Unit 26, Day 3: 2 Thessalonians

New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, 2015


Introduction

Shortly after writing his first epistle to the Thessalonian Saints, the Apostle Paul wrote them a second epistle, in which he explained more truths about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. He taught that the Savior would not come again until after an apostasy had occurred. Paul then preached against idleness and counseled the Saints to “be not weary in well doing” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).

2 Thessalonians 1–2

Paul encourages the Saints by prophesying of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “With admiration and encouragement for everyone who will need to remain steadfast in these latter days, I say to all and especially the youth of the Church that if you haven’t already, you will one day find yourself called upon to defend your faith or perhaps even endure some personal abuse simply because you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Such moments will require both courage and courtesy on your part” (“The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 6).

  1. journal icon1.

    In your scripture study journal, write about an experience when you needed to defend your faith or endure opposition because of your membership in the Church. Include how you responded in the situation. If you have not had to defend your faith or experienced opposition because of your membership in the Church, write about how you think you would respond if you faced this kind of situation.

The Apostle Paul wrote a second letter to the Thessalonian Saints and addressed several topics, including persecution that the Saints were facing. As you study 2 Thessalonians 1, look for a principle that can help you endure opposition and tribulation you may face as a member of the Church.

Read 2 Thessalonians 1:3–5, looking for why Paul praised the Thessalonian Saints.

Consider marking or noting in verse 5 the reward the Saints would receive for enduring persecution and tribulation with “patience and faith” (2 Thessalonians 1:4).

From 2 Thessalonians 1:3–5 we learn that if we faithfully endure opposition and tribulation with patience and faith, we may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God.

Think about what it means to patiently endure trials. Why do we need faith to patiently endure opposition or tribulation?

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Read the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency, marking what it means to patiently endure trials: “Patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can—working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!” (“Continue in Patience,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 57).

  1. journal icon2.

    Think of someone you know or have read about in the scriptures who faithfully and patiently endured persecution and tribulation. In your scripture study journal, write about why this person’s example is meaningful to you.

Think about the opposition or tribulations you might currently be experiencing, and decide how you can endure these challenges with patience and faith. Consider praying for help.

Paul prophesied of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Read 2 Thessalonians 1:6–10, looking for words and phrases Paul used to describe the Second Coming. As you read, notice how the experience of the righteous will be different from the experience of the wicked when the Lord comes.

One truth we can learn from these verses is that at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the righteous will rest and the wicked will be destroyed.

What do you think the righteous will rest from?

How can this doctrine comfort those who are currently enduring hardships because of their commitment to Jesus Christ?

Have you ever wondered when the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will be? 2 Thessalonians 2:2 suggests that the Saints in Thessalonica may have thought the Lord’s Second Coming was about to happen or had already occurred. Paul was concerned that they had been misled.

Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3, looking for what Paul said would happen before the Second Coming. In verse 3 the phrase “that day” refers to the Second Coming and the phrase “falling away” means apostasy, or departing from the truth. (Note that 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way to help you locate it in the future.)

From 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3 we learn that before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, an apostasy would occur.

In these verses Paul suggested that Church members of his day should be more concerned about the apostasy that had already begun among them than about when the Lord’s Second Coming would be. The following explanation can help you understand the Great Apostasy, which occurred shortly after the deaths of Paul and the other Apostles. Paul knew this falling away would occur before the Lord’s Second Coming.

“After the death of Jesus Christ, wicked people persecuted the Apostles and Church members and killed many of them. With the death of the Apostles, priesthood keys and the presiding priesthood authority were taken from the earth. The Apostles had kept the doctrines of the gospel pure and maintained the order and standard of worthiness for Church members. Without the Apostles, over time the doctrines were corrupted, and unauthorized changes were made in Church organization and priesthood ordinances, such as baptism and conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost.

“Without revelation and priesthood authority, people relied on human wisdom to interpret the scriptures and the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. False ideas were taught as truth. Much of the knowledge of the true character and nature of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost was lost. The doctrines of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost became distorted or forgotten. The priesthood authority given to Christ’s Apostles was no longer present on the earth. This apostasy eventually led to the emergence of many churches” (Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service [2004], 35).

Considering what you have learned about the Apostasy, ponder why it was necessary for the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church to be restored before the Lord’s coming.

The “man of sin” mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 refers to Satan. The Restoration of the gospel, including the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, exposed the deceptions of Satan and his followers.

We read in 2 Thessalonians 2:4–17 that Paul prophesied that the Lord would permit Satan to deceive the earth’s inhabitants until the time of the Second Coming (see Joseph Smith Translation, 2 Thessalonians 2:7–9 [in the Bible appendix]). Paul encouraged the Saints to “stand fast” in the truths they had been taught (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery—2 Thessalonians 2:1–3

  1. journal icon3.

    Using the scripture study helps (such as footnotes, the Guide to the Scriptures, or the Topical Guide), find another scripture that teaches about the Apostasy. You may want to write or note this reference in your scriptures by 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3. In your scripture study journal, write how you would use these verses to explain the basic doctrines of the Apostasy and the Restoration to someone who is not a member of the Church.

2 Thessalonians 3

Paul warns of those who do not follow the Lord’s counsel, and he preaches about self-reliance

At the time Paul wrote his second epistle to the Thessalonians, some of the Church members were idle, or lazy, and were not working to become self-reliant. They expected to be provided for by the labor of others.

What problems might have resulted from this situation?

According to 2 Thessalonians 3:1–9, Paul commended the Thessalonian Saints who were faithful and warned them about associating with those who were “disorderly” (verse 6). One meaning of the word disorderly is undisciplined, and in the context of 2 Thessalonians 3 it implies being lazy or idle. The Church members who were being disorderly were those who were able to work to support themselves but refused to do so. Paul pointed out that he and his companions had set an example of self-reliance by working to support themselves.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:10–13, looking for what Paul instructed the Saints to do regarding those who refused to work.

Paul also counseled the Saints to “be not weary in well doing” (2 Thessalonians 3:13). He was instructing them to improve themselves in all areas and to help others (see also D&C 64:33).

From Paul’s instruction we learn that we are commanded to strive to be self-reliant and to help others.

Read the following statement, looking for what being self-reliant means:

“One of the blessings of work is developing self-reliance. When you are self-reliant, you use the blessings and abilities God has given you to care for yourself and your family and to find solutions for your own problems. Self-reliance does not mean that you must be able to do all things on your own. To be truly self-reliant, you must learn how to work with others and turn to the Lord for His help and strength.

“Remember that God has a great work for you to do. He will bless you in your efforts to accomplish that work” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 41).

Think of one thing you can do to become more self-reliant now and in the future. Set a goal, and seek the Lord’s help in achieving this goal.

As recorded in 2 Thessalonians 3:14–18, Paul concluded his epistle by encouraging the Saints to help those who were idle become more self-reliant by “hav[ing] no company with” them, or withdrawing from them (verse 14). He encouraged the Saints, however, to not treat the idle as enemies but as brothers and sisters in the gospel.

  1. journal icon4.

    Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied 2 Thessalonians and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: