Books of Bible
Summary of Paul's Second Letter to the Thessalonians
By H. A. (Buster) Dobbs
A. The object of this letter was to correct the false idea that the
day of the return of Jesus was impending.
B. Greeting (1:1-2).
1. Paul was the writer and Timothy and Silvanus (Silas) were
with the apostle and are mentioned not as co-writers, but as a
2. The letter was addressed to "the church of the Thessalonians
in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1:1).
3. Paul desires that they enjoy quietness and favor with God
(grace and peace) (1:2).
4. The apostle takes note of their growth (1:3-4).
a. In faith--they were growing exceedingly in faith (1:3).
Since faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom.
10:17), they were feeding their faith on divine revelation
b. In love--they had an expanding, abounding love for each
c. In patience--they suffered affliction and endured
persecution but were still busy in the service of Christ
II. Doctrinal Part of the Letter (1:5 to 2:17).
A. The righteous judgment of God (1:5-12).
1. The present persecution of children of God by unbelievers
was a token of a coming day when God will judge the world
in righteousness (1:5).
a. The affliction visited on believers was not now being
b. It is right for such atrocities to be condemned and
c. God is righteous and it therefore follows that a time will
come when such evil will be repaid. Their present
suffering was a forecast of a coming righteous judgment.
In its final outcome, life is fair.
2. In the last judgment, suffering saints would be counted
worthy of participation in the heavenly kingdom of God
a. The enduring steadfastness of the Thessalonians showed
how precious and dear Christ was to them.
b. It is certain that this worthiness will exalt the Thessalonians.
c. It is not that the believer can earn salvation by his
suffering, but it is that the suffering proves his faith and
makes his hope of ultimate salvation stronger.
B. God is righteous and will one day strike down those who
persecute and hurt his children (1:6-10).
1. The tormentors will be tormented--they deserve it (1:6).
a. Those who oppose God and reject his word judge
themselves to be unworthy of eternal life (Acts 13:46).
b. God in his goodness and purity cannot receive them in
their wickedness and corruption and therefore must send
them away. The only eternal alternative is the lake burning
with fire and brimstone.
2. The afflicted are urged to look for the second advent of
a. He will come in power and with a heavenly host of angels
b. He will render vengeance to those who do not know God
c. Those who do not obey the gospel will be punished--not
because they do not obey the gospel but because their sins
are not forgiven, seeing they have rejected God's saving
power (Rom. 1:16).
d. Their punishment is being sent away from God who is the
source of all good and the giver of every real blessing
3. At his next appearing Jesus will perfect salvation (1:10).
a. He will come to be glorified in his saints (1:10).
b. He will be marveled at in all believers--those who know
his wondrous gifts in this life will marvel when they at last
shall see his surpassing glory (1:10).
c. The final victory of the saint is the result of receiving,
believing, and obeying the gospel (1:10).
C. Paul's earnest desire that they might be prepared for the day of
the Lord's return (1:11).
1. Paul prayed God would count them worthy of the heavenly
2. Paul wanted their every desire for good to be recognized
and compensated (1:11).
3. Paul begged God to bless their every work of faith--note:
faith works (1:11).
4. At the coming of Christ there is to be mutual glorification--
they would magnify Jesus and he would honor them (1:12).
D. More on the second coming of Christ (2:1-12).
1. The event is certain but the time of it is uncertain, except
Paul says to believers in about A.D.50 that it was not "just
at hand" (2:1-2).
2. A great apostasy would precede the return of Jesus (2:3).
a. The man of sin, the son of perdition, would lead the
3. Characteristics of the man of sin (2:4).
a. He opposes God and exalts himself (2:4).
b. He sits in the sanctuary of God--the apostate church
c. He claims to be God (2:4).
4. A full-blown apostasy was being restrained (2:5-6).
5. The apostasy had already started (2:7).
a. There was one who held back the apostasy and was then
keeping it from coming to full flower (2:7).
b. The inhibiting power would one day be removed (2:7).
6. When the one who restrained the apostasy was taken out of
the way, the lawless one (man of sin, son of perdition) would
be revealed (2:8).
a. At his coming, Jesus will end the reign of terror (2:8).
b. The man of sin will be reduced to nothing at the coming
of the Lord (2:8).
7. The nature of the man of sin (2:9-10).
a. He works with Satan (2:9).
b. He uses power, signs, and lying wonders (2:9).
c. He is deceitful (2:10).
d. He is unrighteous (2:10).
e. He causes those he misleads to perish (10).
f. Those who perish because they are persuaded by the lies
of the man of sin to be unrighteous have only themselves
to blame (2:10).
g. The son of perdition can dupe the perishing because they
do not love saving truth (2:10).
8. God sends a working of error (2:11-12).
a. The working of error causes them to believe a lie (2:11).
b. Because they delighted in refusing to obey God's word
(which is, by definition, unrighteousness) and believed not
the truth they will be doomed (2:12)
D. Thanksgiving for salvation (2:13-15).
1. They were sanctified in the Spirit by believing the truth
a. Those who hear, believe and obey the gospel are
sanctified in the Spirit by believing the truth (2:13).
b. Failure to love truth brings eternal loss, but loving the
truth brings rich rewards.
2. The saved are called by the gospel to obtain a place in the
glory of Christ (2:14).
3. Stand fast by the truth (traditions you received from us)
whether spoken or written (2:15).
E. A prayer that God would comfort their hearts and establish
them in every good work (2:16-17).
III. Practical Part of the Letter (3:1-18).
A. The apostle asks them to pray that the gospel "may run and
be glorified" (3:1-2).
1. Asking especially for his deliverance from evil men (3:2).
B. He is confident they would remain faithful (3:3-5).
1. Paul's letter contained commands for them to obey (3:4).
2. God would direct their hearts by means of the letter
(written word) into the love of God and patience of Christ
C. He commands them to withdraw from the disorderly (3:6-12).
1. They are to shrink from and avoid those who are out of
step and will not receive the teaching of the apostle (3:6).
2. Paul's conduct while in Thessolonicia (3:7-8).
a. He was not disorderly (3:7).
b. He paid his own way (3:8).
c. He was hard working and industrious (3:8).
d. He was not a burden to them (3:8).
e. He had the right to live of the gospel he preached, but
elected to forego that right to encourage them (3:9).
3. Paul commanded them not to feed the lazy and slothful
a. Some among them refused to work (3:11).
b. Being idle, they became busybodies--meddlers in other
people's matters (3:11).
c. He commands them to earn their own bread and mind
their own business (3:12).
D. He tells them to never get tired of doing what is right (3:13).
E. Attitude toward those who might reject the words of Paul and
refuse to obey his commands (3:14-15).
1. Mark him, having nothing to do with him - make him
ashamed of himself (3:14).
2. Do not treat him like an enemy, but appeal to him as a
wayward brother (3:15).
F. Closing remarks (3:16-18).
1. May the Prince of Peace give you peace (3:16). May you
have a quiet heart at all times (3:16).
2. The Lord be with you (3:16).
3. Paul signed and certified the epistle (3:17).
4. He wishes for them the gracious gifts of a loving Lord