Jesus Has Not Returned Yet

About 2 Thessalonians

Thessalonica was a large city in Macedonia. Macedonia included the north part of the country that we call Greece. It also included the south part of the country that we call Yugoslavia. We think that Paul, together with Silas and Timothy, went to Thessalonica about the year AD 50. That was about 20 years after Jesus died. Paul went there for a short time, to tell the people about Jesus Christ. A few months after that, Paul wrote his first letter to the Christians who lived at Thessalonica. Paul wrote that first letter when he was in Corinth city. Corinth was about 300 kilometres (200 miles) south from Thessalonica.

While Paul was still at Corinth, people told him some news. The news was about the Christians who lived at Thessalonica. So, he wrote this second letter to them, only a short time after he had sent his first letter.

Paul knew that some people were still causing bad trouble for the Christians at Thessalonica. So he wrote to help them to be brave (chapter 1). He says that God knows about their troubles. God has a purpose in everything, and he will punish his people’s enemies in the end.

Also, some people were teaching that Jesus had already returned to the earth. Other people were teaching that he would return very soon. Some of the Christians at Thessalonica may have believed what these people taught. We think that some of the Christians may even have stopped working as a result. So, Paul writes to explain that Jesus will not return yet. Certain things must happen before he returns (chapter 2). Paul also says that nobody should stop working (chapter 3). People should work so that they can get their own food.

Chapter 1

Paul starts his letter

1 This letter is from Paul, Silas and Timothy to God’s people who live at Thessalonica. You are united to God our Father, and to the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We pray that God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ will continue to be very kind to you. We pray also that they will cause you to be without trouble in your minds.

Paul thanks God because of the believers at Thessalonica

3 You are like brothers and sisters to us, and we ought to thank God because of you always. We should thank him, because you are learning to believe Christ more and more. And each of you is loving each of the other Christians more and more. 4 As a result, we speak about you to God’s other groups of believers. We are so happy to tell them about you. You are showing how God’s people should live. People often cause you bad trouble and pain because you are Christians. But you are continuing to believe Christ. You are continuing to be patient and brave.

5 All this shows us something clearly, about how God decides about people. God decides about people who die. He decides what should happen to those people. And he will always decide what is right for them. People are causing great trouble for you now because God is your king. So it is right that, as a result, you should live always with God and his people. And God will cause this to happen to you.

6 God will do what is right. So he will punish those people who are causing trouble for you. He will cause trouble for them. 7 God will also do what is right for you. You have troubles now. But God will cause you to rest and to be without trouble. You will rest, together with us, when the Lord Jesus will come down from heaven. He will come with his powerful angels. 8 He will come with a very hot fire. And he will punish those people who refuse to know God. He will punish those people who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. 9 To punish them, he will go on destroying them always. He will shut them out from where the Lord is present. So, they will never see how very powerful, great and beautiful he is. 10 All this will happen on that special day when Jesus will come. On that day, Jesus’ own people will show what great things he has done for them. All those people who believe him will say great things about him. And you will be among them, because you believed our message. You believed what we told you.

Paul prays for the believers at Thessalonica

11 So we always pray for you. Our God has chosen you to be his own people. And you must continue to be the kind of people that he wants. So, we pray that he will be happy about you. We pray also that God will work powerfully in you. So then he will make it possible for you to do every good thing that you want to do. You want to do those good things because you believe Christ. 12 We pray this so that other people will say good things about our Lord Jesus because of you. They will see the great things that he has done for you. Also, Jesus will cause people to say good things about you. This will happen because our God and the Lord Jesus Christ are so very kind to you.

Chapter 2

Antichrist will come before Jesus returns

1 Our friends, we must explain something now about the time when our Lord Jesus Christ will return. You know that, at that time, he will bring us all together to be with him. But we ask you something very strongly. 2 You must not let yourselves become confused or afraid easily because of false messages about the Lord’s return. Those messages say that the day of the Lord has already happened. Perhaps somebody might say that God’s Spirit has shown him a message like that. Or somebody might report that we said it. Or they might say that we wrote it in a letter.

3 Do not let anyone cause you to believe something false in any way. That day will not happen until certain other things have happened first. Before that day, there will be a time when many people will turn against God completely. Also, before that day, people will see the man who completely refuses to obey God. He is the man that God will certainly kill. 4 This man will be God’s enemy. He will be the enemy of everything that people call God. He will be the enemy of everything that people worship. He will think that he is much greater than any god. As a result, this man will even go into God’s special house and he will sit down there. And he will tell people that he himself is God.

