• When and Where
We are into the home stretch of our journey, with what should be a comparatively light week of reading (and a great opportunity for folks to catch up). We began 5 weeks ago with 1 Thessalonians, almost certainly the earliest NT document, but this 2nd letter is almost as certainly the work of an author writing in Paul’s name some 3 to 4 decades after Paul’s death.
A primary reason scholars think this is because of what is at stake in the letter – concerns over a delay in the 2nd coming of Jesus and the issue of “freeloaders” – people who became part of the Christ community not because they were passionate about Jesus, but in order to receive free food – a problem that arises in any established “share community” model.
• Key Insights
It is not clear to us what the author means by “rebellion,” and “lawless one” but the original audience likely had very specific situations in mind. The letter is “slight” but does give us another window into the Pauline communities as they continued to grow decades after their founding.
• Big Picture
One of the things this letter causes me to reflect on his how I experience and share grace. How easy it is to consider what I’m getting as deserved and others as undeserved. That said, there are also real problems when not everyone pulls their own weight. How do we resolve these tensions? – a problem in the 1st and 2ndcenturies and a problem today. Might we focus on Christ’s presence as a key?
Blessings on your reading!