2 Thessalonians was written to a group of Christians who were enduring persecutions and trials because of their faith. It was written to assure the Thessalonians that they would be given relief of all their suffering when Christ returned, if they remained faithful. Also, After receiving 1 Thessalonians, many members of the church believed that the Lord’s return would occur immediately so they “quit their jobs” and “those who kept their jobs were having to feed those who had not”(Ehrman, 268). Even more, it was written to underline that “the end was not yet to come”(Ehrman, 267). 1 and 2 Thessalonians were written bearing the name of the apostle, Paul. Even though 1 Thessalonians is an undisputed work of Paul, scholars are divided on the authenticity of authorship of 2 Thessalonians. Many scholars believe that 2 Thessalonians is a pseudepigrapha. However, its acceptance into the canon, the eschatological theme, and its similarity in context to 1 Thessalonians supports authenticity of the Pauline authorship.
2 Thessalonians’ installation in the Marcion’s canon and the Muratorian canon confirms its authenticity because this shows that it was fully accepted as a work of Paul as early as c.150. In order for a book to be considered as an authoritative sacred scripture, it has to have apostolic authority and origin, sound doctrine, and wide usage which means that 2 Thessalonians was believed to have derived from the apostle Paul. It also means that the letter was in heavy circulation among the masses in the early periods. Its wide usage is evident because it is mentioned by name by Irenaeus and known by Ignatius, Justin Martyr, and Polycarp” (Foster,160). The utilization of 2 Thessalonians in early Christian literature further confirms that the earliest Christians believed that 2 Thessalonians was an authentic work of Paul.
Furthermore, the similar eschatological theme of 1 and 2 Thessalonians validates its Pauline origin. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night”(5:2). He tells them that they will know when the Lord returns because “ you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief”(5:4). He explains that it will come suddenly and it will be a surprise only to all who are in the darkness. In 2 Thessalonians, Paul extends this idea by detailing the signs that they will notice before parousia. He tells them to “let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction”(2 Thessalonians 2:3). This event of “destruction” is also lightly noted in 1 Thessalonians when Paul says,”then sudden destruction will come upon them”(5:3).
Nonetheless, scholars who do not believe that Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians object to it because of the shift in the eschatology from 1 Thessalonians. Parousia is imminent in 1 Thessalonians but is not in 2 Thessalonians. Although Paul never gives...