Deut. 32:35; Prov. 25:21-22; Rom. 12:19-21; 1 Thess. 5:15; Rev. 19:2). When God repays and how God repays are to be determined by Him.


If these people remain patient and in the faith even when they are being persecuted; the people doing the persecuting will be punished by God.


Romans 12:20 "Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head."


God fights our battles for us. Vengeance is His, not ours. We should be kind to our enemies, as well as our friends.


2 Thessalonians 1:7 "And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,"


Paul was a fellow sufferer for the just cause of Christ. He, like the Thessalonians, hoped for that ultimate rest and reward for their suffering for the kingdom that was to come when Christ returned to judge the ungodly. The Lord Jesus promised this twofold coming for rest and retribution (Matt. 13:40-43; 24:39-41; 25:31-33; Luke 21:27-28, 34-36; John 5:24-29).


"When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed": This undoubtedly refers to Christ being unveiled in His coming as Judge. The first aspect of this revealing occurs at the end of the 7 year tribulation period (Matt. 13-24-30, 36-43; 24:29-51; 25:31-46: Rev. 19:11-15).


The final and universal revelation of Christ as Judge occurs at the Great White Throne judgment following Christ's millennial reign on the earth (Rev. 20: 1215). Angels always accompany Christ in His coming for judgment (Matt. 13:41, 49; 24:3031; 25:31; Rev. 14:14-15).


"Rest" (Greek anesis, "release" or "relaxation"): It is appropriate since Paul is encouraging them to relax and wait for the Lord's return, at which time He will judge all those who afflict His people.


"With us": Paul again uses himself as an example. He too had suffered (1 Thess. 3:3-5). Their suffering only gives them something in common with the apostle.


"The Lord Jesus shall be revealed" (literally, "at the revelation of the Lord Jesus"): Second Thessalonians primarily concerns the revelation of Christ at His second coming (Matt. 24:29-31), as distinguished from the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-18). The failure to recognize this distinction led to some of the problems at Thessalonica.


There is a rest for the believers. Look, with me, at what Jesus had to say about this very thing.


Matthew 11:28 "Come unto me, all [ye] that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."


The rest for the Christian is in Jesus.


Hebrews 4:9 "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." There will be no sorrow in heaven. These mighty angels that are with Him are the ministering spirits to do His commands.


At one point, they are to put in the sickle and reap the earth at His command. The Christians, themselves, will be like the angels in heaven.


2 Thessalonians 1:8 "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:"


"In flaming fire": The manifestation of the Son of Man employs this same apocalyptic imagery (Dan. 7:13; Rev. 1:13-14). Paul employs "know" in a sense similar to the Hebrew cognate. In this context, it signifies being intimately acquainted with and standing in close relation to God. Thus, it means more than just knowing someone. Fire is a symbol of judgment. God is a consuming fire.


Hebrews 12:29 "For our God [is] a consuming fire."


So many times in the Bible, God is associated with fire. John the Baptist said, that he baptized with water, but Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Holy God cannot look upon sin, He will burn it up. We all know that the wheat will be gathered into the heavenly barn, and the tares will be burned. Look what Jesus said about this very thing.


Matthew 13:30 "Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."


There are only two choices a person can make. Following Jesus brings life eternal, but to reject Jesus brings eternal damnation.


Revelation 20:15 "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."


The question is, have you received Jesus Christ as your Savior and had your name written in the Lamb's book of life? If you have not (read Revelation 20:15), one more time.


"Taking vengeance": Literally these words mean "to give full punishment" (Deut. 32:35; Isa. 59:17; 66:15; Ezek. 25:14; Rom. 12:19).


"Know not God" (1 Thess. 4:5). This speaks to the lack of a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ (John 17:3; Gal. 4:8; Eph. 2:12; 4:17-18; Titus 1:16).


Retribution is not dealt out because of persecuting Christians, but rather because they did not obey God's command to believe (Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 1:5; 10:16; 15:18; 16:19). And call upon the name of the Lord to be saved from their sin (Rom. 10:9-13; 1 Cor. 16:22; Heb. 10:26-31).


Salvation is never obtained by works but always by placing one's faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-10).


2 Thessalonians 1:9 "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;"


"Everlasting destruction" is not annihilation. It is a conscious, continuous expulsion from the presence of God, that is, from the place of blessing (Isa. 2:11, 17; Rev. 9:6). Literally these words mean "to give full punishment".


Paul explained the duration and extent of what is elsewhere in Scripture called "hell." First, it is forever, thus it is not a reversible experience. Second, destruction means ruin and does not involve annihilation, but rather a new state of conscious being which is significantly worse that the first (Rev. 20:14-15).


This is described as the absence of God's presence and glory (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; Luke 16:24-26).


(1 Thessalonians 4:5), speaks to the lack of a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ (John 17:3; Gal. 4:8; Eph. 2:12; 4:17-18; Titus 1:16).


Retribution is not dealt out because of persecuting Christians, but rather because they did not obey God's command to believe (Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 1:5; 10:16; 15:18; 16:19). And call upon the name of the Lord to be saved from their sin (Rom 10:9-13; 1 Cor. 16:22; Heb. 10:26-31).


Salvation is never obtained by works but always by placing one's faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-10).


We see that the ones to be punished are all who do not accept Jesus as their Savior. This is the separation of the sheep and the goats in the book of Matthew. The followers of Christ, of course, are his sheep. The really sad thing is that even some who proclaim Christianity will not be acceptable as we read in the following verse.


Matthew 7:22-23 "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."


You see, just professing Christianity does not make you a Christian. We are Christians when we become new creatures in Christ. I will say one more time, there are only two choices. It is up to us where we spend all of eternity. We can choose Jesus and spend eternity in heaven with Him. The other choice is to reject Jesus and spend eternity in hell, totally separated from God.


Hell is not only a fire, but a terrible darkness. One of the torments of hell is the fact that the lost will not be able to see the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.


2 Thessalonians 1:10 "When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day."


"When he shall come": When the Day of the Lord arrives bringing retribution and ruin for unbelievers. As Christ's great glory is displayed the result will be rest and relief for believers and the privilege of sharing His glory (Phil. 3:21; 1 John 3:2).


This is the glorious manifestation of believers of which Paul spoke (Rom. 8:18-19). At the time, all believers will adore and worship Him, including those in the Thessalonian church who believed Paul's testimony of the gospel.


