THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS.
Paul had written and sent his first letter to the Thessalonians shortly after he took up his ministerial labors in Corinth. The immediate effect of the letter had been to strengthen the bond of affection between the apostle and the Christians of Thessalonica. According to reports that reached him, the brethren remained firm in spite of various afflictions and persecutions. For the same reason, however, they had been imbued with the idea and were now frankly obsessed with the notion that the last day was at hand, that the Lord’s coming to Judgment would take place immediately. “Mistaken and enthusiastic men had also nourished this deception by appealing to visions and to the traditionary sayings of the apostle; and it would even appear that an epistle had been forged in the name of the apostle. The church was thrown into a state of wild excitement; an impatient and fanatical longing for the instant when Christ would come seized upon one portion.... The consequence was that many of the Thessalonians were neglecting their secular business and living idle and useless lives, conceiving that there was no use of working in a world which was so soon to be destroyed.” 1) Cp. chap. 2, 2. 3; 3, 11. 12. This state of affairs caused the apostle to send second epistle, written within a few months after the first, also from Corinth.
The contents of the letter may be briefly given as follows. After the opening salutation Paul addresses to the afflicted congregation a comforting exhortation with reference to the punishment of God upon the evil-doers on the last day. He follows this up with a reminder and further instruction concerning the second advent of Christ, which would be preceded by the rise and exposure of Antichrist. A thought which is closely connected with this is that of a warning against disorderly conduct and shiftlessness. The letter closes with a line written by Paul’s own hand and with the apostolic benediction.