Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus.—The company which despatched the First Epistle is not yet broken up. This proves that the Second Epistle was written before the end of the second missionary journey, for after that time we do not read of Silvanus being in the company of St. Paul. The salutation is precisely the same as in the First Epistle, save for the last clause of 2Thessalonians 1:2, which is wrongly added in that place, but stands rightly here.1 Thessalonians 1:1.
Its GENUINENESS is attested by Polycarp [Epistle to the Philippians, 11], who alludes to 2Th 3:15. Justin Martyr [Dialogue with Trypho, p. 193.32], alludes to 2Th 2:3. Irenæus [Against Heresies, 7.2] quotes 2Th 2:8. Clement of Alexandria [Miscellanies, 1.5, p. 554; The Instructor, 1.17], quotes 2Th 3:2, as Paul's words. Tertullian [On the Resurrection of the Flesh, 24] quotes 2Th 2:1, 2, as part of Paul's Epistle.
Design.—The accounts from Thessalonica, after the sending of the first Epistle, represented the faith and love of the Christians there as on the increase; and their constancy amidst persecutions unshaken. One error of doctrine, however, resulting in practical evil, had sprung up among them. The apostle's description of Christ's sudden second coming (1Th 4:13, &c., and 1Th 5:2), and the possibility of its being at any time, led them to believe it was actually at hand. Some professed to know by "the Spirit" (2Th 2:2) that it was so; and others alleged that Paul had said so when with them. A letter, too, purporting to be from the apostle to that effect, seems to have been circulated among them. (That 2Th 2:2 refers to such a spurious letter, rather than to Paul's first Epistle, appears likely from the statement, 2Th 3:17, as to his autograph salutation being the mark whereby his genuine letters might be known). Hence some neglected their daily business and threw themselves on the charity of others, as if their sole duty was to wait for the coming of the Lord. This error, therefore, needed rectifying, and forms a leading topic of the second Epistle. He in it tells them (2Th 2:1-17), that before the Lord shall come, there must first be a great apostasy, and the Man of Sin must be revealed; and that the Lord's sudden coming is no ground for neglecting daily business; that to do so would only bring scandal on the Church, and was contrary to his own practice among them (2Th 3:7-9), and that the faithful must withdraw themselves from such disorderly professors (2Th 3:6, 10-15). Thus, there are three divisions of the Epistle: (1) 2Th 1:1-12. Commendations of the Thessalonians' faith, love, and patience, amidst persecutions. (2) 2Th 2:1-17. The error as to the immediate coming of Christ corrected, and the previous rise and downfall of the Man of Sin foretold. (3) 2Th 3:1-16. Exhortations to orderly conduct in their whole walk, with prayers for them to the God of peace, followed by his autograph salutation and benediction.
Date of writing.—AS the Epistle is written in the joint names of Timothy and Silas, as well as his own, and as these were with him while at Corinth, and not with him for a long time subsequently to his having left that city (compare Ac 18:18, with Ac 19:22; indeed, as to Silas, it is doubtful whether he was ever subsequently with Paul), it follows, the place of writing must have been Corinth, and the date, during the one "year and six months" of his stay there, Ac 18:11 (namely, beginning with the autumn of A.D. 52, and ending with the spring of A.D. 54), say about six months after his first Epistle, early in A.D. 53.
Style.—The style is not different from that of most of Paul's other writings, except in the prophetic portion of it (2Th 2:1-12), which is distinguished from them in subject matter. As is usual in his more solemn passages (for instance, in the denunciatory and prophetic portions of his Epistles, for example, compare Col 2:8, 16, with 2Th 2:3; 1Co 15:24-28, with 2Th 2:8, 9; Ro 1:18, with 2Th 2:8, 10), his diction here is more lofty, abrupt, and elliptical. As the former Epistle dwells mostly on the second Advent in its aspect of glory to the sleeping and the living saints (1Th 4:1-5:28), so this Epistle dwells mostly on it in its aspect of everlasting destruction to the wicked and him who shall be the final consummation of wickedness, the Man of Sin. So far was Paul from laboring under an erroneous impression as to Christ's speedy coming, when he wrote his first Epistle (which rationalists impute to him), that he had distinctly told them, when he was with them, the same truths as to the apostasy being about first to arise, which he now insists upon in this second Epistle (2Th 2:5). Several points of coincidence occur between the two Epistles, confirming the genuineness of the latter. Thus, compare 2Th 3:2, with 1Th 2:15, 16; again, 2Th 2:9, the Man of Sin "coming after the working of Satan," with 1Th 2:18; 3:5, where Satan's incipient work as the hinderer of the Gospel, and the tempter, appears; again, mild warning is enjoined, 1Th 5:14; but, in this second Epistle, when the evil had grown worse, stricter discipline (2Th 3:6, 14): "withdraw from" the "company" of such.