The punishment, spoken of in the previous verses, will happen when the things spoken (in verse 10 above), occur. Paul is saying, because his testimony was believed when he preached to them, they would grow in the Lord until He comes.


We know that the Lord is glorified in the saints, when they become so full of Him that the world looking on sees Jesus in them. This brings glory and honor to the Father and Jesus. We Christians in the day of the Lord, will be clothed in white linen washed in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will have taken on His righteousness.


We have been made acceptable in the Fathers sight through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. In my opinion, admired is not strong enough for the feeling we have. The feeling is great admiration and love for what Jesus did for us, but even more for who He is to us.


2 Thessalonians 1:11 "Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of [this] calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of [his] goodness, and the work of faith with power:"


"We pray always": Paul's prayer life is exemplified 4 times in this letter (verse 12, 2:16-17; 3:1-5, 16).


Here he prayed as he did (in verse 5), that they might behave in ways consistent with their identity as Christians (1 Thess. 2:19; Eph. 4:1; Col. 1:10). Living up to their calling to salvation (Romans 8:30; 11:29; Gal. 4:13-15; 1 Cor. 1:26; Col. 1:3-5; 1 Thess. 2:12), with lives marked by goodness and powerful works of faith.


For Christ to be glorified in us, we must grow in him to the extent that we will be a reflection of the Lord Jesus. Many are called, but few are chosen. Paul is not speaking just to the heads of the churches here, but to all who have been called of God to be Christians. Every Christian is a minister for Christ.


Paul prays that they will live the salvation they have received. It appears that Paul is trying to convey to them the necessity to walk uprightly before the Lord. The very life we live is a sermon to the world around us. We either draw people closer to God with our walk, or we drive them further away.


This prayer of Paul's is speaking of their walk, more than just a one-time conversion. The constant faith we have in Him causes us to turn our will over to His will. The power to minister comes from the Holy Spirit within us. Jesus told the disciples that they would receive power after the Holy Ghost had come upon them.


Look with me, at the power He gave them, and what it was to be used for. This is in the Words of Jesus.


Acts 1:8 "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."


2 Thessalonians 1:12 "That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."


The worthy walk (of verse 11), allows God to be glorified in us, the light of all purposes (2:14; 1 Cor. 10:31; 1 Peter 4:11).


This is said best (in Philippians 2):


Philippians 2:10 "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth;"


This shows great reverence for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. By grace are you saved. Salvation is for whosoever will. God loved us while we were yet in sin. He sent Jesus as our Savior. He must be made Lord of our life for the things we have been talking about to be. It is Christ in me, the hope of glory.


The name of our Lord Jesus Christ is glorified when we are Christian in the true sense of the word. Christians are followers of and believers in the Lord Jesus. We become Christ-like, if we make Him Lord of our lives.


2 Thessalonians Chapter 1 Questions


  1. Where was this letter probably written from?
  2. Who was the penman of this letter?
  3. What mistaken idea did these people in the church of Thessalonica have?
  4. What is this letter all about?
  5. What complimentary thing does Paul say to them in the first verse?
  6. What two good things did Paul have to say about them in verse 3?
  7. What possibly, could be wrong with what they are doing?
  8. What church did Paul use as an example for the other churches?
  9. Paul says they are counted worthy for ______ _____ of ________.
  10. What does "manifest" mean?
  11. Who will God bring tribulation on?
  12. Who does verse 7 say will be with Jesus at His return?
  13. Who will be like the angels?
  14. Who does He take vengeance on?
  15. Who is cast into the fire?
  16. Besides the torment of the fire, what terrible thing occurs?
  17. Jesus will be glorified in whom?
  18. What will the Christians be clothed in at that day?
  19. We should admire Jesus for what He did for us, but we should admire Him more for what?
  20. Paul prayed that God would count them worthy of their _______.
  21. Every _________ is a minister for Christ.
  22. What is Paul trying to convey to them?
  23. Where does the power to minister come from?



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2 Thessalonians 2



2 Thessalonians Chapter 2

2 Thessalonians 2:1 "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and [by] our gathering together unto him,"


"Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ": This is the fifth mention of Christ's coming in the Thessalonian letters (1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23). The aspect of His coming in view here is identified by the next phrase "our gathering together," which conveys the idea of all believers meeting together with the Lord Jesus. Obviously referring to the rapture of the church described (in 1 Thess. 4:13-18 and John 14:1-3).


See (Hebrews 10:25), for the only other use of this phrase in the New Testament. This was the event the Thessalonians were anticipating (1 Thess. 1:10; 3:13; 5:9).


"Our gathering together" is a reference to the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:17).


Paul, in this first verse, is recognizing the fact that these things are valid to believe. He is not telling them not to believe in these things. He is saying they might not be coming in just a few days. This was the stir in Thessalonica. They had decided that the second coming of Christ was to be immediately.


Paul says, I believe it too, but let us look clearer to when this shall take place. All Christians should believe in the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is coming for those who are looking for Him. Our "gathering together unto Him", is the same as the time when the trump of God blows in the sky, and we go to meet our Lord in the sky.


The silver trumpet of redemption (the trump of the gathering) will blow, and we shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye to an incorruptible being.


2 Thessalonians 2:2 "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."


"Shaken" (Greek saleuo), denotes great anxiety and pain. The Thessalonians were deeply troubled about this matter.


This term has been used of an earthquake (Acts 16:26), and a ship at anchor slipping its mooring in the midst of a heavy wind. Along with the word "disturbed," it describes the state of agitation and alarm that had griped the church. They were greatly distressed because they had expected the Rapture, the gathering together to the Lord, to take place before the Day of the Lord.


They had expected to be taken to glory and heavenly rest, not left to persecution and divine wrath. Paul must have taught them that they would miss the Day of the Lord (1 Thess. 5:2-5; Rev. 3:10). But they had become confused by the persecution they were experiencing, thinking they may have been in the Day of the Lord.


This error had been reinforced by some messages to them claiming that they were indeed in the Day of the Lord. Paul noted the source of these as "spirit," "message," and letter." A "spirit" would most likely refer to a false prophet claiming divine revelation as (in 1 John 4:1-3). A "message" would refer to a sermon or speech given, while a "letter" indicated a written report.


The powerful but harmful effect of this false information was gained by claiming it was from the Apostle Paul ("as if from us"). Whoever was telling them they were in the Day of the Lord, claimed that it came from Paul who heard it, preached it, and wrote it. Thus, their lie was given supposed apostolic sanction.


