2 Thessalonians is a follow-up letter to 1 Thessalonians. The Apostle Paul probably wrote 1 Thessalonians from the Greek city of Corinth, when Timothy came to him with news that the Thessalonians were withstanding persecution and continuing in the faith. Corinth is in southern Greece, about 350 miles south of Thessalonica, which was in Macedonia.The first letter to the Thessalonians communicated Paul’s anxiety for their spiritual wellbeing prior to hearing Timothy’s report, his joy to learn from Timothy that they were doing well, his encouragement that they increase all the more in their love for one another, some ways in which they could mature in their faith, as well as clearing up a question about Christ’s second coming. The Thessalonians were concerned that if any of them died physically before Jesus came back, they would miss out on being with Jesus. Paul answered that concern, and explicitly tells them that believers who have died will be raised back to life and will join Jesus when He returns in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
This second letter to the Thessalonians was likely written soon after the first, and it proceeds to further clarify questions the Thessalonians had about the end times, and about Jesus’s return. In it, Paul also underscores the importance of working hard and not being a burden on other people, because it seems that some of the Thessalonians weren’t earning their own way. They probably reasoned that since Jesus was coming back soon, they should sit around and wait for His return. Paul condemns this and urges the Thessalonians to live a disciplined life and continue to work diligently as preparation; to be ready for Jesus to come back any day, and be living a life that pleases Him upon His return.
Paul asks for prayers that his efforts to spread the gospel elsewhere would be as fruitful as they were with the Thessalonians. He tells the Thessalonians that he is confident that they will continue to grow in their faith, their obedience, and their perseverance. God and Christ strengthen us against the actions of the Devil.
There is an issue within the Thessalonian church which Paul deals with before concluding the epistle. Apparently, there are some believers who are refusing to work and are not providing for themselves. It is possible they were doing this because they believed that since Jesus was coming back, they could take it easy while they waited for His return. These people whom Paul calls “undisciplined” are living off the work of others, as well as using their idle time to stir up conflict by acting as busybodies.
Paul’s solution is for the Thessalonians to stop feeding these people and get them back to work. Paul prescribes that if they refuse to work, then the community should ignore them until they repent. These troublemakers shouldn’t be viewed as enemies, but as brothers (which they are; they are fellow believers in Christ who are living out a mistaken perspective). They can be restored to God’s will for their lives, but it will involve the Thessalonians directly confronting them and admonishing them to work to take care of themselves, rather than to be a burden on the church.
Paul signs his own special mark (or signature) at the end of the letter, showing that he authored the epistle. This is possibly because imposters were pretending to be Paul and were writing false, misleading letters to the Thessalonians. Paul blesses his readers with words of goodwill from God, that the Thessalonians would experience His peace and favor always.