Dr. Lawrence Butler, The Bridge Church, Pembroke.
Introduction to II Thessalonians – The Apostle Paul is the author of this book, and identifies himself as such in 1:1 and 3:17. Apparently Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy were with Paul when he wrote this epistle. The date of this writing is thought to be somewhere around A.D. 51 or 52. The church at Thessalonica had a great revival as recorded in Acts 17: 1-4. Unfortunately, there was also great opposition. Some Jews believed and accepted Christ as Savior, and a great number of devout Greeks and chief women became Christians. But, a large number of Jews withstood the gospel and Paul had to leave. This pressure had continued to grow, and persecution soon broke out.
As a result of these circumstances, seeds of false doctrine had been sown, and the behavior of the people had become somewhat disorderly. Thus, when Paul wrote this letter, he addressed these points with those who were: 1) discouraged by persecution; 2) deceived by false teachers who had confused them; and 3) disobedient to divine commands. He offered comfort for the persecuted (1:3-12), correction for the deceived and frightened (2:1-15), and confrontation for the disobedient and undisciplined (3:6-15).
It is my intent to focus on 2:1-12 and the prophetic teaching found herein. “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand” (II Thess. 2:1-2). Most of this chapter concentrates on the return of our Lord Jesus Christ and the events surrounding it.
Apparently, false teaching had arisen that the Rapture of the church either had already occurred or would not occur until after tribulation (see II Tim. 2:18). In Thessalonica, there was teaching that they were already in the Day of Christ (Day of the Lord, II Pet. 3:10). The church was undergoing such persecution that some felt they were in the Day of the Lord already, contrary to Paul’s teaching, and were very discouraged and needing comfort. It seems three potential methods were used to present this false doctrine – spirit, word and letter. “Spirit” would most likely refer to a prophet claiming divine revelation. “Word” would probably mean a sermon or speech. “Letter” seems to imply a written report, possibly presented as being from Paul. This epistle disavows them all!