Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians
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Introduction to Second Thessalonians
Overview of Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians
As already mentioned in the Introduction to Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, this letter of assurance was carried to the Thessalonians by Timothy. But soon Timothy returned to Paul with a newly-arisen problem. Some of the Thessalonian converts had become so enamored with the promise of this Second Coming that they were neglecting the ordinary duties of life, and idly awaiting the Messianic return. Paul immediately dispatched a second letter (Second Thessalonians), couched in stern terms, telling the converts that there must first be a “falling away,” and that the Lord would not appear until the appointed time. Meanwhile, the apostle commands that there shall be no idleness or wasting of time among the converts, for “if any one will not work, let him not eat” (II Thess. 3:10).
Introduction to Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians by Herbert J. Hunt, former Dean of Bible Studies for the Unity School of Christianity.
Paul had heard that the church at Thessalonica was getting sidetracked with inaccurate reports about the Day of the Lord, and so he writes this letter in order to comfort them, to correct the false reports, and to deal with the issue of idleness arising amidst some of them and was causing problems.
Metaphysically, in a world that is constantly feeding us a stream of negative reports and beliefs, our minds can get sidetracked and lose sight of the Truth of God’s Presence and power, and the Truth of who we are. This loss of focus is disturbing to our souls (our minds, our wills, our emotions) and is in need of correction, especially to return our attention back into focus and protect us from the problems (ex. fear, doubt, confusion, etc.) that usually result from idle thinking.
3 Key Themes in 2nd Thessalonians
- Encouragement to continue maturing: We are to daily, continually, encourage ourselves to continue in our journey of transmutation and onward evolution.
- Correct error thoughts: The sooner we catch error thoughts at their onset and bring ourselves back to focus, with a Word of Truth, the better off we are.
- Accountability: Lest we fall into spiritual idleness, let us effort to maintain a state of watchfulness over our thoughts and feelings. Remaining and returning ourselves to the Word of God and the awareness of the Presence of God is a safekeeping for us along our journey of spiritual transmutation.
Introduction to Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians by Rev. Mark Hicks.
A Billowy Church, Tossed by the Waves1
- See 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2
- Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy. Paul represents the will, which is an important factor in expressing the Christ actively in the life. Understanding (represented by Silvanus) and zeal or the inspired reason united with faith (Timothy) must cooperate with the will, if man would express the Christ fully.
- Thessalonians. Thessalonica's ancient name was Thermæ, because of the many hot springs that were there), a city of Macedonia (the enthusiasm and energy of Spirit that set the whole of our being aflame), from which Paul (our Spirit-led will) is driven away by our lack of discernment of Spirit/Truth (persecution by the Jews). Thessalonica in us is that phase of our unfoldment that lacks sufficient thinking balance to give tolerance and wisdom [to Spirit’s leading or to that which arises in our lives] (billowy, tossed by the waves).(MBD/Thessalonica)
Where Faith Grows
1:3 We are bound to always give thanks to God for you, brothers, even as it is appropriate, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of each and every one of you towards one another abounds; 1:4 so that we ourselves boast about you in the assemblies1 of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you endure.
- Assembly or “church.” The true church is an aggregation of spiritual ideas in individual consciousness. To establish a new aggregation of spiritual ideas of God within us, a new state of consciousness must first be formed. (MBD/church), thus, every “inner church” begins as a mental perception and by degrees establishes itself in the whole consciousness.
What is Righteous Judgement?
1:5 This is an obvious sign of the righteous judgment1 of God, to the end that you may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which you also suffer. 1:6 Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay affliction to those who afflict you, 1:7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted with us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, 1:8 giving vengeance to those who don't know God, and to those who don't obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus, 1:9 who will pay the penalty: eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 1:10 when he comes to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired among all those who have believed (because our testimony to you was believed) in that day.
1:11 To this end we also pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire of goodness and work of faith, with power; 1:12 that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Righteous judgment of God. The word “judgment” (krisis) is not the same as the word “condemnation” (kata-krisis), neither does “to judge” (krino) always mean “to damn” (kata-krino). A judge may pronounce a thing good and may give his word in favor of the one brought before him. This distinction between judgment and condemnation has not always been regarded by the translators of the Bible; often they have used “condemnation” and “damnation” where the true word is “judgment.” See John 5:29, 2 Thessalonians 2:12, where “damnation” should be “judgment”; and John 5:24, also 3:17-19, where “condemnation” should be “judgment.” Not only are we not to condemn—to pronounce evil against any one or any thing, and to mete out punishment but also we are not to sit in judgment, neither to declare for nor against. In other words, we are to cease eating of that forbidden tree which causes us to see double, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We are to know only that Good which has no opposite. We stop our ears from hearing of evil, and shut our eyes from seeing it (Is. 33:15). We judge not after the sight of mortal eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of the ears (Is 11:3). We judge not according to appearances, but judge righteous judgment, which is to see all things with those pure eyes that behold only God. There is no judgment in the Kingdom of Heaven. The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son, who says of himself, “I judge no man.” “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” (Annie Rix Militz: The Sermon on the Mound—an Interpretation, p.94-96)
Fillmore Study Bible annotations compiled by Mary Salama.
