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expected Christ to come in his own lifetime. In this respect the language of this epistle differs widely from the allusions to his approaching death in his later epistles.2 That the apostle should have been left to his own impressions in this matter is in striking harmony with our Lord's statement, "But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father

That it would come suddenly and called for constant watchfulness was a truth often dwelt upon by Christ, which the apostle could safely enforce, as he does at the close of this epistle.*

With regard to the arrangement of topics in this the earliest of Paul's writings that has come down to us, we can trace the order that may be said to be characteristic of his epistles generally, viz. : (1) Salutation, (2) Thanksgiving and Prayer, (3) Doctrinal Instruction, (4) Practical Exhortation, (5) Personal

(5) Personal Messages, (6) Concluding Salutation and Benediction.



1. Authorship. We have the same external evidence for the genuineness of the second epistle as of the first. Internally it bears evidence of being a sequel to the other, being written, like it, in the name of Paul and Silas and Timothy, and con

1 iv. 13-18 (see p. 94, note 2).

to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake"; 2 Tim. iv. 6: "For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come.

2 2 Cor. v. 1, 2: "For we know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens. For verily in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation with is from heaven"; Phil. i. 21-24 : “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if to live in the flesh,-if this is the fruit of my work, then what I shall choose I wot not. But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better : yet

3 Matt. xxiv. 36; cf. Acts i. 6, 7: "They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for

to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within his own authority."

4 v, I-II.

5 i. 1.

taining a direct allusion to the previous epistle. As might have been expected, it contains fewer and more distant allusions to the apostle's sojourn in Thessalonica, although it expressly recalls the teaching he had then imparted regarding the revelation of “the man of sin."2 As regards style and language it exhibits many Pauline peculiarities in common with the first epistle.

The prophetic passage in the second chapter 3 has been a stumbling-block to many critics, who have imagined it to bear the stamp of a later period. In reality, however, it is quite consistent with the teaching of the first epistle, which nowhere implies that the coming of Christ was to be immediate, although it was to be sudden and was apparently to take place in the apostle's lifetime. Predictions of a similar kind had been uttered by our Lord Himself,4 and were 'also to be found in the books of Daniel and Ezekiel.

2. The Readers. See page 95.

3. Date and Place of Composition. As above remarked, this epistle, like the first, is written in the name of Paul, Silas, and Timothy. The three were together at Corinth, and apparently so far as the Book of Acts informs us, nowhere else. This leads to the inference that this epistle, like the first, was written from that city-probably a few months later.5 In the interval the excitement and disorder at Thessalonica consequent upon the expectation of Christ's coming, amid the persecution to which the converts were exposed, had grown even more serious, and demanded the apostle's attention.

1 ii. 15: “So then, brethren, stand when I was yet with you, I told you these fast, and hold the traditions which ye things ?" Apart from this circumstance were taught, whether by word, or by there seems to be little or nothing to epistle of ours.' In iii. 17 (“ The salu- support the conjecture of Grotius, tation of me Paul with mine own hand, adopted by Baur, Ewald, and Renan, which is the token in every epistle : so I that the historical order of the two write,") some critics have thought they epistles has been reversed, and that the could detect a mark of spuriousness ; second should be first and the first but the words need occasion no diffi- second. culty if we suppose either that Paul had written a number of letters previously, 4 Matt. xxiv. (see p. 85), or that he is alluding to 5 A correspondence has been found a forgery in ii. 2 (“To the end that between Paul's circumstances at the time ye be not quickly shaken from your of his trial before Gallio (Acts xviii. 12mind, nor yet be troubled, either by 18), and his expressions in iii. 1, 2: spirit, or by word, or by epistle as from “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that us, as that the day of the Lord is now the word of the Lord may run and be present,") necessitating some such guar- glorified, even as also it is with you; and antee of genuineness in future.

that we may be delivered from unreason“Remember ye not, that, able and evil men; for all have not faith.

3 ii. 1-12.

2 ii. 5:

4. Character and Contents. Along with an expression of satisfaction with their continued faith and steadfastness in the midst of their persecutions and afflictions, Paul assures the Thessalonians that Christ will infallibly come to vindicate their cause, "rendering vengeance" to His and their enemies, and at the same time “to be glorified in his saints.” 3 But he warns them against being carried away with the idea---due in some measure to a misconstruction of his own teaching that Christ's coming was immediately to take place. He mentions that certain great events must first come to pass, and exhorts them to the exercise of continued patience in the strength of divine grace, bidding them lead a quiet, honest, and industrious life, such as he had given an example of while he was yet with them, and commanding them to "withdraw (themselves) from every brother that walketh disorderly.”

li. 4, 5: “Your patience and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflic. tions which ye endure; which is a manifest token of the righteous judgement of God; to the end that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer." ii. 1, 2: “Now we beseech you, brethren, touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him ; to the end that ye be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by epistle as from us, as that the day of the Lord is now present. iii. 6-12: “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which they received of us. For yourselves know how ye ought to imitate us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; neither did we eat bread for nought at any man's hand, but in labour and

travail, working night and day, that we might not burden any of you: not because we have not the right, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you, that ye should imitate us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, If any will not work, neither let him eat. For we hear of some that walk among you disorderly, that work not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread."

23. 1-4: 3 i. 5-12

4 ii. 1, 2 (quoted in note I).

5 ji. 3-12.
6 ii. 13-17;

It was in the spirit of this apostolic counsel that Wesley, on being asked what he would do if he knew he had to die that very night, replied that he would proceed to fulfil the duties and engagements of the day.

7 iii. 6-16.

The characteristic passage of the epistle is that which deals with “the falling away” that must“come first” before Christ's appearing. Its meaning has been the subject of endless controversy, owing to the attempts which have been made to identify the “man of sin," and the "one that restraineth now," with historical dynasties or persons. For the former there have been suggested Nero, Mahomet, the Pope, Luther, Napoleon ; for the latter the Roman Empire, the German Empire, Claudius, and even Paul himself. But the truer interpretation seems to be to regard the expressions in question as referring to two great tendencies-the one antichristian, in the form of secular ambition, which was all that the hope of a Messiah then amounted to in many Jewish minds, and the other political, in the form of the civil power represented, in the first instance, by the Roman Empire. The breakdown of the civil power before the aggressive march of an ungodly Socialism, under the leadership perhaps of some one realising on a gigantic scale the antichristian feeling and ambition of the age, may be the signal for the Advent of the true Christ in His heavenly power and glory.2

1 ii. 1-12: “Now we beseech you, brethren, touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him ; to the end that ye be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by epistle as from us, as that the day of the Lord is now present; let no man beguile you in any wise: for it will not be, except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet

I told you these things? And now ye know that which restraineth, to the end that he may be revealed in his

For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work : only there is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall

be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming; even he, whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that are perishing; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

2 The obscurity of the passage is partly due to its prophetic character, partly to the need for caution in any references to the interests of the state, and partly to the fact that the apostle takes for granted the personal instruction he had already given to the Thessalonians on the same subject.

with you,

own season.




1. Authorship. As already mentioned, the Pauline authorship of this epistle is admitted with practical unanimity.

The external evidence is abundant, from the end of the first century onward. In particular we find in the first epistle of Clement of Rome to the Church of Corinth (95 A.D.) the following unmistakable reference: "Take up the epistle of the blessed Paul the apostle. What was it that he first wrote to you in the beginning of the gospel ? Of a truth it was under the influence of the Spirit that he wrote to you in his epistle concerning himself and Cephas and Apollos, because then as well as now you had formed partialities.” 2

But the internal evidence would of itself be decisive. For this epistle—and still more 2 Corinthians—bears very distinct traces of the opposition which Paul had to encounter before his apostolic authority was firmly established ; 3 and

1 Besides the testimony of Clement of our Lord? are not ye my work in the Rome above cited, we have an early Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, witness in Polycarp, who expressly yet at least I am to you: for the seal of quotes 1 Cor. vi. 2 as Paul's teaching. mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. There are many apparent quotations My defence to them that examine me is from it by Ignatius, one by Hermas, this. Have we no right to eat and to and several by Justin Martyr; while drink? Have we no right to lead about Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, and a wife that is a believer, even as the rest Tertullian, all recognise it as Paul's of the apostles, and the brethren of the first epistle to the Corinthians. It is Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Baralso found in the Syriac and Old Latin nabas, have we not a right to forbear Versions, and in the Muratorian Canon. working?" iv. 14, 15: “I write not

2 ist Ep. c. 47; cf. I Cor. i. 12: these things to shame you, but to ad“Now this I mean, that each one of monish you as my beloved children. you saith, I am of Paul; and I of For though ye should have ten thousand Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of tutors in Christ, yet have ye not many Christ."

fathers : for in Christ Jesus I begat you 30.g. ix. 1-6: "Am I not free? am I through the gospel." not an apostle? have I not seen Jesus

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