Contrast the main problem addressed by Paul in 1 Thessalonians with the one addressed in 2 Thessalonians and Paul’s solutions to them.
First and Second Thessalonians both address the second coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Although both letters were written by Paul to address issues of the second coming, both serve to correct different eschatological problems that gave rise. Paul, in divine revelation from the Holy Spirit, addresses both of these problems through encouragement, while at the same time giving specific correction.
First, in First Thessalonians, it is apparent that the Thessalonians began to focus so much on the second coming of Christ, the Parousia, that they failed to maintain the quiet, productive lives that they as Christians needed to maintain. The Thessalonians thought that since Christ’s return was imminent and immediate, they need not work. They also felt sorrow over the death of their fellow Christians; perhaps they thought they would not share in the joy of Christ’s return.
Paul addresses these problems with specific solutions. First, in regards to leading unproductive lives, he encouraged them to work with their own hands and to lead a quiet life. (I Thessalonians 4:11) He addressed their concerns about fellow Christians not being able to share in the joy of the return of Christ by explaining to them that Christians who have died will be resurrected at the rapture so they too will be taken up with the living Christians into heaven. (I Thessalonians 4:16)
In Second Thessalonians, Paul again addresses concerns stemming from the eschatological views of the Thessalonians. However, on this occasion the view of the Thessalonians is that Christ’s return was so immediate that it led to fanaticism. Their view of such an immediate coming of Christ may have been formed from a false message or letter from someone claiming to be Paul, or one of his disciples. Paul works toward a solution to the problems in Second Thessalonians in a couple of ways. First, he encourages them to continue to endure persecution, for at the second coming of Christ, God’s justices would be fulfilled. The faithful would enter eternal rest and their persecutors eternal destruction. Next, Paul warns the Thessalonians not to be deceived by false prophets or by oral or written reports by people that may claim to be him, and who were claiming the day of the Lord had already begun. (II Thessalonians 2:2) He instructed them regarding the events preceding the coming of the Lord, and he reminded them that in looking for the return of Christ, believers should not put asunder responsible daily living. Although he was excited about the arrival of Christ, just as they were, he urged them to live realistic and productive lives as they await the Messiah.
First and Second Thessalonians not only give us a glimpse into Paul’s eschatological theology, but also into how this eschatology should apply to our lives. First and Second Thessalonians reassures us as believers that should we die before the second coming of Christ, we can be confident in a resurrection of our physical bodies. However, until the Lord calls us home to glory, we should continue to persevere, work, and serve Him as we await the day in which Christ completes our salvation.