2 Thessalonians Commentary, Summary, and Key Verses

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

2 Thessalonians Commentary

Written around A.D 51 or 52, Paul addresses some misconceptions from his letter in I Thessalonians. He saw the need to do a follow up letter to correct false doctrines about the Day of the Lord as some had thought it had already occurred.  Having been deceived by these false teachers he wanted to make certain they knew that it had yet not come.  Some of the Thessalonians were even frightened about this so he tried to reassure them about the Day of the Lord and what would precede it.  He also included some stern correction of the false teachers and confronted other members for their disobedient and undisciplined behavior (2:1-15, 3:6-15).  Since there was also some serious persecution happening to the church at Thessalonica Paul was trying to exhort them to persevere (1:3-12).

Because of the confusion over the timing of the Lord’s return, he specifies certain things which must come first (2:2).  There is some uncertainty over who this “restrainer” is; whether it is the Holy Spirit that restrains evil in the world  or the Evil One, the Devil (2:6-7).  If Paul is talking about the Restrainer being God the Holy Spirit, then literally all hell will break loose on the earth as some believe initiates the Great Tribulation when He is removed.  Also the “lawless one” appears to be Satan himself and he will clamp down his terrible reign over all of those who are left behind after the church is taken out during the Rapture (2:3-4, 8-10).   Paul tries to give specific things for the church to look for that indicates that the Lord’s return can not happen until certain events take place (2:1-5).

Not all of II Thessalonians is negative.  Paul has heard reports of their growth and gives thanks for this (1:3-4).  In his pastoral epistle Paul is cheering them on in order to help them persevere (1:5-10).

2 Thessalonians Summary

The purpose of II Thessalonians was in part is to encourage the church due to persecutions.  Most of the English speaking churches have never really seen this type of persecution but in most of the world, Christians still suffer from it.  Paul tells them to stand firm in the faith that was delivered to them and that they should be praying to encourage one another.

Paul deals with persecution in the context of false ideas about the Lord’s return. The Thessalonians idleness seems to be a concern for Paul because some were quitting their jobs.  The exhortations that Paul gave were to protect the church from false beliefs concerning the Lord’s return.  Paul had stern warnings for those who are idle because they were abandoning their work responsibilities and their lazy and disorderly conduct was becoming an issue.  Their conduct had become disorderly because many of them were now having to depend upon others in the church for support, believing that the Lord’s return was imminent.  Paul used himself as an example and that he worked to support himself.  He was not depending upon others for support and was not a burden to any.   Paul worked despite having the right to be supported by the church for his ministry but forgoes this right to be an example to believers and the church at Thessalonica may have been the primary reason Paul did this.

Paul firmly told them that Christians should not be using other Christians to support them and should be self-supporting as he was.  This was also an issue in I Thessalonians.  Paul that the same principle that if no one works, neither shall he eat (Prov 6:6-11, 2 Thess. 3:10).  Paul was irritated by the fact that they were taking advantage of other Christians who did work and support themselves.  Discipline of those idle members of the church should lead to isolation from other members of the church.  The goal was to bring them to repentance which was for their own good and the good of the church however Paul clarifies this because he understood it could be taken too far.  He reminded them that they should be welcomed back warmly by the church in brotherly fashion if they repented and it should not be held against them. This is still in effect today for a great number of churches for those who are clearly being disobedient; it is called being dis-fellowshipped.

An important insight from II Thessalonians was that prayer is an integral part of the church.  It is important corporately and to the believer in general.   Paul emphasized prayer for God’s power so that they could endure the persecution and enable them to live a life worthy of His calling.   By living worthy lives they would be glorifying God.

The Thessalonians should also be praying in thanksgiving for their calling and be giving thanks for the church members calling.  Paul taught them to pray for one another and for an open door for the gospel to go through.

2 Thessalonians Key Verses

II Thessalonians 1:3We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more”

II Thessalonians 1:6God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.”

II Thessalonians 1:11With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.”

II Thessalonians 2:1-3Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.”

II Thessalonians 2:7-8For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

II Thessalonians 2:13But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”

II Thessalonians 3:1As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.”

II Thessalonians 3:6In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.

II Thessalonians 3:10-11For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat. We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.”

II Thessalonians 3:14-15Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.”

What is your favorite Bible verse from the book of  2 Thessalonians? Share it in the comments!


The Holy Bible, New International Version

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

Share this post:  |  |  |  | Twitter

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

emille July 1, 2013 at 8:32 am

so what is your opinion of ‘the person who is holding back the antichrist’? the church, the Holy Spirit, God? it seems so many people, so many opinions about this. paul states that ‘he told them who that is – is that in the Bible ‘who he told them it was’?


Jack Wellman July 2, 2013 at 11:34 am

Emille. Thank you for your comments and question. I agree with you. I agree with you that I do not believe it is the church that is restraining the anti-Christ. I believe when it says “he” it can not be the church for the church is always referred to in the feminine gender as “she” for she, the church, is the bride of Christ. The fact that 2 Thess 2:7 says “Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way” refers to “he” it may be, I believe, the Holy Spirit for the Holy Spirit is always referred to in the masculine or as “he.”

As for ” paul states that ‘he told them who that is – is that in the Bible ‘who he told them it was’?” I can not find where Paul says in the Bible and tells them who it was. Anyway, the most important thing is to keep our eyes upon Jesus and all other things are in God’s capable hands.


emille July 1, 2013 at 8:38 am

sorry i want to add, according to Greg Laurie its ‘the church’, in other words after the rapture. but after reading the passage with interest again in the bible it does not sound like the church



emille July 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Hi Jack

Thank you for that, it makes sense. But if its the Holy Spirit it does raise a number of very crucial and important questions. For instance, what will happen to christians if the Holy Spirit isnt on earth anymore, and how can people be saved if the Holy Spirit is not here….

I dont know – who knows!


Jack Wellman July 3, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Thank you Emille. A Christian has no fear for if they are taken up to heaven, the Holy Spirit is a permanent indwelling in that person and remains in the Christ (Rom 8) as they are sealed by Him at the moment of conversion (Eph 1). You can not be a Christian and not have the Holy Spirit, no matter where a Christian is…on the earth or with the Lord.


dave klavanian March 13, 2018 at 8:02 am

would you talk about when satan comes back first saying he is god and the 2 whitnesses.


Jack Wellman March 13, 2018 at 9:25 am

A global leader will pave the way for Israel to build her Third Temple. Daily sacrifices in the temple will begin. There will be a war in heaven. Satan will be forbidden access to heaven and will no longer be able to function as the “accuser of the brethren.” When this happens, the Bible says that the global leader will walk into Israel’s temple, stop the sacrifices and claim to be Messiah and God. This event, called in the Bible the “abomination of desolation,” will trigger Satan’s 3 1/2 year war against the saints. This time of great tribulation is described in Revelation 13:5-7. “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.”

It appears that this time of tribulation will come first upon the Jewish settlers of Judea, and then will spread from there to Christians the world over (Revelation 12:13,17). But that’s only half of the picture. The other half, much overlooked, is recorded in Daniel 11:32: “And they that know their God shall be strong and do exploits.” Who is this referring to? Let’s look closer. Daniel 11:31 records the abomination of desolation. That is when Satan begins his 3 1/2-year power trip. But it’s also the same time that two prophets from God receive power from on high for the same 3 1/2 years. This is recorded in Revelation 11:3: “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” The great tribulation will feature the classic battle-good vs. evil.

The time for the ministry of the Two Witnesses is close. They are certainly alive on earth right now, but we don’t yet know who they are. The account of the Two Witnesses comes to us sandwiched in the midst of the account of the Seven Trumpets of Revelation. Specifically, we read of them between the 6th and 7th Trumpets. Their ministry, therefore, begins after the 6th Trumpet war and continues until the sounding of the 7th Trumpet. Much debate has raged over these two special prophets of God. Who are they? Is one of the two witnesses Elijah? Some have argued very persuasively that one of the Two Witnesses must be Elijah. In Malachi 4:5 we have this prophecy: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”

It is because of this prophecy that the Jewish people have long looked for Elijah to come, announcing the arrival of the Messiah. Many believe this will happen during the time of the annual Passover feast. This is why every Passover meal has an extra place setting for Elijah, just in case he would appear.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: