The *Lord has not come yet

An EasyEnglish Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians

Ian Mackervoy

The translated Bible text has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


About the letter

1       The writers

Like 1 Thessalonians, this letter is from Paul, Silas and Timothy. The writer of this letter used the same style as 1 Thessalonians and other letters that Paul wrote. This shows that Paul was the main author. Silas and Timothy are included in the greeting (2 Thessalonians 1:1). In many verses, ‘we’ write. This shows that all three of them agreed. The handwriting was not Paul’s since he wrote just the final greeting and prayer (2 Thessalonians 3:17). It seems that Paul dictated the letter, maybe to Timothy or Silas.

2       Time of writing

Paul, Silas and Timothy wrote this letter soon after the first letter. They had received further news about the Thessalonians while they were still in *Corinth city.

These two letters to the Thessalonians may be the earliest of the letters of Paul that we have. Paul and his friends wrote them between AD 50 and AD 53. That is about 20 years after Jesus died and rose again to life. Paul was in *Corinth about 18 months. So, the date of the second letter must have been near the end of that period.

3       Purposes for the letter

Paul and his friends received news from Thessalonica after that church had received the first letter. This news showed that the Thessalonians still needed someone to teach them about some subjects. They had not understood some of what was in the first letter. So, the purpose of the second letter was to make things clear to them.

1          They must expect *persecution because they trust in the *Lord Jesus. But God has a purpose in allowing them to suffer and he will reward them (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). Paul and his friends write to give them strength and to encourage them.

2          The Thessalonians seem to have some strange ideas about the return of Christ. Some said that the *Lord had already come. But this is not right (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2). Some thought that the *Lord would come at any moment. The return of the *Lord will be sudden. But, there are things that must happen before he comes (2 Thessalonians 2:3‑12).

3          Some of the Thessalonian Christians were lazy. They had given up their work. It could be that they expected the *Lord to come very soon. They depended on their friends to keep them and feed them. Paul had mentioned this subject in the first letter (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Now he tells them what they should do to those who refuse to work (2 Thessalonians 3:6-13).

4       The plan of the letter

Chapter 1

Greetings from Paul, Silas and Timothy 1:1-2

Thanking God for the Thessalonians 1:3-4

The judgement of God and *salvation of Christians 1:5-10

Prayer for the Thessalonians 1:11-12

Chapter 2

The *Lord has not come yet 2:1-2

The wicked man must come first 2:3-12

Thanks to God for the Thessalonians 2:13-15

Prayer for them 2:16-17

Chapter 3

A request for prayer 3:1-2

Confidence in God for them 3:3-5

About those who are lazy 3:6-13

Paul warns them to obey 3:14-15

A prayer for *peace 3:16

Signature and final prayer 3:17-18

Chapter 1

Greetings from Paul, Silas and Timothy 1:1-2

v1 This letter is from Paul, Silas and Timothy. It is to the church in Thessalonica, which belongs to God our Father and the *Lord Jesus Christ.

v2 May God our Father and the *Lord Jesus Christ give you *grace and *peace.

Verse 1 This letter is from Paul, Silas and Timothy. The language is so like his other letters that it shows that Paul is the main author. The church in Thessalonica belongs to God our Father. God is the Father of both the writers of the letter and the Christians in Thessalonica.

Verse 2 It was typical for a *Jewish letter to begin with *grace and *peace. Here the writers add where the *grace and *peace come from. They come from God our Father and the *Lord Jesus Christ. In this greeting, the writers show that the *Lord Jesus, as well as the Father, is God. We receive God’s kindness when we do not deserve it. This is the *grace of God. It is the action of God for us because he loves us. We cannot earn his *grace; it is a gift from him. The *peace that God gives is in our hearts and minds. It makes us feel calm and well inside, and events cannot stop us feeling like this.

Thanking God for the Thessalonians 1:3-4

v3 We must always thank God for you, our *brothers and *sisters. It is right for us to do so, because your *faith is growing so much. And the love you all have for each other is increasing too. v4 This is why we ourselves are so proud of you. We are proud of you as we visit the churches of God in other places. We tell them how strong your *faith in God is, even in the troubles and *persecution that you have.

Verse 3 Paul, Silas and Timothy felt that they had a duty to thank God for these Christians. But it was more than a duty. They wanted to thank God for what he had done in the lives of these *brothers and *sisters. They were very grateful for the progress of the Thessalonians. So, when they prayed they thanked God for them.

They called these Christians their *brothers and *sisters. They called God ‘our Father’, meaning the father of the Thessalonians and of the writers. They all belong to the same family. They are *brothers and *sisters in the family of God.

Paul, Silas and Timothy gave thanks to God because the *faith of the Thessalonians was so much stronger than it had been. It was not that they were weak before. At the start of the first letter, the writers spoke about the work of *faith of these *believers (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Paul had hoped to come to Thessalonica to help them to grow in *faith (1 Thessalonians 3:10). Yet although Paul could not come, these Christians had grown so much stronger in *faith.