The result was shock, fear, and alarm. Obviously, they had expected the Rapture before the Day of the Lord. For if they had expected it after, they would have rejoiced because Christ's coming was to be soon. Apostolic authenticity in this letter which corrects the error was important and accounts for Paul's care to close the letter in his distinctive handwriting (3:7; Gal 6:11).


"As that the day of Christ is at hand" (literally "as though the day of Christ is present"): These people thought the day of the Lord had already begun.


The idea that the Day of the Lord had already come conflicted with what Paul had previously taught them about the Rapture. This error, which so upset the Thessalonians, is what Paul corrected (in verses 3-12). Where he showed that the day hadn't come and couldn't until certain realities were in place, most especially "the man of lawlessness" (verse 3).


This is the purpose of the letter. They had decided that His coming would be in the next few days or weeks, and they had been shaken in their spirit because of this. We do know that for each person there is no more than 100 years to wait. Because if they go the way of the grave, they die within 100 years.


This really is not speaking of that. This is the fact that they were expecting Him to come while they were alive, and were setting a time schedule on this. They were overly excited thinking the time was really soon. It is dangerous to set times.



Verses 3-4: "Falling away" (the apostasy): The Day of the Lord cannot occur until a deliberate abandonment of a formerly professed position, allegiance, or commitment occurs (the term was used to refer to military, political or religious rebellion). Some have suggested, on questionable linguistic evidence, that this refers to "departure" in the sense of the Rapture.


Context however, points to a religious defection, which is further described (in verse 4). The language indicates a specific event, not general apostasy which exists now and always will. Rather, Paul has in mind the apostasy. This is an event which is clearly and specifically identifiable and unique, the consummate act of rebellion, and event of final magnitude.


The key to identifying the event is to identify the main person, which Paul does, calling him the "man of lawlessness." Some texts have "man of sin," but there is no real difference in meaning since sin equals lawlessness (1 John 3:4). This is the one who is called "the prince who is to come" (Dan. 9:26), and "the little horn" (Dan. 7-8), who John calls "the beast" (Rev. 13:2-10, 18), and most known as the Antichrist.


The context and language clearly identify a real person in future times who actually does the things prophesied of him in Scripture. He is also called "the son of perdition" or destruction, a term used of Judas Iscariot (John 17:12). This "apostasy" is the abomination of desolation that takes place at the midpoint of the Tribulation, spoken of (in Dan. 9:27; 11:3 and Matt. 24:15).


This man is not Satan, although Satan is the force behind him (verse 9), and he has motives like the desires of the devil (14:13-14). Paul is referring to the very act of ultimate apostasy which reveals the final Antichrist and sets the course for the events that usher in the Day of the Lord.


Apparently, he will be seen as supportive of religion so that God and Christ will not appear as his enemies until the apostasy. He exalts himself and opposes God by moving into the temple, the place for worship of God, declaring himself to be God and demanding the worship of the world. In this act of satanic self-deification, he commits the great apostasy in defiance of God.


For the first 3-1/2 years of the Tribulation, he maintains relations with Israel, but halts those (Dan. 9:27); and for the last 3-1/2 years, there is a great tribulation under his reign (Dan. 7:25; 11:36-39; Matt. 24:15-21; Rev. 13:1-8), culminating with the Day of the Lord.


2 Thessalonians 2:3 "Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"


"Falling away" (Greek apostasia), is the great and final apostasy or repudiation of the Christian faith that will occur at the appearance of "the son of perdition (the Antichrist; 1 Tim. 5:1-5; 2 Tim. 3:1-5).


"Man of sin": (Some manuscripts read "man of lawlessness"): This is the beast out of the sea (Rev. 13:1), the little horn (Dan. 7:8), and the false Christ who will aim to rule the world (Rev. 13:15-17). This is the Antichrist.


The word "apostasy" means "a standing away from" in the sense of a falling away, withdrawal, or defection from the truth. It may be the result of persecution (Matt. 24:9-10), false teachers (Matt. 24:11), temptation (Luke 8:13), worldliness (2 Tim 4:4), inadequate knowledge of Christ (1 John 2:19), moral lapse (Heb. 6:4-6), forsaking spiritual living and worship (Heb. 10:25-31), or unbelief (Heb. 3:12).


While there are those in every generation who fall away, this will be a general condition prior to the revelation of the Antichrist. In classical Greek, the word apostasy was used of a revolt staged by a military commander.


This "apostasy", spoken of here, as a falling away from the church was not evident then, but is certainly going on today in the church. Before the coming of the Lord, there will be a great falling away from the church. The son of perdition here, is speaking of the devil spirit in the antichrist. This is speaking of the man of perdition bringing sin in the church.


Judas Iscariot was spoken of as son of perdition. This does not mean that it is Judas. It means someone who has sold out to Satan. He is totally controlled by Satan. The reason people will listen to, and follow this man of sin, is that he will do wonders. The Bible says he will even be able to call down fire from heaven.


You may read about this in the 13th chapter of Revelation. I personally believe this man of sin has already begun his nasty work.


2 Thessalonians 2:4 "Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."


"Sitteth in the temple of God" parallels the "abomination of desolation" (Matt. 24:15; Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). When the Antichrist desecrates the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, he will usurp worship for himself.


If he is not for Christ, he is antichrist. This has been the old devil's trick ever since Lucifer was thrown out of heaven. He wanted to be greater than God. He always appeals to the ego of man. His trick with Eve was telling her the fruit of the tree would make her wise like God. He lied then, and he has lied to the antichrist as well. He uses people vulnerable to believe his lies.


The antichrist is not satisfied with being opposed to Christ, but actually wants to sit in the place of God in the temple. He appears as an angel of light.


2 Corinthians 11:14 "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."


There are several opinions of where he will be seated; some believe in the temple in Jerusalem, others believe that he will take his place as the authority in the church of the Christians. Paul many times spoke of the believers in Christ as the temple of God. We do know that a Moslem temple presently sits over the location of the temple in Jerusalem.


One, or all of these things perhaps, will happen. It really does not matter. Our job is to be so full of the Word of God that we will not be deceived into believing the antichrist. It is a dangerous thing to want to be God.


2 Thessalonians 2:5 " Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?"


"I told you": The imperfect tense is used indicating repeated action in past time. Apparently, Paul on numerous occasions had taught them the details of God's future plans. Here he reminded them of the issues which proved the false teachers wrong about the Day of the Lord.


Paul had before told them that the revealing of the Antichrist preceded the Day of the Lord; since he has not yet been revealed, they could not possibly be in that Day.


