Some points I find interesting:
- Paul wrote them both from Corinth, presumably not long between them. He had to leave Thessalonica in a hurry, so sent Timothy back to check up on the new converts.
- It's interesting that he must not have gone much into the resurrection while he was there. The priorities are flipped from us today. Today, we would talk primarily about the resurrection to a new believer and, oh yes, Jesus could return any day. Paul must have approached it the other way around. Jesus may return any day and, oh yes, there will be a resurrection for those who die first.
- The rapture is probably not a matter of us meeting Jesus to go off to heaven but meeting him and returning to earth to participate in the judgment (see 1 Cor. 6), like going out to the edge of a city to escort a king back in. Paul probably taught that we would spend eternity down here on a liberated and transformed new earth (Rom. 8).
- If 1 Thessalonians says Christ will return suddenly, 2 Thessalonians makes it clear it won't come completely unannounced.
- 2 Thessalonians is full of mystery. Note that it refers to the "man of lawlessness." It does not call him the Antichrist. It doesn't speak of a 7 year tribulation.
My personal take-away:
- I grew up with 1 Thessalonians 5:23 as a preaching text for entire sanctification. I noticed more recently that it is plural and addressed to the whole congregation. Is not Paul praying that the whole Thessalonian church be set apart to God as a pure and blameless church?