In all of that country, the people knew about the love that these Christians had for each other. However, the writers had urged them to love more (1 Thessalonians 4:10). They had asked the *Lord to cause the love of the Thessalonians to increase (1 Thessalonians 3:12). The love of these Christians was now more than it had been. They had done what the writers had asked them. And so, God had answered the prayer. That is why Paul and his friends thanked God.

Verse 4 News about the progress at Thessalonica had reached all of the regions of *Macedonia and *Achaia. They had heard how that church had started. They knew how the Thessalonians had received Paul and his friends. They knew that they had accepted the good news about the *Lord Jesus. Then, although Paul had to leave them, their belief in the *Lord continued to grow.

When Paul and his friends went to other churches, they spoke about the Thessalonians. They were so proud of them. They told how, although they had had much trouble, the Thessalonians remained loyal to the *Lord Jesus. These Christians suffered with quiet patience. The result of all this *persecution was to make their *faith in God so much stronger. The writers were so impressed and pleased by this that they wanted everyone to know about it. This should encourage all the Christians as they too suffered for their *faith in God.

The judgement of God and *salvation of Christians 1:5-10

v5 The judgement of God is right. And all this shows that he will accept you. As a result, you will be able to live in his *kingdom, for which you now suffer. v6 God will punish those who cause you to suffer. It is right that he should do so. v7 He will give relief to you who suffer and to us as well. This will be when the *Lord Jesus comes from heaven with his powerful *angels and with fire. v8 He will punish those who do not know God. And he will punish those who do not obey the *gospel of our *Lord Jesus. v9 He will destroy them for ever. The *Lord will send them away from him and from the *glory of his power. v10 When Jesus comes, on that day, all his people will give him *glory. All who trust in God will admire him. You have believed the message that we told you. So, you too will be among them.

Verse 5 The Thessalonians were firm and strong, as they had to suffer. They kept their belief in God through all the troubles that they had. All this is evidence both to the Thessalonians and to Paul and his friends. It shows that their *faith is genuine. And it shows that God’s judgement is right. When God judges all the people, these Christians will be safe. The *Lord Jesus will come. Then God will judge as guilty those who *persecute the Christians.

The Thessalonians were suffering because they believed in the *Lord Jesus. They believed that Jesus would come. And they believed that he would set up his own *kingdom. That *kingdom will never end. It is the *kingdom of God. All who believe in the *Lord Jesus now will live with him in that *kingdom.

To suffer for being a Christian is to suffer for the *kingdom of God. They suffer because they are loyal to the king. The *Lord Jesus is the king. The *Lord Jesus will come. Then God will bless all those who suffered for him. His judgement will be that, as they belong to Christ, they are able to live in that *kingdom. They will not have earned this for themselves. It is all by the *grace of God and a result of what the *Lord Jesus has done for them.

Verse 6 The judgement of God is proper and right. God will pay back those who *persecute Christians. They will receive trouble from the *Lord for what they have done. This trouble that they will suffer is the subject of verse 9. None of them will be able to go into the *kingdom of God.

Verse 7 The *Lord Jesus will come from heaven. Then he will punish those who cause Christians to suffer. At the same time, he will give rest to those who have suffered. This rest will be relief from all their troubles. And they will not suffer any more. He will take away those who love him, to be with himself. They will start the rest that he has promised. And they will live in the *kingdom of God. There they will enjoy him. And they will live with him in a life that has no end. The promise of this rest is not just for the Thessalonians. It is also for Paul, Silas and Timothy, since they too have suffered. They have suffered because of their trust in the *Lord Jesus.

Christ is now in heaven where we cannot see him. But then he will come and all people will see him. It will be a magnificent sight as he comes through the clouds. He will come in power with his army of *angels, and with fire. People will wonder and be afraid as he appears.

Verse 8 God has made the *Lord Jesus the judge on his behalf (John 5:22). He will give effect to the judgements of God. The writers believe that God will punish one group of people first. They are the people who have caused Christians to suffer (verse 6 above). But the judgement of God is much wider than that. It extends to all who do not know God. These people do not respect God. They do not *worship him or have *faith in him. They do not know him as their God and Father.

Those who do not obey the *gospel are those who have refused the *Lord Jesus. God will forgive all who accept the *gospel and believe in the *Lord Jesus Christ. God has dealt with their *sins by the death of the *Lord Jesus. But God will punish for their *sins those who have not obeyed the *gospel.

Verse 9 The life that God gives to Christians is not just being alive. It is a relationship for this life, and it continues after they die. But God will condemn those who do not know him (he will say that they are guilty). Their punishment will be that God will put them away from him for ever. They will never have another opportunity to turn to God and there will be no hope for them. The guilty ones will not see the honour and power of the *Lord Jesus. They will not share in the wonder and joy of the *kingdom of God.

