Do you get excited when you receive an actual hand-written letter? In today’s era, letters are a rare treat. But in Paul’s time, they were a necessary means of communication. This second epistle to the Thessalonians was likely written just a few months after the first one. Silas (also called Silvanus) and Timothy had probably hand-delivered 1 Thessalonians. When they returned to Paul at Corinth, they brought an alarming report: Someone had apparently been telling the church in Thessalonica that the “Day of the Lord” (Christ’s return) had already started (2 Thess. 2:1–2). Or perhaps the believers had received a fake letter, purporting to be from Paul, that claimed something similar.
Paul determined to straighten out this situation right away! Since the local government would not have been glad to see him again (see Acts 17:5–9), he wrote a second letter. The executive summary: “No, the ‘Day of the Lord’ has not yet begun. Christ hasn’t yet returned. If He had, you’d have been removed from this earth, because the Rapture precedes the Tribulation. But continue to live godly lives and stand firm under the persecution you’re facing.”
Second Thessalonians was authored by the apostle Paul (v. 1). Silas and Timothy were also mentioned because they were his missionary colleagues and they were already known to the believers in Thessalonica. They would most likely have delivered this second letter. Paul began by greeting them with “grace and peace” (v. 2). More than just customary, these words are hallmarks of our salvation. “Grace” is the unmerited favor of God, especially in salvation (Eph. 2:8–9). “Peace” signifies our God-initiated reconciliation with Him (Rom. 5:1). Theologically, Paul’s greeting offered his beloved friends in Thessalonica assurance of salvation and comfort in suffering.
>> We encourage you (again) to begin this study by reading the entire epistle in one sitting. Doing so can help us see the big picture rather than losing the forest in the trees.
Dear God, thank you for giving us your unmerited favor and for reconciling us with yourself. Renew our focus on your future coming and cause it to shape our lives in the present.