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SECOND THESSALONIANS

FROM CORINTH A.D. 50 OR 51

BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION

It is plain that First Thessalonians did not settle all the difficulties in Thessalonica. With some there was precisely the opposite result. There was some opposition to Paul's authority and even defiance. So Paul repeats his "command" for discipline (2Th 3:6 ) as he had done when with them ( 3:10). He makes this Epistle a test of obedience ( 3:14) and finds it necessary to warn the Thessalonians against the zeal of some deceivers who even invent epistles in Paul's name to carry their point in the church (2:1f. ), an early instance of pseudepigraphic "Pauline" epistles, but not for a "pious" purpose. Paul's keen resentment against the practise should make us slow to accept the pseudepigraphic theory about other Pauline Epistles. He calls attention to his own signature at the close of each genuine letter. As a rule he dictated the epistle, but signed it with his own hand ( 3:17). Paul writes to calm excitement (Ellicott) and to make it plain that he had not said that the Second Coming was to be right away.

This Epistle is a bit sharper in tone than the First and also briefer. It has been suggested that there were two churches in Thessalonica, a Gentile Church to which First Thessalonians was sent, and a Jewish Church to which Second Thessalonians was addressed. There is no real evidence for such a gratuitous hypothesis. It assumes a difficulty about his sending a second letter to the same church that does not exist. The bearer of the first letter brought back news that made a second necessary. It was probably sent within the same year as the first.

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