Verses 1-3 When he was with them, Paul had taught the Christians at Thessalonica about Jesus’ return. (See verse 5.) He had said more about it in his first letter to them. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 and 5:1-10.) But other people had taught that it had already happened. So, Paul is explaining that certain things must happen first.

The ‘day of the Lord’ is not a 24-hour day but a longer time. It includes many events. It will be a time when God will beat all his enemies (Zephaniah 1:14-18). He will be angry with them and so he will kill them all (Isaiah 13:9). This will cause trouble on the earth (Isaiah 13:11; Amos 5:18-20). But it will be a very good time for those who love God. It is a way to talk about the time when God will make Israel’s people free (Jeremiah 30:7-9; Joel 3:16). It also is a way to speak about the time when Jesus will return. And then he will start to rule on the earth.

Verses 3-4 The ‘man who completely refuses to obey God’ is the opposite of Jesus Christ. Another name for him is ‘Antichrist’ (see 1 John 2:18, 22 and 4:3). The book in the Bible called Daniel tells about a very bad ruler like this. (See Daniel 7:25-26; 9:26-27; 11:31-39.) And the Bible also describes a strange animal that may also be like a picture of this person. (See Revelation 13:1-8.)

5 I told you these things when I was with you. I am sure that you remember that. 6 This man will come at the time that God has chosen. But something makes it impossible for him to come yet. And you know what it is. 7 Already Satan is working secretly to turn people against God and against God’s rules. But there is someone who is making it impossible for Satan to work like that freely. And that someone will continue to make it impossible, until God takes that someone away. 8 Then people will see the man who completely refuses to obey God. But when the Lord Jesus will come, he will kill that man. Jesus will kill him with the words that Jesus speaks. Jesus will kill him with the very bright, powerful light that shines from Jesus himself.

Verses 6-7 Something (verse 6) and/or someone (verse 7) is making it impossible for Antichrist to come yet. Paul had taught the Christians at Thessalonica about this. So, they knew what it and/or he was. But we do not know certainly what Paul means here. He may mean the government or governments that rule people in this world. God chooses to let governments rule people. And good governments make good rules. Those rules help people do what is right.

9 Satan will cause this very bad man to come. Also, Satan will cause this man to be very powerful. So, this very bad man will do all kinds of things that people cannot usually do. Those things will surprise people very much. Those things will cause people to believe this very bad man. They will cause people to believe things that are not true. 10 This very bad man will also do all kinds of bad things. He will cause bad people to believe what is not true. So, God will certainly kill those bad people. Those bad people will believe false things because they refused to love the true message. They refused to love the true message so that God could save them. 11 For this reason, God causes them to believe wrong things very easily and very strongly. So then they will believe what is not true. 12 The result is that God will decide to punish them. They refused to believe what is true. And instead, they enjoyed doing wrong things. So God will punish all of them.

The Christians at Thessalonica must continue to believe what Paul taught them

13 But you are like brothers and sisters to us, and the Lord loves you. We must thank God always because of you, because God has chosen you. God chose you to be among the first people that he would save. He saves you because his Spirit makes you God’s special people. God’s Spirit makes you separate from everything that is bad. God saves you because you believe him. You believe what is true. 14 God asked you strongly to become his special people. You heard him when we told you the good news. He wanted you to become special people who would live always with our Lord Jesus Christ. You will live in the beautiful place with Christ, who is so very great. 15 So, our friends, you must continue to believe Christ strongly. Continue to believe the true things that we taught you. God first taught those things to us. And we taught them to you when we spoke to you. We also taught them to you when we wrote our letter to you.

16 We pray about you to our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and to God, our Father. They have shown how much they love you and us. And they have promised to give good things to us all. So, we can continue to be brave and strong for all time. We can hope strongly for these good things. They will give these things to us because they are so very kind. 17 We pray that our Lord Jesus Christ and God, our Father, will make you brave. We pray that they will continue to make you strong in your minds. So you will always do what is good. And you will always say what is good.

Chapter 3

Paul asks the Christians to pray for him and for his friends

1 Now, friends, we ask you to pray for us. Pray that, because of us, more and more people will hear the Lord’s message with pleasure soon. Pray that they will believe his message. So then they will thank God for it. That is what happened among you. 2 Pray also that God will not let very bad people cause bad trouble for us. Pray like that, because not everyone believes the message about our Lord. 3 But the Lord always does what he has promised. So, he will help you, so that you continue to believe him strongly. And he will keep you safe from Satan.

4 Also the Lord makes us sure about you. We told you things that you must do. You are doing those things. And you will continue to do those things. We are sure about that. 5 We pray that the Lord will help you to know him more and more. So then you will continue to understand more about how much God loves you. And he will cause you to be patient and strong, like Christ.

The Christians must not refuse to work

6 Our friends, we tell you this with the authority that the Lord Jesus Christ gives to us. You must stay away from every believer who is living in a lazy way. People like that are refusing to obey the things that we taught you. 7 You yourselves know that you ought to be like us. You ought to do the things that we did. We were not lazy when we were with you. 8 We always paid for all the food that we received from anyone. We worked very much, during the day and at night. We worked so that we did not need to ask any of you for anything. So, you did not have to supply anything for us. 9 We could have told you that you must supply things for us. We have authority to do that. But we wanted to show you ourselves what you should do. So then you could be like us. 10 Even when we were with you, we told you this rule. ‘If anyone refuses to work, you should not let him eat’, we said.

11 We say this because someone has told us news about you. They have told us that some people among you are living in a lazy way. Those people do not work themselves. But they talk very much about other people. They are busy with things that should not matter to them. 12 We speak strongly to those people who are lazy like that. We speak with the authority that the Lord Jesus Christ gives to us. We tell them strongly that it is their duty to work. They should work properly so that they may get their own food to eat.

Verses 6-12 In his first letter to them, Paul told the Christians at Thessalonica that they must work. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.) But some of them were still refusing to work. They thought that Jesus would return to the earth very soon. So, they may have thought that they did not need to work. In this letter, Paul has already explained that Jesus will not return so very soon. Certain things must happen first. (See chapter 2:1-12.) So now, Paul tells them again that it is right for them to work.

Verses 7-10 See also 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12.

13 But you other believers must never stop doing what is good. 14 We have written things in this letter to tell you what you should do. If anyone refuses to obey these things, tell everyone about him. And stay away from him, so that he may be ashamed. 15 But do not think about him or speak to him as your enemy. Instead, tell him seriously, like a brother, that he should obey our message.

Paul finishes his letter

16 The Lord causes us to be without trouble in our minds. And I pray that the Lord himself will do that for you at all times and in every way. I pray that the Lord will be with all of you.

17 I, Paul, am writing these words myself to say ‘hello’ to you. I write my name like this at the end of all my letters. This is how I write. 18 I pray that our Lord Jesus Christ will continue to be very kind to all of you.

Word List

AD
AD 50 means 50 years after Jesus came, and so on.
angel
a servant of God. He brings messages from God to people on earth.
Antichrist
another name for the man who will completely refuse to obey God.
believer
a person who knows and accepts Christ.
day of the Lord
The ‘day of the Lord’ is not a 24-hour day. It means all the things that may happen during many years. It includes many events. It will be a time when God will beat all his enemies (Zephaniah 1:14-18). He will be angry with them and so he will kill them all (Isaiah 13:9). This will cause trouble on the earth (Isaiah 13:11; Amos 5:18-20). But it will be a very good time for those who love God. It is a way to talk about the time when God will make Israel’s people free (Jeremiah 30:7-9; Joel 3:16). It also is a way to speak about the time when Jesus will return. And then he will start to rule on the earth.
enemy
person that wants to hurt or to attack.
heaven
the place beyond the earth where God and Jesus Christ live.
Lord
master; another name for God or Jesus; it means that he is greater than everyone else.
punish
to hurt someone, or to cause trouble for them, because they have done bad things.
Satan
another name for the Devil. He is the bad spirit who wants to be God. He is the ruler of bad spirits and of all that is bad. He is the enemy of God and the enemy of Christians.
spirit
spirits are alive, but we cannot see them. There are good spirits usually called angels. Bad spirits (also called evil spirits or demons) live in the air round us. Satan is their leader.
worship
to love and thank someone (God) more than anyone else.

Book List

A. Marshall ~ The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament

P. Ellingworth & E. A. Nida ~ A Translator’s Handbook on Paul’s Letters to the Thessalonians

L. Morris ~ New International Commentary on the New Testament ~ The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians

F. F. Bruce ~ Word Biblical Commentary ~ 1 & 2 Thessalonians

Various Bible versions

Info

© Wycliffe Associates (UK), 1997-2009

This version published July 2009

The translated Bible text has been through Advanced Checking.