Paul is reminding them that he had preached about these very things, when he was with them. It is a wonderful thing to be looking for the soon coming of the Lord, but it is a bad thing to let it trouble you. Paul is saying, shame on you for not realizing that God will see you through whatever situation you find yourself in, if you will put your trust in Him.



Verses 6-7: "Ye know what withholdeth" literally means "restrains," the same word translated "letteth" (in verse 7). The restrainer may be the Holy Spirit, who will restrain sin throughout the church age until "He be taken out of the way," that is until His restraining influence is removed. This will occur at the Rapture of the church.


2 Thessalonians 2:6 "And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time."


"Withholdeth": While the Thessalonians already had been taught and thus knew what was restraining the coming of the Antichrist, Paul does not say specifically in this letter; thus, many suggestions have been made to identify the restraining force (of verses 6-7).


These include:


(1) Human government;


(2) Preaching of the gospel;


(3) The binding of Satan;


(4) The providence of God;


(5) The Jewish state;


(6) The church;


(7) The Holy Spirit; and


(8) Michael.


Whatever now restrains the Antichrist (of verses 3-4, 8-10), from being revealed in the fullness of his apostasy and evil, must be more than human or even angelic power. The power that holds back Satan from bringing the final apostasy and unveiling of his Satan-possessed false Christ must be divinely supernatural.


It must be God's power in operation that holds back Satan, so that the man of sin, the son of destruction, won't be able to come until God permits it by removing the restraining power. The reason for the restraint was so that Antichrist would be revealed at God's appointed time and no sooner, just as was Christ (Gal. 4:4). Because God controls Satan.


God has a time schedule when all of these things will happen. The man of sin cannot appear and do these things, until the Lord gives him permission to go ahead. Satan cannot do anything without permission from God to do it. Satan is not in control, the Lord is. The antichrist will appear on the scene, when God gets ready for him to and not one minute earlier.


2 Thessalonians 2:7 "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [will let], until he be taken out of the way."


"The mystery of iniquity": This is the spirit of lawlessness already prevalent in society (1 John 3-4; 5:17). But still a mystery in that it is not fully revealed as it will be in the one who so blatantly opposes God that he blasphemously assumes the place of God on earth which God has reserved for Jesus Christ.


The spirit of such a man is already in operation (1 John 2:18; 4:30), but the man who fully embodies that spirit has not come.


"Taken out of the way": This refers not to spatial removal (therefore it could not be the rapture of the church), but rather "a stepping aside." The idea is "out of the way," not gone (Col. 2:14), where our sins are taken out of the way as a barrier to God.


This restraint will be in place until the Antichrist is revealed, at the midpoint of the Tribulation, leaving him 42 months to reign (Dan. 7:25; Rev. 13:5).


We know this to be true, because we know that the spirit of the devil entered into Judas Iscariot, and he betrayed Jesus. There has always been a battle going on with good and evil ever since the Garden of Eden. Man has a free will. He can follow Jesus, or he can follow Satan.


The antichrist would not have to be the antichrist, if he would follow Jesus. The antichrist has chosen to be an instrument of Satan. The flesh of mankind has always been opposed to the spirit of mankind. The temptations of the flesh are what cause mankind to sin. The free will of mankind chooses to follow the flesh, or the spirit.


Mystery is many times veiled around evil. We know that even Babylon is called, mystery Babylon. It is definitely a mystery why anyone would follow evil instead of good. The only answer to that is they have fallen for a deception. All who oppose Christ are antichrist, but there is a person who personifies this in the end time, and he is the antichrist.


When the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit as teacher and guide is removed, then the antichrist will bring lawlessness and sin like the world has never known. Even now this influence is working in the children of disobedience.


The presence of the Holy Spirit in this world to some extent restrains evil. Often this is accomplished through the presence of Christians who are the "salt of the earth" (Matt. 5:13). At the rapture, when the Christians are removed and the age of the Holy Spirit ceases, this restraining ministry will be "taken out of the way" during the Tribulation. Until that time, God will use the godly examples of Christians to restrain evil in the world.


2 Thessalonians 2:8 "And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:"


"Then shall that Wicked be revealed" (literally). "Then shall that lawless one be revealed": Paul argues that the day of the Lord simply does not begin until the restraint by the Holy Spirit is removed, and the Antichrist is revealed. Since none of this had occurred, the day of the Lord had not yet come.


At the divinely decreed moment in the middle of the Tribulation when God removes the divine restraint, Satan, who has been promoting the spirit of lawlessness (verse 7), is finally allowed to fulfill has desire to imitate God by indwelling a man who will perform his will as Jesus did God's. This also fits God's plan for the consummation of evil and the judgment of the Day of the Lord.


"The Lord shall consume": Death occurs at God's hand (Dan. 7:26; Rev. 17:11), and this man and his partner, the false prophet, will be cast alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone, where he will be eternally separated from God. (Rev. 1:20; 20:10).


"His coming": The aspect of His coming in view here is not the rapture of the church, but the Lord's coming in judgment on that day when He conquers the forces of Satan and sets up his millennial kingdom (Rev. 19: 11-21).


The workings of the evil one are in the world even now, but the teaching by the Holy Spirit of God is keeping him from having the influence he would over the people. When that wicked day comes, the antichrist will have great power. He will no longer be working in secret and in a subtle way.


"The Spirit of the Lord's mouth" is the Word of God. Truth does away with deception. The Word of God is Truth. His brightness is above all other brightness in the world. He is the source of all Light. His Light completely destroys darkness in the world.


Darkness cannot remain where the Light is. This Light reveals all. We have spoken over and over how evil is the darkness of this world. We also know that Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. When these two meet, Jesus' Light does away with all darkness.


