2 Thessalonians Survey
Pr Edi Giudetti
2 Thessalonians Survey, like the book, follows on from 1st Thessalonians in both number and theme. The location of Thessalonica is Greece, or what was then known as Macedonia. The 1stletter introduces both the witness of this persecuted Church and the coming of the Lord for his Church, what we refer to as the Church Raptured or “Caught up” as the passage relates.
This second letter goes into further detail of coming events in order to bring comfort to the Church of Thessalonica, due to her mistaken understanding of the time they were now in.
Signs of A Coming Comfort
1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; 4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
We recall that in his first letter to the Thessalonians that Paul both encouraged and was encouraged by the faith of these persecuted brethren. He told them that their faith was in fact well-known by the Churches far and wide for the persecutions they suffered.
6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: 7So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. 8For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
And now again he brings them word, again acknowledging that through their afflictions, their faith groweth exceedingly. And this certainly is true for us all, it’s not through comfortable and good living that our faith naturally grows, but through trials and tribulations.
This is not to mean that your faith DOES NOT grow during days of comfort, it just means that during the days of comfort our natural tendency is to NOT seek the Lord for more comfort. We see evidence of this through history and today.
Our modern luxuries and blessings on the whole tends to persuade us that more luxury and blessing from the world will come when we give more heed to the world. But to the Christian, this is false, our true joy comes directly from our worship of the Lord, when we are near him we rejoice, when we are far, we are saddened. WHY?
Because we are no longer of the world!
During our days of little affliction, we need to turn to the Lord more earnestly lest we come to think of ourselves as “rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing”.
When times are tough, Christians have the most wonderful privilege of turning to the true source of all comfort, remembering the promises of the Lord that in him we have hope and especially remembering Romans 8:28 “that all things work together for good to them that love God”
But together with growing of common affliction of the Thessalonians, there was the abounding of common love, midway through the third verse Paul writes;
3….because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth
The Lord sees fit to draw a distinction between the love we have for the Lord and others, and the love we have for those in Christ. Throughout the New Testament when you see a description of Love toward the brethren in the Lord the word “Charity” is employed. We don’t know why the distinction, but there we have it.
Through common trials we share a common love, the greater those afflictions come upon us the greater love we share with those similarly afflicted. It’s through these great afflictions the Thessalonians became an encouragement to the Churches about them;
4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
From verses 5 to 10 Paul shares with them that these afflictions that have come against them without warrant, are a sign of a coming comfort to them.
5 Which isa manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
Often we see the word “judgement” and we immediately draw the negative conclusion. Clearly here the Judgement of God is noted of that being beneficial to the Thessalonians. Their unjust suffering God judges evidently worthy of the Kingdom of God.
Many people suffer today, and they do so in many diverse ways. Some due to their own choices, some due to trialsthat have come upon them. The Thessalonians however suffer FOR the sake of the Kingdom of God and for no other reason. They suffer only for being Christians!
These Christians have no evil laid to their charge other than that they follow after the one hated by the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, the one who bares the same name that most of the world today employ as a swear word. When Jesus was speaking to his brothers who did not believe in him while he was alive, said; 7 The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. (Jn 7:7)
Jesus explains the hatred of those who follow him also, turn in your Bibles to John 15:18-19
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me beforeit hatedyou. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
Comfort yourselves then in the comfort of the Thessalonians;
They suffer for the kingdom and in this they are counted worthy for its attainment.
But notice that the persecutors are also counted worthy, worthy of receiving a recompense for the trouble in which they trouble those of the Lord. Turning back to 2 Thess 2:6
6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
And what is the tribulation in which these shall be recompensed?
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
It will be the Lord himself, the one who should have been exalted by the world, for he came to save it, he died for it, it will be Christ who will take vengeance upon “them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”
In Philippians Chapter 1:28 Paul reminds us that those who are adversaries of the Christian are adversaries of God and their very hatred of Biblical Christians is evidence of their own condemnation;
28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.
Scripture is consistent, that those comforted now by their hatred of God and Gods own, will be troubled later, and those discomforted by the affliction of those that hate God and Gods own, will be comforted later!
But notice verse 8 in our passage again;
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Friends the Gospel is to be obeyed. This commandment and this commandment alone must be obeyed, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved”, believe the Gospel.
Of ALL the commandments God has given, it will be the rejection of the Gospel that will see man punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (v8).
Because man CANNOT make up for his sin, there is no fine to pay, no time in custody, no get out of jail free card to look forward to, and there is NO PERGATORY! An invention of the Roman Catholic Church that has resulted in the damnation of so many of its followerswhile it enriched the papal throne.
There is not intermediate place in which mankind might have its sin purged by fire over many hundreds and thousands of years. This Satanic invention does not exist. The Bible admits to no such place and no such hope. If PERGATORY where true, it means there would ultimately be no hell!
You might think that I am joking but even the Pope was reported to admit in March this year (2018), during an interview that Hell, in the Biblical sense, does not exist!
