ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Snapshot view of 1 and 2 Thessalonians

Updated on October 27, 2018
Johan Smulders profile image

Evangelist and Bible teacher in the Eastern Cape. B.A. and H.E.D from University of South Africa and M.A. Abilene Christian University

Two important letters in New Testament for todays world.

Snapshot view 1 and 2 Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians.

Back ground to the letters.

Paul arrived in Thessalonica, as recorded in Acts 17:1-10 and started a work there by first preaching in the local synagogue for three weeks. Then he had to leave due to the opposition that was building up against the message as often happened. The opposition came from two area; the Jews and the leaders of the city.

The city of Thessalonica was an important city with an important harbour. Here Xerxes the Persian had his naval base and later in the time of the Roman Empire it was an important dock yard. It was a free city meaning that it never had Roman troops setting up a base there. It had a population of about 200 000 and at times contested Constantinople for being the capital city of the world. East and West met here and so it was an important gateway to Asia and Europe. This was an important step in the spread of the Gospel.

The main message of 1 Thessalonians.

It was of concern to Paul that the Gospel that he brought there would be established and would survive. Paul writes what was probably his first letter, apart from Galatians, to the Thessalonians, encouraging them to hold fast and to straighten out some of the misconceptions that they had, especially about the return of Jesus. At this time it seems like the church believed that Jesus would return in their life time and this had a large influence on their behaviour.

It was Timothy who brought news from Thessalonica that led to Paul writing the letter. There was good news for Paul, namely that they were standing strong in the faith and that they continued to hold Paul in high regard. (1 Thess. 2:14; 3:4-6) There was also worrying news that the preaching of the Second Coming had lead some to stop working and simply to wait for Christ to arrive. So Paul explains that they need to continue with their ordinary lives and not get over excited about the supposed impending return of Christ. Freedom in Christ sometimes led people to reject the authority that they lived under. (1 Thess. 5:12-14. They were also concerned about what would happen to those who died before Christ returned and so Paul explains to them that all will be with Christ. (1 Thess. 4:13-18) There also seemed to be some who questioned Paul's sincerity and there was some division in the church, all problems that Paul had to deal with here and in other congregations.

2 Thessalonians

Again Paul writes to the church of the Thessalonians. There are a lot of similarities between his first letter and his second one. Obviously not much had changed as he had hoped would have happened after his first letter. The same problems still existed and so the same advice was needed.

Confusion about the Second Coming.

However, in this short letter Paul adds some interesting facts about the second coming of Jesus and also as to what must take place before that happens. Clearly there was a lot of confusion in this new church because they did not have copies of the Gospels, which were only written later and also the letters that we find in the New Testament. From Acts 17:11 we learn that the Christians in Berea were more noble than those in Thessalonica because they diligently searched the scriptures (Old Testament) daily, thus implying that the church in Thessalonica did not do so. As there was strong opposition from the Jews to the congregation in Thessalonica, it could even be assumed that access to the scriptures was difficult. Remember that at this time people did not personally have access to scriptures as we do today.

As we look at this short letter we get a better look at the events that will take place when Jesus returns. It will be a time of revelation (1:7), it will be a time of tribulation for those who have wronged the Christians (1.6) and a time of "vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel (good news) of our Lord Jesus Christ (1:8). It will be a day of punishment and also a timeof glorification (1:9,10). This is one of the most frightening and graphic pictures in the Bible, bringing a stern warning, but also great promise.

Paul warns the Thessalonians to be certain "that God would count you worthy of his calling..." (1:11). A challenge to a life of dedication and service.

The coming of the Lawless One.

In Chapter 2, Paul introduces "the lawless one" and "the time of lawlessness" that has to proceed the second coming. This has been referred to as one of the most difficult passages in the New Testament. To us today this is a very strange passage to get our minds around but to the people of that time it was probably much easier. They believed implicitly in a world where the spiritual battle between good and evil was taking place and to them was very real.

The Thessalonian church also had information that Paul had given them that we do not have today Perhaps the restraining power that held the evil force back was the Roman Government who had, after all, saved Paul from the hands of the mob on several occasions. Over the years many figures have been identified as the "lawless man". Be that as it may, today we see the lawless one around every corner waiting to devour us (compare1 Peter 5:8; 2 Peter 3:1-13; 1 John 2:18). As Jesus came to show us what God is like so Satan has many representatives that illustrate what he is like. All that protects us from this danger is the Holy Spirit, strengthening us and keeping us safe as we battle to overcome Satan. To speculate about when Jesus will return is a waste of time and energy as Jesus also explained (Matthew 24:29-31; 36-44).Compare 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:1-9

It is a great sign of Paul's humility that he requests the Thessalonians to pray for him (3:1). His advice to them is to "not grow weary of doing good" (3:13). Good advice for us today!

As in all his letters, Paul starts with words of encouragement before he deals with the problems that might exist.

Key passages for the church today would include those demanding sexual purity (4:1-8; 5:23), love and respect towards leaders (5:12,13) and patient helpfulness towards those in need (5:14,15)



Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Barclay, W. The letters to Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians - Daily Study Bible.

New Illustrated Bible Dictionary.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)