2 Thessalonians Chapter 2 Questions


  1. What is Paul recognizing in verse 1?
  2. What was the stir in Thessalonica?
  3. What is meant by "gathering together unto Him"?
  4. What is the trump of gathering?
  5. What will the Christians who are alive be turned into at His coming?
  6. Be not soon shaken in ______, or be ____________, neither by _______, nor by ______, nor by ________ as from us.
  7. What is the purpose of this letter?
  8. That day shall not come, except there be a ________ away first.
  9. What is this "apostasy"?
  10. Who is the son of perdition?
  11. Where does this son of perdition bring the sin?
  12. Who was spoken of as son of perdition in one instance in the New Testament?
  13. Why will people listen to this man?
  14. What is one specific miracle he will do?
  15. How high does this man of sin exalt himself?
  16. Those who are not for Christ are ____________.
  17. The devil always appeals to the ______ of man.
  18. Where do we find the Scripture that says, Satan is transformed into an angel of light?
  19. What can we do to not be deceived by the antichrist?
  20. What did Paul remind them of in verse 5?
  21. Why can the man of sin not appear, when he wants to?
  22. The _____ of man has always been opposed to the ______ of man.
  23. What causes man to sin?
  24. We know that Babylon is called _________ Babylon.
  25. What is the restraining influence?
  26. What will happen when He is removed?
  27. How shall the Lord consume that wicked one?
  28. What is "the Spirit of the Lord's mouth"?
  29. Who is the source of all Light?
  30. Light does away with all __________.



2 Thessalonians Chapter 2 Continued

Verses 9-10: This "lawless one" will do mighty acts pointing to himself as supernaturally empowered. His whole operation will be deceptive, luring the world to worship him and be damned. The career of the coming lawless one is more fully described (in Rev. 13:1-18).


2 Thessalonians 2:9 "[Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,"


"After" (meaning "in accordance with").


"The working of Satan": The antichrist is so energized by satanic power that he can even counterfeit the signs of an apostle (2 Cor. 12:12).


In the last lesson, we talked about this man of sin who would come in the end of the age. We also saw, that even though he had great power, he was no match for the Lord. The Lord will consume him with the Spirit of His mouth which is the Word of God. He (the evil one), will be destroyed by the Light of the Lord.


You can easily see from the verse above that he had some power, but it is overcome by the power of the Lord. Many will be deceived, because they base their belief on signs and wonders. We should base our belief on the Word of God, and then we will not be deceived.


We learned in Exodus that the evil magicians could do some of the miracles that Moses did by the power of God, but they could not do all of them. We know then that their power is limited.


2 Thessalonians 2:10 "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."


"Them that perish": His influence is limited to deceiving the unsaved, who will believe his lies (Matt. 24:24; John 8:41-44). They perish in the deception because of Satan-imposed blindness to the truth of the saving gospel. (John 3:19-20; 2 Cor. 4:4).


(Greek apollumi), means "the lost" or "the perishing." These are lost because they did not receive (Greek dechomai), the gospel. Contrast this with the Thessalonian believers (in 1 Thess. 2:13).


We see from this, that some will believe this deception. Just as Eve was deceived in the garden, many will be deceived by this man of sin. Antichrist just means against Christ. The Truth in the Word of God will set you free.


Try the spirits, and see whether they be of God, or not. Any spirit that does not elevate Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is the anti-christ spirit.


2 Thessalonians 2:11 "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:"


"God shall send them strong delusion": shows that the judgment of God will already have fallen on them (see Matt. 13:10-17 for a similar instance).


People who prefer to love sin and lies rather than gospel truth will receive severe, divine recompense, as do all sinners. God Himself will send judgment that insures their fate in the form of a "deluding influence." So that they continue to believe what is false. They accept evil as good and a lie as the truth. Thus, does God use Satan and Antichrist as His instruments of judgment.


Since they are not interested in the Truth of God, they will fall for a lie. Temptation is always around us to sin and to believe a lie. The protection we have is the Truth of God. God sent the Truth to those who will accept Him. Those who rejected Him will be sent strong delusion as punishment.


2 Thessalonians 2:12 "That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."


"Damned": As God has always judged willful rejection by giving men over to impurity and degrading passions (Rom. 1:24-28). So in the last days, God will sovereignly seal the fate of those who persist in following Satan and his counterfeit Christ. As in all ages, those who habitually reject the truth are judged by being left to the consequences of their sin.


I have said over and over, we are a free agent. We can follow God and be saved, or we can follow Satan and be doomed to hell. There are only two kinds of people really, those who believe in Jesus Christ unto salvation, and those who do not believe who are damned to hell. The flesh life will lead a person into damnation. All unrighteousness is sin.


Those who practice sin are not of God, they are of their father the devil. When we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are made righteous in the sight of God. We are washed in the blood of the Lamb (Jesus), and put in right standing with God. Those who reject Jesus, remain in their unrighteousness.



Verses 13-14 "Salvation ... Sanctification": Just as there were specific elements in the character of the Antichrist (verses 10-12), so there are characteristics of the saved. In these two verses, Paul swept through the features of salvation, noting that believers are "beloved by the Lord," chosen for salvation from eternity past (Rev. 13:8; 17:8). Set apart from sin by the Spirit, and called to eternal glory, i.e., the sharing of the very "glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."


Paul's main point in this section was to remind the Thessalonians that there was no need to be agitated or troubled (verse 2), thinking they had missed the rapture and thus were in the Day of the Lord judgment. They were destined for glory, not judgment and would not be included with those deceived and judged in the Day.


2 Thessalonians 2:13 "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:"


"From the beginning" implies that from the start, the work of God was intended to bring them to salvation (i.e. glory, verse 14), rather than to judgment.


"Spirit and belief": Salvation can occur only as a work of the Holy Spirit and through the means of belief.


Paul is saying that God chose them for salvation from the foundation of the earth. This looks like predestination, but I believe Paul is speaking of the fact that God foreknew that they would believe. You see, they had to believe the Truth, before they were set aside for God's purposes (sanctified). Salvation is offered to whosoever will.


This is saying that God knew at the beginning, because He saw into the future those who would believe. Notice, in the verse above, Spirit is capitalized meaning that this was speaking of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit of God that leads us into all Truth. The Word is the Truth. The Holy Spirit teaches us the meaning of the Scriptures.


2 Thessalonians 2:14 "Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."


"By our gospel" (see Romans 10:17): Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."


Paul now explains that God sent the gospel by Paul to them.


1 Corinthians 1:21 "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."


Paul says, they were touched in their spirit at the bringing of the good news of the gospel by him and were saved. The glory of the cross, was for the Father and the Son, but was also for all who would believe. To believe makes us one with the Father and the Son. His inheritance is our inheritance.


1 Peter 1:3-5 "Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," "To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you," "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."


1 Peter 1:6 "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:"


We Christians, should greatly rejoice, knowing the wondrous provision He has made for us. While we are in this life, we will have temptations. They come to make us strong in the Lord. Every time we overcome a temptation, we grow a little bit. Job faced many temptations and never faltered at all.


When we are going through difficult times, we should read about Job and how he lasted through it all. Hold firm to the faith and great will be your rewards in heaven.


