The text and message of 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 has provoked a lot of discussions, controversy, perverse teachings, and general confusion. It needn't be so! As part of our continued study of 2nd Thessalonians, here's a series of five conclusions that we are lead to make by Scripture.
Summary: At the closing of this age, there will be a great apostasy and a demonic leader in league with Satan shall lead many astray. Nonetheless, we need not be alarmed because:
1) We Know Jesus Hasn't Come Yet
Some were teaching the Thessalonians that Jesus had already made a partial or a 'spiritual' return and that he wasn't actually going to return again because his return had somehow taken place already. The Thessalonians even received forged letters feeding them lies about Jesus' return and causing them to doubt what should have been clear. The return of Jesus in glory will be unmistakable (1 Thessalonians 5). His return will come after two specific things:
1. The rebellion/apostasy
2. The revelation of the man of lawlessness
2) We Know the Man of Lawlessness Will Come
This man of lawlessness is the antichrist who is a demonic leader in league with Satan who is called 'the son of destruction' who takes his seat in the temple of God. The Pauline use of the phrase 'temple of God' refers to the church, the body of Christ in whom the Spirit of God dwells. The man of lawlessness will be revealed but the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. This mystery is at work in those who are described as antichrists in 1 & 2 John. We await the revelation of the man of lawlessness by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders and wicked deception for those who are perishing. However, both the man and the mystery are being restrained by the hand of God so that the gospel can be proclaimed to the ends of the earth (Mark 13:10).
3) We Know the Lord Jesus Will Kill Him When Things Seem to Be Worst
Our hearts will often wonder (and be led to fear and alarm) about the identity of this man of lawlessness and we will see a worsening of fear when the restraining power is taken out of the way for a time at the closing of this age. Yet when it seems like the church will break under the powerful corruption and deception of the man of lawlessness, Christ will come and kill with the breath of his mouth (Isaiah 11:4). This will be the moment of the man of lawlessness' revelation and his end of afflicting the church. As Martin Luther wrote in A Mighty Fortress, “one little word shall fell him.”
4) We Know We Can Give Thanks to God in All Things and at All Times
In our fear or alarm, we know we have reason for thanksgiving through it all! We know we can call out to the God of peace who has given us peace (John 14:26-27) even when we are considering something so vile and terrible as a man of lawlessness and a rampant rebellion and apostasy in the church. We have been chosen by God to persevere through all afflictions and we have been regenerated by the Spirit of God for new life and we have been given faith to live by.
5) We Know the Teachings of the LORD can be Counted on For Everlasting Comfort
Paul explains what the fruit of God's reassuring words to us really are all about: the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 8:35ff). If Christ is for us, what do we need to fear? There are many things that confront us in the days to come and we will often feel powerless to withstand the forces of evil. Nonetheless, the righteous shall live by faith and we shall stand through He who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace!