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2nd Thessalonians
Chapter 2

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2nd Thessalonians Chapter Two
Commentary by Ron Beckham

Audio Bible Study - 2 Thess. 2:1-5

Verse 1. "Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,"

Paul, the author of the Book of 2nd Thessalonians is speaking in this verse about the "rapture" of the church, the time of "our gathering together to Him."  He had heard that the still new believers in Christ at Thessalonica where having trouble with this issue.  As we will see in Verse 2, the Thessalonians had heard from some source or another that the "gathering" of the church had already occurred.  They thought they had missed it and that the time of the "Great Tribulation" was upon them.

He responded to this concern in the next few verses, telling them (and us) about events which lead up to what will be the last great event of the present age - the return of our Lord.  This was one of the greatest concerns of the Thessalonian believers and it is the same for many people today.  Many books have been written on the subject in the last few decades, and most of them have to be updated with new information every few years because the older versions embraced events that didn't lead to the Lord's return like the books intimated that they would.

Verse 2. "that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come."

When you place your hope in Jesus Christ, it's a very good thing and you will be blessed by your decision for all eternity.  He WILL return to this earth to rescue those who have trusted in Him.  But to dwell exclusively on last things, including the rapture of the church, the antichrist and what is called the Great Tribulation, can distract us from other great truths the Lord has for us.  The Bible is full of much that we need to know about, and the "last things" are only a part of what we need.

Paul said you should not be "shaken from your composure" by dwelling on one portion of Scripture to the exclusion of everything else.  Paul lived with the blessed and sure hope that Jesus indeed WILL return soon, but his true focus was instead on the poor and lost around him.  As he will say in Verse 5, let the "Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ."  Look to ALL of the Word of God.

Verse 3. "Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,"

We don't know precisely when the Lord will come back, any more than the Thessalonians of this letter did, but we are given clues we can watch for in relation to His return.  First, before Jesus returns, there will be an "apostasy," an unprecedented falling-away from the Lord; greater and more extensive than ever before.  The Greek word “apostasia,” signifies “a defection, revolt, apostasy, used in the New Testament of religious apostasy" (W. E. Vine). Here in Verse 3, it is a falling away from the faith. A clue to the nature of this apostasy is found in Revelation 3:17-18 - "Because you say, 'I am rich, and have become wealthy and have need of nothing,' and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked."

This "apostasy" will take place in and around the visible church.  The world sees the church and has no idea what it is.  We are viewed as a "religion" instead of what we are really intended to be - children of the King.  In the midst of this falling-away, "the man of lawlessness" (the man of sin, the antichrist) will be revealed.  He will be "the son of destruction," which is the same Greek word applied by the Lord to Judas Iscariot, in John 17:12.

Verse 4. "who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God."

We've seen in the preceding verses that "our gathering together" to the Lord, the "rapture" of the church, will not happen until after the "man of lawlessness" (Verse 3), the antichrist is revealed.  In this verse we are given a glimpse of the nature of that person.  Something of his character was revealed 2000 years ago, so that those who live at the time of his appearing will see him for what he is.

This person "exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship."  He is the opponent of Christ and His church, and yet he is not Satan, the great adversary (1 Peter 5:8, Revelation 12:10), for he is described in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 as merely the human instrument of Satan.  Just as the enemy entered the heart of Judas Iscariot, he will take full possession of the man of sin, the antichrist.  Some think the "temple" in Jerusalem will be rebuilt, whereas others think this is a metaphor, but note that whatever the outward circumstances, this man will pretend to be God.

Verse 5. "Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?"

The nature of the "abomination of desolation" spoken of by Daniel the prophet (Daniel 9:27) and also mentioned by our Lord (Matthew 24:15), is glimpsed in Verse 4 of this Chapter in 2nd Thessalonians - the man of sin will pretend to himself and to others that he is god.  That is an "abomination" indeed.  The Holy Spirit through Paul wants us to understand the nature of sin and to understand something of what is to come in this world.

The form of the verb "telling" in this verse (or "told" in some translations) is interesting.  It is in the imperfect tense, indicating that Paul repeatedly told them about what would happen in relation to the second coming of Christ to this earth and as in Verse 1, the "gathering" of God's people to Himself.  Paul was surprised that they needed to be told again, for he had told them many times.

Father, let us not be "quickly shaken" by events in the world, but instead let our trust in the Lord be renewed.  Continue to "restrain" the "man of lawlessness" and hold back this "apostasy" from us and our little ones.  And let our lives help bring others to the Lord.  Thank You.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Audio Bible Study - 2 Thess. 2:6-10

Verse 6. "And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed."

Paul, as it is indicated in these verses, had already told the Thessalonians in person what he was now writing to them in this letter.  He is saying: you already "know" what "restrains" the enemy from utterly ruining humanity and the earth.  And to find out who or what this "Restrainer" is, it is important to ask ourselves a question: Who or what is ABLE to restrain the enemy from destroying the world?