World English Bible Footnotes:
Lawlessness: a Disorderly State of Consciousness
2:1 Now, brothers, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,1 and our gathering together to him, we ask you 2:2 not to be quickly shaken in your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by letter as from us, saying that the day of Christ had come. 2:3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For it will not be, unless the departure comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of destruction, 2:4 he who opposes and exalts himself against all that is called God or that is worshiped; so that he sits as God in the temple of God, setting himself up as God. 2:5 Don't you remember that, when I was still with you, I told you these things? 2:6 Now you know what is restraining him, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. 2:7 For the mystery of lawlessness already works. Only there is one who restrains now, until he is taken out of the way. 2:8 Then the lawless one2 will be revealed, whom the Lord will kill with the breath of his mouth, and destroy by the manifestation of his coming; 2:9 even he whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 2:10 and with all deception of wickedness for those who are being lost, because they didn't receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 2:11 Because of this, God sends them a working of error,3 that they should believe a lie; 2:12 that they all might be judged who didn't believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
- Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to him. Paul was unprepared for the effect that his words regarding the Second Coming would have upon the Thessalonians. Some in the church were discouraged. They interpreted his words as meaning that Jesus Christ would come again in the near future, and they doubted whether they could possibly develop in themselves the spiritual qualities that would make them worthy to receive Him. Others gave up their ordinary pursuits and depended upon the more stable members of the Christian group for their livelihood, placidly awaiting the return of the Lord who would carry them into heaven. Paul assures them that the Second Coming is not to be expected immediately. His explanation is somewhat obscure, implying that what he calls "restraining" power (evil) must run its course before the great event would take place. To the conscientious and loyal believers, Paul says that they need only stand firm and continue in well-doing. To those who were shrinking their responsibilities, he reminds them that he, Silas, and Timothy had worked to earn a living so as not to be a burden on anyone, and they should do likewise. "For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If anyone will not work, let him not eat" (II Thess. 3:10). (Be Ye Transformed 88-89).
- The lawless one. The adversarial consciousness in mind. (MBD/Belial).
- God sends them a working of error. “Error” are thoughts, with their corresponding words and acts, that are not in harmony with Divine Mind. Error thoughts have no foundation in absolute Truth. They originate in the intellect. Such thoughts are eliminated by one's denying their reality and power, and affirming the Truth of Being; then their outer expressions and manifestations disappear also. (MBD/error).
Salvation and Sanctification
2:13 But we are bound to always give thanks to God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation1 through sanctification2 of the Spirit and belief in the truth; 2:14 to which he called you through our Good News, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2:15 So then, brothers, stand firm, and hold the traditions which you were taught by us, whether by word, or by letter.
2:16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 2:17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good work and word.
- Salvation. Salvation is the process or state of our regaining conscious possession of our God-given attributes. (RW/salvation).
- Sanctification. Sanctification is the putting on of the nature of God and rising to the plane of dominion that gives man peace and satisfaction (RW/sanctification). "This is the will of God, even your sanctification" (I Thess. 4:3).
Fillmore Study Bible annotations compiled by Mary Salama.
Request for Prayer
3:1 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified,1 even as also with you; 3:2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and evil men; for not all have faith. 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you, and guard you from the evil one. 3:4 We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you both do and will do the things we command. 3:5 May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of Christ.
- That the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified. “The Lord” is referred to as “Jehovah” (YHWH) in the Old Testament and as “Christ” in the New Testament; both represent our spiritual being. When we enter into “our lordship,” we rule. We rule over ourselves, our thoughts, our body, our environment, and over all the creatures and creations of the earth. (MBD/Lord).
Warning against Inner Idleness
3:6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother who walks in rebellion, and not after the tradition which they received from us. 3:7 For you know how you ought to imitate us. For we didn't behave ourselves rebelliously among you, 3:8 neither did we eat bread from anyone's hand without paying for it, but in labor and travail worked night and day,1 that we might not burden any of you; 3:9 not because we don't have the right, but to make ourselves an example to you,2 that you should imitate us. 3:10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: "If anyone will not work, neither let him eat."3 3:11 For we hear of some who walk among you in rebellion, who don't work at all, but are busybodies.4 3:12 Now those who are that way, we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
3:13 But you, brothers, don't be weary in doing well. 3:14 If any man doesn't obey our word in this letter, note that man, that you have no company with him, to the end that he may be ashamed. 3:15 Don't count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
- But in labor and travail worked night and day. In consciousness, to “work” is to erase persistent forms of negative manifestations [and lackful interpretations] through the increased use of denials and affirmations as often necessary. (RW/work). This is our inner, continual work in our journey of transfiguration.
- To make ourselves an example to you. The love of Christ gives us a sense of responsibility toward others. We realize that we are to owe no one anything but to love one another, and love leads us to help others by an example of service. The nature of love is to serve.
- If anyone will not work, neither let him eat. The true object of all work is to express the powers of one's being and to benefit mankind. (RW/work). This command comes from within, from our regenerated, Spirit-led will (Paul) and it is in accordance with Divine Law; it is a new rendering of the decree “By the sweat of your face will you eat bread” (Gen 3:19). Our sense-mind considers work to be a curse, but in Truth, work is actually a blessing in disguise.
- Some who walk among you in rebellion, who don't work at all, but are busybodies. To busy oneself telling others what is their duty or trying to influence their course of action is to be “in rebellion” or a “busybody”; concerning oneself with what does not concern us. We give best when we give service and withhold unasked advice on the service of others.
Final Greetings and Benediction
3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with you all.
- Which is the sign in every letter. [A possible allusion to an esoteric sign or message.]
Fillmore Study Bible annotations compiled by Mary Salama.
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