BibleTrack Home & Index
<< 1 Thes 5
1 Tim 1 >>
Bible Track
Visit BibleTrack
on Facebook



This is the New King James text of the passages.
Click here to return to the KJV page with full commentary.

II Thessalonians 1-3    Listen Podcast

A word about II Thessalonians
This epistle from Paul follows the first letter he wrote to them by a very short time - probably around 52 A.D. or so. It was written to clear up any misconceptions these people might have had regarding the tribulation and coming of Christ, rapture, etc. as a result of reading his first letter. Just as in I Thessalonians (see notes), we see here in verse 1:1 that Paul was accompanied at the time of this writing by Silvanus, and Timothy. We know quite a bit about Timothy, and his identity is beyond dispute. Bible scholars disagree, however, regarding the identity of Silvanus here; most are convinced that "Silvanus" is Silas' Latin name as a Roman citizen, while a few believe this refers to another individual altogether. The fact is, Silas did accompany Paul and Timothy on Paul's second missionary journey which began in Acts 15:36 (see notes). The mention of Timothy almost certainly identifies Silvanus and Silas to be one in the same.

Greeting (II Thessalonians 1:1-4)

1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, ¶ To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
2 ¶ Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 ¶ We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,
4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure,

Paul is thankful for their faithfulness, especially in the midst of the tribulation they endure. This praise is appropriate ("it is fitting"), so much so that Paul is complimentary of them in the presence of Believers in other churches. Their faithfulness has translated into an abounding love toward one another.

There's coming a day (II Thessalonians 1:5-12)

5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer;
6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,
7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,
8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.
11 ¶ Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power,
12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul introduces the concept of judgment on the wicked in these verses. Wicked people trouble the righteous; that troubling serves as a "manifest evidence" that they are in Christ. The thought here is compatible with John 15:18-19 (see notes) when Jesus said, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." Notice verse 6, "since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you" Paul specifically tells the Thessalonians that, just as they are being caused tribulation now, there is a time in the future when God himself will bring tribulation on the wicked. As a matter of fact, Paul obviously was anticipating this tribulation to begin within the normal span of his lifetime as he particularly references "those who trouble you" in this verse. That's compatible with his statement in I Thessalonians 4:17 (see notes) when Paul wrote, "Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord." Yup, Paul definitely anticipated that the rapture would take place in his lifetime, and that the persecutors of his lifetime would experience the wrath of the tribulation period. However, notice that his phrase in verse 6 "those who trouble you" would seem to exempt from the tribulation those who have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior. Two observations on verse 6 are worth making here: (1) The rapture is imminent i.e. nothing must be prophetically fulfilled before this catching away of Believers. (2) The Tribulation is only for the lost, not Believers.

Before one can properly place the events of chapter 2, verses 7-10 of chapter 1 must be thoroughly understood in light of the event of John's Revelation. What is Paul specifically referencing in these verses?

Without question, verses 7-10 describe the events of the tribulation period concluding with the Battle of Armageddon found in Revelation 19:11-21 (see notes). Verses 7-10 do not describe the rapture where the sum total of the event only involves the disappearance of saved (born again) people, according to I Thessalonians 4:13-18 (see notes). In verses 11-12, Paul encourages them to make certain they are part of the "Believers" of verse 10 and not the "unsaved" of verses 8-9.

In chapter 2, we'll see a great deal of specificity regarding this seven-year period that is characterized by the "vengeance" of verses 8-10. That vengeance culminates with the Battle of Armageddon. The whole period is figuratively referred to as "that day" in verse 10, a common phrase used to describe a period of time characterized by an event (both past and future) by the Old Testament prophets (see below for more details regarding the usage of the word "day").

Are we in the tribulation? (II Thessalonians 2:1-12)
IMPORTANT NOTE: You cannot understand the scenario of chapter 2 without thoroughly understanding the setup to the passage in II Thessalonians 1:7-10 (see above).

1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,
2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.
3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,
4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
5 ¶ Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.
8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,
10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,
12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

One more understanding is vital here. There is a difference between "tribulation" and "THE tribulation" in scripture. The Greek word for "tribulation" is "thlipsis" which is translated "trouble" or "tribulation." It's the word for general trouble in one's life. However, the prophecy regarding Daniel's seventieth week in Daniel 9:27 (see notes) describes a seven-year period which is commonly called "THE tribulation." That is the period described by Paul in this chapter.

Whatever misconceptions the Thessalonians may have had regarding where they were in relation to the tribulation, Paul seeks to clear it up right here in chapter 2. You will recall that Paul assured them that they were not "appointed to wrath" in I Thessalonians 5:9 (see notes), but from the answers supplied in this epistle, they still seem to be kinda worried about that. Verse 1 frames the concern: What about the "coming" (Greek: "parousia" - also often rendered "presence") of Jesus Christ AND "our gathering together to him?" Here's the issue: If they were not "appointed to wrath" what's all of this "tribulation" that they're experiencing about?

Verse 2 helps us understand how this concern escalated; let's look at it closely:

That false teaching to which these people had been exposed stated that the trouble they were experiencing meant that they were in the midst of THE tribulation. Paul's mission is to prove to them that they are NOT in THE tribulation.

