2 Thessalonians 2:1–12
God’s redeemed are identified by many things they share in common, the big three being faith in Jesus, love for one another and commitment to spreading the gospel. Love for the truth has always characterized the people of the Lord.
One of the motivating factors behind Paul’s epistles was correcting numerous untruths that kept popping up. One huge lie upsetting the Thessalonian church was that the Day of the Lord had come and gone. The perpetrators of the untruth even said they got it from Paul himself.
“Let no one deceive you,” Paul said and called them “to not be easily shaken” (v. 2). Truth has a wonderful settling effect on us.
Paul says the Day of the Lord will be preceded by two huge events: the apostasy’s occurrence and the Antichrist’s appearance. Apostasy means a falling away, a time of widespread backsliding. Paul adds, “Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?”
We can wish we knew what he had told them, but we do not know. So, much of this remains in the realm of mystery.
Christians hold fast to the teaching that Jesus Christ will return to earth to set up His heavenly Kingdom and establish justice. This will happen; it must happen. The details and timing, however, are known only to God. Three huge questions are raised by this chapter. What? When? Who?
What did Paul tell the Thessalonians about the end times? We do not know. When will the apostasy occur? We do not know.
Who is the Antichrist? No one knows. Of course, not knowing these things has not stopped many of God’s children from trying to fill in the blanks He left open.
The faithful pastor or teacher will admit there are things we do not know. Those unable to say “I do not know” put an intolerable burden on themselves and erect unrealistic expectations in their people, sure to end in disappointment and disillusionment.
And yet, some of us feel we must have an answer for every question. I’ve even heard someone say, “If God put it in the Bible, He must have meant for us to understand it.”
The words of the Apostle Peter are helpful here, as he writes, “according to the wisdom given [Paul] … speaking in [his letters] of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:15–16). I hope you find it as liberating as I do that even the Apostle Peter did not understand everything Paul wrote.
Those who will be scammed by the devil and his minions are deceived for one huge reason: “They did not receive the love of truth so as to be saved.” To demonstrate their error in bold strokes, God sends upon them “a deluding influence” so they will believe what is false.
Those who take pleasure in wickedness are about to get an overflow — more than they ever wanted, Paul says.
God help us to be faithful stewards of His Word and obedient disciples in all we do.
By Joe McKeever
Pastor, writer and cartoonist from Ridgeland, Mississippi.