2 Thessalonians 2:8,15 says, “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of His mouth and destroy by the splendor of His coming… So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth of by letter.”
The continuities between the Old Testament and New Testament regarding the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ include references to blazing fire, punishment, destruction of the ungodly, stubble/ashes, worms that do not die, unquenched fire, and torment that does not end. Tough stuff. Yet, for believers, Paul says in his two letters to the Thessalonians, that we are not to be unsettled because we are not uninformed. We take comfort in that final justice is thankfully in God’s hands alone. It’s not if, it is when.
God’s Word cautions us about false teachings. Again, we are not uninformed. In 2 Thessalonians 2 we see that there will be a final turning away from God in the established church. Although hard to imagine and deeply disappointing, we find that Christ will not return until first, there is a massive falling away (apostasia/2 Thess. 2:3) within the covenant community (the Church) and second, there is the appearance of the antichrist. These two signs have not yet come in final form.
We are not uninformed. We learn about the man of lawlessness in scripture (also known as the antichrist). I John 2:18-20,22 says, “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us but they did not really belong to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. But you have the anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist – denying the Father and the Son.”
We are living in a time of restraint, yet the mystery of lawlessness is already at work and we can sense this reality even if we don’t know exactly how it plays out. 2 Thess. 2:6-7 is a difficult passage because of the differing possibilities of who/what the “restrainer” might be. G.K. Beale, in his commentary on 1&2 Thessalonians, gives 7 possibilities (for your further investigation): 1) Roman Empire, 2) Civil order of law inherent in Rome, 3)The Jewish State, 4) Satan or one of his evil agents, 5) Power of false teachers, 6) God/Holy Spirit, or 7) Proclamation of the gospel.
Despite difficult passages of scripture, it is clearly important for believers to grasp the reality of spiritual evil and to realize that the faithful will engage in a spiritual battle to the END. Our minds and hearts must be prepared. STANDING FIRM and HOLDING FAST are themes in the Thessalonian letters. Standing firm and holding fast are especially meaningful to those who are not unsettled because they are not uninformed. These are believers boldly living out the life of faith in Christ Jesus. But, what is their key to being informed and settled?
It is critical to realize that a believer’s confidence about present & future salvation is directly linked to one’s awareness and grasp of God’s Word. Therefore, we study diligently so we will not be uninformed, and therefore not unsettled. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 confirms, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” There is no need to be uninformed. And, there is every reason to be completely settled.
We have God’s complete Word. Amen.