In our study of 2 Thessalonians chapter two, we look at the signs that Paul told us to look for concerning the day of the Lord. In Thessalonica, there was a false report being made that Paul had said that the people were living in the day of the Lord. This had caused confusion and concern as the church there was suffering persecution. In response to that, Paul reassures the church and gives us some guidance on the great tribulation period.
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Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.
In chapter 1, Paul had tried to reassure the believers that persecution was normal for followers of Christ. People had confused this persecution with what is described as the great tribulation period or the day of the Lord. He had taught them in his first letter that the believers would be caught up (raptured) when Jesus came and so the people were wondering why they were still there and not with Jesus.
Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
Paul gets right down to it and meets this false teaching head on by saying it has not come and will not come until two things occur. The first is the rebellion and the Greek word refers to apostasy or departure from the faith. This first sign speaks of the complete turning away from faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It also speaks to the departure of the true believers from this earth in the rapture. We are called to be the light of the world and the day of the Lord (like any other Hebrew day) begins in darkness. Therefore, we will be gone before this darkness and total rebellion happens. The second sign will be the revealing of the "man of lawlessness" also known as the beast (see Revelation 13).
He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
This beast will set himself up and try to replace God. Satan wanted to replace God and that was why he was thrown out of heaven along with one third of the angels. This beast will mock and oppose everything that has to do with God and those that accept Jesus will be killed. We may ask ourselves how this could be but, if we look around us today, it seems that many have already set themselves up in God's place.
Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?
Paul is reminding the Thessalonians that he is not telling them anything new. God does not want us to be ignorant and so He provides teachers and His word to help us to grow. If we are growing and grounded in the word, then we will not be easily confused by false prophets and false reports.
And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time.
Paul reminds them that it is God who is in control and He is keeping this beast from taking control of the earth. There is an appointed time for this but only the Father knows when it will happen. Sometimes, we want to ask why God doesn't just take the church out of the world and get on with it and the answer is it is not the appointed time. God is merciful and He is waiting for all of His people to accept His grace. But, the appointed time could be today or tomorrow so we must be prepared.
For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.
Satan is at work in the world today as we can easily see by looking around us. But, as bad as things appear today, they are going to be much worse when this man of lawlessness is able to reveal himself (see Revelation 13). Most of the time this power is at work behind the scenes because the anti-christ has not been allowed to reveal himself. This verse reminds us that even in this matter God is in control and the devil and his workers cannot just do anything they want.
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.
Paul reminds us that even when the beast is revealed, it will only be for a short time. He reminds us that Jesus will defeat him when he appears again. This fake lord will fade quickly when the real Lord shows up.
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
This beast will be able to perform all kinds of miracles and signs. Many will be deceived and follow the beast because they abandon the Truth which is Jesus Christ. If we love Jesus, we will want to know more about Him and a big part of that is studying His word. If we know His word, we will not be deceived by the schemes of the devil or his demons.
For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
This delusion is when the beast has a fatal wound but does not die (see Revelation 13:3 & 4). Those that do not trust in Jesus and have the Holy Spirit will believe this lie and worship the beast. They did not believe the truth that Jesus is the Son of God and so did not receive the Holy Spirit.
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
If you are in Christ, it is because God chose you from the beginning of time and called you through the working of the Holy Spirit. Nobody comes to God on their own; we all come as we are called by the Spirit of God. When confronted with the truth of His Word, we accept it and believe because of the work of the Spirit.
He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God called the Thessalonian believers to Christ through the sharing of the good news (that's what gospel means) by Paul and his companions. God did this so that they could be in His presence (glory) forever. That is how we all must come to Christ in that someone has to share the good news that Jesus died for our sins and rose again so that we may have eternal life with Him.
So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
Paul reminds the believers of how they heard the gospel and how they were saved. Then, he urges them to hold onto what they were taught. This reminds me of the Parable of the Sower (see Matthew 13) and how, after some of the seed was sown, the birds came and ate it up. Paul is warning them to hold on to the truth and not let it be snatched away by men with all of their traditions and philosophies. That is very good advice for us today as it seems like everyone has their own tradition and philosophy to try to replace the teaching of Jesus.
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
Paul prays that the Thessalonian believers would have the same encouragement and hope that he had because of Jesus and our eternal home with Him. We should all have that encouragement and hope as we know that the things here are only temporary. Many Christians walk around with very little hope and like they are mad at the entire world. That is not how we share the light of Jesus with the world. Those around us need to be able to see that we are different because of the hope that we have in all situations.