1 Timothy 6:12 "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."


Mark 13:13 "And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."


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


"Stand fast ... hold": This direct exhortation called for appropriate response to the great truths Paul had just written. In place of agitation should come strength and a firm stand. In place of false teaching should come faithful adherence to the truth.


"Traditions ... taught" refers to more than customs. In view here, is the totality of the apostolic doctrine as it was given to them.


Paul is encouraging them to stand fast in their faith. Paul had taught them the Truth in his sermons, and is also teaching them the Truth in the letters he writes to them. He explains to them that this teaching will be the only thing they should accept. They should not listen to every wind of doctrine that comes along.


Stay with their first love, and do not wander and they will remain steadfast in the Lord. Many people today are constantly looking for some new doctrine. That is a very dangerous thing to do. Stay with the pure Word of God. The daily study of the Bible is the best recommendation I can make for staying with the Truth.


Make sure the Bible you read is not watered down to tickle the ears of those who do not want to conform to God.



"Verses 16-17: "Now our": This is one of many benedictions Paul has given in his letters. In it, he invoked God's power based on His love and grace, as the true source of encouragement and strength (1:11-12; 3:5-16).


2 Thessalonians 2:16 "Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given [us] everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,"


Our consolation and hope lies in Jesus Christ our Lord. Consolation in the verse above means comfort. By grace are you saved, it is a gift. The hope of the resurrection is what comforts all of us. We are not like the world who have no hope. We are looking for that city whose maker is God.


The greatest love known to man is that the Father would give His Son for a world of lost sinners. This message is not just from Paul, but from the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself.


2 Thessalonians 2:17 "Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work."


Paul is saying, God will help us to the end. Stay with the Truth in the Word, and work to show thyself approved unto God a workman that needeth not to be ashamed. We work, not from obligation, but in Love and praise of our Father who first loved us. Be established, do not be wishy-washy.


2 Thessalonians Chapter 2 Continued Questions


  1. Why will so many be deceived by this man of sin?
  2. When will the man of sin appear?
  3. Who is more powerful than the man of sin?
  4. What will the Lord consume him with?
  5. The evil one will be destroyed by the ______ of the _______.
  6. What did we learn in Exodus about the evil magicians?
  7. Eve was ________ in the garden of Eden.
  8. Try the spirits, and see whether they be of ____, or not.
  9. Any spirit that does not elevate Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is of the _____________.
  10. The ______ in the Word of God will set you free.
  11. Who sends them strong delusion?
  12. What happens to those who do not believe the Truth?
  13. Who chooses whether we go to heaven or hell?
  14. All unrighteousness is ___.
  15. When are we made righteous in the sight of God?
  16. When had God chosen them unto salvation?
  17. What does "sanctified" mean?
  18. The ______ ________ leads us into all Truth.
  19. It pleased God by the foolishness of ________ to save them who believe.
  20. Who was the glory of the cross for?
  21. While we are in this life, we will have ______________.
  22. Why do we have temptations or trials?
  23. Who faced many temptations and held strong?
  24. What two ways had Paul taught them?
  25. How should you choose a Bible to read?
  26. Where does the Christian's consolation and hope lie?
  27. What is the greatest love known to man?
  28. We work not for obligation, but in ______ and ________ of our Father.



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2 Thessalonians 3



2 Thessalonians Chapter 3

2 Thessalonians 3:1 "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have [free] course, and be glorified, even as [it is] with you:"


"Pray for us": Paul frequently enlisted prayer support from the churches for his ministry (Rom. 15:30-32; Eph. 6:18-19; Col. 4:2-3; 1 Thess. 5:25; Philemon 22). In particular, he asked them to pray that the word of God would continue to spread rapidly as it had been already (Acts 6:7; 12:24; 13:44-49), and be received with the honor it deserved.


Paul had given them instruction in the last lesson to stay steadfast in the Word of God. He knew they had been taught the Truth of the gospel, and he was reminding them to stay close to what they had learned from him.


Paul is very pleased with this church, and the way they had conducted themselves. Now he feels that he should praise them for their steadfastness on the course he had set them. He was pleased with the results he had seen from them.


His request for them to pray for the Word of God to be spoken freely from him, was not just a statement, but showed that he had great confidence in them. We have said so many times, the power in this world is the Word of God. It matters not whether it is spoken or written.


Paul wants to be able to continue to bring the same Truth that he had brought here at Thessalonica, to all the places God would send him. His prayer was that the Word of God would be freely given by him everywhere he went, and that the people hearing would accept it.


The unselfishness of Paul is seen in that Paul includes them in the success of his mission by asking them to pray for the success of the mission.


The presence of the Holy Spirit in this world to some extent restrains evil. Often this is accomplished through the presence of Christians who are the "salt of the earth" (Matt. 5:13). At the rapture, when the Christians are removed and the age of the Holy Spirit ceases, this restraining ministry will be "taken out of the way" during the Great Tribulation. Until that time, God will use the godly examples of Christians to restrain evil in the world.



Verses 2-3: "For all men have not faith. But the Lord is faithful": The unfaithfulness of men provides a contrast to the faithfulness of God, a favorite topic of Paul's (1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Thess. 5:24; 2 Tim. 2:13). "Keep" means "guard." "Evil" or "evil one": The reference is to Satan.


2 Thessalonians 3:2 "And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all [men] have not faith."


"Unreasonable and wicked men": These were Paul's enemies at Corinth, where he ministered when he wrote (Acts 18:9-17). Who were perverse and aggressively unrighteous in their opposition of him and the gospel.


Paul had certainly met with his share of unreasonable men. This is a gross understatement, to say that all men have not the faith. Even today, many men do not have the faith. It was even more so in Paul's day. Christianity was new. Many of the people where Paul had gone worshipped idols. His greatest persecution came from the Jews, however.


Paul had been persecuted from every side. He was weary of the persecution, and prayed that he would be delivered from that in the future. This would not be for Paul, however. He had a high calling of God. Look what Jesus said in the next Scripture.


Acts 9:16 "For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my Name's sake."


Paul was called to a ministry of suffering. These unreasonable and wicked men are men who will not listen to, or accept the Truth. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Those who reject faith in Jesus are doomed. Paul is not afraid for himself, but for the others with him, and for these in Thessalonica.


2 Thessalonians 3:3 "But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep [you] from evil."


"The Lord is faithful": Lam. 3:23. God is faithful regarding creation (Psalm 119:90), His promises (Deut. 7:9; 1 Cor. 1:18; Heb. 10:23), salvation (1 Thess. 5:4), temptation (1 Cor. 10:13); suffering (1 Peter 4:19), and here faithful to strengthen and protect from Satan (John 17:15; Eph. 6:16; 1 Thess. 3:5).


We see a sudden change from his welfare to that of these Thessalonians. He is saying, put your faith in God, and He will protect you. Even in the Lord's Prayer, it says deliver us from evil.


Temptation comes through the flesh of man. As long as man is in the flesh, there will be temptation to sin. You must allow the spirit within you to overcome your flesh. If we allow the Spirit of Christ within us to be our Lord and guide us in everything, that Spirit will overcome the flesh and keep us from evil.


2 Thessalonians 3:4 "And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you."


Paul was confident that they had turned their will over to the will of God. If Jesus Christ is Lord of your life, He makes your decisions, and you will do the will of God instead of your own will.


To make Jesus your Lord, means that He is in total control of your life.


2 Thessalonians 3:5 "And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ."


Another of Paul's benedictions (verse 16; 2:16-17), so common in his letters.


Let Jesus Christ your Lord fill you so full of His love that you will know you are His. You are what your heart is. If Jesus has filled your heart, you are a Christian, Christ-like. It is difficult to wait patiently for the coming of Christ. These Thessalonians had expected Jesus back immediately. Paul is telling them to not be anxious, but to wait patiently for His return.


2 Thessalonians 3:6 "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us."


"Command", used above (in verse 4), is a very strong, authoritative term. Since it is buttressed by an appeal to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, one cannot miss the seriousness of the apostle here.


Paul's directions were not mere suggestions but rather they carried the weight and authority of a judge's court order which the apostle delivered and enforced (verses 4, 6, 10, 12). Here, he required separation so that obedient Christians were not to fellowship with habitually disobedient believers. This is further explained (in verse 14).


"Withdraw" literally means "dissociate." This is the only time this term is used in the New Testament to mean church censure.


"Walketh disorderly" indicates a pattern of life not in conformity to the Word of God.


"The tradition": There were false traditions (Mark 7:2-3; Col. 2:8), and true (2:15). Paul's traditions were the inspired teachings he had given.


Paul had taught of the second coming of Christ. Their error had come in expecting His return to be immediately. Paul is not asking them, but commanding them to not fall into false doctrine. Brethren indicate that this was for all the believers in the church, not just the officials.


The "disorderly" here, would be those who do not follow the teachings Paul established there. Traditional teachings are those that were originally established in the church by Paul. One person walking disorderly can cause a great confusion in the church. It is best to remove yourself from any influence of the disorderly, so that you will not become disorderly yourself.


2 Thessalonians 3:7 "For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;"


"Follow us": Paul called for them to imitate him (verse 9, 1 Thess. 1:6), because he imitated Christ's example (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Eph. 5:1).


Paul had lived uprightly before them, and his life had been as much a testimony as his words to them. He had set an example for them to follow. He says, you already know the example we set without us telling you. The "us" here, probably includes Timothy and Silas.



Verses 8-10: The specific issue related to working diligently to earn one's living. Though Paul had the "right" as an apostle to receive support, he chose rather to earn his own living to stay an example (1 Cor. 9:3-14; Gal. 6:4; 1 Thess. 5:17-18).


2 Thessalonians 3:8 "Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labor and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:"


It seems many of these people were expecting the Lord back so quickly, that they had quit their jobs and were just sitting around waiting for the return of the Lord. We are instructed in the Word of God over and over to be doing the work of the Lord even up until the hour that he comes. Paul reminds them that he worked and made his own living while he ministered to them.


Paul did not want to be obligated to any of them, so he made a living making tents. Paul did this not so that he could brag about it, but so that he could stay away from the influence of obligation. The job of ministering is a full-time job by itself, and is very hard labor. It is a labor of love, but it is still very tiring.


Paul went even further for this congregation, in that he required nothing in return for his labor. He wanted to show them the love that he had for them.


2 Thessalonians 3:9 "Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an example unto you to follow us."


Paul is saying here, that it was within his power to expect them to pay him for his work. He did not require it, because he wanted to set a good example for them. He was teaching that we should never be weary in well doing. Paul worked for them to see that it is important to be working for God. He set the example.


2 Thessalonians Chapter 3 Questions


  1. Why did Paul ask them to pray for them?
  2. Paul gave them instruction to be steadfast in the ______ of ____.
  3. What could Paul praise them for?
  4. What is the power in this world?
  5. When Paul includes them by asking them to pray, this shows Paul has great __________ in them.
  6. Who did Paul pray to be delivered from?
  7. Many of the places that Paul had gone, the people worshipped _____.
  8. What was Paul's high calling?
  9. Without ______, it is impossible to please God.
  10. Who is Paul afraid of?
  11. Paul says, put your faith in God and He will _______ you.
  12. Temptation comes through the _______ of man.
  13. You must allow the ______ within you to overcome the _______.
  14. What were these Thessalonians to do?
  15. What does it mean to make Jesus Lord of your life?
  16. In verse 5, the Lord directs them into _________ waiting for the Lord.
  17. Paul commanded them in whose name?
  18. Who were they to withdraw themselves from?
  19. Who are the "disorderly" in verse 6?
  20. Who was this message for?
  21. Why must you remove yourself from the disorderly?
  22. Why should they pattern their life after Paul's life?
  23. Who is the "us" in verse 7?
  24. What drastic thing had these people done, because they felt the Lord was coming any minute?
  25. How did Paul make a living?
  26. Why did he not accept a salary from them?
  27. Could Paul have required them to pay him, if he had desired?



2 Thessalonians Chapter 3 Continued

Verses 10-12: Paul expounds his simple and straightforward work ethic: If a person will not work, he should not eat! The Thessalonians' diversion encouraged their meddlesome ways, demonstrating that "idle hands are the Devil's workshop."


2 Thessalonians 3:10 "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat."


As we said in the last lesson, these Thessalonians were sitting around doing nothing expecting the soon coming of the Lord. From this Scripture above, we can assume that they expected to be fed by the church, while they waited for the return of the Lord.


Many times, in our lifetime, people have decided on a date that the Lord was coming back. Many of them had stopped productive lives and just stayed at the church until the day came. Just as it was in the days of these Thessalonians, the day came and went by without the return of the Lord.


I am not criticizing these people, because I would have to point to myself first. I believe the coming of the Lord is very near. This however, does not stop me from writing the Bible studies. I will work until Jesus comes, or until I am physically unable to work. Each person must fulfill the task that God has for him to do.


We are all part of a great big puzzle. For the puzzle to be completed, we must take our place in the framework of God's plan. It is not fair to the ones who are working to feed those able bodied who are unwilling to work.



Verses 11-12: "We hear": Word had come that, in spite of Paul teaching them to work and writing to them about it (1 Thess. 4:11), some were still not willing to work (1 Tim. 5:13). These were commanded to settle down and begin an ordered life of work.


2 Thessalonians 3:11 "For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies."


God gave work to mankind to help man not to hurt him. Life would not be worth living, if there were not something constructive for us to do with our time. If you stay real busy, there is no time to talk about others, or to create a problem. The following Scripture lets us know what will happen, if we are not busy.


1 Timothy 5:13 "And withal they learn [to be] idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not."


Too much idle time gives a person plenty of time to get into trouble.


2 Thessalonians 3:12 "Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread."


God is not pleased with those who sit around and do nothing. It is not fair to expect someone else to work and feed you the bread that they have earned. Even worse than that, is what it does to the idle person. They lose their self-esteem.


I have always said, it is better to give someone an opportunity, than it is to give them a hand-out. The person receiving the charity loses his self-respect. The following Scripture says it the best.


1 Thessalonians 4:11 "And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;"


There is no sweeter meal than the meal you earned by the sweat of your own brow. I really believe that everyone needs to be needed. We all need to do our share of the work to feel good about ourselves. Paul's word to those who are not working is to go back to work.


2 Thessalonians 3:13 "But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing."


"Be not weary": The hard working believers were tired of having to support the lazy, and were ready to stop all help to those in need, giving up all charity. Paul reminded them that the truly needy still required help and that the Thessalonians must not be negligent toward them.


Let us look at some related Scriptures on this.


Romans 2:7 "To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life:"


1 Corinthians 15:58 " Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."


We know that God set the world up with 6 days of work and one day of rest per week. Work for the night is coming when man's work is done.


The parable about the talents is about working for God. God is not pleased when we do not use the talent He has given us for Him. The greatest reward that any of us can have when we get to heaven is to hear the Lord say, well done, thy good and faithful servant.



Verses 14-15: This instruction falls short of excommunication. Paul intends his readers to shame the brother, who is not an enemy, into obedience.


2 Thessalonians 3:14 "And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed."


"Have no company with him": This means to "mix it up" in the sense of social interaction. Blatantly disobedient Christians were to be disfellowshipped (verse 6), to produce shame and, hopefully, repentance if they refused to obey the Word of God. (See Matthew 18:15; 1 Cor. 5:9-13; Gal. 6:1), for additional details on how to deal with those engaged in unrepentant and repeated sin.


Those who do not follow the teachings that Paul has brought to them are rebellious. They do not accept instruction.


These are people who proclaim Christianity, but do not recognize Paul's authority in the church. They are classed as troublemakers and are to be treated as if they are not one of the group, until they change their ways. The other Christians are not to fellowship with him. This seems cruel, but it might bring him to his senses.


2 Thessalonians 3:15 "Yet count [him] not as an enemy, but admonish [him] as a brother."


"Enemy ... brother": The purpose of this disfellowship discipline is not final rejection. While an unrepentant pattern of sin is to be dealt with decisively, it is to be continually kept in mind that the one with whom one deals is a brother in the Lord. So all further warnings to him about his sin are done with a brotherly attitude. For instruction on the manner of church discipline (see Matthew 18:15-20).


This means that they should tell him of his error and give him a chance to change. It is not that he has turned his back on God, but that he has rebelled against the teaching of Paul.


2 Thessalonians 3:16 "Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord [be] with you all."


The Lord of Peace and the God of Peace are the same. This is speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ. The only peace that any of us have is the peace that we have within.


Paul knew this characteristic of God would be most meaningful to reflect upon considering the intense spiritual battle that raged all around the Thessalonians (1:2; 1 Thess. 1:1; 5:23). Paul's other benedictions to this church (in verse 5, 2:16-17; 1 Thess. 3:11-13; 5:23).


This peace is in our life, when the Lord Jesus Christ takes up residence in us and brings the peace that passes understanding. In this world, there is no peace, except the peace that Jesus brings us. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is our Peace.


Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."


Faith and fear are opposites. Peace is like faith. If Jesus is Peace, and if Jesus lives in us, then we have peace in our life.


2 Thessalonians 3:17 "The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write."


"Salutation of Paul": Paul's seal in his own handwriting indicates the authenticity of this letter. This was necessary, since apparently, some forged documents claiming to be from his pen were circulating (2:2). Paul makes clear how they can identify his genuine writings.


Paul often wrote through a secretary (Rom. 16:22). When that was the case, as most likely with this letter, Paul added an identifying signature (1 Cor. 16:21; Col. 4:18), so that readers could be sure he was truly the author.


We know by the verse above that Paul, himself, wrote this letter to the Thessalonians. We have spoken before about an epistle being a special letter of instruction that Paul had written. Paul sometimes had someone else to write the letters that he dictated. It seems in this particular letter, that was not the case.


2 Thessalonians 3:18 "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with you all. Amen."


This is a typical closing of Paul's letter. Even though he used this very much, it was not just automatic. Paul really did desire that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ would be with them. Notice, that Paul did not exclude those who thought the Lord would be back now. He blessed them all.


2 Thessalonians Chapter 3 Continued Questions


  1. If any would not _______, neither should he ____.
  2. Why is this Scripture so important to these people?
  3. Why is it wrong to pick out a day, and sit down and do nothing waiting for that day?
  4. We must all _______ the job that God has for us to do.
  5. They are not working at all, but are ____________.
  6. God made us to work while we are on this earth, who does that benefit the most?
  7. In verse 12, Paul sends this message with what authority?
  8. What did he instruct them to do in verse 12?
  9. Who does it hurt the worst when someone is idle?
  10. Be not weary in ______ ______.
  11. Which of the parables teach us that God expects us to work?
  12. Verse 14 tells us to have ______ ________ with someone who will not work.
  13. What could you call this type person?
  14. What does "admonish him as a brother" mean?
  15. Who is the same as the Lord of Peace?
  16. How do we know that Paul personally wrote this letter?
  17. What benediction did Paul write at the end of this letter?



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