I now come to the crux of the matter, the argument that for me seems the most convincing that Paul probably did not write 2 Thessalonians.  I already stated the argument in its simple form last week, here: https://ehrmanblog.org/did-paul-really-write-2-thessalonians/   Now I want to show how the argument gets grounded in a much deeper exploration of the text itself; in part this is to show that it’s not a particularly simple matter and in part it’s to illustrate, again, how scholars make argument like this to other scholars (as opposed to summarizing the results more broadly).  That may not be your cup of tea – but if so, then be assured, another pot is brewing.

Once more, this comes from the blog (five years ago), and can be found with footnotes (if you’re a real glutton for punishment) in my monograph Forgery and Counterforgery.  I have translated most of the Greek here.   For further guidance, among the technical terms I use, “realized eschatology” refers to the idea that believers are *already* enjoying the full benefits of salvation, with nothing more to be hoped for or expected; “imminent eschatology” is an opposing view, which says that a major climax of history is soon to occur when salvation will be complete.

As you probably know, I maintain strongly in my writings that both Jesus and Paul held to a view of imminent eschatology.  But does the author of 2 Thessalonians?  It’s a tricky question, but it’s the one I try to resolve here.

It will take two posts to cover the water front.  Then we’ll be done with 2 Thessalonians for now.hhhh



The Theology of 2 Thessalonians

As recognized already by J. E. Chr. Schmidt over two centuries ago, the theological problem of 2 Thessalonians involves the divergent eschatological outlook of 2:1-12. There are two issues involved: is the author addressing a problem of a realized or an imminent eschatology? And does his resolution of the problem contradict the views of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11?

The first issue hinges to a great extent on the exegesis of 2 Thess. 2:2, and especially the key term ἐνέστηκεν (“has come upon” or “is here”).  The readers are urged, with respect to the “parousia” of Christ and “our gathering together with him” not to be “quickly shaken or disturbed – whether “by spirit, by a word, or by a letter as if from us” to the effect that ἐνέστηκεν ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου. (“The day of the Lord has come” or “is here”).  In this context, does the perfect of ἐνίστημι mean that the day of the Lord “has already come and is now present,” an eschatology  analogous to what Paul disparages in 1 Corinthians, or that “it is virtually here and is soon to be realized,” comparable, say, to the proclamation of Jesus in Mark 1:15, “the Kingdom of God is at hand” (ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ)?

The use of the term ἐνίστημι in other Christian literature of the period ….