2 Thessalonians 3 Bible study

 

The Pentecostal Bible Commentary

1 Corinthians

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Chapter 2.

The Second Coming of Christ.

 

1. As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters.

 

Paul had already taught the young converts about the second coming of the Lord (1 Thess. 4). Unfortunately, some people had distorted his teaching, accepting errors which undermined their faith

 

2. Not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.

 

Paul urges the believers to be clear in their minds about the truth. He refutes the false teaching, which was that Christ had already come again. This false teaching was given to the church in various ways: by prophecy; by "revelation" supposedly from God; by preaching and most seriously of all, someone had forged a letter and claimed it came from Paul. We should not be surprised at the devil going to such lengths to undermine, confuse and distract God's people from the truth of Christ. We are not told the full details of the error. It claimed that Christ had already come again, perhaps that Christ was already on earth in some form. Some have equated the church age with the second coming of Christ, saying that the church is "Christ" on earth and will establish his kingdom among the nations. Such teaching does away with the need  for a literal second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. This false teaching is rampant in Asia and Australia today. It is sometimes referred to as the "Kingdom now". Let us be clear that we believe in a literal, personal and universally observed return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth.

 

Paul uses 3 - 12 to spell out the events that are to take place on earth prior to a literal and personal return of the Lord Jesus. Let us look at this subject in more detail.

 

Christ's coming again in glory is to be literally fulfilled, just as His first coming to suffer was literally fulfilled (Heb. 9:28 ; Matt. 26:64).

 

Christ will come again in person - the very same Jesus who died and rose again (Acts 1:9 - 11).

 

The second coming of Christ will be witnessed by all people everywhere in the world at the same time. It is unfortunate that some TV evangelists suggest that it will be made possible via TV or Internet for every eye to see Him, when in fact it will be the almighty power of God which will accomplish this. Christ will be unveiled to the universe, to every person on earth or in hell at the same time (Rev. 1:7).

 

3. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction.

 

Christ clearly said that he would come again at a time when we do not expect Him (Matt. 25:13). Neither Paul nor anyone else has ever had or ever will have the slightest intimation about when the Lord will come again. The suggestion I have heard that God will somehow give his own people a further warning or revelation about this is a complete contradiction of Christ's teaching. It is clear that Paul understood the second coming of the Lord to take place in two stages. First, there will be the gathering of believers to Christ. He has spoken of this in 1 Thess. 4. It will take place in the clouds of the atmosphere, as Christ descends from heaven and calls believers to Himself. This event (the rapture) will take place without any prior warning, other than the warning of scripture. The second stage is the coming again of Christ to earth with his saints. Paul makes the point in these verses that certain specific events must be fulfilled during the interval between the rapture and the second coming to earth. Before Christ's coming there will be a general apostasy. Most scholars believe that this refers to a large number of professing Christians turning from the faith, under the influence of demon spirits (1 Tim. 4:1 - 3). This is, of course, before the rapture. Others say the word implies a general rejection of God and rebellion against him in the world, culminating with the revelation of the Lawless One, a man completely given over to Satan. In fact, both these things will happen. This man (the Lawless One) will oppose all religion and everything that is called god, for he himself will sit on a throne in the temple of God (in Jerusalem) claiming before all the world to be God. This action confirms his Satanic inspiration (c/f Isa. 14:13 - 15).

 

5. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you?

 

Paul had previously told the Thessalonians all about this but they had let go of this truth.

 

6,7,8. And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming.

 

Paul speaks of a restraining power which holds back the tide of evil in the world. This restraining power is the Holy Spirit, who indwells and empowers the Church of Christ, and Who, through the Church, continually opposes the forces of darkness (Eph. 6:10 - 12). However, there will come a time in human history when His restraining influence will be removed. The Church will be caught up from the earth to meet the Lord in the air. The Holy Spirit will depart with the Church.  The powers of darkness are at work at the present time, but only when the Holy Spirit in the Church is gone will they gain full control of the world. For a brief time evil will be allowed to have its full sway and Satan will give full vent to his anger and wickedness. It is during this time that the Lawless One or antichrist - the one who opposes the true Christ - will appear. He will reign on earth until the coming of the Lord spells his final doom. He will be destroyed by Christ's command and by the holiness and glory of His coming.

 

9. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders.

 

The Antichrist will be empowered by Satan and will be allowed to display all the power of deception that he possess, in the form of lying miracles, signs and wonders (Rev. 13:13).

 

10. And every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

 

Those who perish will be deceived by the Antichrist, for they are willing to be deceived. They choose to follow evil, since they love unrighteousness. They prefer darkness to light and so have rejected the gospel of the Lord Jesus. This is what Paul means when he says "they did not receive a love of the truth in order to be saved" (John 3:19).

 

11,12. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false. so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.

 

God does not arbitrarily delude people so that they will be damned (Ezek. 33:11 ; 2 Pet. 3:9); rather, since they have rejected God, they lose whatever sense of good or evil they have. They sear their own consciences. So God allows them to express the evil intentions of their sinful hearts without restraint, that they might show how guilty and worthy of damnation they actually are. In this way, God will fully vindicate their eternal sentence.

 

Eternal Security - Continuing in Christ.

 

13. But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, (2 Thessalonians 2:13 NKJVTM)

 

The Thessalonians, in contrast, had believed the gospel and had become God's own children through the power of the Holy Spirit. "Sanctification of the Spirit" means when the Holy Spirit applies the reality of what Christ has done for us to our lives when we receive Christ as Saviour by faith. Heb 10.10. This is according to God's will, who knows from eternity all who will respond to the gospel message. It is these he has purposed to make his own.

 

14. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Through the Gospel, God has called us to share in the eternal glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 2:10).

 

15. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.

 

So the Thessalonians had not "missed" the coming of the Lord. Instead the Lord Jesus offered them great security for the future. They were to stand firm in the faith and hold on to the teachings which they had received from the apostles both when they were present and through their letters. (Note: "teachings" not "traditions" is a better reading).

 

16,17. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.

 

Paul's prayer is that the Lord Jesus and God the Father who loves us and has given us eternal good hope, based on the grace that has come to us through the Lord Jesus Christ, would strengthen and build up the believers so that they may live in a way that is holy and pleasing to Him ("in every good work") and that they might have a fuller knowledge of Christ that they might instruct others about his truth ("every good word").

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