Along with Ephesians and Colossians, the authorship of 2 Thessalonians continues to be debated among scholars. The question is whether Paul wrote these letters or someone very familiar with Paul did. Like Colossians, this letter ends with a claim that Paul wrote the final greeting. Scholars are more confident that the Pastoral Epistles—1 and 2 Timothy and Titus—were written by someone other than Paul than they are about the authorship of 2 Thessalonians.
This is a short letter, only forty-seven verses long (three chapters). Much of it deals with Christ’s second coming, either directly or just under the surface. The recipients are encouraged to live in a manner consistent with their high calling so that they will be found worthy of God’s kingdom. Those who suffer now will be vindicated and their oppressors will be punished.
There is a sense of urgency in these admonitions because Christ’s coming is assumed to be close at hand. Some are saying that the “Day of the Lord” (2:2) has already happened, but that is not the case. First will come a period of rebellion and the revealing of “the man of lawlessness” (2:3). He will work counterfeit miracles and signs, but believers are not to be fooled by such trickery. This individual’s power is being held in check by God and will be destroyed by the breath of Christ’s mouth at Christ’s return. In the meantime, God will allow those who are already opposed to the gospel to be deluded by this figure, and so bring condemnation upon themselves.
Believers are to take this coming scenario to heart and stand firm in their faith, holding to what they have been taught. Part of this includes working hard and not being busybodies or lazy. No one is to sit around idle waiting for these events to transpire.
– Peter Enns