The commentary for this week is taken from the Introduction to Thessalonians in the Bible Commentary prepared by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown and published in 1871. Last week we looked at 1 Thessalonians, and this week at 2 Thessalonians.
Its GENUINENESS is attested by POLYCARP [Epistle to the Philippians, 11], who alludes to 2 Thessalonians 3:15 JUSTIN MARTYR [Dialogue with Trypho, p. 193.32], alludes to 2 Thessalonians 2:3 [Against Heresies, 7.2] quotes 2 Thessalonians 2:8 CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA [Miscellanies, 1.5, p. 554; The Instructor, 1.17], quotes 2 Thessalonians 3:2 TERTULLIAN [On the Resurrection of the Flesh, 24] quotes 2 Thessalonians 2:1 2 Thessalonians 2:2
DESIGN.--The accounts from Thessalonica, after the sending of the first Epistle, represented the faith and love of the Christians there as on the increase; and their constancy amidst persecutions unshaken. One error of doctrine, however, resulting in practical evil, had sprung up among them. The apostle's description of Christ's sudden second coming (1 Thessalonians 4:13) its being at any time, led them to believe it was actually at hand. Some professed to know by "the Spirit" (2 Thessalonians 2:2) others alleged that Paul had said so when with them. A letter, too, purporting to be from the apostle to that effect, seems to have been circulated among them. (That 2 Thessalonians 2:2 rather than to Paul's first Epistle, appears likely from the statement, 2 Thessalonians 3:17 genuine letters might be known). Hence some neglected their daily business and threw themselves on the charity of others, as if their sole duty was to wait for the coming of the Lord. This error, therefore, needed rectifying, and forms a leading topic of the second Epistle. He in it tells them (2 Thessalonians 2:1-17) come, there must first be a great apostasy, and the Man of Sin must be revealed; and that the Lord's sudden coming is no ground for neglecting daily business; that to do so would only bring scandal on the Church, and was contrary to his own practice among them (2 Thessalonians 3:7-9) disorderly professors (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-15) of the Thessalonians' faith, love, and patience, amidst persecutions. (2) 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 and the previous rise and downfall of the Man of Sin foretold. (3) 2 Thessalonians 3:1-16 with prayers for them to the God of peace, followed by his autograph salutation and benediction.
DATE OF WRITING.--AS the Epistle is written in the joint names of Timothy and Silas, as well as his own, and as these were with him while at Corinth, and not with him for a long time subsequently to his having left that city (compare Acts 18:18, Silas, it is doubtful whether he was ever subsequently with Paul), it follows, the place of writing must have been Corinth, and the date, during the one "year and six months" of his stay there, Acts 18:11 (namely, beginning with the autumn of A.D. 52, and ending with the spring of A.D. 54), say about six months after his first Epistle, early in A.D. 53.
STYLE.--The style is not different from that of most of Paul's other writings, except in the prophetic portion of it (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12) which is distinguished from them in subject matter. As is usual in his more solemn passages (for instance, in the denunciatory and prophetic portions of his Epistles, for example, compare Colossians 2:8, Colossians 2:16, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 2 Thessalonians 2:8, 2 Thessalonians 2:10. As the former Epistle dwells mostly on the second Advent in its aspect of glory to the sleeping and the living saints (1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:28) this Epistle dwells mostly on it in its aspect of everlasting destruction to the wicked and him who shall be the final consummation of wickedness, the Man of Sin. So far was Paul from laboring under an erroneous impression as to Christ's speedy coming, when he wrote his first Epistle (which rationalists impute to him), that he had distinctly told them, when he was with them, the same truths as to the apostasy being about first to arise, which he now insists upon in this second Epistle (2 Thessalonians 2:5) the two Epistles, confirming the genuineness of the latter. Thus, compare 2 Thessalonians 3:2 "coming after the working of Satan," with 1 Thessalonians 2:18 ; 3:5 incipient work as the hinderer of the Gospel, and the tempter, appears; again, mild warning is enjoined, 1 Thessalonians 5:14 second Epistle, when the evil had grown worse, stricter discipline (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 2 Thessalonians 3:14).
Paul probably visited Thessalonica on his way to Asia subsequently (Acts 20:4) former became his "companion in travel" and shared with him his perils at Ephesus, also those of his shipwreck, and was his "fellow prisoner" at Rome (Acts 27:2 ; Colossians 4:10 ; Philemon 1:24) bishop of Apamea.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/4598