Hope is in the Gospel alone; believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, his death and the shedding of his blood alone has made provision for man to be saved from the guilt and punishment of sin. Man CANNOT stand before a Holy God, his sin has separated him from God and all that is left is the just recompense from God upon the ungodly, upon sin and the sinner.
Death will meet ETERNITY, and this day you either stand condemned before God or saved, you have either rejected the Gospel or obeyed it.
Friends 2 Pet 3:9 says that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”.
Some of you had once felt the conviction and guilt of sin, you got close to obeying the Gospel but put it off. And as time went on you gradually felt less and less of a conviction for your sin and slowly more and more comfortable in your sin.
Do you think your state has been made better because you no longer feel the anguish of sin?
Do you think your damnation now sleeps because you are no longer are awake to your guilt?
There was a time your conscience was awakened by the Gospel, you felt your need for The Saviour but instead of bending your knee to him at that very moment, you put it off.
Like the governor Felix in the book of Acts, you trembled at the Gospel and then put off the conviction waiting for a more convenient season, AS IF DEATH WILL WAIT FOR A TIME YOU ARE READY!
When a dog feels sick he brings up that which sickened him, but as he begins to feel better he turns back to the cause of his sick stomach, he turns back to his vomit.
Many who were awakened by the Gospel felt sick for their sin and repented of it but stopped short of obeying the Gospel. Their hesitation began to quiet their conscience, they felt better over time, and they turned back to their sin and the ignorance of their state.
Please wake up, please wake up again and believe the Gospel now, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved, please! In the end it will be the Lord that will take “vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Reading from verse 9
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
The language is strong and clear of that end, but Paul concludes the first chapter with comfort to those that are the Lords;
11 Wherefore (This is ‘why therefore’) also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy ofthiscalling, and fulfil all the good pleasure ofhisgoodness, and the work of faith with power: 12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Signs of A Coming Apostacy
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, andbyour gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Paul continues his effort to comfort the Thessalonians who have come to believe that they themselves are going through the ‘Day of The Lord’.
There is certainly an indication in the passage that they may have received a letter from Paul saying something of that nature; note verse 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
In 1 Thessalonians is the presentation of that strange event known as the Rapture of the Church; but here Paul speaks of “our gathering together unto him” in the light of their concern that the Day of Christ, which is a later occurrence, is at hand. He then goes on to tell of the things which must come to pass BEFORE the Day of Christ.
THE DAY OF CHRIST
Before we go on I need to take a short detour to explain what is meant by this phrase “The Day of Christ”.
What we see so wonderfully unique about the Bible, and most particularly about the AV in English, is the relatively consistent use of phrases that draw links back to other passages and provides an incredible help to understanding them.
These characteristics are certainly present in the original languages and its stuns me that few modern translations utilize it. Not necessarily this one, but many are certainly missed in modern translations.
The Day of Christ refers to the Apocalypse, the unveiling of the Lord, the day of Judgement that will come upon the world. It is a dark day, a frightening time for the world that hates God.
Isaiah 2:12 For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon everyone that is proud and lofty, and upon everyone that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:
Isa 13:6 Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty
Isa 13:9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
Isa 34:8 Forit isthe day of the LORD’S vengeance
Turn with me to Isaiah 61:1-2 but also have your Bibles opened to Luke 4:19
Remember when Jesus stood in the Synagogue in Luke 4:16-21, to read Isaiah and he was given the passage of Isaiah 61, Jesus read the first verse but concludes his reading half way through the second verse and states “ This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
But why did he stop midway through the second verse in verse 19 of the Luke 4 passage (To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.)?
Isaiah 61:2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
Jesus stopped at a comma, he did so because that part of the verse was not yet “fulfilled in their ears”.
That comma has lasted almost 2000 years so far!
The Day of the Lord
The Day of Christ
The Day of Vengeance
The Day of Trouble
The Time of Jacobs Trouble
These are all the same day, the same time frame, for all that is spoken about that day is the same in context.
Isaiah speaks of it
Jeremiah speaks of it
Ezekiel speaks of it
Jesus spoke of it
Paul spoke of it
Peter spoke of it
John wrote of it
Solomon wrote of it in Proverbs 6:34
This is the period we refer to as The Great Tribulation, that last 3.5 years of the 7 year tribulation period that is to come upon the world, culminating in the Second Coming of Christ. I cannot dwell on that topic now, but desired to put it into context for you that you may understand what Paul is writing to console the Thessalonians with, but also to show you what Paul says are the signs that will just precede it. It was given to comfort the Thessalonians who are under such trial of faith, they had begun to believe they were enduring that day. It was given that they might know that unless these specific signs are coming to pass, it is not yet that day.
The first sign Paul gives is the Apostacy of the Church;
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first,…
That word “falling away” is where the Greek transliteration “Apostasy” comes from. It is when the Church becomes like the world.
When the Word of God is not preached, doctrine is despised, the Gospel is rarely spoken of and when there is little to distinguish those who call themselves Christians from those who are not.
I will abundant opportunity to speak to this when we get to 1stTimothy, 2ndTimothy, Jude and Revelation, so I won’t dwell in it now.
But The Sign of Apostasy is one to look for and I believe well and truly here.