Verse 10 At the time when the *Lord Jesus comes, the judgement of God will come into effect. Then the punishment of those who have not obeyed the *gospel will begin. The *Lord Jesus will receive honour and praise from those who believed in him. The *Greek refers to them as the ‘holy ones’. All who love him are looking forward and waiting for him to come. When he appears, they will give him a great welcome. The *glory of that day and of the *Lord will excite them with great joy.

Jesus will receive all the honour and the praise because of what he has done for his people. He has saved them from their *sins and he will call them up to meet him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). The *Lord Jesus will be among them. And they will praise and admire him. He will change them to be like himself (1 John 3:2). Then all of them will reflect his *glory.

The Thessalonian Christians have put their trust in the *Lord Jesus. They believed the *gospel that Paul and his friends had *preached. Because of this, they will be included among those who will be with the *Lord Jesus on that day. They have died but the *Lord will raise them from the dead (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

Prayer for the Thessalonians 1:11-12

v11 That is why we always pray for you. We ask that our God will consider you fit for the life to which he has called you. We pray that his power will help you by *faith to do all the good things that please him. And so you will achieve what he desires for you. v12 In this way, the name of our *Lord Jesus will receive *glory from you. You also will receive *glory from him, by the *grace of our God and the *Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 11 In addition to thanking God for the Thessalonians, Paul, Silas and Timothy also pray for them. The prayer that follows is that through them the *Lord will receive honour. They ask that God will consider the Thessalonians ready to receive the life that is to come. That *salvation depends on the *grace of God and not on the works of the Thessalonians. God has called them and he will complete his promise to save them. This prayer does not mean that there was any doubt about that. They had already shown that God would accept these Thessalonian Christians (verse 5). Being sure that God will keep his promise does not mean that we should stop praying for it.

The writers want the Thessalonians to live to please God. They recognise that no one can do this in their own strength. Without *faith it is not possible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). So, the prayer is that God will help them by his power. He alone can give them the strength to do every good thing that they have the desire to do. Then by the power of God and by their *faith they will also be able to achieve what God wants from them.

Verse 12 The name of our *Lord Jesus means the person of Jesus. He is the *Lord and all the *glory is due to him. As the writers pray for the Thessalonians, the result that they look for is the honour of the *Lord Jesus. The prayer is that the *Lord Jesus will have *glory because of the *faith of the Thessalonians. The Thessalonians who have lived by *faith in the *Lord will also receive honour when the *Lord Jesus comes. They could never be good enough to deserve such a reward. But they will receive it because of the kindness of God and of the *Lord Jesus Christ. This *grace is from both God the Father and God the Son.

The *Lord Jesus shares in the lives of Christians here on earth. They also share in his life. So the *Scriptures talk about the *Lord Jesus living in them and the *believers as being in Christ. They will share together in the *glory of that time when the *Lord Jesus comes again. He will have *glory in them and they will have *glory in him.

Chapter 2

The *Lord has not come yet 2:1-2

v1 Now *brothers and *sisters, do not worry about the return of our *Lord Jesus Christ. When he comes, he will gather us all to himself. v2 Some people may say that the *day of the Lord has already come. Take no notice of anyone who says that. There may be *prophecies that say that. If so, they are false. There may be reports or letters that seem to have come from us. But if they say that, we did not write them.

Verses 1-2 Paul, Silas and Timothy had already taught the Thessalonians that the *Lord Jesus would come again. Before he comes, those who believe in Christ will have to go through many troubles. But when he comes, he will take those Christians who are alive on earth to be with him. They will join with all those Christians who have died. God will raise up those Christians from the dead. So the *Lord will take the whole of his church up from the earth (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17). That will be the start of the *day of the Lord. The ‘day of the Lord’ is not a 24-hour day but a period of time. It covers many events. It will be a time when God will defeat all his enemies (Isaiah 2:12). In his anger, he will destroy them (Isaiah 13:9). This will bring trouble on the earth (Isaiah 13:11; Amos 5:18). It is a way of talking about the time when the *Lord will deliver the nation of *Israel (Jeremiah 30:7-9). It also is a way of speaking about the time when God will set up his *kingdom on the earth.

But other people taught that the *day of the Lord had already come and was now present. This worried the church in Thessalonica. It was wrong to teach this, and the Thessalonian Christians should not accept it. If the *day of the Lord had already started, then Jesus would come very soon. But there are certain events that must take place before he comes. The writers show what these are in the next few verses.

Many of these false ideas seemed to have come with Paul’s authority. Some people said that a *prophecy from Paul and his friends taught that the day had come. Some spoke messages and they said that they had come from Paul, Silas and Timothy. There were letters that some said that Paul and his friends had sent. All of these things taught that the *day of the Lord had begun. None of them had actually come from Paul, Silas and Timothy. The Thessalonians should refuse all of these ideas and not allow them to upset the church. They should not let these false ideas worry them in their minds and spirits.

