2 Thessalonians 2:1
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,
(a) The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul mentioned the coming of the Lord or the day of the Lord (1 Th. 4:15, 5:2). He returns to that subject now.
(b) Our gathering together to Him. When the Lord returns in glory, the church will be gathered or caught up to him. See entry for 1 Th. 4:17.
2 Thessalonians 2:2
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.
(a) Not be quickly shaken. Like some Christians today, the Thessalonians had been unsettled by bad end times’ teaching.
(b) A letter as if from us. Paul warns the Thessalonians not to be disturbed by fake mail sent in his name. How could they tell if a letter from Paul was genuine? He signed it in his own name (see 2 Th. 3:17).
(c) The day of the Lord; see entry for 1 Th. 5:2.
(d) The day of the Lord has come. Someone told the Thessalonians that the Lord had already returned. Similar messages are repeated today. “There is no final return of the Lord because he came at Pentecost.” “The Lord returned in judgment in AD70.” We would do well to heed Paul’s warnings not to be deceived by such teachings (2 Th. 2:3).
The Thessalonians were brand new Christians. Prior to Paul’s visit, many of them had been law-abiding Jews attending the synagogue and awaiting the consolation of Israel. Then Paul came and said the Messiah they had been waiting for had already come (see Acts 17:3). During this time Paul also spoke about the future return of the Lord (2 Th. 2:5). But after he left, they got it into their heads that the Messiah had already returned. Since they had missed his first visit, it was understandable that they might miss his return. “It hasn’t happened,” said Paul.
Further reading: “When is the second coming?”
2 Thessalonians 2:3
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,
(a) It will not come. The Day of the Lord (see previous verse).
(b) The apostasy comes first. Paul foretells a great falling away or defection. Paul is echoing what he said to Timothy: “The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1).
(c) The man of lawlessness. Who is the man of lawlessness? Was he an historical figure or a future one? Is he a real man or a metaphor? Is he a specific individual or a spirit like the antichrist spirit (see entry for 1 John 2:18)? The short answer is nobody knows, although there have been many speculations.
Some say the man of lawlessness was John Levi, a leader in the Jewish rebellion of AD70. Others say he was the Roman Emperor Nero. Others say he is the pope or the president or some other charismatic world leader. Most, if not all, of these candidates can be dismissed because they do not match the criteria outlined by Paul (see the following verses).
Why doesn’t Paul name the man of lawlessness? Why all the mystery and suspense? Some say Paul didn’t name him because everyone knew who he was and Paul didn’t want to incriminate himself. But Paul was not afraid of speaking truth to power. Others say Paul doesn’t name him because the man of lawlessness had not yet been revealed. He was for a future time, perhaps our time. But Paul said the man was being restrained now. “You know what restrains him now” (2 Thess. 2:6). This suggests he was a first-century figure. Alternatively, Paul doesn’t name him because the man of lawlessness is a metaphor. He is the personification of Adamic sin. Whichever it is, Paul knew about the man of lawlessness from reading the prophecies of Daniel.
2 Thessalonians 2:4
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.
Many kings and emperors have claimed to be divine, and some have received offerings and worship. However, the man of lawlessness will operate in counterfeit signs and wonders (2 Th. 2:9).
2 Thessalonians 2:5
Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?
Paul spent only three weeks in Thessalonica (Acts 17:2), yet during that time he planted a church composed of Jewish and Gentile believers, got them established in the faith, and gave them eschatological instruction. It was a busy time.
2 Thessalonians 2:8
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;
(a) The lawless one; see entry for 2 Th. 2:3.
(b) Whom the Lord will slay. The Lord will bring the lawless man to an end simply by showing up. This rules out historical figures such as John Levi (he died in a Roman prison) and Nero (his secretary killed him).
2 Thessalonians 2:10
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.
They did not receive the love of the truth. Alternatively, they did not receive the love of the One called Truth. It is the love of God revealed in Jesus that inspires us to trust in him and be saved (1 John 4:16). The problem is not that some refuse to believe as much as they refuse to receive the love that would inspire them to believe.
2 Thessalonians 2:12
in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
Took pleasure in wickedness. In the new covenant, faith is described as a rest (Rom. 4:5, Heb. 4:3), while unbelief is described in terms of actions and verbs. Unbelief is rejecting Jesus (John 3:36) and denying the Lord (Jude 1:4). It’s thrusting away the word of God and judging yourself unworthy of life (Acts 13:46). It’s suppressing the truth (Rom. 1:18) and delighting in wickedness (2 Th. 2:12). It’s turning away (Heb. 12:25), going astray (2 Pet. 2:15), and trampling the Son of God underfoot (Heb. 10:29).
2 Thessalonians 2:13
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.
(a) Salvation. The original word for salvation means deliverance or rescue. Jesus is the great Deliverer who rescues us from our enemies (Luke 1:71). See entry for Salvation.
(b) Sanctification. To be sanctified is to be made holy or whole and in Christ you are completely complete (Col. 2:10). Jesus is the Holy One (Mark 8:38), and “if the root is holy, so are the branches” (Rom. 11:16). Christians are holy branches connected to the Holy Vine. See entry for Holiness.
(c) Through sanctification. God saves us by putting us into Jesus the Savior, and he sanctifies us by putting us into Jesus the Holy One. If you are saved you are sanctified and vice versa.
(d) Faith in the truth. We are saved and sanctified through faith in Jesus (John 17:19, Acts 26:18).
2 Thessalonians 2:14
It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our gospel. Alternatively, “the gospel that I preach.” Paul did not preach a different gospel from Jesus or any of the other apostles (see Gal. 1:8).
The gospel that was sometimes known as the gospel of Christ (Rom. 15:19) or the gospel of God (Rom 15:16) or the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23), was the gospel of grace (Acts 20:24) that Paul referred to as “my gospel” (Rom. 2:16, 16:25, 2 Tim. 2:8) and “our gospel” (2 Cor. 4:3, 1 Th. 1:5). See entry for The Gospel.
2 Thessalonians 2:16
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,
(a) Eternal comfort. Because Jesus’ blood obtained an eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12), you have an eternal inheritance (Heb. 9:15), guaranteed by an eternal covenant (Heb. 13:20), resulting in eternal life (John 3:16) and a welcome into the eternal kingdom (2 Pet. 1:11) by the eternal God (Rom. 16:26). This is why the eternal gospel (Rev. 14:6) gives us eternal comfort.
(b) Who has loved us. God loves you the same way he loves Jesus (see entry for John 17:23).
(c) Good hope by grace. Our good hope is not based on our good works or even our good confession. Our good hope is a good gift given by our good Father. Any comfort and hope that man provides is fleeting and weak, but the comfort and hope that God provides is eternal and good. All this is to the glory of his grace and faithfulness.
Further reading: “How to cultivate hope”
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- 2 Thessalonians 2:1
- 2 Thessalonians 2:2
- 2 Thessalonians 2:3
- 2 Thessalonians 2:4
- 2 Thessalonians 2:5
- 2 Thessalonians 2:8
- 2 Thessalonians 2:10
- 2 Thessalonians 2:12
- 2 Thessalonians 2:13
- 2 Thessalonians 2:14
- 2 Thessalonians 2:16