Thessalonica was the proud capital of the Roman province of Macedonia and had a population of over 100,000. Its natural harbour and placement on the busy east-west Egnatian Way as well as key north-south trade routes meant that it was a flourishing centre of trade and philosophy. It was a free city and was governed by local officials called politarchs.
Religiously, the city was committed to the Greco-Roman pantheon and the imperial cult; Egyptian cults were also prominent. There was a sizable population of Jews in Thessalonica.
The theme of the Second Coming of Jesus dominates 2 Thessalonians just as it dominated 1 Thessalonians. Jesus’ coming will be preceded by an ‘apostasy’, or rebellion, and by the revelation of the man of lawlessness, the Antichrist. When Jesus comes, he will defeat this rebellious world ruler and bring justice to oppressed Christians, and wrath to their persecutors and to unbelievers in general.
The Thessalonian church had accepted the strange claim that ‘the Day of the Lord has come’. How could they have thought this? Some think they spiritualised the concept of ‘the Day of the Lord’, but Paul’s argumentation seems inconsistent with this. Others postulate that they thought that tribulation was part of the day of the Lord and that it had begun, and consequently the Second Coming was imminent. However, Paul assumes that they knew the Second Coming occurred at the same time as the coming of ‘the Day of the Lord’.
|Introduction||Watch||03 July 14|
|Chapter One||Watch||04 July 14|
|Chapter Two||Watch||08 July 14|
|Chapter Three||Watch||09 July 14|
|Summary||Watch||03 July 14|
As strange as it may seem, the Thessalonians may simply have fallen victim to the bizarre notion that ‘the Day of the Lord’, understood in its normal sense, had come. As a result they were shaken and frightened. The Thessalonians were also undergoing persecution, which may have exacerbated their confusion about the end.