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2 Thessalonians Bible Study

Tod Kennedy, February 17, 2010

Introduction to 2 Thessalonians

  1. Read the introductory notes for 1 Thessalonians for more detail.
  2. Paul spent 18 months in Corinth after serving in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens (Acts 16-18). Silas and Timthy were with him during parts of these ministries. According to Acts 18:5 Silas and Timothy were with Paul in Corinth. Furthermore, Paul, Silas, and Timothy are in the greeting of both 1 and 2 Thessalonians.
  3. Paul sent Timothy to Thessalonica from Athens to find out how the Thessalonians were doing. Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians from Corinth in response to Timothy’s report about the Thessalonians’ strong faith and ministry even though they were under much opposition (1 Thessalonians 3:1-8).
  4. Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians in response to questions that had surfaced about the Lord’s comings which he had written about in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5. The contents of 2 Thessalonian indicate that it followed soon after 1 Thessalonians so it was probably also written from Corinth. Remember, Paul stayed 18 months in Corinth according to Acts 18:11. After Corinth Paul made a short stop in Ephesus and then finished that missionary trip in Caesarea (Acts 18:18-22).

Theme of 2 Thessalonians

Though the Thessalonian believers were under severe persecution, this was not the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord will be marked by the emergence of the man of lawlessness. He will oppose God and delude the world into following him instead of God. Meanwhile the Thessalonians are to continue to stand firm in the faith, live a testimony to the faith, and not grow weary of doing good.

Summary of 2 Thessalonians

Paul commended these believers for their growing and strong faith in God and love toward believers, all the while living under severe persecution because of their faith. But Paul also corrected some misunderstandings about the return of the Lord in glory and judgment—the Day of the Lord. He reminded them that the Lord would not come before the man of lawlessness set himself up as God in the temple. This man will operate according to Satan’s power, signs, and false wonders, and many will be deluded by him. Believers were chosen for deliverance from this. Paul challenged the believers to stand firm, and to hold to what they have been taught. Paul concluded with a request for prayer, with a reminder that the Lord is faithful, and that they not associate with those believers who are unruly, undisciplined, not working, and busybodies. Paul told them “do not grow weary of doing good.”

Chapter Titles of 2 Thessalonians

  1. Chapter 1, Spiritual growth and undeserved suffering
  2. Chapter 2, The Day of the Lord and the man of sin
  3. Chapter 3, The undisciplined believer

2 Thessalonians, Chapter 1

Some main points or biblical principles and applications to emphasize

  1. Paul thanked God that the Thessalonian believers were strong in the faith and in love all the while facing severe persecution because of their faith in Jesus Christ and God the Father and the application of their faith (chapter 1).
    • What do I thank God for about other believers? Am I strong in the faith and love even when circumstances are very difficult?
  2. Jesus Christ will come to earth openly and in flaming glory, and He will bring His saints-believers with Him to earth, and judge those who do not know God (chapter 1).
    • Am I convinced that Jesus will return in glory and judgment? Do I look forward to this event?
  3. Paul prayed God would work in them and consider them worthy of their calling so that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified (chapter 1).
    • When we pray for other believers, what do we pray about for them? Do we mainly pray for details of life or do we honestly pray that God would work in them for their spiritual growth, and that they will live worthy of their high calling, and God will powerfully work goodness and faithful works in them?
  4. They should not fear that the Day of the Lord has already come—it has not. First, a great departure will happen, and then the man of lawlessness will be revealed. He is directed and controlled by Satan. He will bring evil destruction, false signs, and deceive unbelievers (chapter 2).
    • What is my understanding of world events and how they fit into God’s plan? Do I know what is coming and am I secure in my faith no matter what is going on in the world?
  5. The mystery of lawlessness is working right now in our time. This is the explanation for the evil plans (the unbiblical worldview) being pushed by unbelievers in government, education, morality, and science.
    • Do I recognize what is going on? Can I deal with it in my life, in my family’s life, in the church at large, in the media, in medicine, and in recreation?
  6. God has chosen the Thessalonian believers to be first fruits or first ones in the area for salvation through sanctification by the Holy Spirit and faith in the truth. The Holy Spirit convinced them and when they believed the gospel the Holy Spirit regenerated them. They are secure. They will not face the Day of the Lord wrath (chapter 2).
    • Why am I secure in my eternal life package? Do I know that my salvation and security are God’s work? Do I rest in that? How does the helmet of salvation relate to this?
  7. Believers are told to stand firm in the faith and hold onto the biblical doctrine they have been taught (chapter 2).
    • What is necessary for me to stand firm in the faith and hold to the biblical doctrine? For one thing I need to have God’s word in my thinking. This comes by listening to God’s word and thinking about it and believing it. Furthermore, I need to be convinced about the authority of the Bible and the character of God. I learn; I consider and accept as true; I apply what I know. Romans 6 and James 1 and other passages talk about this.
  8. This letter emphasizes God’s love, comfort, hope, and strength for believers (chapters 1, 2, 3).
    • Do I emphasize these truths in my life? Do I know that God loves me? How do I experience His comfort? What do I hope for? Do I really sense God’s strength working in me?
  9. We all face evil men and attacks from the evil one—Satan or his followers.  No matter what, the Lord is faithful to His own people (chapter 3).
    • Do I give up at those times? Do I get mad at God? Do I thank God for His protection and ability to succeed when under attack? Where do I go for knowledge of what to do, comfort, and strength?
  10. We are to pray for each other, live an ordered and disciplined life, work our jobs, and not grow weary of doing good (chapter 3).
    • This seems to be an impossible task at times. How do I do it? Where does the motivation, energy, and endurance come from for me? Am I willing to make changes in my life in order to apply these standards?
  11. We are to admonish and not associate with the unruly, undisciplined, and busybody believer—in order to recover him. He is a brother in the Lord (chapter 3).
    • What believers does Paul have in mind? Those who do not know better or those who know better and ignore the right way to live? How do I continue to be gracious and helpful in the recovery to fellowship of another believer? What is necessary? What Scripture addresses this? Am I willing do as 2 Thessalonians says?