The wicked man must come first 2:3-12

v3 Do not listen to anyone who tells you these wrong things. Before that day, there will be a time when many will turn away from God. A powerful and wicked man will also come, but the *Lord will destroy him. v4 This man will oppose God. And he will oppose everything that people call God. He will oppose everything that people *worship. He will say that he is more powerful than all of them. He will even sit in the *temple of God and say that he is God.

v5 I told you these things when I was with you. You remember that. v6 Now you know what stops this man from coming yet. But the wicked man will come at the proper time. v7 The secret power of evil is even now at work in the world. But someone is holding it back. When God takes that person out of the way, the evil power will increase. v8 Then that wicked man will come. But the *Lord Jesus will kill him with the breath from his mouth, and destroy him by the *glory of his appearance. v9 *Satan will cause that wicked man to come. He will come with the power of *Satan. He will do all kinds of false but wonderful things. v10 He will speak with wicked lies to those who do not trust in God. And they will believe him. They will die because they did not receive and love the truth. So, God could not save them. v11 So God sends the power of error to work in them so that they believe wrong things. v12 Some people have not believed the truth, but have enjoyed *sin. God will punish all those people.

Verse 3 Some people had tried to convince the Thessalonians that the *day of the Lord had started. We do not know if they did not understand the truth. But perhaps they had some other intentions. From verse 2, it seems that they lied about where they had got what they taught. The writers tell the Thessalonians not to believe these people, because the *day of the Lord had not yet come.

There will be two major events before the *day of the Lord comes. There will be a period of time in which many will turn away from God. Then a powerful and evil man will come. Neither of these two events had yet happened. At that time, many who said that they were Christians will change They will deny that they believe in the *Lord. Paul, Silas and Timothy had told the Thessalonians about that time which is to come. They called it the ‘falling away’. There always will be some who say that they believe but later turn away from the *Lord. But in the ‘falling away’, a large number of people will deny that they believe in the *Lord. The ‘falling away’ is more than just to deny the *Lord. It includes turning against him as well. That had not yet happened so the *day of the Lord had not yet come.

The ‘falling away’ will come first and then a wicked man will have authority. He is the Man of *Sin. He will do what is against the law of God. In the *Greek, it calls him the ‘son of ruin’, because the *Lord will destroy him. He will be a powerful ruler for a time. But the *Lord Jesus will fight against him and defeat him.

Verse 4 In all that he does, this Man of *Sin will oppose God. He will *persecute all who believe in the *Lord. He will be against all the religions of the world and their gods. He will say that he is greater than God is. And he will say that he is better than all other gods. Paul says that he will go into the most holy part of the *temple of God. There he will sit down. And he will say that he is God. He will command all the people to *worship him as God. The *Lord Jesus spoke about this in the *Gospels (Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14). The *Lord Jesus referred to the *prophet Daniel who wrote about this event (Daniel 9:26-27; 11:31-37). This partly came true before the time of Jesus. A *Greek ruler stopped the daily offering of animals to God in the *temple. But Jesus was probably speaking about the time when the *Roman army destroyed the *temple in AD 70.

The *temple of God was in *Jerusalem city. But the *Roman army destroyed the *temple in AD 70, soon after Paul wrote. So these words may not mean that the Man of *Sin will enter a man-made temple. Paul might have been using picture language to say that this Man of *Sin will try to put himself in the place of God. Or they may mean that the *Jews will have to build the *temple again before the ‘son of ruin’ can enter it.

Verse 5 Paul expected the Thessalonians to remember what he taught them while he was with them. They should have remembered what he said. He had already told them about the ‘falling away’ and that the ‘Man of *Sin’ would come. They should have known that these events were to happen first before the *day of the Lord. There should have been no confusion about this.

Verse 6 The Man of *Sin will come when the *Lord allows him to come. Until that time someone or some force will stop him coming. The Thessalonians knew who that person or that force was. Paul, Silas and Timothy had told them this while they were with them. But the writers did not say who or what it was in this letter.

The most likely force that is stopping the Man of *Sin is the power or the Spirit of God. God will not allow this man to come until the proper time. That is the time fixed by God for this evil man to appear. No one knows when it will be. But it is just before or it is part of the *day of the Lord.

Verse 7 There is a power of *sin, which is already at work in the world. The Thessalonians could not know the secret of that power, because they could not see it. They could see the effects of evil in what it did. And they could see it in the troubles that they suffered. That evil power cannot now do all that it wants to do. This is because there is someone who stops it. That person, who limits the force of evil, also holds back the Man of *Sin. The ‘falling away’ and the ‘Man of *Sin’ will not come until God takes that person away. When the time comes that God has planned, he will remove that person. This will allow the Man of *Sin to come and then the full force of this secret power of *sin will come.

