Having completed First Thessalonians, we now come to Second Thessalonians, which is also quite an interesting little letter. While it only contains three chapters, it packs quite a punch for us today, and it is surrounded by controversy.
The first area of controversy is who actually wrote the letter? The traditional view is that it was written by Paul, and clearly the letter itself says so in 1:1. You might rightly ask why the controversy over authorship if the text itself says Paul wrote it, and to be honest with you, the answer is better suited to a Bonus Topic, and that is what I will write later in the week. For the purposes of these posts on 2Thessalonians, I will assume Paul is the author.
The second layer of controversy concerns when the letter was written. The traditional view is that it was written as a follow up to the first letter, and that is the assumption in these posts. However, a case can be made that this was actually the first letter, and the second is the follow up. The third layer of controversy swirls around the eschatology of the letter and the “Man of Lawlessness.” This controversy depends largely upon one’s point of view concerning millennial theories and their doctrines or lack of doctrines concerning “The Antichrist”. For the purposes of these observations, I will attempt to keep the texts in chapter 2 within the context of the letter, and let others speculate about whether or not there is another layer of significance.
Finally, there is also controversy concerning Paul’s teaching about unemployment, work and self-sufficiency in chapter 3. This controversy is much more recent than the others, and stems largely from modern day politics. It comes down to whether or not Paul is “mean spirited” when he expresses his thoughts on idleness, and whether or not the church should support members who do not choose to work for a living. I suppose that for many just phrasing it the way I have here would seem “mean spirited” but I simply put it the way Paul did, without volunteering my own thoughts on the subject. I will say, however, that in my personal view, interjecting modern politics into Scripture, whatever one’s opinions may be, is a dubious concept on its best day.
With all of that said, in my view, this letter was written by Paul as a follow up to his first letter for the purpose of encouragement in times of severe trial, and to correct some errors that had come to his attention after his first writing. We’ll begin in earnest in our tour through 2Thessalonians tomorrow morning a 6 am Eastern Time; see you then!