Within months of writing his first letter to the Thessalonians (somewhere between 52 – 54 A.D.), Paul received word that the problems he addressed in his first letter were not only continuing, but had actually grown worse. With persecutions intensifying, many were confused as to whether they had missed Jesus’ return. Fearing that the end of age was near, they stopped working and focused only on the present day rather than in investing in the future.
The purpose of this letter is three-fold: first, to offer hope in the midst of persecution; second, to clarify the events and signs leading up to the coming Day of the Lord; and lastly, to challenge those who were idle and refused to work. With a powerful message of hope that resonates to this day, we can be a source of hope to others amidst the world chaos by remaining faithful, hopeful, and confident rather than fearful in spite of intense persecution as we await Jesus’ return and deliverance.
This letter consists of three chapters:
- Chapter 1 begins with a prayer commending the Thessalonians for their continued perseverance and loyalty in the midst of persecution. Assuring them that God will deal justly with their persecutors, Paul addresses circulating reports that Jesus had already come by telling the Thessalonians not to be deceived by apocalyptic speculation. Highlighting the great hope of Jesus’ return, Paul shares that the Day of the Lord has not yet arrived and that Jesus’ return is not as close as some may think. More specifically, no one knows the day or the hour of Jesus’ return (Matthew 24:36) and that certain events and signs must occur prior to His arrival (Mark 13).
- In Chapter 2, Paul speaks of specific events and signs preceding Jesus’ return as found in Jewish apocalyptic writings. More specifically, Paul references the arrival of “the man of lawlessness” (the Antichrist) in whom the power of Satan becomes incarnate. Establishing himself in the Temple at Jerusalem, the Antichrist works with signs and wonders to deceive people. Paul continues by saying that while some lawless activities are already in operation, others will not be fully carried out until the Antichrist is revealed. Only then will the Lord Jesus overthrow [the Antichrist] with the breath of His mouth and destroy evil with the splendor of His coming.
- In Chapter 3, Paul requests prayer for his brothers and sisters. Addressing idleness, Paul challenges believers to imitate Jesus’ self-giving love and to continue their regular lines of work rather than waiting in idleness for Jesus’ return.
The following is a wonderful video by the Bible Project that sums up Apostle Paul’s message beautifully: