At the end of the chapter on the author of 2 Thessalonians, and in the commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2.15, we observed that the person who wrote this letter considered it as an authentic reinterpretation of 1 Thessalonians in a new situation. We have seen in the commentary how our author dealt with 1 Thessalonians and with other elements from Paul’s heritage. We now turn to the question: was the author of 2 Thessalonians right in placing himself within the Pauline tradition, particularly as far as 1 Thessalonians is concerned?
In searching for an answer, we should try to be fair to him. We should beware of playing his letter off against 1 Thessalonians and the other authentic Pauline letters, by denigrating 2 Thessalonians and idealizing Paul’s letters. We should also take into account that our author has written a relatively short letter, intended to address the specific problem posed by the conviction that the day of the Lord has arrived and by its practical consequences; in other words, his letter should not be assessed as if it pretended to present a complete theology.
The author of 2 Thessalonians is regularly reproached with an interest in future salvation at the expense of an interest in present salvation (so, e.g., the commentaries of Trilling 1980 and Marxsen 1982). In Paul’s view, so it is said, God has realized in the death and the resurrection of Christ eschatological salvation as a present reality in which the believer is already partaking, and which will be consummated in the future; Paul puts his ethical imperatives on the basis of the indicative of salvation (see, e.g., 1 Thess. 5.1-11; Rom. 5.1-11; 6.1-14; 1 Cor. 6.9-20). It is then asserted that in 2 Thessalonians, on the other hand, Jesus’ death and resurrection are not mentioned, that salvation belongs exclusively