Second Epistle to the Thessalonians
The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians is a letter in nearly every New Testament canon among religions that identify as Christian. 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 and believe the actual author unknown (and therefore a fraud) who wrote the letter around 80-115 CE. Their primary reason is that 2 Thessalonians features a noticeably different writing style and differs in tone and theology.
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.
I have several translations of this book from various bibles, and have read it.
- In general I found the letter to be a bit disturbing. The writer self-congratulates, flatters the reader, and seems to look forward to when all the outsiders will be tormented for eternity.
- 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!"
- 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 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.
- Free will doesn't seem to matter in (2:13), but rather God plays favorites (1:14).
- "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 aren't capable of work (at least not the kind of work that is needed) or are unable to find work. Should they be left to starve? The author doesn't say.
- Cult alert (3:14-15)! The reader is told to shame and cast out anyone who doesn't obey the instructions of the writer!