Verse 8 God will remove the person who is stopping the wicked man. Then the wicked man will come. For a short period, he will have power on the earth. The forces of *sin will be free to do all kinds of evil and wicked things. After this, the *Lord Jesus Christ will come to the earth and destroy that wicked man. Jesus will destroy him by the breath of his mouth. It is as if the breath of Christ is a fierce sword, which will kill the enemy. It may be that the words of Christ will have special power to destroy the man. Or perhaps it is the command of Christ that results in the death of the man.

When they see Christ coming, all his enemies will be afraid. They know that his arrival will be their end, because he will destroy them all.

Verse 9 The wicked man cannot come until God takes away the one who stops him. When God allows it, *Satan will send that Man of *Sin. He will come as *Satan’s agent, full of his power to do his evil work. That work is to lead people away from God, to cheat and destroy them.

The Man of *Sin will come with all kinds of powerful works. These will show him to be someone great. He is the false Christ, the one who is instead of Christ. The wonderful things that he does will attract people to him. They will *worship him as God. It will seem that the power of God is at work in all these things. Many will accept that lie for the truth. The reality is that the power is from the devil. The devil always lies. His purpose is to draw people away from the true God.

Verse 10 What the Man of *Sin says and does is attractive. He will impress all those who do not trust in the true God. By what he does and says, he will trap people. They will believe his lies and will trust him. All that he does is false, because his power comes from the evil one.

The people had refused to accept the truth. The right choice could have brought them *salvation. The truth could have saved them from the lies of the Man of *Sin. But they did not love the truth. They did not turn to Christ. They chose not to receive *salvation from God. As a result, they will die a death without hope.

Verse 11 The people did not receive the love of the truth. Therefore, God will cause a power to work in them so that they believe the lie. There is here a moral principle that God has made. It is the rule of life that those who refuse the truth will go further into error. A power works in those who will not accept the truth. That power causes them to believe a lie.

The Man of *Sin actually attracts them to trust in what is false. He is the agent of *Satan for this purpose. *Satan is the author of all that is false. But God will send a power to persuade those who refused the truth to accept *Satan’s lies. The final error is to believe that God is not God.

Verse 12 When people hear the truth of the *gospel of Christ, they must make a choice. They can accept the *gospel as true and put their trust in God. Then God will take away all their *sins and give them new life with him. Or they can refuse the *gospel. That is to prefer what *sin has to offer to what the *gospel says. God will cause those who have refused the *gospel to believe the lie. It was their choice and they are responsible for it. They had pleasure in what was wrong and God will punish them.

Thanks to God for the Thessalonians 2:13-15

v13 We must always thank God for you, *brothers and *sisters, because the *Lord loves you. God chose from the beginning to save you. He does this by the work of the Holy Spirit, who makes you holy, and by your *faith in the truth. v14 God called you to this through the good news about Jesus that we told you. He calls you to share in the *glory of our *Lord Jesus Christ. v15 So then, *brothers and *sisters, be firm. And hold to the truth that we taught you, both as we talked with you and in our letter.

Verse 13 The writers thank God for the Thessalonians. They feel that they owe it to God to thank him. These Thessalonians are their *brothers and *sisters whom the *Lord loves. It is because God and the *Lord Jesus love people that God chooses to save them. The *salvation of God is both a present joy and a future hope. God chose to save these Thessalonians from the beginning. That is before time began, because God created time and all things. He chose them to be among the first to receive his *salvation. He saved them from the judgement that is to come for all people. Those whom he has saved love the truth and they will not accept the lies of the devil. So, they will escape the punishment for their *sin.

It is by *faith in the truth that people receive the *salvation of God. The truth is the *gospel of the *Lord Jesus Christ. God gives new life to the *believers and the Holy Spirit lives in them. The Spirit works to change them and to make them holy.

Verse 14 Paul, Silas and Timothy *preached the *gospel of Christ to the Thessalonians. God called the Thessalonians by this method. He called them in order to save them from their *sins and to give them a new life with him. It was God’s desire that they should obtain *glory. It was God’s desire that they should share in the *glory that the *Lord Jesus has. They will do this when the *Lord Jesus comes for his people.

They did not earn it or in any other way get *glory for themselves. The *Lord does it all on their behalf.

Verse 15 When Paul, Silas and Timothy were in Thessalonica, they taught them about Christ and about the Christian *faith. After Paul and his friends had left Thessalonica, they had written to them. In the first letter to the Thessalonians, they taught them about many things. Timothy had also been back to Thessalonica. No doubt, he taught them while he was there. The Thessalonians must continue to believe what these three had taught them. They had taught the truths of the Christian *faith.

There were other teachers, some of whom were false. Some even said that they had Paul’s authority for what they taught. The Thessalonians had to refuse all that was false. They should hold on to what was true. They should be strong in their *faith in the *Lord. They should not let *persecution or false teachers cause them to turn from the truth.

