The messenger clambered off the ship with mixed emotions: joy and distress. The mission had been successful but new problems had arisen. It was like climbing up a sandy slope: three steps up and sliding two steps back. He had to find Paul quickly. The problems were serious and needed immediate attention.

When the Church today is struggling with problems, it is easy to imagine and long for a Golden Age in the early years of the Church, especially during the life of the apostles. But, the Church has never had a Golden Age. There have always been troubles. St. Paul struggled daily with false teachers, deceptive brethren, persecution, immoral conduct in the churches, and believers confused about the truth.

The messenger scurried through the streets of Corinth and found Paul and assured him of the continuing faith and love among the Thessalonians, which was no small feat because they were being persecuted suffering for Christ. They had been greatly helped a few months earlier by Paul’s letter comforting them about their loved ones who had died they would be raised bodily from the dead when Christ returned and his return was soon.

Their worries about the dead had been resolved by Paul’s earlier letter. What a great relief those who had died and been buried would rise bodily at the sound of the trumpet. But now another misunderstanding or false teaching had infiltrated the ranks.

Paul’s good news had been warmly received. But the new problems which had raised their ugly heads. Paul was deeply concerned. He feared the persecution would cause some to stumble and fall away from the Lord, but more distressing was the news that someone was deceiving his friends, even writing false letters in his name.

He had to warn them quickly not to listen to false teaching whether it was in a letter supposedly from him or even from a prophecy or a spirit proclaiming that the day of the Lord had already come. The Second Coming of Christ, or the parousia, was both immediate and extended. It was coming soon, but it had not already taken place, nor would it today or tomorrow.

The false teaching had caused two problems. First, it had unsettled those who thought they had been left behind—missed the boat; and second, it was causing many to become lazy and idle expecting Jesus to return before the week was out. The crisis in Thessalonica was not just theoretical. It was real. Imagine the situation:…

For the whole intro to St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians, click here.