Paul probably visited Thessalonica on his way to Asia subsequently (Ac 20:4), and took with him thence Aristarchus and Secundus: the former became his "companion in travel" and shared with him his perils at Ephesus, also those of his shipwreck, and was his "fellow prisoner" at Rome (Ac 27:2; Col 4:10; Phm 24). According to tradition he became bishop of Apamea.
2Th 1:1-12. Address and Salutation: Introduction: Thanksgiving for Their Growth in Faith and Love, and for Their Patience in Persecutions, Which Are a Token for Good Everlasting to Them, and for Perdition to Their Adversaries at Christ's Coming: Prayer for Their Perfection.
1. in God our Father—still more endearing than the address, 1Th 1:1 "in God THE Father."2 Thessalonians Chapter 1
2Th 1:1,2 The salutation.
2Th 1:3-5 Paul certifieth the Thessalonians of the good
opinion which, he had of their faith, love, and patience.
2Th 1:6-10 Of the righteous judgment of God in punishing their
enemies, and recompensing their sufferings,
2Th 1:11,12 and of his prayers that God would fulfil his
gracious purpose in them.
Ver. 1,2. These two verses are the same as in the former Epistle, and therefore I proceed. 1 Thessalonians 1:1. Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2 Thessalonians 1:1-2. Address and salutation. See on 1 Thessalonians 1:1.
ἀπὸ Θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ κυρίου Ι. Χρ.] from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ; not: from God who is the Father and Lord of Jesus Christ. For, according to the Pauline custom, the fulness of Christian blessings is derived in common from God and Christ. The absolute πατρός (comp. Galatians 1:3; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4) is equivalent to πατρὸς ἡμῶν, more frequently used elsewhere in similar places; comp. Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:2; Php 1:2; Colossians 1:2; Philemon 1:3.2 Thessalonians 1:1-8. The address (2 Thessalonians 1:1-2) is followed first by a thanksgiving (2 Thessalonians 1:3-10) which passes into a prophetic piece of consolation, and then by a brief prayer (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).2 Thessalonians 1:1-41, 2. This salutation is nearly identical with that of Ep. I., see note. Only the Apostle writes here church of Thessalonians in God our Father (Father of us, whom He loves and calls to he His own: comp. ch. 2 Thessalonians 2:16, Romans 1:7, Luke 12:32, &c.), instead of “the Father” (1 Ep); and the wish of grace and peace is followed by the words from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, wanting in the true text of the former Epistle, but which became from this time a regular part of St Paul’s epistolary greeting. So these great blessings are traced to their source,—twofold yet one: “God the Father” the ultimate spring, “the Lord Jesus Christ” the mediating cause of “grace and peace” to men.
He associates Silas and Timothy with himself, just as before.
The Thanksgivings, 2 Thessalonians 1:3 ff., while resembling that of the First Epistle, has a special character and fitness of its own. The Apostle dwells (1) on the signal growth of the Thessalonian Church in faith and love, 2 Thessalonians 1:3; (1) on his own boasting over their faith and patience to other Churches, 2 Thessalonians 1:4; and (3) on the token he sees in this of God’s righteous judgement as between them and their oppressors, which is to take effect at the approaching advent of Christ, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10. This third ground of thanksgiving assumes so much prominence in the Epistle, that it will be convenient to make it the subject of a distinct Section.2 Thessalonians 1:3. Ὀφείλομεν, we are bound) Urged by exultation of mind on grounds so manifest. So also ch. 2 Thessalonians 2:13. [There is herein shown a generous sense of a debt of that kind.—V. g.]—ἄξιον, worthy, meet, befitting) On account of the magnitude of the fact. Comp. 1 Corinthians 16:4. [Are the proofs of thy Christianity ‘worthy’ of thanks being given to God on account of them by those?—V. g.]—ἡ πίστις· ἡ ἀγάπη, faith; love) Of hope, 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5. For these three graces are usually joined.Verses 1, 2. - Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus. This Epistle, like the former, is written in their conjoint names, as all three were engaged in the planting of the Church in Thessalonica. Unto the Church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (For the exposition of these two verses, see remarks on 1 Thessalonians 1:1, where the address and salutation are almost entirely the same.)
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