2 Thessalonians: Overview

Paul's second epistle follows up on themes from his first.

Introduction to 1 and 2 Thessalonians (7)

Pray Psalm 84.8, 9.
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
Give ear, O God of Jacob!
O God, behold our shield,
And look upon the face of Your anointed.

Read 2 Thessalonians 1.11, 12.

1. In 2 Thessalonians, Paul wants to reinforce the Thessalonians’ call to the Kingdom and glory of God, and to good works. Elsewhere he insists that Christians are redeemed for good works (cf. Eph. 2.10; Tit. 2.14). Which good works?

2. What is the connection between doing good works and our calling to the Kingdom and glory of God? 

Upon receiving words that some in Thessalonica had distorted his teaching about the day of the Lord and the coming of Jesus, Paul wrote a second letter, probably also from Corinth, which unfolds in three parts.

In chapter 1, Paul gives thanks to God for the Thessalonians and their example of faith, and explains to them that persecution and suffering for the Name of Jesus are inherent in our calling to follow Him. We must neither fear such conditions nor seek to revenge ourselves against persecutors; Jesus will take care of that in due course. Our job is to remember our calling (v. 11) and work hard to continue in it.

In chapter 2, Paul addresses the spurious teaching of some that the day of the Lord had come, with the implication that the Thessalonians had missed it. Paul offers more clarity on that coming day, and indicates that all who teach contrary to the Word of the God and the traditions of the apostles are promoting lies and unrighteousness.

Finally, in chapter 3, Paul exhorts the Thessalonians not to grow slack in their calling but to maintain proper order – following the lead of their shepherds (1 Thess. 5.12, 13) – and work hard at their calling and good works.

Our salvation in Jesus Christ has brought us into the eternal rest of God, but this does not mean we do not yet have much work to do. We do, and Paul insists that we must give thanks to God for His grace and prepare ourselves for the trials and opportunities of each day, so that we might know His peace and fulfill our calling to His Kingdom and glory.

1. Should believers today expect to face persecution and opposition? Should we shrink back from this? Explain.

2. We are called to be witnesses to Jesus Christ (Acts 1.8). Being a witness involves more than just doing witnessing. How does being a witness fit with the work you’ve been given to do?

3. Paul summarizes his hope for the Thessalonians in these two epistles as “grace and peace.” What is grace? What is peace? Why are these good overall objectives for believers to strive for each day?

He calls us back to the chief end of our whole life―that we may promote the Lord's glory. What he adds, however, is more especially worthy of notice, that those who have advanced the glory of Christ will also in their turn be glorified in him.  John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1.12

You have called me to Your Kingdom and glory, Lord, and today, as I pursue that calling, help me to…

Pray Psalm 84.

Offer yourself this day as a living sacrifice to God. Let this psalm help you set your mind on the end of your journey and prepare you for any trials or tears that you may face today.

Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 84 (Holy Manna: Brethren, We Have Met to Worship)
Lord of hosts, how sweet Your dwelling; 
How my soul longs for Your courts! 
Let my soul with joy keep telling 
Of Your grace forever more. 
Like a bird upon the altar 
Let my life to You belong. 
Blessed are they who never falter 
As they praise Your grace with song! 

Blessed are they whose strength is founded 
In Your strength, O Lord above. 
All whose hearts in You are grounded 
Journey in Your strength and love. 
Though they weep with tears of sadness, 
Grace shall all their way sustain. 
In Your presence, filled with gladness, 
They shall conquer all their pain. 

Lord of hosts, my prayer receiving, 
Hear me, help me by Your grace! 
In Your courts I stand believing; 
Turn to me Your glorious face! 
Lord, our sun, our shield, our glory, 
No good thing will You deny 
To those who proclaim Your story, 
And who on Your grace rely.

T. M. Moore

Where do 1 and 2 Thessalonians fit in the unfolding of God’s covenant? Our course,Introduction to Biblical Theology, can help you understand the setting of all the books of the Bible, and how they fit into God’s unfolding plan of redemption. Watch this brief video introducing this course at The Ailbe Seminary (click here), then plan to register after January 1 in our Certificate in Kingdom Studies program, featuring Introduction to Biblical Theology.

This week’s study, and all the studies in 1 and 2 Thessalonians, are available as free downloads for personal or group use by clicking here.

If you value Scriptorium as a free resource for your walk with the Lord, please consider supporting our work with your gifts and offerings. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button  at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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