2. Paul's letter to the Thessalonians

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New Testament
Acts of the Apostles
Paul's letters
Catholic letters

The second letter of Paul to the Thessalonians is a book of the New Testament . It has been divided into three chapters since the Middle Ages. Its main theme is the end times . At the beginning of the letter, Paul , Silvanus and Timothy are named as senders .


The letter claims to have been written by the apostle Paul . Doubts about a Pauline authorship were first expressed at the beginning of the 19th century. William Wrede was the first to try to prove that the 2nd Letter to the Thessalonians is literarily dependent on the 1st Letter to the Thessalonians and was therefore not written by Paul. Opinions about authorship are currently divided; Werner Georg Kümmel, for example, saw the concerns often raised as “no reason to doubt the authenticity”, and he considers Corinth 50/51 to be probable as the place and time of writing. Bart D. Ehrman, on the other hand, regards the letter as an early forgery in order to correct the eschatological statements of 1st Thessalonians .


  • 1, 1–12 beginning of the letter with prescript and thanks
  • 2.1-3.15 letter body
    • 2,1-12 the "man of wickedness"
    • 2.13–3.5 Reminder to hold fast to the teaching and request for intercession
    • 3, 6–15 special reminders on the subject of "idleness"
  • 3.16–18 letter closing


The form and content of the 2nd Letter to the Thessalonians is based strongly on the 1st Letter to the Thessalonians. Differences concern v. a. Thanksgiving, which was expanded to include the subject of the tribulation of the church and the retributive judgments of God, and sections 2: 1–12. This part shows considerable differences from the otherwise known Pauline theology. What is new is the figure of an end-time adversary who is held back by a (unspecified) power. In the style of apocalyptic portrayals, the author describes a kind of "eschatological timetable" which he believes can be observed. Yet God's plan of salvation is not simply described as manifest; there is still the “mystery of wickedness” (2.7). Interesting and controversial is the question of how the author of 2nd Thes himself wanted to see his relationship to 1st Thes (cf. 2nd Thes 2.2): Did he want to "correct" misinterpretations of 1st Th with a changed eschatological idea or? even suppress this with the claim to be the actual "Letter to the Thessalonians"?


From the 2nd Letter to the Thessalonians comes the winged phrase, which is often taken up by politicians : "If you don't want to work, you shouldn't eat" ( 2 Thess 3.10  EU ). Among other things, it was included in the constitution of the USSR . Sometimes the statement is quoted with the omission of "wanting", ie: "Who does not work ...", which would affect those unable to work.

See also


  • Franz Laub: 1st and 2nd letters to Thessalonians. 2nd Edition. Echter, Würzburg 1988, ISBN 3-429-00947-2 ( The New Real Bible. Commentary on the New Testament with the standard translation. Volume 13), pp. 37–57.
  • Fritz W. Röcker: Belial and Katechon. An investigation on 2Thess 2,1-12 and 1Thess 4,13-5,11. (WUNT II / 262) Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2009, ISBN 978-3-16-149923-4 .
  • Peter Stuhlmacher : Biblical Theology of the New Testament, Vol. 2: From the Pauline School to the Revelation of John. (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht), Göttingen / LLC, Bristol, CT, USA ²2012, on 2Thess pp. 54–59.
  • Klaus-Michael Bull, Der 2. Thessalonicherbrief (2Thess) In: Michaela Bauks, Klaus Koenen, Stefan Alkier (Hrsg.): The scientific Bibellexikon on the Internet (WiBiLex), Stuttgart 2006 ff.
  • Gerd Lüdemann, The grossest forgery of the New Testament: The second Thessalonians


  1. FC Baur u. a.
  2. William Wrede: The authenticity of the second Thessalonians examined by DW Wrede , Leipzig 1903.
  3. Caraway: Introduction to the New Testament. Heidelberg 20 1980, p. 232. - Similar to Konstantinos Nikolakopoulos : The New Testament in the Orthodox Church. Basic Questions for an Introduction to the New Testament. Berlin 2014, 2nd edition, p. 249: 51/52 AD.
  4. Bart D. Ehrman : Forgery and Counterforgery. The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics , New York 2013, p. 156ff.
  5. ^ Andreas Lindemann
  6. "In the USSR, work is an obligation and a matter of honor for every citizen able to work according to the principle: whoever does not work should not eat", Art. 12 of the Constitution of the USSR of December 5, 1936 . English text ( Memento from June 21, 2013 in the Internet Archive )