Prayer for them 2:16-17

v16 We ask our *Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father to help you. God loved us and gave us strong courage and a firm hope in *grace. v17 May he encourage you. And may he make you strong always to do and say what is good.

Verse 16 The Thessalonians could not remain strong in their *faith without the help of God. So, Paul and his friends ask for this help on their behalf. They appeal to our *Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father. In the *Greek, the *Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father ‘is the one who loved us’. This teaches again that Jesus is one with God the Father. The Father and the Son, with the Holy Spirit, are the one true God. Both the *Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father loved the Thessalonians, as well as Paul, Silas and Timothy.

God loved them. So, he encouraged them and gave them good hope. The good hope was the promise of life after death. That hope is the sure certainty of a life with God that will not end. They did not deserve or earn the benefits of this hope. It is the free gift of God to those whom he loves.

Verse 17 In the *Greek ‘he’ is both the *Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father. This again shows the unity of the Son and the Father in the one God. ‘May the *Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father encourage you and make you strong’. The purpose of this prayer is that the Thessalonians will be able always to do and say what is good. They will have the strength to refuse to do or say all that is not good.

Chapter 3

A request for prayer 3:1-2

v1 For the rest, *brothers and *sisters, please pray for us. Ask the *Lord that he will use us to spread his good news quickly to many more people. Pray that they will honour God’s word. And pray that they will believe it even as you did. v2 Pray also that God will keep us safe from wicked and evil people. They will not believe what we teach.

Verse 1 The writers have dealt with the major questions. To close the letter they ask the Thessalonians to keep on praying for them. Then it seems that they thought of another matter, about which they needed to write. So, the letter goes on beyond verse 5 for that reason.

The prayers that they ask for are not for their own personal matters. They are rather for the *preaching of the *gospel. They ask the Thessalonians to pray for them in their work of spreading the good news. They want the good news about the *Lord to spread quickly. This means that more and more people will hear the message. The message of the *gospel is God’s word. They wanted people to know that the *gospel was the truth. They wanted people to see that it is the word of the true God and respect it as such.

When Paul, Silas and Timothy came to Thessalonica, they *preached the *gospel there. Many of the Thessalonians saw that this was the truth. And so they believed it. They then told other people about the *Lord and so the *gospel spread. Now the desire of the writers is that the same will happen in other places. They want people to believe just as the Thessalonians did.

Verse 2 As Paul, Silas and Timothy wrote this letter, they were having bad problems in *Corinth. There were many in *Corinth and in other places that were opposed to them. These enemies were trying to stop them from *preaching the *gospel. Many of these were *Jews. These *Jews did not accept that Jesus was the Christ. There were also the *Gentiles who had not believed in the *Lord Jesus Christ. These wicked and evil people attacked Paul and his friends. They would not come to the *Lord and they tried to stop other people from coming to him.

Not everyone has the *faith to believe the good news. Many who hear what the Christians teach will not accept it as the truth. Lack of *faith explains the bad attitude some have to Christ and to his people.

Confidence in God for them 3:3-5

v3 But the *Lord keeps his promises to us. So, he will make you strong and guard you from everything evil. v4 We are sure that the *Lord is helping you to do what we tell you. And we are sure that he will continue to do so. v5 May the *Lord show you more of the love of God in and for you. May he show you how patient and strong Christ was. And may he help you to be the same.

Verse 3 Here Paul is contrasting people and the *Lord. We cannot always trust people but we can trust the *Lord. People may fail us but the *Lord never will. The *Lord will do what he has promised. We can have confidence that. The Thessalonians can depend on the *Lord to give them strength and to protect them. He will make them strong to overcome all the attacks of the devil. The *Lord will stand over them like a guard to keep them safe. He will not allow the enemy to get through. Those who trust in the *Lord can be sure that *Satan cannot defeat them. They are safe in the *Lord.

Verse 4 The writers were confident that the *Lord would cause the Thessalonians to do the right thing. They were sure that the Thessalonians would go on living as they had taught them. Paul and his friends knew that they could depend on the *Lord to help the Thessalonians to do it.

Verse 5 They need the help of the *Lord to live as they should. They need to realise the love that God has for them. So Paul, Silas and Timothy ask that the *Lord will cause them to know more about the love of God. God loves them and his love is in them. The love of God will be a strong force in the lives of the *believers.

The *Lord Jesus showed the love of God when he came to this earth. His whole life displayed patience and strength. The prayer is that this character may be in them as well. So then they may be able to live right, even through all the troubles that they may have to suffer.

About those who are lazy 3:6-13

v6 *Brothers and *sisters, keep away from Christians who are lazy. Such people do not live in the way that we taught you. We tell you to do this by the authority that the *Lord Jesus Christ gives to us. v7 You yourselves know very well that you should live as we did. We were not lazy when we were with you. v8 We did not depend on any of you for our food without paying for it. No, we worked hard night and day. We earned what we needed. So we did not have to charge you anything at all. v9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to expect such help. But we did it so as to be an example of how you should live. v10 Because when we were with you, we gave you this rule: Whoever refuses to work should not eat.

v11 We say this because we hear that some among you are lazy. They talk about other people but do no work themselves. v12 By the authority that we have in the *Lord Jesus Christ, we urge them to work quietly. They must earn the money to buy their own food. v13 But you, *brothers and *sisters, must never tire of doing good things.