Is it the church?  Some secular or religious government? The Roman Empire of Paul's time?  Some great archangel?  A committee of the United Nations?  The answer to all of these questions is emphatically: "No."  Only God Himself can restrain the enemy to that degree, which He is doing right now.  The Greek language tense here in Verse 6 is in the neuter, and in Verse 7 it is masculine.  The Greek word for "Spirit" is neuter as in this verse and the masculine choice in Verse 7 indicates that the Spirit of God is a Person referred to in the masculine gender.  The "Restrainer" is God's Holy Spirit.

Verse 7. "For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way."

Paul noted that the "mystery of lawlessness (was) already at work," and these words were written 2000 years ago.  We should not be surprised to see "lawlessness" in our world today.  John the Apostle used words very similar to Paul's.  When he said, "the antichrist is coming," he also observed, "even now many antichrists have come" (1 John 2:18).  It IS a mystery, isn't it, that "lawlessness" fills this earth?  For it's obvious that if love replaced much of our lawlessness, this world would be a much better place, even for those who break the law.

And the sole reason why the whole world doesn't fall into utter chaos and continual bloodshed is because of "He who now restrains" as discussed in the preceding verse.  The only One who can thwart the murderous actions of Satan is God Himself and He is continually doing so in the Person of God's Holy Spirit.  The Spirit will not be completely taken away from this earth, by the way; He instead will (reluctantly) stop restraining much of the sin of this world.

Verse 8. "Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;"

The "lawless one," the antichrist, the enemy of God and mankind, WILL come to this earth.  We have already seen that the reason the enemy has not already revealed himself through this "man of sin" is because God won't let him.  "Patience" is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and the enemy has no patience at all.  He would reveal himself in a minute if he could.  It is God who stops him.

Note the utter POWER of our Lord.  The so-called "power" of the enemy is an illusion, a soap-bubble, no matter how real it may seem, compared to the true POWER of our Lord.  The enemy's work has no lasting substance and it's been that way since the beginning.  As Isaiah the prophet said, "with the breath of (the Lord's) lips He shall slay the wicked" (Isaiah 11:4).  The Lord will simply make His appearance and the enemy will be gone - forever.

Verse 9. "that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,"

Paul is here referring to the antichrist, the false one, "whose coming (will be) in accord with the activity of Satan," the enemy.  The word for "false" in this verse and in Verse 11, is a form of the Greek word "pseudos," which does refer to that which is "false" and it can also be translated, "a lie."  A "pseudonym" is a fictitious name taken by an author who does not want to reveal his or her true name.  "Pseudonym" is taken from the Greek "pseudos."

"Terasin" is the Greek word used here for "wonders," and its meaning is "something strange, causing the beholder to marvel."  The word is often accompanied by the word "semeia" or "signs" as it is in this verse.  "Power" is the Greek "dunamis," which can be translated "might."  It is not completely clear whether this is real "power" or the mere trick of someone like a magician, but one thing is clear: Jesus Christ is "the way" and "the truth" (John 14:6).  The antichrist and the enemy who empowers him are "false" and they intend to lead the world into a lie.

Verse 10. "and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved."

Jesus Christ is God's Present given to the entire human race.  If a present is wrapped in nice wrapping paper, tied with an attractive bow, and is handed to you; at that point you still have the option of whether to open it or not.  Even though there is a card on the package with your name on it, you don't really have the benefit of that gift until you open it and receive what the Sender has given.

"Those who perish" do so because they do "not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved."  The "wickedness" of this world is indeed a "deception."  Many take what they want when they want it without any regard for God, not seeing that none of it will last.  Money, sex, earthly power, fame, and so on, will be GONE in the inevitable death that awaits everyone.  It's time to wake up, "receive the love of the truth" about Jesus Christ and "be saved."

Lord, we do so right now.  We repent of our sins and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.  We thank You, Lord, for saving us.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Audio Bible Study - 2 Thess. 2:11-15

Verse 11. "For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false,"

Many have wondered WHY God would deliberately give "a deluding influence" that will send people into a wrong direction to "believe what is false?"  What we must notice here is the statement, "For this reason..."  In other words, there is a REASON why God will act in such a manner, and we can see why this must happen in the verse that precedes this one.  It is "because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved" (Verse 10).

These are people who heard the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ and have repeatedly rejected Him.  They know about Him, know what He did, but they do not want Him, and after repeated offers of His love, God will shut the door.  Note how important it is for you to receive the Lord as soon as possible!  He extends His offer for a limited time and it may not always be available to you.  The time to trust in Jesus Christ is right now!

Verse 12. "in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness."

There is a purpose for you in Jesus' statement: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).  And part of the reason for His statement is right here in this verse.

If you do otherwise; if you embrace the things of this world exclusively, "taking pleasure in wickedness" and rejecting God in the process, you will be judged, not only in eternity, but right now as well.  Underneath it all, everyone KNOWS that the statements in the Bible about Jesus Christ are true.  He really IS the Savior of the world, and to reject Him is to take self-destruction to its highest possible degree.  Those who do will be judged, not only now, but also - forever.

Verse 13. "But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth."

Have you trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ?  If not, do you feel an urge, deep inside, to do exactly that? - to give your heart and life to Him?  If you have trusted in the Lord or want to do it, give "thanks to God" for He "has chosen you from the beginning for salvation."  He is the Initiator of our faith; He has carefully drawn us to "salvation," and it is His further intention that we will be drawn "through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth."

"Sanctification" literally means "separation to God," in which we are brought, both gradually and with periodic suddenness, away from the base things of this world and into fellowship with God's will.  It is important to note that without Christ, everyone in this world is utterly doomed and there is no religion, scientific principle or philosophical idea that can save us.  But "God has chosen you" in Christ, and it is reasonable to "always give thanks" to Him.

Verse 14. "It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."

"It was for this He called you," and if you should ever wonder what to pray when you awaken in the night, it's right here in these verses.  You are reasonably to "give thanks to God," as it said in Verse 13, "because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth."  If you have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ or if you are drawn to do so right now, it is "because God has CHOSEN you" (Verse 13), with the incredible intention "that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."

The Lord God has much more in store for you and me than we could ever imagine.  His intentions include "the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" for people like us.  If you think back to those who Jesus chose to be with Him for three years, they were ordinary people.  He met kings, governors, high priests and Roman officers.  Some of those officials may have been chosen "through (the) gospel" (the "good news"), but most of the ones He called, walked with and shared with were much like you and me.  Ordinary people who received "the glory" of God.

Verse 15. "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us."

There was a song, years ago, that went, "Gimme' That Old Time Religion," which is not sung much anymore, and it's too bad because the song urges us to "stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught," as it says in this verse.  Note that we in the church tend to impose elaborate doctrines on each other, incorporating them into our church bulletins and practices, and insisting that all believe just as we do.

That can sometimes be helpful, but the practice often goes far beyond what is needed and we tend to exclude others in the process.  Scripture is clear about what it takes to find the "traditions," the "Old Time Religion" that Paul spoke about, and it is summed up in Romans 10:9-10 - "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you SHALL be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."  We are to "stand firm" in that tradition and also we are to love one another, even if we differ somewhat in our doctrines after doing so.

Father, enable us to hold to the tradition of trusting in Jesus Christ.  Save us.  Forgive us and fill us with Your Holy Spirit.  Give us love for one another.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Audio Bible Study - 2 Thess. 2:16-17

Verse 16. "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace,"

Have you ever wondered who the Lord Jesus Christ actually is?  There are many Scriptures about Him, but an interesting glimpse is found in the Book of Hebrews: "To the Son (Jesus) He says... You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands." That's in Hebrews 1:8-10, in which we learn that "our Lord Jesus Christ" created the "earth" and the "heavens."  The context in the Book of Hebrews continues and we find in Hebrews 3:4, that "every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God."  Jesus, the Creator of the earth and the heavens, is God.

Somehow, deeper than humans can understand, Jesus Christ is God.  The One who created us became our Savior.  And yet, as we see in this and many other verses, "God our Father" is also God.  And somehow, as we can learn from many inferences within Scripture, the one called the Holy Spirit is God, too.  It's not that we have to fully understand, but instead we receive, trusting in the "Lord Jesus Christ Himself" and recognizing that He and "God our Father" have "given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace."  What we do not deserve is freely given to us when we simply TRUST in the Lord, which is what is meant by the "grace" of God.

Verse 17. "comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word."

The preceding verse and this one give us an important prayer of Paul the Apostle for the believers in the City of Thessalonica, in northern Greece, which at that time was in the Roman Province of Macedonia.  Note that these verses, like all in God's Word, the Bible, were not merely written by Paul.  The true Author of all Scripture was and is the Holy Spirit of God.  These words, these Scriptures are not only to the Thessalonians; they are also for everyone of every time.  They are prayers for you and me.

This prayer is still being uttered: that God Himself will "comfort and strengthen YOUR heart in every good work and word."  The Holy Spirit of God is praying for you by name right now as it says in Romans 8:26 - "the Spirit Himself intercedes for us..."  And Jesus is also praying for you, each moment of every day.  We learn that "Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us all" (Romans 8:34).  The Son and the Spirit are interceding, praying to the Father for you.  They know Your every need, and ALL of their prayers are answered, for God's glory and for your good.

Father, I ask that Your Son and Your Spirit will pray for me continually, especially that my faith will grow and I may become more useful to You.  Forgive my sins.  Let me be a person of love, prayer, comfort and hope.  I give myself to You anew. I trust in You now.  Thank You, Lord, that You are praying for and helping me.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

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