Exposition of 2 Thessalonians 1

Comparison of 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians teaching about Jesus’ second coming. This chart is adapted from Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Ready, p. 131 by Tom Constable, Tom Constable's Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003; 2003). 2 Thessalonians 1:6.

2 Thessalonians 4

  1. Christ returns in the air.

  2. He comes secretly for the church.

  3. Believers escape the Tribulation.

  4. The Rapture occurs at an undisclosed time.

2 Thessalonians 1

  1. Christ returns to the earth.

  2. He comes openly with the church.

  3. Unbelievers experience tribulation and judgment.

  4. The Second Coming occurs at the end of the Tribulation in the Day of the Lord.

2 Thessalonians 1 Outline

  1. Verses 1-2. Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy’s greeting to the Thessalonians (1:1-2).
  2. Verses 3-4. They repeatedly thank God and tell others about the Thessalonians’ faith, love, and endurance (1:3-4).
  3. Verses 5-10. Endurance and faith while suffering at the hands of unbelievers demonstrates God’s righteousness judgment by preparing them for future blessing while also showing that His future judgment of unbelievers will be a righteous judgment (1:5-10).
  4. Verses 11-12. Paul consistently prays that God will consider them worthy, will complete their desire for service so that the Lord Jesus will be glorified according to God’s grace.

2 Thessalonians 1 Exposition

  1. 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2. Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy’s greeting to the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 1:1-2).
    • Doctrines: church; positional truth; grace; peace.
  2. 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4. Paul and his team repeatedly thank God and tell others about the Thessalonians’ faith, love, and endurance (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4). It is possible to live victorious Christian lives even while suffering at the hands of unbelievers. The Thessalonian believers demonstrated this is possible.
    • Doctrines: prayer; thanksgiving to God; growing faith; growing Christian love. See the disciples’ prayer for an illustration of prayer by those in God’s service. This is the age of Israel pattern. See the Lord’s Prayer in John 17 for how He prayed for those serving with the spiritual battle in mind. This is the church age pattern.
  3. 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10. Endurance and faith while suffering at the hands of unbelievers demonstrates God’s righteousness judgment by preparing them for future blessing while also showing that His future judgment of unbelievers will be a righteous judgment. The roles will be reversed.
  4. 2 Thessalonians 1: 5. Their faith and endurance during suffering demonstrates that they will be worthy of God’s kingdom. God will remember those who remain faithful to Him. The witness about successful endurance under suffering spreads to others and encourages them to continue to be faithful to God. Consider verse 3 with verses 4-5 and 1 Corinthians 13:3. God’s love is alive and well in these believers and their suffering profits them.
  5. 2 Thessalonians 1:6. God will repay the persecutors. What happens to those who persist in unbelief and who also persist in harassing believers? God will judge them. His judgment will be just. This judgment will happen when Jesus Christ comes to earth at the beginning of His kingdom.
  6. 2 Thessalonians 1:7. God will give relief to the faithful believers when Jesus returns from heaven at His second coming to earth. At that time living tribulation believers will enter the earthly kingdom. Resurrected believers will join in the return to earth. This will be relief.
  7. 2 Thessalonians 1:7. The Lord Jesus will return in flaming fire. This is the second advent of Jesus to earth. Matthew 24:27-30 and Revelation 19:11-21 reveal more information about this event.
  8. 2 Thessalonians 1:8. Jesus will judge unbelievers. Retribution (ekdikesis) means punishment that is a pay back for something. These people not only persecuted believers; they also do not know God—they are unbelievers possibly indicating their pagan ideas (Romans 1:18-32). The second identification (did not obey the gospel) indicates that these had a clear opportunity to trust Jesus Christ and they refused (John 3:36).
  9. 2 Thessalonians 1:9. The judgment of both groups will be eternal ruin (ὄλεθρον αἰώνιον, olethron aionion). This ruin goes on forever. This judgment is further explained as separation from the personal presence of the Lord (Jesus) and from the glory or greatness of His might and power. These people will be separated forever from the personal presence of the Lord and His greatness. This is probably the worst part of eternity for the unbeliever.
  10. 2 Thessalonians 1:10. This destruction or ruin begins when Christ returns to earth with believers. Faith in Paul’s testimony will result in glory to Christ and amazement when Christ returns. Those marveling will be believers. Many of them will be the result of Paul’s ministry.
    • Doctrines: suffering of believers; God’s judgment; kingdom of God; God’s retribution on unbelievers; second coming of Christ to earth; heaven; results of unbelief in Jesus Christ; eternal destruction is separation from the Lord; glorification of Jesus Christ when He returns to earth; faith in God’s word.
  11. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12. Paul consistently prays that God will consider them worthy and will complete their desire for service so that the Lord Jesus will be glorified according to God’s grace.
    • Note the three parts of the prayer.
      • God will consider them worthy of their position in Christ (calling).
      • God will powerfully complete their desire for goodness and the work that comes from their faith.
      • Through the answer of these requests the Lord Jesus will be glorified in them (through their lives and ministries) and they will be glorified in the Lord Jesus (their identification with Christ and therefore sharing in His glory).
    • Prayer is answered and desire is accomplished because of grace—because of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son working supernaturally in the lives of believers. Note also, the unity of the Father and the Son.
      • Doctrines: consistent prayer; prayer for honor and service; goal of prayer—glorify Jesus Christ and honor for believers; grace.
  12. Some main points taught in 2 Thessalonians 1
    • Pray for those under your ministry—thanksgiving and requests. These could be the church congregation, those in an outreach Bible class, children in your home or family, friends and neighbors, people at your work, those who read or benefit from your projects, and many others.
    • Growing faith and love bring pleasure to God and to spiritual leaders. This also becomes an opportunity for further ministry and encouragement of others.
    • Beginning at Christ’s second coming to earth God will judge those who persecute believers, pagans, and those who reject the gospel when they are exposed to it. We rub shoulders with these people every day. Persecution of a believer will result in judgment. A word of gospel witness rejected will result in judgment. Pagan ideas promoted result in judgment.
    • When Christ returns He will receive great glory, and some of this results from our ministry and the positive response to it.
    • The judgment of unbelievers will be forever separation from the presence of the Lord and from His glory.
    • We learn of three prayer requests:​
      • Pray to be worthy of position in Christ.
      • Pray that God will powerfully complete our desires for service.
      • The name of Jesus Christ will be glorified.
  13. Some observations from chapter 1
    • Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, 2 Thessalonians 1:1.
    • Thessalonian church, 2 Thessalonians 1:1.
    • In the Father and in Christ, 2 Thessalonians 1:1.
    • Grace and peace, 2 Thessalonians 1:2.
    • From the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,2 Thessalonians 1: 2.
    • Giving thanks is fitting, 2 Thessalonians 1:3.
    • The Thessalonians faith has grown, 2 Thessalonians 1:3.
    • The Thessalonians love toward each other grows, 2 Thessalonians 1:3.
    • Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy speak proudly of the Thessalonians to other churches, 2 Thessalonians 1:4.
    • The Thessalonians endure persecutions and afflictions, 2 Thessalonians 1:4.
    • They maintain perseverance and faith, 2 Thessalonians 1:5.
    • The Thessalonians’ persecution and afflictions so that God’s future judgment of the persecutors is righteous, 2 Thessalonians 1:5.
    • They suffered for God’s kingdom, 2 Thessalonians 1:5.
    • Believers are considered worth of God’s kingdom by faithful suffering, 2 Thessalonians 1:5.
    • God is just to repay with affliction those who afflict the Thessalonian believers, 2 Thessalonians 1:6.
    • God is just to give relief to afflicted believers, 2 Thessalonians 1:7.
    • God is just to give relief to Paul and his team, 2 Thessalonians 1:7.
    • This relief will come when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 2 Thessalonians 1:7.
    • Jesus will come from heaven, 2 Thessalonians 1:7.
    • Jesus’ mighty angels will come with Him, 2 Thessalonians 1:7.
    • Jesus will be revealed in flaming fire, 2 Thessalonians 1:7.
    • When Jesus comes He will deal out retribution, 2 Thessalonians 1:8.
    • The retribution will be against those who do not know God and those who do not obey the gospel, 2 Thessalonians 1:8.
    • The gospel is about our Lord Jesus, 2 Thessalonians 1:8.
    • Paul was in relationship (our) with the Lord Jesus, 2 Thessalonians 1:8.
    • Unbelievers who persecuted the Thessalonian believers will face eternal destruction, 2 Thessalonians 1:9.
    • Eternal destruction means separation from the presence and glory of the Lord, 2 Thessalonians 1:9.
    • This happens when Jesus comes to be gloried in His saints, 2 Thessalonians 1:10.
    • When He comes He will also be marveled at among believers, 2 Thessalonians 1:10.
    • The Thessalonians believed Paul’s testimony, 2 Thessalonians 1:10.
    • Paul and his team pray for the Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 1:11.
    • They pray that our God will consider them worthy of their calling, 2 Thessalonians 1:11.
    • They pray that our God will powerfully fulfill every desire and work, 2 Thessalonians 1:11.
    • Their desire is for goodness, 2 Thessalonians 1:11.
    • Their desire is also for the work of faith, 2 Thessalonians 1:11.
    • The ultimate purpose of the prayer is that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, 2 Thessalonians 1:12.
    • The name will be glorified in the Thessalonian believers, 2 Thessalonians 1:12.
    • And that His name will be glorified in the Thessalonian believers, 2 Thessalonians 1:12.
    • The glorification is based on the grace of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Thessalonians 1:12.
    • Both the Father and Jesus Christ possess grace or are gracious, 2 Thessalonians 1:12.

Exposition of 2 Thessalonians 2

  1. 2 Thessalonians 2 Outline
    • 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2. The Day of the Lord has not come; it is still future.
    • 2 Thessalonians 2:3-5. The apostasy and the man of sin-lawlessness will be revealed when the Day of the Lord begins.
    • 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7. The restrainer holds back the lawless man until the right time, but meanwhile the mystery of lawlessness is working.
    • 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12. Once the restrainer is removed the lawless one, ruled by Satan, will be revealed; and he will work satanic wickedness on those who did not believe the truth.
    • 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17. God chose believers for salvation through sanctification by the Holy Spirit and faith in the truth, so stand firm in the faith and doctrine.
  2. Main points of Bible doctrine that chapter 2 presents
    • Knowing biblical prophecy orients us to God’s world and God’s plan.
    • The biblical worldview shapes how we should look at life around us—morality, values, truth, money, responsibility, politics, religion, and more.
    • When one rejects God’s word one becomes vulnerable to all kinds of lies and propaganda. Furthermore it corrupts one’s ability to evaluate truth, meaning, and values.
    • The Holy Spirit has extensive ministry in restraining evil in the world on the one hand and in bringing people to faith in Christ and spiritual growth on the other hand.
    • Faith must have the right object to be of any value. God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the gospel, and the Bible are right objects of faith.
    • Faith in Jesus Christ for eternal salvation grants us many blessings because our relationship with Him and in Him.
    • Both God the Father and God the Son treat us in grace—from loving us to providing comfort, encouragement, and hope.
    • One good prayer, which Paul prayed, is that God will comfort and strengthen our hearts as we serve him.

2 Thessalonians 2 Exposition

  1. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2. The Day of the Lord has not come; it is still future.
    • Verse 1. Paul begins with a statement of the Lord coming and gathering believers to Himself. Those He gathers are church age believers “our gathering together to Him.” Paul also taught this in his first letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 4. This is the rapture. “Gathering together” is episunagoge. It is also used in Hebrews 10:25, “assembling together.”
    • Verse 2. We have a prepositional phrase with the infinitive indicating an object clause, what Paul is asking. Shaken is the word saleuo in the aorist passive infinitive. The word means to rock or vibrate or move up and down or roll like a ship in a stormy sea. The passive voice indicates that something is shaking them—their misunderstanding of the historical events within the biblical teaching about the future.
      • They were shaken by false information. Paul says that false information could come from a spirit such as a false prophetic speaker, or a word or message that someone brought, or even from a counterfeit letter that claimed to be from him.
      • The false teaching said that the Day of the Lord has set in (enistemi in the perfect active indicative). That was wrong. They were not in the Day of the Lord.
      • Note the devastating effect that ignorance or wrong sources of teaching can cause. Beware of your sources of teaching about the Bible. This false information shook their minds and frightened them.
  2. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-5. The apostasy and the man of sin-lawlessness will be revealed when the Day of the Lord begins. Spiritual deception is the way of Satan and his supporters. The only way to recognize and reject spiritual deception is to learn the truth—the Bible. Certain events must happen before the Day of the Lord will be evident. They are worldwide apostasy (3), the man of sin-lawlessness will be revealed (3 and 8), and the restrainer removed (7).
    • Apostasy is apostosia and the primary meaning is defection or rebellion, though some translate it as departure. Defection seems to be the primary meaning. This refers to a definite world wide rebellion against God and His word. This word for apostasy is also found in Acts 21:21 where they accuse Paul of telling Jews to forsake Moses.
    • The man of sin-lawlessness will be revealed (aorist passive subjunctive of apokalupto; to uncover, unmask, reveal; also in 2:6 and 8). This means that he will become the public leader of an evil and anti-God worldview and policy. “Of sin-lawlessness” indicates relationship and characteristics. Son of destruction further indicates that he will be characterized by destruction of whatever is in his path to power and complete control. Furthermore, his end will be destruction. The New Testament uses this word to emphasize future destruction (Romans 9:22; Philippians 1:28 and 3:19; 1 Timothy 6:9; Hebrews 10:39; 2 Peter 3:16).
      • I have used both lawless and sin for this dictator. The external or mss evidence is divided. Sin seems to be the better attested reading. “Lawlessness” is attested in two good Egyptian mss (Aleph and B), but “sin” is attested in A, D, F, G, Psi, and others. Sin is also the harder reading.
    • Verse 4. This man will proclaim himself as god and above gods. He will oppose worship of anyone or anything else. He will take over the Jerusalem temple that has been rebuilt. He will publically claim to be God. All of this indicates a world wide Satan inspired and controlled religion. Revelation 17 adds details. This will all happen in the tribulation period.
    • Verse 5. Paul taught the Thessalonian believers these truths during the short time he was with them. We learn from this that Paul taught prophecy even to these new believers. He did so in order to orient them to the world, both present and future.
  3. 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7. The restrainer holds back the lawless man until the right time, but meanwhile the mystery of lawlessness is working.
    • Verse 6 states the restraining work. The word translated restrainer is the articular present active participle, neuter singular accusative of the Greek work katecho which means to hold, to hold back, to withhold, to possess, to prevent, to restrain. What is the restrainer? Suggestions are law and order, government, military, the church, or world events. The restraint must be something or someone with God’s power and knowledge. The Holy Spirit indwelling the church is the only thing that meets all the requirements. When God removes the church at the rapture, the great universal indwelling in the church goes also. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent; He remains, but does not indwell that large body of people, since they are gone. The restraint of the man of sin has been removed.
    • Verse 7. The mystery of lawlessness is Satan’s program to bring in and promote the man who will be against Christ. Right now the restrainer is preventing the full takeover. This mystery of lawlessness is something that people do not understand. It is seen today in the trends against God, against biblical truth, and against biblical morality. The trends toward globalism or internationalism in religion, economy, communications, education, law enforcement, and the control of individual lives and freedom are part of this mystery. People without biblical understanding of the world do not relate these trends to evil. They relate them to progress. When God calls the church to heaven all of mystery will become very public.
  4. 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12. After the restrainer is removed the lawless one – man of sin, ruled by Satan, enters the public stage. He will be revealed (apokalupto, future passive indicative). Satan brings him forward. He will work satanic wickedness on those who did not believe the truth. Satan will work so that people will think this man is god. The Lord Jesus Christ, at His second coming to earth, will slay him by a command.
    • Verse 8. Jesus Christ will end his rule and destroy him at His second coming to earth. The breath of His mouth refers to Jesus’ command. “Slay” is anairo, to take up, destroy, annul, bring down. “Bring to an end” is katarageo, to nullify, make powerless, set aside, wipe out. Jesus, at His return to earth will completely end this dictator’s rule.
    • Verse 9. Satan orchestrated the man of sin’s activities. Satan controls this dictator. Satan works through him with power (dunamis, might, power), and signs (semeion, a supernatural mark, omen, signal), and false wonders (teras, a marvel, a false miracle).
    • Verse 10. The man of sin successfully deceives those who “did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.”
      • Faith reception of God’s word and a love of the truth will protect people from the deluding influence of the man of sin. This will be specific during the tribulation. We can learn a principle of Bible doctrine. Positive volition or faith reception and love of God’s word can protect us from the satanic worldview that has greatly increased worldwide. Salvation comes from faith response to God’s word. Deliverance from the propaganda of the world system comes from listening and understanding and applying God’s word right now.
    • Verse 11. God will send a deluding influence (working of error) and so they will believe the lie of the man of sin and his propaganda ministers. Romans 1:24-30 is a commentary on this. First Kings 22 is an historical parallel. God sends a deceiving spirit to test them as to whether they will accept God’s warning or reject that warning and pursue evil. The satanic power, signs, and wonders will deceive them. The people will take pleasure in unrighteousness. This deluding influence will be a spiritual influence—probably propaganda from Satan and furthered by his demon forces.
