Introduction To The Second Epistle Of Paul To The Thessalonians
The great persecution the Thessalonians were facing caused many to think that the "day of the Lord" that Paul had taught about was already taking place. As a result, some believers were quitting their jobs in light of the Lord's return. Paul found it necessary to give instruction concerning persecution and idleness, and to correct doctrinal error.
Paul and his companions had come to Thessalonica early on his second missionary journey, sometime around A.D. 51 (see note 1 at Ac 18:22). As was his custom, he went into the Jewish synagogue and reasoned with the Jews from Scripture that Jesus was the Christ, the promised Messiah. This continued for about three weeks. Some believed Paul's preaching (among the Greeks, there was a great number that believed [Ac 17:4]). The unbelieving Jews became very jealous and hired some people to cause an uproar in the city. They accused Paul of breaking the Roman laws by proclaiming Jesus to be king instead of Caesar (Ac 17:5-7).
The leaders of the city became very upset, and a man named Jason was fined, as were some other believers. There was so much opposition that finally Paul and his companions were forced to leave (Ac 17:9-10).
Thessalonica (see note 3 at Ac 17:1) was the largest and most important city in Macedonia (see note 1 at Ac 16:9). It was also the capital. It has been estimated that in New Testament times, Thessalonica had a population of around 200,000.
"Thessalonica, the modern Salonica, was founded about 315 B.C. by Cassander, who named it in honor of his wife, the half-sister of Alexander the Great. It was situated on the most famous of Roman military roads, the Egnatian Way, which connected Rome with the East. It was a seaport and a center of trade and commerce; a city ideally suited to Paul's missionary strategy" (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia, Volume 5, p. 723).
The church founded there was composed largely of Gentiles (1Th 1:9, 2:14; and Ac 17:4). It was a vigorous church that grew quickly in size and commitment.
Paul's authorship of the epistles to the Thessalonians is unquestioned by most scholars. Both 1 and 2 Thessalonians begin with the statement, "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians" (1Th 1:1 and 2Th 1:1).
For positive evidence of Paul's authorship consider the following: (1) The epistles are presented as being from Paul; (2) Paul's companions who are mentioned at the beginning of the epistles accompanied him on his second missionary trip (Ac 15:40, 17:14, and 18:5); (3) the theological thought is Pauline; and (4) extra-biblical sources such as Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Marcion, and Irenaeus all refer to Paul as the author of the letters to the Thessalonians.
Date And Place Of Writing
These letters were written from Corinth between A.D. 50 and 54 (Ac 17:1-10 and 18:1). This would make these epistles among the earliest of Paul's writings, probably after Galatians. It appears that 2 Thessalonians was written shortly after 1 Thessalonians, most likely within four months to a year.