Verse 6 Paul, Silas and Timothy had taught the new Christians at Thessalonica that they should work. It was not right for those who would not work to depend on their friends to provide for them. The writers had urged the church to warn those who would not work (1 Thessalonians 5:14). But that warning had not had the effect that they had desired. There were still those who would not work. We do not know why they did not work. It may be that they were just lazy. Perhaps they thought that the *Lord was coming soon. So they thought that they did not need to work. It was not that they could not work or that there was no work for them to do. They chose not to work.

Here is what the church ought to do about this situation. All the members should keep away from those who were lazy. This would show that they did not approve of the manner of life of the lazy person. This is what Paul and his friends command them to do. For this they say that they have the authority of the *Lord Jesus Christ. What they tell them to do is a command from the *Lord.

Verses 7-9 Paul, Silas and Timothy had made it very clear to the Thessalonians how they should live. They had given to the Thessalonians a model to follow by the way that they lived. In those early days, the Thessalonians did copy their way of life (1 Thessalonians 1:6). Paul, Silas and Timothy were not lazy while they were in Thessalonica. They worked very hard. They worked night and day to provide for themselves while they taught about the *Lord Jesus. The long hours of hard labour must have been very tiring. But they did it so that they could *preach the *gospel. They did not depend on the Thessalonians for anything. They earned enough for all their needs. This does not mean that they would not accept an invitation to a meal. But it does mean that they would not depend on other people for their daily needs.

The Thessalonians had seen this. And so they knew the principles by which the three men had lived. They knew that they should follow the same principles. Each one ought to work to provide for themselves and for those who depend on them. All who can work should work.

The *Lord Jesus sent his followers out to *preach the good news. He told them to take nothing with them. They were to expect those to whom they went to provide for them (Luke 10:1-7). This was a principle. Those who *preach the word of God have the right to expect this provision (1 Corinthians 9:14). Paul stated that he had that right when he wrote to the *Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9:4-5). So, Paul and his friends did not have to work so hard. They could have asked for food and other provision from those who had become Christians. But they decided not to insist on this right. Instead, they worked hard so that there would be no cost to the Thessalonians. In doing this, they gave the Thessalonians a model that they should copy.

Verse 10 When Paul and his friends were in Thessalonica, they had given them a definite rule. Now they repeat that command in plain words. The Christians should not provide for those of their number who will not work. People who refuse to work do not deserve food to eat. If they will not work, let them go hungry.

Verse 11 Some people had come from Thessalonica to *Corinth. They said that there were still those among the Christians there who were lazy. They had not obeyed the teaching in the first letter (1 Thessalonians 4:11 and 5:14). That is why Paul, Silas and Timothy wrote what they did in verse 10. The problem was not only that these people did not work. It was not just that they were wrong to expect other Christians to feed them. They also got involved in things that were nothing to do with them.

Verse 12 Paul and his friends say that they have the authority of the *Lord Jesus Christ. So, they command the lazy ones to work quietly. They command them to earn the food that they eat. They also urge them as *brothers and *sisters to work, to provide for themselves. They should no longer spend their time on the affairs of other people. But they should go about their own affairs in a quiet manner.

Verse 13 Now Paul and his friends turn to the rest of the Christians. They urge them to keep on doing what is right. They must not give up in the struggle against all that is wrong.

Paul warns them to obey 3:14-15

v14 Perhaps some there will not obey what we have told you in this letter. See who they are. And have nothing to do with them, so that they will be ashamed. v15 But do not think of them as enemies. Rather warn them as *brothers and *sisters.

Verse 14 Paul, Silas and Timothy think that some probably will not obey the command. Some may choose to continue their manner of life and not work. Paul now describes how the Christians should deal with those people. The first thing to do is to discover who these persons are. This may mean to write down their names so that the whole church can act. Because the Christians need to know against whom they are to take action.

They should be firm as they deal with these who will not obey the rules. They should have nothing to do with them. They should not feed them or provide for them. Then the guilty persons will see that they are wrong. They may be ashamed and perhaps they will *repent and change.

Verse 15 These are Christians who are wrong. They are not enemies. They are *brothers and *sisters. The church should not throw them out. They are still part of the church. It is the duty of the other Christians to warn them. But they should do it with love, because they are *brothers and *sisters.

A prayer for *peace 3:16

v16 Now I pray that the *Lord himself, who is where *peace comes from, may give you his *peace always and in every way. May the *Lord be with you all.

Verse 16 The *Lord is the *Lord Jesus Christ. He has promised to give his *peace to his people (John 14:27). This is an inner *peace that nothing can take away. It means that every part of us is working as it should. This *peace comes from the *Lord Jesus. He alone can give it to them. The prayer is that the *Lord Jesus would give this *peace to the Thessalonians at all times. It is that this *peace should remain in them always and in all circumstances.

The *Lord is always present with them (Matthew 28:20). He lives in them by his Holy Spirit. This prayer asks that the Thessalonians may know that the *Lord is with them. It is a prayer for the *Lord to guide them and keep them by being with them.

Signature and final prayer 3:17-18

v17 I, Paul, greet you. You see that I have written this myself. This is how I sign all the letters that I write.

v18 I pray that the *grace of the *Lord Jesus Christ will be with you all.

Verse 17 Up to this point Paul had dictated the letter. Someone else wrote it down. Now Paul takes the pen and adds the final greeting. There was the danger that the Thessalonians could receive letters that said that they were from Paul. It could be that this had already happened (2 Thessalonians 2:2). So, Paul says that this is his handwriting. In every letter that comes from Paul, he writes the greeting and he signs it. If the signature is not there then the letter is not from Paul. This letter is genuine; it comes from Paul.

Verse 18 This greeting is the same as at the end of the first letter except that Paul adds the word ‘all’. Paul wanted to send his good wishes to all the Christians in Thessalonica. This included even those who had not yet obeyed what he wrote. The *grace of our *Lord Jesus Christ is what the *Lord Jesus gives. It is the benefit that comes to them because of what he has done. It is *grace because they did not deserve it.

Word List

Achaia ~ the southern part of modern Greece, see *Macedonia.

angel ~ a *spirit person. God made angels to serve him and to take his messages.

believers ~ Christians, that is those who believe and trust in the *Lord Jesus Christ.

brothers ~ other men who are Christians and believe in the *Lord Jesus Christ.

Corinth ~ a city in *Achaia.

day of the Lord ~ see the note about 2:1-2 above.

faith ~ trust in someone or something; belief and trust in God and in Jesus Christ his Son.

Gentiles ~ people who are not *Jews.

glory ~ great honour and beauty.

gospel ~ the good news that God saves people from *sin through Jesus Christ.

Gospels ~ the first four books of the New Testament (the second part of the Bible): Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

grace ~ God’s kindness to us in saving and helping us, that we do not deserve.

Greek ~ the language that Paul and his friends used to write this letter.

Greeks ~ the people from the country called Greece.

idol ~ something that a person makes to *worship as a god.

Israel ~ the country of the *Jews.

Jerusalem ~ the capital city of *Israel.

Jews ~ people who were born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.

Jewish ~ describes people or things that are from the *Jews.

kingdom ~ the place or territory where a king rules. The kingdom of God is not a place as such but it is where God is the king.

Lord ~ a title for God, or Jesus, to show that he is over all people and things. It is also the special name that God gave to himself in the Old Testament (the second part of the Bible), as in 'the day of the Lord'.

Macedonia ~ the northern part of modern Greece; see *Achaia.

peace ~ when we have no troubles in our mind or spirit; when every part of us is working as it should.

persecute ~ to attack and hurt people because they believe in Christ.

persecution ~ when enemies of God hurt people because they believe in Christ.

preach ~ to speak out the message from God and to teach his word.

prophecy ~ when someone speaks a message from God; a gift of the Holy Spirit.

prophet ~ person who speaks for God. He can sometimes say what will happen in the future.

repent ~ to change one’s mind and heart; to turn away from *sin and turn to God. To turn one’s mind and heart away from *sin is to repent.

Roman ~ Rome was the capital city of the rulers at that time. Their army was the Roman army. Rome is in Italy.

salvation ~ the result of God saving us from *sin and punishment; the new life that God gives to believers in the *Lord Jesus.

Satan ~ the name of the devil.

Scripture ~ the books of the Bible.

sin ~ sin is the wrong things that we do. To sin is to do wrong, bad or evil; not to obey God.

sisters ~ other women who are Christians and believe in the *Lord Jesus Christ.

spirit ~ spirits are alive, but we cannot see them.

temple ~ the building in which people *worshipped God (or an *idol).

worship ~ the act of giving honour to God (or an *idol) with praise, thanks and respect. To worship is to give honour to God (or to an *idol).

Book List

William Barclay ~ The Letters to the Thessalonians ~ Daily Study Bible

F. F. Bruce ~ in Word Biblical Commentary

F. F. Bruce ~ The New Bible Commentary (IVF)

William Hendriksen ~ New Testament Commentary

C. S. Keener ~ Background Commentary ~ IVP

Leon Morris ~ Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians ~ The Tyndale New Testament


R. L. Thomas ~ in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

W. E. Vine ~ Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

Exegetical Summaries ~ Summer Institute of Linguistics


© 1997-2003, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

July 2003

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