    • Verse 12. The purpose of the evil propaganda will be to demonstrate the willingness of those unbelievers to reject God and choose the Satan inspired man of sin. The judgment that comes will be deserved.
  5. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17. God chose believers for salvation through sanctification by the Holy Spirit and faith in the truth, so stand firm in the faith and doctrine.
    • Verse 13. Note how Paul again expresses his thanksgiving that God worked in these believers so that they might be saved. God chose the Thessalonian as firstfruits of the gospel message—among the first ones to hear and respond and demonstrate his gracious message. This choosing was through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit ministered to them and they understood the message. They responded by faith.
      • God chose as first fruits. The text is strongly divided. I prefer aparchen (first fruits) simply from Pauline usage. He does not use aparchen in any other place. Chosen as fruit fruit does make sense here. Choosing refers to choosing for salvation. He chose based upon His foreknowledge of faith in the gospel. The Scripture references include Romans 8:28-30, 1 Peter 1:1-2, and Ephesians 1:3-6.
        • For salvation (eis soterion)
        • Through sanctification by the Holy Spirit (en hagiasmoi pneumatos).
        • By faith in the truth (pistei aletheias).
    • Verse 14. God called them to this through the gospel (dia tou euaggelious). Calling means to send out a message and expects an answer or response. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. God called us to share or experience Christ’s glory.
      • Gain the glory is eis peripoiesin doxes… Probably to share His glory by relationship with Him. Peripoiesis means preserving, saving, gaining, possession.
    • Verse 15. Therefore. Ara oun. Consequence. Stand firm and hold to. Both present active imperatives=general commands. Traditions taught are the biblical doctrine that Paul taught them. This is where they are to stand and the doctrines are those which they are to hold. Notice Paul’s emphasis: God choosing by the Holy Spirit sanctifying or setting apart for the message; faith in the truth, the gospel is required, believers get to share Christ’s glory, stand firm and hold the doctrine. We have developed these biblical principles under the doctrine of stand, walk, run, and the doctrine of stand firm.
    • Verse 16. Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father are called upon to do something for believers. Note first what is said about the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father. They loved us (agapao). They gave us (didomi). Both are aorist active participles. These actions occurred before He comforts and strengthens us (16). They gave eternal comfort—encouragement and comfort that lasts. It is always there for us. They also gave us good hope. Hope is the confident expectation based upon God’s character and revealed in God’s word. The crowning thought is that God did all this for us by grace (en charity), God’s favor on us who can never deserve or earn it.
    • Verse 17.  The request is that the Father and Son will comfort (parakaleo) and strengthen (sterizo) the believers’ hearts in whatever ministry—whether of action or speaking. Comfort and strengthen hearts. This, of course, is very practical for the Thessalonians because they are criticized and attacked.
  6. Some observations from chapter 2
    • Paul addresses brethren—believers, 2 Thessalonians 2:1.
    • When Lord comes He will gather believers to together to Himself, 2 Thessalonians 2:1.
    • Do not be troubled by anything saying that the Day of the Lord has already come, 2 Thessalonians 2:2.
    • Let no one deceive you, 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
    • The falling away must come first—before the Day of the Lord, 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
    • The man of sin/lawlessness must be revealed, 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
    • The man of sin/lawlessness is the son of perdition, 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
    • The man of sin/lawlessness opposes God and exalts himself above all called god and worshipped, 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
    • The man of sin/lawlessness sits as God in the temple, 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
    • The man of sin/lawlessness shows himself as God, 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
    • Previously, Paul was with the Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 2:5.
    • When Paul was there he taught them about the Day of the Lord, 2 Thessalonians 2:5.
    • The man of sin/lawlessness is now restrained until he is revealed, 2 Thessalonians 2:6.
    • There is a mystery of lawlessness, 2 Thessalonians 2:7.
    • This mystery of lawlessness is at work now, 2 Thessalonians 2:7.
    • The restrainer of the mystery of lawlessness will restrain until He is removed, 2 Thessalonians 2:7.
    • When the restrainer is removed the lawless one will be revealed, 2 Thessalonians 2:8.
    • The Lord will slay the lawless one, 2 Thessalonians 2:8.
    • The Lord will slay him with His breath—command, 2 Thessalonians 2:8.
    • The Lord’s coming will end the lawless one’s rule, 2 Thessalonians 2:8.
    • The lawless one will come according to Satan’s plan and action, 2 Thessalonians 2:9.
    • The lawless one will show power, sings, and false wonders, 2 Thessalonians 2:9.
    • The lawless one will also wickedly deceive those who perish, 2 Thessalonians 2:10.
    • Those who perish did not receive the love of the truth, 2 Thessalonians 2:10.
    • They then rejected salvation, 2 Thessalonians 2:10.
    • Because they did not receive the truth God will send a deluding influence on them, 2 Thessalonians 2:11.
    • The result is that they will believe the lie, 2 Thessalonians 2:11.
    • The purpose of the deluding influence is so they may be judged, 2 Thessalonians 2:12.
    • They who did not believe the truth, 2 Thessalonians 2:12.
    • They took pleasure in wickedness, 2 Thessalonians 2:12.
    • Paul, Silas, and Timothy ought to give thanks for the Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 2:13.
    • The Thessalonians are brethren and beloved by the Lord. 2 Thessalonians 2:13.
    • Give thanks because or that God has chosen them from the beginning, 2 Thessalonians 2:13.
    • Chosen for salvation or deliverance, 2 Thessalonians 2:13.
    • Chosen by sanctification by the Spirit, 2 Thessalonians 2:13.
    • Chosen by faith in the truth, 2 Thessalonians 2:13.
    • God called the Thessalonians for salvation, 2 Thessalonians 2:14.
    • God called the Thessalonians through Paul, Silas, and Timothy’s gospel, 2 Thessalonians 2:14.
    • God called the Thessalonians so they may gain or possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Thessalonians 2:14.
    • It is the Lord’s glory, 2 Thessalonians 2:14.
    • Paul addresses brethren, 2 Thessalonians 2:15.
    • Therefore, a conclusion, 2 Thessalonians 2:15.
    • Stand firm, 2 Thessalonians 2:15.
    • Hold to the traditions you were taught, 2 Thessalonians 2:15.
    • The Thessalonians had been taught biblical doctrine, 2 Thessalonians 2:15.
    • Taught by Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, 2 Thessalonians 2:15.
    • Taught by word or letter, 2 Thessalonians 2:15.
    • Paul gives a benediction in the form of a plea to the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father, 2 Thessalonians 2:16.
    • It is our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father, 2 Thessalonians 2:16.
    • God has loved us and given eternal comfort and good hope, 2 Thessalonians 2:16.
    • God has given these by grace, 2 Thessalonians 2:16.
    • The plea is that God will comfort and strengthen the Thessalonians’ hearts, 2 Thessalonians 2:17.
    • Where comfort and strengthen? In every good work and word, 2 Thessalonians 2:17.

