Paul and Jesus: The True Story

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11 A look at 2 Thessalonians
Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians is in many ways very similar to 1 Thessalonians:
it is from Paul, Silas and Timothy again (1.1);
it refers to the Thessalonians suffering at the hands of their enemies (1.1–10);
it focuses strongly on the second coming (1.7–10, 2.1–12);
it urges the Thessalonians to work hard and not to be busybodies (3.6–12).

The natural assumption, and indeed the traditional view, is that the letter was written quite soon after 1 Thessalonians, in a similar historical context. 1 Thessalonians had been delivered, and then further news came to Paul, and he picks up his pen again. It is quite literally part 2 of the correspondence.

On this view, what has Paul heard? First, that the Thessalonians are still having a hard time; maybe persecution has even intensified, since Paul does not mince his words about the judgement that he says will come on 'those who trouble you' (1.6). In 1 Thessalonians he spoke about how the Lord's return would bring comfort and resurrection to believers, but now he speaks of how the Lord will come in 'blazing fire' and 'will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified with his holy ones and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed' (1.7–10).

Second, he has heard that the Thessalonians have been unsettled and alarmed by the idea that 'the day of the Lord has already come' (2.1). Paul seems unsure where this idea has come from, but mentions 'some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us' (2.2). Whatever the origin of the idea, Paul replies by reminding them of his earlier teaching about 'that day': he had taught them that the day would be preceded by the 'rebellion' and the revealing of 'the

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