The second epistle to the Thessalonians begins with almost the same wording as the first epistle. Timothy and Silas/Silvanus who were the apostle’s companions on his second missionary journey (51 to 54 AC) were with him now also. Paul refers to an earlier epistle (chap. 2:15).
He reminds the Thessalonians of his habitual way of writing (chap. 3:17) and he mentions that he has received fresh news of some that walked among them (chap. 3:11). From these references one concludes that Paul wrote this second epistle after the first and probably still during his 18 month stay in Corinth in the year 52 AC (Acts 18:5-11).
While we find reminiscence of the second epistle with Polykarp (around 70 – 155) and Justin (around 100 – 165) the first explicit quotation of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians is found with Irenaeus (around 140 – 202 AC). Clemens of Alexandria (around 150 – 215), Tertullian (around 160 – 220) and the Muratori Canon (end of 2 nd century) all confirm Paul’s authorship.
The main subject of the second epistle is the same as in the first one: the coming of the Lord. While the first epistle deals mainly with the rapture of the believers the second epistle centres on Christ’s appearing in this world.
The Thessalonians still suffered heavy persecution from the enemies of the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:4; compare 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 Thessalonians 3:3-4). Also fanaticism had come in among them. These people announced that the day of the Lord had already started (probably by means of a falsified epistle, which Paul was claimed to have written). See 2 Thessalonians 2:2.
Before the Lord’s appearing a time of tribulation for Israel and the whole world’s population will take place. This is the time when Antichrist and the leader of the Roman Empire will appear. The time of tribulation is explained in Matthew 24 and Revelation 6; Revelation 7; Revelation 8; Revelation 9; Revelation 10; Revelation 11; Revelation 12; Revelation 13; Revelation 14; Revelation 15; Revelation 16; Revelation 17; Revelation 18.
According to 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 there are now still hindrances which retain Antichrist’s appearing: the Holy Spirit and the blessed effects of Christendom. But once these effects will cease at the rapture of the believers (compare 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Revelation 3:10-11) there will remain no hindrance for Antichrist’s appearing (compare Revelation 13:11-18).
The Lord Jesus though will appear with all his saints at the climax of ungodliness (apostasy) and will destroy the Antichrist as well as the leader of the Roman Empire (2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:20). After this the Millennium will begin (Revelation 20).