2 Thessalonians 3

2 Thessalonians 3 Outline

  1. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2. Paul requests prayer for ministry and protection from unbelievers.
  2. 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5. Paul has confidence that the Lord will provide for him and his team and for the Thessalonians in the spiritual life.
  3. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15. Paul now commands them to keep away from undisciplined and lazy believers.
  4. 2 Thessalonians 3:16-18. Paul ends with a plea for God to bless them.

Main points of Bible doctrine to remember from chapter 3

  1. Pray for those proclaiming and teaching God’s word (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2).
  2. The Lord is faithful to believers serving Him (2 Thessalonians 3:3-5).
  3. Live honestly, with a strong work ethic, and do not be busy bodies (2 Thessalonians 3:6-12).

Some doctrines taught or referred by Paul in chapter 3

  1. Evangelism, 2 Thessalonians 3:1
  2. Communication of God’s word, 2 Thessalonians 3::
  3. Ministry, 2 Thessalonians 3:1 and 2 Thessalonians 3:13
  4. Prayer, 2 Thessalonians 3:2
  5. Persecution of believers, 2 Thessalonians 3:2
  6. God is faithful, 2 Thessalonians 3:3
  7. Spiritual conflict, 2 Thessalonians 3:3
  8. Love for God, 2 Thessalonians 3:5
  9. Endurance for Christ, 2 Thessalonians 3:5
  10. Bible doctrine, 2 Thessalonians 3:6
  11. Biblical separation, 2 Thessalonians 3::6 and 2 Thessalonians 3:14
  12. Biblical example or model to follow, 2 Thessalonians 3:7 and 2 Thessalonians 3:9
  13. Biblical work ethic, 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
  14. Good works, 2 Thessalonians 3:13
  15. Relationships among believers, 2 Thessalonians 3::6 and 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15
  16. Inner peace, 2 Thessalonians 3:16
  17. Grace, 2 Thessalonians 3:18

2 Thessalonians 3 exposition

  1. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2. Paul requests prayer for ministry and protection from unbelievers.
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:1. Note that Paul and his team need prayer support. The request is for continued ministry of the gospel and Christian life doctrine—the word of the Lord. Rapidly and be glorified means without delay and have a good response. If people would respect the gospel and not think it was a threat, the missionaries would be able to preach without harm. Paul knew that time was short and the message was vital for every person. He recalls the positive response by the Thessalonians and wanted this same response with future ministry in Corinth, Ephesus, and beyond.
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:2. The second request is for protection from those who reject his message. Paul faced opposition everywhere he went. “Perverse” men are those of bad behavior. Evil contains the idea of ungodly worldview. Even non-Christian standards do not encourage false testimony in court or physical or verbal beatings of someone without just cause. Paul faced all of these as recorded in Acts 16. Jason, in Acts 17, was attacked simply because he tried to help Paul.
  2. 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5. Paul has confidence that the Lord will provide for him and his team and for the Thessalonians in the spiritual life.
    • Note the leading statements of each verse: The Lord is faithful (3); we have confidence (4); may the Lord direct (5).
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:3. The Lord is faithful. Pistos is the Greek adjective indicating faithful, dependable, credible, trustworthy. This describes the Lord. He will always do what He has said. Paul, the Thessalonians, and we can always depend upon Him. The doctrine tells us that God is true to His word and to His nature. See the doctrine “faithfulness of God.” This is a doctrinal principle that we all need to understand and depend upon. We are all in a great spiritual war. Remember the sources of spiritual attack—world, flesh, and devil.  And remember the source of victory for us—God’s word, the Holy Spirit, and the spiritual armor. The Lord is faithful to strengthen and protect and He makes all our resources work. Biblical doctrine of God’s faithfulness.
      • God is faithful does not promise that everything will turn out the way we want it to turn out. It does mean that as long as we are alive God is faithful to do what He has said. He is faithful to us no matter what the circumstances—in suffering, in great happiness, in dying, in discouragement. He is faithful to us.
        • To Abraham throughout all the years of waiting for Isaac.
        • To Moses through the years of training, testing, leading, and dying.
        • To Joshua throughout the years of battle in Canaan.
        • To Jeremiah while the people he ministered to rejected him.
        • To Ezra and Nehemiah through the good and the bad.
        • To Peter even when Peter was unfaithful.
        • To Steven when he was being stoned.
        • To Paul on the road, in cities, in jail, and at his execution.
      • The Lord is faithful to strengthen (sterizo, give you the ability, the determination, the endurance; same word in 2:17) and to protect (phulasso, to set a guard around you, to protect; see John 17:12) the Thessalonians (and us) from the evil. Both verbs are future active indicatives. This does not mean no suffering, but it does mean strength and protection through the suffering.
        • Strengthen. Used 14 times. The Lord refers to Yahweh and most likely refers to Jesus Christ. After all, He is revealed God. The word means to establish, support, strengthen. The Lord will set us in our spiritual position of strength and infuse into us the ability to stand against Satan and his forces. Illustrated by an incident in James Herriot life. He was doing relief work in an industrial town. The practice was run on little money, few medicines, and few instruments. A man and his wife were vacationing and their dog was hit by a car. The result was a very serious fracture separating the tibia from the tarsus. The practice exam room had a flimsy exam table. It kept collapsing when an animal was placed on it. Well, the owners lifted Kim, the dog, on the table and the table collapsed on one end and Kim slid off. Herriot knew it was coming and had the couple use their legs to prop up and strengthen the table so that it would not fall. Herriot could then carry out the surgery without the table collapsing. God stands with us to prop us and strengthen us so we do not fall.
        • Protect. Phulasso. Used 33 times. The emphasis is on watching as a guard who is posted to alert to an approaching enemy and to prevent the enemy from gaining his objective. Biblical illustrations are Luke 2:8 and 11:21; Acts 12:4; Romans 2:26; 1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 4:15; 2 Peter 2:5; 1 John 5:21.
      • This phrase, the evil one= tou ponerou, is used 9 times in the Greek New Testament. The evil can refer to specific persecution or to the one who plans evil. In this immediate context it seems that it refers to general evil associated with the antagonisms in Thessalonica. See John 17:15, Ephesians 6:16, and 1 John 3:12 where it refers to Satan.
      • The suffering has meaning. The future is secure. And, as Paul said in chapter one, God will judge those afflicting the believers.
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:4. We have confidence. What is the object of confidence? The confidence is in the Lord, not in themselves. Paul has confidence that the Lord will work in the believers to follow Paul’s teaching.
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:5. May the Lord direct. What will the Lord direct? He will direct their hearts (kardia). The heart is the center of the life. It is the command post where decisions are made. Paul desires that the Lord will direct the very center of their lives in two directions or toward two goals. The verb is kateuthuno, to make or keep straight, guide, direct; aorist active optative 3 singular. The optative expresses a wish. This verb used in 1 Thessalonians 3:11.  Both goals are stated with the preposition eis plus the accusative followed by the objective genitive. Many take these as subjective or possessive genitives which then means God’s love in us and Christ’s perseverance in us. This does make good sense, but in the context I think objective genitive fits better.
      • Toward love for God. Love directed toward God (occupation with God and Christ) enables us to focus on the source of security and provision and away from the persecution. God is the center of our attention.
      • Toward steadfastness or endurance for Christ. In any test or crisis we need to remain steadfast or endure for Christ.
  3. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15. Paul now commands them to keep away from undisciplined and lazy believers.
    • The command carries the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ. What Paul commands is what the Lord told him to write. Paul speaks for Jesus Christ. Separation from certain believers is Paul’s point. Keep away is the Greek word stello, to keep one’s distance, to avoid.
    • These believers may have been misapplying the doctrines of the Lord’s return so that they quit jobs and while waiting begged food and money off of others. They did not work and got in other people’s
    • 2 Thessalonians 3: 6. “Leads an unruly life” is the verb peripateo (to walk) with ataktos (not in battle order, undisciplined, disorderly). They led disorganized lives. The same words in verse 11. They had no time table and rejected responsibilities that a normal citizen would have such as getting a job, being on time, and providing for family. Instead they wandered from person to person and interfered with others.