So, Paul lays some heavy-duty prophecy on them regarding the tribulation period and the "beast" of Revelation 13 (see notes) who is commonly referred to today by people as the "antichrist." Biblical correctness would require us to refer to this puppet-leader of Satan as the "beast," but popular reference leads us to refer to him as "the antichrist." In actuality, the only references to "antichrist" in the New Testament are found in I John 2:18,22; 4:3; II John 1:7 (see notes). These may be references to the tribulation personality of Revelation 13 called the "beast," but it is not certain.

Many have misunderstood the usage of the word "day" in this and similar passages. They only understand the usage of this word in the context of describing a 24-hour period of time. Therefore, it seems to them that the word must describe the "day" the rapture takes place or the "day" Jesus returns to earth, etc. Actually, the word "day" of verse 3 is used figuratively like we use that word ourselves (i.e. "back in my day..." or "there's coming a day..."). You may find it helpful to read the notes on Philippians 1 (see notes) regarding the usage of the word "day." There is a consistency in scripture (Old and New Testaments) regarding the usage of this term, "day of the Lord." Whether it is talking about the attack of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Beast (aka Antichrist) or the tribulation itself, it usually refers to an event or series of events accompanied by severe judgment(s) upon people. In keeping with the essence of this scriptural usage, Paul is referring to a time (longer than 24 hours) with distinct unpleasant characteristics, specifically, the events of the tribulation.

So, here's what he says about that "day" (the tribulation period) of verse 3:

Don't be confused (II Thessalonians 2:13-17)

13 ¶ But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth,
14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.
16 ¶ Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace,
17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.

Paul encourages them (and us) to rest in the facts of the first 12 verses to recognize that we are to be delivered from these events through the pre-tribulation rapture of Believers. In verse 13 he acknowledges their salvation (as a community of Believers) by referring to them as "chosen," inasmuch as God had directed Paul to take the Gospel to them on his Second Missionary Journey (see map) in Acts 17 (see notes). As a result of the "sanctification [Greek: "hagiasmos" means "set apart"] of the spirit" and "belief in the truth," they were saved. Subsequently, verse 14 tells them that they were called to "glory" - that which is experienced by Jesus Christ himself in Heaven. That being the case, they are encouraged to "hold the traditions which you were taught" in verse 15. Those traditions include, not only his personal teaching to them ("by word"), but also "by letter," undoubtedly a reference to the guarantee that they were to be delivered from the "wrath" of I Thessalonians 5:9 (see notes). These comforting words are to be their "consolation" in verses 16-17.

I have provided the following chart for perspective in studying these passages.
Read the summary on Jesus' tribulation presentation (Matthew 24:1-31; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:5-28) for a fuller understanding.

Matthew 24 Timeline
You may click on the chart to view it in a separate window.

Y'all pray for us (II Thessalonians 3:1-5)

1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you,
2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.
3 ¶ But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.
4 And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you.
5 ¶ Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.

He asks that they pray for his ministry on two counts:

He expresses confidence in them and the Lord in keeping them from evil along with an exhortation to remain patient in the midst of the tribulation they are experiencing. The "patience of Christ" is a reference to the rapture (I Thessalonians 4:13-18, see notes).

Warning against busybody deadbeats (II Thessalonians 3:6-15)

6 ¶ But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.
7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you;
8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you,
9 not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.
10 ¶ For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.
11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.
12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.
13 ¶ But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.
14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.
15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

You've heard the verse, "Idleness is the devil's workshop." I hate to break this to you, but that's not a scripture. However, that does seem to be the essence of this passage on keeping busy. Everyone is encouraged to work. He points out that when one has idle time on his hands, he has a tendency to use that time negatively.

It seems likely that these verses are intended to put a stop to the bad teaching Paul has been dealing with in chapters 1-2. Consider this scenario: They had heard teaching that the persecution and trouble they were experiencing meant that they were in THE tribulation. People with idle time on their hands were spreading the word - the incorrect, false word. Assuming that to be the case, Paul tells them to avoid those who do not embrace the solid teachings of Paul (verse 6). He refers to them as "busybodies" and "disorderly" in verse 11. They don't work; they meddle. Paul offers himself as an example inasmuch as he worked his trade while he was among them and offers this rule of thumb designed to put a screeching halt to this idle spreading of bad tales and doctrine, "...If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat." Incidentally, in verse 9 he remarks that it was not for lack of "authority" that he chose to work rather than receive their support while there. Because of these who were "disorderly," he did so as an example. In verse 13 he encourages them to not become discouraged as they strive for excellence in the midst of their difficult times.

How are Paul's letters to be viewed? People have often asked me, "Did Paul know he was writing scripture when he wrote his letters?" Verses 14-15 demonstrate that he did, "And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." You can see that Paul was adamant that fellowship with Believers should only be maintained with those who embraced the teachings in Paul's own letters.

Goodbye! (II Thessalonians 3:16-18)

16 ¶ Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.
17 ¶ The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every epistle; so I write.
18 ¶ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

We saw in chapter 2 (see above) that letters apparently were circulating in Paul's name that were forgeries. Paul points out that, while he may have dictated this letter to a secretary, he wrote this salutation without help from a transcriber ("with my own hand"). This "sign" was to validate this letter as authentic.