Bible Study Guide: 2 Thessalonians

What makes 2 Thessalonians unique?

As in 1 Thessalonians, the author thanks God that the Thessalonian Christians continue to grow in faith and love, in spite of the difficulties and suffering they are going through. The author lets them know that they continue to be an example for other churches. The letter also gives further insight into the apostle's beliefs about the return of Christ and his teachings about how to prepare for this event.

Why was 2 Thessalonians written?

Some members of the Thessalonian church were upset because people were saying that Christ had already come back again, and that they had missed out on this event. But the author assures them that such is not the case, and tells them what will happen when Christ does return: the "wicked one" (CEV) and unbelievers will be punished (2:12), and those who are faithful to Christ will be saved (2:13). The Thessalonians are told to pray for the spread of the good news (3:1-5), and they are warned to listen to Paul's teachings and to avoid being lazy (3:6-13).

What's the story behind the scene?

This letter was probably written shortly after 1 Thessalonians. Even though the members of the Thessalonian church were good examples of faith and love, some of them were listening to some false teachings about Christ's return (2:1-5). The author then explains more about the Lord's return and the Lord's victory over the "evil one." The author concludes by reminding them that the belief that Christ would return soon is no excuse to quit working. Some scholars believe this letter may have been written by one of Paul's followers after Paul died. It was not unusual in the ancient world for a follower to honor his or her teacher by writing something in the teacher's name.

How is 2 Thessalonians constructed?

The letter can be outlined in the following way:

  1. The Truth about Christ's Return (1:1 - 2:17)

    The author greets the Thessalonians and tells them he is pleased with their faith and love, which has grown in spite of their suffering. God is using this suffering to get them ready for Christ's return when God will save them. Then he explains what will happen to the "wicked one" who will try to fool people when the end is near. This section concludes with the repetition of the promise that God has chosen them to be the "first ones to be saved."

  2. Prayers and Warnings (3:1-18)

    The author asks the Thessalonians to pray that he and his companions may be kept safe from evil people. In turn he prays that God will continue to make them loving and patient. Finally, he warns them to stay away from people who do not work, and people who refuse to obey what he has written in his letter.