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Literature / Books of Thessalonians

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Two of the Pauline epistles that make up part of the New Testament from The Bible.

Structure of the books:

1st Thessalonians:
  • Greeting (1st Thessalonians 1:1)
  • The Thessalonians' faith and example (1st Thessalonians 1:2-10)
  • Paul's ministry to the Thessalonians (1st Thessalonians 2:1-16)
  • Paul's longing to see them again (1st Thessalonians 2:17-3:5)
  • Timothy's encouraging report (1st Thessalonians 3:6-13)
  • A life pleasing to God (1st Thessalonians 4:1-12)
  • The coming of the Lord (1st Thessalonians 4:13-18)
  • The Day of the Lord (1st Thessalonians 5:1-11)
  • Final instructions and benediction (1st Thessalonians 5:12-28)

2nd Thessalonians:

  • Greeting (2nd Thessalonians 1:1-2)
  • Thanksgiving (2nd Thessalonians 1:3-4)
  • The judgment at Christ's coming (2nd Thessalonians 1:5-11)
  • The Man of Sin/Lawlessness (2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12)
  • An encouragement to stand firm in the faith (2nd Thessalonians 2:13-17)
  • Paul's call for prayer (2nd Thessalonians 3:1-5)
  • Warning against idleness (2nd Thessalonians 3:6-15)
  • Benediction (2nd Thessalonians 3:16-18)

These books provide examples of:

  • The Antichrist: The "man of sin", or the "son of perdition", mentioned in 2nd Thessalonians is often interpreted as being this by Christian Bible students. The text says that "he will oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sits himself in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God", and that his coming will be "according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and every sort of evil that deceives those that are perishing, that did not receive a love of the truth so as to be saved."
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: What believers will do when Jesus comes, according to 1st Thessalonians 4:16-17.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Paul comforts the Thessalonian believers who have lost loved ones by saying that they will be risen at the time of Jesus' coming, saying that they will be the first ones that will meet Jesus at His coming.
    • Some Bible students interpret the "son of perdition" mentioned in 2nd Thessalonians as Judas Iscariot, also going by the same descriptor by Jesus in the Gospel of John, being brought back to life in some form in the future.
  • Can't Take Criticism: 2nd Thessalonians 2:10-12 says of those who are swayed by the unrighteous deception of the "man of lawlessness":
    ...they refused to love the truth and so be saved. And because of this, God continues to send them a strong delusion, so that they believe the lie, in order that all those may be condemned who refused to believe the truth but instead delighted in unrighteousness. (Evangelical Heritage Version)
  • Caught Up in the Rapture: 1st Thessalonians 4:16-17 are often used by certain Christian Bible students in support of the Rapture teaching:
    For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we shall be forever with the Lord.
  • False Reassurance: After telling them about their being gathered with the Lord near the end of his first letter, Paul tells them that "the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. For when people say, 'There is peace and safety,' then sudden destruction will come upon them like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they shall not escape." (1st Thessalonians 5:2-3)
  • Forged Message: Paul caught wind that there was a message the Thessalonians received that supposedly came from his hand and that of the apostles, saying that the day of the Lord's coming had already happened and that they missed out on it. Paul clears up the whole matter in his second letter to them of how the day will actually come.
  • God Test: From 1st Thessalonians 5:19-22:
    Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. (English Standard Version)
  • Good Is Not Soft: Paul comforts and also warns the believers about what Jesus is going to do at His Second Coming.
    It is a righteous matter with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They shall be punished with eternal destruction, isolated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at by all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed. (2nd Thessalonians 1:6-10)
  • Lazy Bum: Paul warns the Thessalonian believers near the end of his second epistle that they should work and eat their own bread so that they would not be mooching off others while supposedly waiting for the Lord's coming, saying that if a man does not work (out of any reason other than sickness or disability), then he should not eat.
  • Never My Fault: Actually, Never the Romans' Fault. 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15 has Paul attribute the killing of Jesus to the Jewish people, even though it was Pontius Pilate, the Roman Prefect of Judea, who ordered Jesus crucified to satisfy the demand of the Jewish leaders. Thus Paul denies that the Roman army had anything to do with Jesus' death on the cross.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: 1st Thessalonians 5:15 advises against this, saying:
    See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone. But always seek to do good to one another and to all.
  • Platonic Kissing: Near the end of the first letter: "Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss." (1st Thessalonians 5:26, Common English Bible)
  • Restraining Bolt: Paul the apostle mentions in 2nd Thessalonians 2:7 that the "mystery of lawlessness" is already at work, but it is not at its full power, because of "the one who is restraining it," whose identity has been debated among Bible students — the Holy Spirit, the church, one of God's angels, whoever — who will be taken out of the way so that "the lawless one" will be revealed, whom Jesus will slay with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
  • Rule of Three: The thematic "three things that remain" from 1st Corinthians chapter 13 — faith, hope, and love — also appear in 1st Thessalonians 5:8 when Paul says, "But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation."
  • Satan: Mentioned by Paul in his first letter as having hindered his coming to the Thessalonians time and again, and also the one whom the coming of the "man of sin" will be according by the working of in the second letter.
  • Second Coming: Both letters deal with the subject of the Lord's coming, with 1st Thessalonians saying what will happen when He comes, and 2nd Thessalonians saying when His coming will be — the second letter correcting any false information the Thessalonian believers may have received, as if in a letter that supposedly came from Paul and the apostles, saying that the Lord's coming already happened.
  • Sex Is Evil: As with 1st Corinthians, Paul is telling the Thessalonians that sexual immorality, not sex itself, is evil, and in his first letter to them warns them to keep themselves from such and to treat their bodies as pure and holy.

Alternative Title(s): First Thessalonians, Second Thessalonians