Second Epistle to the Thessalonians

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The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, often written as, II Thessalonians, is the fourteenth book of the New Testament. It is a letter written in ancient Greek around 80-115 CE to the church of the Thessalonians in northern Greece. Although the author claims to be Paul the Apostle, most historians agree that he is not the author. In the letter, the author warns the reader against outsiders and false prophets, demands that they strictly adhere to his rules, and anticipates the impending second-coming when non-Christians will be tortured.

Authorship and Dating

The author identifies himself as Paul writing to the church of the Thessalonians in northern Greece. However, unlike the First Epistle to the Thessalonians, many scholars doubt that Paul wrote the letter, thereby making the letter a fraud. Reasons for such a belief include the noticeably different writing style, different theology and tone, and an estimated date of around 80-115 CE, long after Paul had died.

Content

The letter gives instructions not to trust outsiders, to obey the rules set forth by the writer, and to expect the imminent end of the world.

One of the interesting passages of the letter is the warning not to trust letters, even those that appear to come from Paul, saying that Jesus has already returned (2:2-3). This implies that such letters were being written and sent.

Status

I have several translations of this book from various bibles, and have read the NIV translation.

Reviews

Good

  • Nothing.

Bad

  • The author views enduring persecution as evidence that God's judgment is right (1:4-5). This is typical of irrational people, "I know I'm right, because everyone keeps telling me I'm wrong!"
  • "If a man will not work, he shall not eat (3:10)," sounds like a good motto on the surface, but it creates a very big problem when you remember that a lot of people are extremely old or disabled, and therefore not capable of most forms of work, while others may be unable to find work. If we take the author at face value, all these people should be left to starve to death.
  • Rather than say everyone who so chooses can be part of God's plan, the author suggests that God has picked people before they were even born to be saved from Hell (2:13-14). I'm sure the Calvinists love this passage, because it doesn't allow for free will.

Ugly

  • In general, I found the letter to be a bit disturbing. The writer self-congratulates, flatters the reader (a practice that is condemned in I Thessalonians), and seems to look forward to when all the outsiders will be tormented for eternity.
  • The writer sounds giddy to see the upcoming horrific torture of those who disagree with his theology (1:6-10). This is also evidence against the argument that people send themselves to Hell. The author specifically says that his god with punish them.
  • The letter creates a conspiracy where the second coming is prevented by the secret power of the "lawless one" who will perform counterfeit miracles that will be believed by non-Christians because God will send them delusions to believe lies so God may condemn them (2:7-12)! To me, God sounds like the evil one here.
  • Cult alert (3:14-15)! The reader is told to shame and cast out anyone who doesn't obey the instructions of the writer!

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