Dear Student of the Word,
My how time flies! It's been several weeks already since I sent you the last study, so as I begin my weekend, let me post this next to last study of Paul's letters to Thessalonica. This week, we proceed into his second letter, in which Paul addressed the false rumor that Jesus had already returned! This week I wrote in part four of this seven-part study:
Study Five, Part Four
2:1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 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. 3 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.
2:1&2 – It seems that there were demonic rumors and false teachings concerning the return of the Lord then and now. It is fascinating that there is such a morbid fascination with the end and so little preoccupation with the present. If the Lord is returning soon, why doesn’t the church spend more on missions? If the Lord’s return is imminent, why do we spend millions on buildings that will soon be rendered useless according to this interpretation? As we stated in our Revelation studies, there are many who have enriched themselves by concocting fairy tales about the Second Coming. Pray they are investing their money in missions and outreach to save as many as possible with the few days we have left before Jesus returns (according to their calculations)!
In Paul’s day, the false report was that the return of the Lord had already come. Perhaps someone wrote a novel about it! At any rate, this report had caused alarm among the young believers. Paul now sought to comfort them with the truth.
2:3 – Deception is a real possibility when you are dealing with spiritual things. Demonic doctrines and unscrupulous men and women have regularly deceived otherwise intelligent people. That is why being grounded in both the Word and a local church are so important, for they both serve as safeguards to keep you from error and deception.
Paul referred to a rebellion and the man of lawlessness. This has commonly been interpreted to mean the so-called Antichrist. It’s possible that Paul was referring to Satan, who is indeed doomed to destruction after a period of evil deeds. We discuss this in much more depth in the verse-by-verse Revelation studies. There is a spirit of “anti-Christ”—a spirit that is against Christ. For instance, Islam is an antichrist doctrine, for it denies the divinity and supremacy of Christ. Buddhism is also an antichristian doctrine, making room for many “Christs,” namely each seeker of truth.
Don’t spend your life looking for a literal man of evil, when evil is present in so many systems and doctrines. Suffice it to say that there is a spirit of antichrist working in the world and it will get more powerful. But then again, so will the work of Christ. Be glad you are on the winning side and don’t invest one minute to idle speculations about things God did not feel important enough to give you more clarity and insight.
What do you believe about the end? If it is imminent, does your lifestyle reflect that belief?
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse New Testament studies, along with the unpublished volume of The Faith Files.