2 THESSALONIANS

2 Thessalonians – They thought that they were already in ‘the day of the Lord’ just preceding Christ’s [2nd Coming] return – This doctrinal problem caused a practical issue – Some of the members, *convinced that the end was near, had given up their jobs, and were living in idleness waiting for the Lord – They were spending their time spreading their views and living off of others – So Paul had to write to them and straighten them out

The main reason for Paul writing a second letter to the Thessalonians was to bring encouragement to discouraged Christians. Between the time of the writing of the two letters a new problem had arisen. Apparently some believers had caused concern with regard to their relation to 'the day of the Lord.' They thought that they were already in 'the day of the Lord' just preceding Christ's return. They said that this seemed to be confirmed by their persecutions. So they looked for the immediate return of Christ. Paul wrote them 'not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by work, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.' (2 Thessalonians 2:2) The Thessalonians were concerned that they would fall victim to the day of Judgment. This doctrinal problem caused a practical issue. Some of the members convinced that the end was near, had given up their jobs, and were living in idleness waiting for the Lord. They were spending their time spreading their views and living off of others. So Paul had to write to them and straighten them out. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). This is the shortest of Paul's letters to the churches. Only the letter to Titus and the little note to Philemon are shorter. It is really a letter of prayer containing four prayers and one request. He seals the letter with his own hand to prevent the Churches from being misled by letters claiming to be his. [link]

Persecution in the Early Church – In the face of persecution, many Christians chose to die before they would deny their Lord [Jesus Christ] – Those who did so came to be called martyrs, which means “witnesses”

The Roman Empire was generally quite tolerant in its treatment of other religions. The imperial policy was generally one of incorporation - the local gods of a newly conquered area were simply added to the Roman pantheon and often given Roman names. Even the Jews, with their one god, were generally tolerated. So why the persecution of Christians? In order to understand the Roman distrust of Christianity, one must understand the Roman view of religion. For the Romans, religion was first and foremost a social activity that promoted unity and loyalty to the state - a religious attitude the Romans called pietas, or piety. Cicero wrote that if piety in the Roman sense were to disappear, social unity and justice would perish along with it. The early Roman writers viewed Christianity not as another kind of pietas, piety, but as a superstitio, "superstition." Pliny, a Roman governor writing circa 110 AD, called Christianity a "superstition taken to extravagant lengths." Similarly, the Roman historian Tacitus called it "a deadly superstition," and the historian Suetonius called Christians "a class of persons given to a new and mischievous superstition." In this context, the word "superstition" has a slightly different connotation than it has today: for the Romans, it designated something foreign and different - in a negative sense. Religious beliefs were valid only in so far as it could be shown to be old and in line with ancient customs; new and innovative teachings were regarded with distrust. The Roman distaste for Christianity, then, arose in large part from its sense that it was bad for society. ... Two Christian Responses: The Glory of Martyrdom and Apologetics - "Though beheaded, and crucified, and thrown to wild beasts, and chains, and fire, and all other kinds of torture, we do not give up our confession; but, the more such things happen, the more do others in larger numbers become faithful." -- Justin Martyr In the face of persecution, many Christians chose to die before they would deny their Lord. Those who did so came to be called martyrs, which means "witnesses." The second-century theologian Tertullian had converted to Christianity based in part on his wonder at Christians' faithfulness in the face of martyrdom and it clearly had a similar effect on others as well. It was Tertullian who famously declared, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." Indeed, persecution seemed to have a dramatic effect on Christianity's numbers, but not in the direction intended by the persecutors. -- A second response of the church to Roman persecution was to write apologies, or defenses, of the Christian faith. The bishops and leaders who wrote these defenses are known as the Apologists. Writing especially in the 2nd century AD, the Apologists' primary goal was to defend Christianity against pagan accusations and misconceptions in an effort to stop the persecution. Thus they often addressed their works to Roman emperors. The Apologists explained, for example, that the Christian "love feast" did not involve cannibalism or orgies as many thought, but was a sacred meal of bread and wine in honor of Christ's death. -- The Apologists also sought to show that Christianity was equal or even superior to pagan religion and philosophy, and good for the Roman state. They pointed out that Christianity was just as old as Greek thought, having originated in the ancient religion of the Hebrews. They asked their readers to compare the ethical behavior of Christians and pagans. They explained that although they were not willing to sacrifice to him as a god, Christians prayed for the emperor's welfare regularly. [link]

2 Thessalonians 1 – The Apostle Paul begins his second and final letter to the heavily persecuted and heavily martyred Church in Thessalonica — ‘2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure’

2 Thessalonians 1:7-12 And to you who are troubled rest with us [in Jesus Christ], when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty Angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel [of Peace] of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence [being separated from the presence of God - eternal damnation] of the Lord, and from the Glory of His power; When He shall come to be glorified in His Saints, and to be admired in all them that believe because our testimony among you was believed in that day. **Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and **the work of faith with power: That the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be Glorified in you, and ye in Him [Jesus], according to the Grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. - Paul gives the very important admonishment that vengeance does not belong to mankind but it belongs to Jesus Christ to be administered in the prescribed time, place and manner at the choice of Jesus Christ. But that glory for mankind in Jesus Christ does belong to mankind. The opportunity of mankind for peace and eternal glory in Jesus Christ, yes. The responsibility of man for vengeance, judgment and destruction on his fellow man, no.

2 Thessalonians 2 – To see people doing good and following God in peace during times of strife and evil is a sight and an event to be thankful for and to give thanks both to the people of peace and to God the author of peace and love — ‘2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation [wellbeing] through sanctification [being set apart to God] of the [Holy] Spirit and Belief of the Truth: Whereunto He [God] called [invited] you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. **Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions [prayer, fellowship, Bible study, communion, baptism, etc.] which ye have been taught, whether by Word [Holy Bible], or our epistle [letter].’

2 Thessalonians 2:7-12 For the mystery of iniquity [sin] doth already work: only He [God - Holy Spirit] who now letteth [restrains evil] will let [evil reign (Revelation 6:1)], until He [Holy Spirit allows evil to reign unhindered] be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming [presence]: Even him [Antichrist], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; *because they received not the love [and peace] of the truth, that they might be saved [eternal salvation]. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie [that violence is of God]: That they all [violent] might be damned who believed not the truth [of peace, rest and trust in God], but had pleasure in unrighteousness [and violence]. - God is currently restraining sin and evil from having complete reign upon the earth however during the Tribulation times of Revelation sin will have fewer restrictions and mankind will be allowed to commit more of the evil desires of an evil heart and mind. The Seven Seals of Revelation are seven restraints on evil that are each individually broken and removed as evil is given free reign for a time upon the earth.

2 Thessalonians 3 – The Apostle Paul concludes his letter confirming that Jesus Christ is Peace and Love and that Jesus will keep us from committing evil if we will trust our lives and our circumstances unto Jesus – But that Satan is death and destruction and to follow Satan is to receive eternal death and permanent destruction — ‘2 Thessalonians 3:1-3 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the Word [peace and love] of the Lord may have free course, and be Glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable [violent] and wicked men [who follow Satan]: for all men have not faith. But the Lord [Jesus] is faithful [peace and love], who shall stablish [establish] you, and keep you from {doing} evil.’

The Apostle Paul concludes the Bible's book of 2nd Thessalonians with a reminder that Jesus Christ is "the Lord of Peace." - 2 Thessalonians 3:13-17 But ye, brethren, **be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that [violent] man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. **Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. ***Now the Lord of Peace Himself [Jesus Christ] give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all. The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

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