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:6. “And not according to tradition” is the preposition kata and paradosis (that which is handed down, tradition, doctrine). Here the tradition is the biblical tradition that Paul and others have taught. This would primarily concern working hard, fulfilling responsibilities, being helpful without interfering with others, and setting an example of Christian love and service.
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:6-9. Paul and others had taught them about day to day responsibility. See in this context verses 6 (from us), 7 (we did not act), 8 (eat without paying, working), 9 (ourselves as a model…example), 10 (not work…not eat).
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:10. Paul repeats what he has taught in the past. Those who refuse to work when they are able are not to be beg from those who do work. “He is not to eat” is the present active imperative of esthio, to eat. This is a clear command against laziness and idleness. Paul teaches a strong work ethic. Those who are unable to work may benefit from others. Those who choose not to work may not benefit. See verse 15.
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:11. The judgment of Paul was against those “leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.”
      • “Leading an undisciplined life is verb peripateo (to walk, present active participle) with ataktos (not in battle order, undisciplined, disorderly). The same words in verse 6.
      • “Doing no work,” is the negative meden (neuter=nothing) and ergazomai (to work, to labor, to accomplish). These believers did nothing in the form of meaningful labor.
      • “Busybodies” is the word periergazomai (take more pains than enough about a thing, waste one’s labour on it; meddle, interfere with).
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:12. The correction. These are to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. This simply means work without disturbance to others (hesuchia, as, he, a state of quietness without disturbance, saying nothing or very little) and provide the food for themselves.
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:13. At the end of his instruction against lazy and irresponsible believers, Paul reminds the rest to keep the faith and to stay strong in doing what is right. This is a doctrinal reminder for all of us. We get tired and discouraged when we do the right thing yet see others doing nothing.
      • “Grow weary” is egkakeo (to behave wrongly or remissly, to lose motivation, lose enthusiasm, be discouraged) in the aorist active subjunctive with the negative me. This amounts to a prohibition.
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:14. This verse summarizes Paul’s teaching.
      • They are to mark the one out (semeioo, to mark out, to note; in the present imperative). A word close to this is semeion, a sign that the Jews sought. Paul says, identify this one and then do not associate with him as long as he is undisciplined and lazy.
      • “Do not associate” is sunanamignumi is the present infinitive plus the negative. The word means to mingle or associate. Note the stress of the present tense here—a durative active or for a period of time.
    • Verse 15 teaches that the lazy believers are not enemies. They are believers. They should be warned and instructed that their way of life is wrong and needs changing.
  4. 2 Thessalonians 3:16-18. Paul ends with a plea for God to bless them.
    • Verse 16. May the Lord grant peace in every circumstance. This comes from the application of God’s word to situations—Faith Rest.
    • Verse 17. Paul wrote this epistle.
    • Verse 18.Paul gives his usual benediction. He wants the Lord’s grace to be experienced by all of them.
  5. Some observations from chapter 3
    • Paul now makes some concluding requests of the Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 3:1.
    • Pray for us, Paul says, 2 Thessalonians 3:1.
    • Pray that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, 2 Thessalonians 3:1.
    • In the lives of others just like in your lives, 2 Thessalonians 3:1.
    • Pray also that Paul and his team will be rescued from perverse and evil men, 2 Thessalonians 3:2.
    • Not everyone has the faith, 2 Thessalonians 3:2.
    • The Lord is faithful, 2 Thessalonians 3:3.
    • The Lord will strengthen and protect the Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 3:3.
    • The protection is from the evil one, 2 Thessalonians 3:3.
    • Paul has confidence in the Lord about the Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 3:4.
    • Confidence that they are doing and will do what Paul and the team commanded, 2 Thessalonians 3:4.
    • Another plea: May the Lord direct your hearts, 2 Thessalonians 3:5.
    • Direct the heart into love of God and steadfastness of Christ, 2 Thessalonians 3:5.
    • We (Paul, Silvanus, Timothy) command you Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 3:6.
    • In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Thessalonians 3:6.
    • That you keep away from every brother who, 2 Thessalonians 3:6.
    • Who leads and unruly life and not according to the tradition, 2 Thessalonians 3:6.
    • Tradition which you received from us, 2 Thessalonians 3:6.
    • The Thessalonians know that they ought to follow Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy’s example, 2 Thessalonians 3:7
    • Paul had taught and shown them, 2 Thessalonians 3:7.
    • Paul, Silvanus, Timothy did not act in an undisciplined manner among them, 2 Thessalonians 3:7.
    • Paul, Silvanus, Timothy did not eat without paying for it, 2 Thessalonians 3:8.
    • Paul, Silvanus, Timothy worked night and day so not to burden any Thessalonian believer, 2 Thessalonians 3:8.
    • Paul, Silvanus, Timothy did have a right to support from the Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 3:9.
    • Paul, Silvanus, Timothy did what they did so to be models to the Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 3:9.
    • Paul, Silvanus, Timothy wanted them to follow their example, 2 Thessalonians 3:9.
    • Paul, Silvanus, Timothy had spent time with them, 2 Thessalonians 3:10.
    • Paul, Silvanus, Timothy told them that if one is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, 2 Thessalonians 3:10.
    • Paul, Silvanus, Timothy heard a report about the Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 3:11.
    • The report was that some were leading undisciplined lives, not working, and being busybodies, 2 Thessalonians 3:11.
    • Paul, Silvanus, Timothy commanded and exhorted those to work quietly and eat their own bread, 2 Thessalonians 3:12.
    • This command and exhortation was “in the Lord Jesus Christ,” 2 Thessalonians 3:12.
    • To those living correctly, “do not grow weary of doing good,” 2 Thessalonians 3:13.
    • Paul, Silvanus, Timothy singles out the right living believers, 2 Thessalonians 3:13.
    • Paul wrote instruction—the second letter to the Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 3:14.
    • Note those who do not obey what he wrote, 2 Thessalonians 3:14.
    • Do not associate with him or them, 2 Thessalonians 3:14.
    • This is to shame him or them, 2 Thessalonians 3:14.
    • Do not think of him as an enemy, 2 Thessalonians 3:15.
    • He is a brother, 2 Thessalonians 3:15.
    • Admonish him as one, 2 Thessalonians 3:15.
    • The Lord is characterized by peace, 2 Thessalonians 3:16.
    • May the Lord continually grant peace in every circumstance, 2 Thessalonians 3:16.
    • May the Lord be with you all, 2 Thessalonians 3:16.
    • Paul wrote this letter with his own hand, 2 Thessalonians 3:17.
    • Paul writing handwriting was recognizable, 2 Thessalonians 3:17.
    • Paul’s benediction: the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, 2 Thessalonians 3:18.
    • Jesus Christ is gracious, possesses grace, and grants grace for living, 2 Thessalonians 3:18.