1 Thess 5:2-3, Christ comes as a thief

For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

//Paul’s teaching in the first letter to the Thessalonians promises that the coming of Christ is imminent, and will arrive suddenly and unexpectedly. Paul indicates that some of his audience will still be alive by the time Christ appears. But before the second letter to the Thessalonians is written, Paul seems to change his mind:

Now concerning the coming of our lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him, we beg you, brethren, not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 

Many scholars believe this second letter was not written by Paul. This difference in urgency between I and II Thessalonians provides the primary reason many remain convinced of the second epistle’s pseudonymity. In the first letter, Paul insists the end is near, so the Thessalonians need to remain vigil. In the second letter, “Paul” has apparently changed his mind, now arguing the coming of Christ will be delayed, not to occur until after a number of clear-cut signs serve as a warning.

Unless Christ has come back, the first letter to the Thessalonians was simply wrong. Might the second letter have a better track record? In light of recent world disasters, I leave you with this question: have the clear-cut warnings of “Paul” been fulfilled?

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