NT Epistles: 1 & 2 Thessalonians
New Testament Epistles - 1 & 2 Thessalonians
A Commentary by Gareth L. Reese
This is a phrase-by-phrase commentary and exposition of the New Testament books of 1 & 2 Thessalonians. This commentary is in use as a college textbook, yet is suitable for the lay church member.
1 & 2 Thessalonians were written by Paul, Silas & Timothy to a new church whose members were still learning what it means to live out their newfound faith. While working in Thessalonica, the missionaries had spent much time encouraging and instructing the recent converts in the basics of the faith (1 Thessalonians 2:8-12). Since both epistles appear to have been penned within the 2-year span immediately after leaving Thessalonica, it is not surprising to find the three writers continuing their efforts to strengthen the beliefs and practices of the new Christians. In the face of criticism from enemies of the gospel, the letters staunchly defend the gospel message and messengers, and encourage the believers to remain faithful in the face of the warned-about opposition. For those Christians who had developed mistaken ideas about what happens to those who die prior to Christ's second coming, the letters paint a vivid picture of the events preceding Jesus' return, and of the events that will happen as He returns. And because there were certain areas of Christian living where many of the Thessalonians were missing the mark, the epistles offer direct and clear instruction as to how Christians are to live in the present. Being the first of the letters signed by Paul which have been preserved, 1 & 2 Thessalonians give us an important window of insight on the gospel Paul preached from the beginning of his apostolic work - including his understanding about the deity and Lordship of Jesus, the expected timing of Christ's return, and about how faith about the future works itself out in present-day living.
This commentary is conservative evangelical Christian in its outlook, yet skillfully examines the Scriptures from multiple theological viewpoints. Introductory Studies cover authorship and attestation, the place and date of writing, the original purpose for writing, an overview of several topics discussed by contemporary commentators and Biblical critics, and an extended review of Paul's eschatology, including his views regarding the timing of the Lord's second coming. Of note, four Special Studies address topics unique to 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 and which inextricably color the interpretation of that thorny chapter:
- The Day of the Lord
- The Apostasia
- The Man of Lawlessness
- The Restrainer
Since this commentary presumes the God-inspired nature of all Biblical writing, the author seeks to harmonize the teachings of 1 & 2 Thessalonians with other relevant Scriptures, and also helpfully examines the original language in which the epistles were written. A fully annotated bibliography of other commentaries on 1 & 2 Thessalonians is included to encourage readers to extend their own studies.
This commentary continues the author's series on the books of the New Testament, and is written from the unique standpoint of the Restoration Movement, a position which allows him to approach Scripture with no special theological doctrine or dogma to defend and explicate. This approach provides an unhindered freedom to listen to what the Holy Spirit would tell us within the pages of the sacred Scriptures. By deliberately employing the time-honored grammatico-historical method of interpretation, the Word of God is allowed to impress upon our minds the intent the Divine Author had in mind.
The author is Professor Emeritus of the New Testament at Central Christian College of the Bible (Moberly, MO).