Signs of The Coming Wicked
3…and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Paul is referring to the one we know of as The AntiChrist, the son of perdition, making himself out to be the very Christ, exalting himself above all and sitting in the temple of God as God.
Certain that we can see the apostasy of the Church today, but the Temple is not yet rebuilt for the Antichrist to sit in. But plans and blueprints have long ago been created and many of the furnishings already made, the Red Heifer is not far from being identified.
All this has been undertaken by a body known as the Temple Institute, whom we visited in 2012, whose charge is to prepare all that is needed for the Third Temple building in Jerusalem.
With the US now having recognized Jerusalem as the official Capital of Israel, all that is left is to identify the location for the building and a green light might start its construction.
Lets read on v 5
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now lettethwill let, until he be taken out of the way.8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
There is a lot here to look to and to be warned by, but first lets consider the strange wording of verses 6 and 7
And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now lettethwill let, until he be taken out of the way.
First v6, something is withholding and doing so until the time appointed is reached. And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
The ‘he’ here is the pronoun referring to its antecedent in verses 3-4 ‘The son of Perdition’. Good so far.
He has an appointed time to be revealed, but there is that which “withholdeth”, verse 7 says For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: The word ‘For’ at the beginning is like the word ‘because’ For the mystery of iniquity doth already work only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed,
The word ‘Let’ has always had two meanings and the context tells which is which.
The first meaning is to ‘Permit’, to ‘allow’.
But the second is to ‘hinder’, to ‘hamper’ or ‘delay’. The word is still used that way today in Tennis, a Let is that which delays or hinders the full flight of the ball over the net during a serve.
There is a person ‘he’, distinct from the ‘Wicked’, who will delay the full level of iniquity, until he is taken out of the way, And then shall that Wicked be revealed.
It has been understood that both the one that is withholding and the one hindering is one and the same, interpreted as none other than the Spirit of God that is holding back the full flight of sin in the world.
This fits well with the context of scripture, God is the RESTRAINER against all sin.
We have passages that tell of God handing us over to our sin, “God gave them up to a reprobate mind” Rom 1.
If God did not restrain sin in the world, but let it go its normal course, sin would run riot. There is a time when this will be permitted to occur, but not yet… he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. There is a time appointed, but Paul is encouraging the Thessalonians (and you and I) what to watch for.
Verse 8 again;
And then shall that Wicked be revealed whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
Who specifically is that Wicked (Capital ‘W’)?
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of SatanOK, so we see the context as the coming of Christ, and how will that Wicked come? with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
Satan is the father of Lies, he is the exact opposite of God, he will come and perform signs and lying wonders and those who “received not the love of the truth that they might be saved”, will perish as a result!
All that will save you to avoid this time is to receive the Truth of the Gospel. There are so many signs today that show how close we are to this time frame.
1 Thessalonians spoke of the Rapture of the Church, this event is immanent and was even expected during the time of Peter and Paul, there is nothing that needs to happen before we are gathered unto the Lord. But certainly things still need to come to pass for the revelation of That Wicked and that can happen very quickly.
If you are not part of the Rapture of the Church, that gathering unto the Lord, you will likely witness this event and all that goes with it. If you receive not the Love of the Truth now, you have no guarantee you will not be deceived then. In fact, the Lord will even be working against those who are left behind, consider verse 11
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
I simply cannot soften these words for you to make them more palatable. How can I soften the description of that which I long for you to avoid? Your house is burning in flames about you while you sleep sound in your beds, are the smoothness of my words going to awaken you?
If you should beat me black and blue for waking you out of sleep and are intent on dosing off back to bed, I will run to another room and cry out to them, and to another, and another, that in doing so I might save some. But sadly time might run out for me to return to try to waken you again, That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
It will only be too late, when it’s too late.
None of you know when this will occur, none of us know when we will take our last breath. Dying without Christ will be the burning roof crashing down upon you.
How I pray you would obey the Gospel today, that you will wait no more, that you will take all opportunity to bend down on your knees and ask the Lord to save you, today, today, even now!
Be Patient In Faithfulness
14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. 16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
At the conclusion of that descriptive chapter, Paul encourages the Thessalonians, knowing they have avoided such an end, and tells them to ‘stand fast’, that 16…Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
The Church is not appointed to wrath, not in this life nor in that to come, we have “everlasting consolation”, you have “everlasting consolation and good hope through grace”.
Nothing gives greater comfort that knowing your sins are forgiven, that you are born again, have obeyed the Gospel of Christ and no matter what trials, no matter what tribulation, no matter what fears within or troubles without, we have hope in Christ for all he has done.
Paul goes on in Chapter 3:3
3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keepyoufrom evil. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. 5And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.
Nothing better than the to receive what Paul says is the Crown of Righteousness…unto all them who love his appearing (2 Tim 4:8).
Now Paul concludes as he does with many of his Epistles with current, practical exhortations, from verse 6;
6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. 7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 8 Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: 9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. 10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. 13But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. 14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet counthimnot as an enemy, but admonishhimas a brother.
16 Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lordbewith you all. 17The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christbewith you all. Amen.