Translations: 简体中文 繁體中文

2Thessalonians 2 (web)

Christ's Return

2:1 Now, brothers, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and our gathering together to him, we ask you
2:2 not to be quickly shaken in your mind, nor yet be troubled,
either by spirit, or by word, or by letter as from us, saying that the day of Christ had come.
2:3 Let no one deceive you in any way.
For it will not be, unless the departure comes first,
and the man of sin is revealed, the son of destruction,
2:4 he who opposes and exalts himself against all that is called God or that is worshiped;
so that he sits as God in the temple of God, setting himself up as God.
2:5 Don't you remember that, when I was still with you, I told you these things?
2:6 Now you know what is restraining him, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season.
2:7 For the mystery of lawlessness already works.
Only there is one who restrains now, until he is taken out of the way.
2:8 Then the lawless one will be revealed,
whom the Lord will kill with the breath of his mouth,
and bring to nothing by the brightness of his coming;
2:9 even he whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
2:10 and with all deception of wickedness for those who are being lost, because they didn't receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
2:11 Because of this, God sends them a working of error,
that they should believe a lie;
2:12 that they all might be judged who didn't believe the truth,
but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
2:13 But we are bound to always give thanks to God for you, brothers loved by the Lord,
because God chose you from the beginning for salvation
through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth;

2:14 to which he called you through our gospel,
for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2:15 So then, brothers, stand firm, and hold the traditions which you were taught by us,
whether by word, or by letter.

2:16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father,
who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,
2:17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good work and word.

Discussion Questions

How do you answer those who propose that Jesus has already returned?
What is the "rebellion" and "the man of lawlessness" that he mentions?
Who is holding back the secret power of lawlessness?
If a person does miracles, does that prove he is from God?
How do you resolve this with John 3:2 and John 9:33?
What are examples historically of people being deceived?
What steps can you take to avoid being deceived?
What role does the Holy Spirit play in saving us?
What do you find encouraging about the gospel that motivates you to live the Christian life?


Concerning the Second Coming

2Thess 2:1,2 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.

Though a young church, yet from the letters of 1&2 Thessalonians it was apparent that Paul did not neglect teaching the subject of eschathology (doctrines concerning the final events). This is not a subject to be avoided but embraced.

Notice that the "coming of the Lord", "our being gathered to him" are both events associated with "the day of the Lord." We read of this day in 1Thess 4:15-17 "According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." This is the gathering of his elect also spoken of in Mt 24:31 in which "he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." The Resurrection and the Rapture which follows it together constitute this gathering of his elect, which occurs at the coming of the Lord.

There were those who proposed that the day of the Lord already occurred, just as there are some today (Full Preterists) who propose the day of the Lord occurred back in 70 AD or who propose that events of the resurrection and rapture associated with the day of the Lord are not visible events. These destroy the faith of some.  "Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some." 2Timothy 2:16-18

Events Prior to the Second Coming

2Thess 2:3-5  Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?

Notice that one of the main events prior to the coming of Christ is the coming of the anti-Christ.  (And I bet there will be many who will misread the coming of the anti-Christ as the coming of Christ,which will likely set up the rebellion with its persecution of genuine Christians)

Should we expect Christ to return at any moment? Would Christ return this very day? As much as some have proposed this idea, Paul here teaches that there are certain measurable events to occur prior to the coming of the Lord. For Christ will not return nor will Resurrection nor the Rapture occur until the anti-Christ is revealed and the rebellion occurs, which is going to be difficult for Christians to miss.

The "rebellion" or "falling away" is mentioned in Matthew 24:10,11 "At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people."

The antiChrist is called "The Beast" in the book of Revelations. "He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven."  Rev 13:6 He is also mentioned in Daniel. "It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground."Daniel 8:11,12

Setting himself up in the temple is mentioned in Daniel 9:27 "He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes "

That abomination is also mentioned in Matthew 24:15 "So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel— let the reader understand—"

For more details on the timing of these events see

Notice in verse 5 that Paul used to tell them these things. These ideas were supposed to be a part of basic Christian doctrine, but historically in the early post-Biblical age Christians abandoned such doctrines. Consequently this neglect opened up the door to all kinds of false teachings in this area of theology which have propagated to the present time. Don't gullibly accept just any theory. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way. Hold to what the Bible EXPLICITLY teaches.

Who is holding him back?

2Thess 2:6,7 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time.  For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.

Who is holding him back? I believe Paul is referring to the Holy Spirit holding him back. Though some say that it is the church which is holding him back and that the Rapture takes the restriction away. But this is not true. For the Rapture doesn't occur until after the rebellion and the anti-Christ is revealed. Furthermore the "one" is singular (literally masculine singular), not a community, just as the Holy Spirit is spoken of in the masculine singular in John 16:13

But then others object to it being the Holy Spirit in that if the Holy Spirit is taken away, then he would have to take the Christians with Him, else they would be without the Holy Spirit. But this is a misunderstanding of the diversity of the roles of the Holy Spirit. He permanently indwells those born of God. But He also interacts with unbelievers. He interacts with them to lead them to Christ. And He also interacts with them to restrict their lawlessness! Perhaps he is what even unbelievers at times call their "conscience". Taking away the conscience of unbelievers is not to say that He leaves the world, nor is it to say the He leaves the believers. But without a conscience, it is inevitable that the world will show its true colors - its hostility against God and God's people. Thus Paul writes of such on effect in Romans "Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done." Rom 1:28

But Paul's main point is that in his time he will be revealed and the Christians will know it. So this is not a secret hidden event which can be easily overlooked.

Refusing to Love the Truth

2Thess 2:8-10 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. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

Now it is true that God affirms his word by miracles, as Jesus said, "Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father." John 10:37,38 He gives us sufficient evidence affirming his word. But for those who reject the Word, God may at times, such as in the scenario Paul reveals here, allow Satan to lead unbelievers astray with his own miracles. Miracles of themselves do not affirm truth. They just affirm a supernatural origin. The magicians in Egypt also did miracles. And God also says in the Law

If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deut 13:1-3
So it is not the miracles alone that one should use to affirm truth, but whether what is spoken is consistent with what God has already revealed too.

The reason why people are perishing is because they refuse to love the truth. Therefore people only believe those things which are consistent with their desires and prejudices. Jesus said, "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." John 3:18-21 So in particular they refuse to love the truth with regards to issues of lifestyle - that which is right and wrong. Jesus said, "The world hates me because I testify that what it does is evil." John 7:7  But those who are being saved love to hear about God's judicial nature, the fact that we are guilty due to sin, and the fact that God forgives the repentant on the basis of the atoning work of Christ. To be saved, one must love the truth, despite the fact it may lead to humiliation.

A Delusion Seals their Fate

2Thess 2:11,12 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

When people delight in wickedness refusing to repent, there comes a point when God gives them over to their sin. "Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind." Rom 1:28 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Rom 1:21 And people with depraved minds are gullible to embrace lies which ultimately harms themselves. We look back in history and mock such people, yet at the time I'm sure they thought their behavior was right and reasonable.

In the Old Testament the prophet Micaiah spoke of this scenario, The LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ "One suggested this, and another that Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’ "’By what means?’ the LORD asked. "’I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. "’You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the LORD. ‘Go and do it.’ "So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you." 1Kings 22: 20-23

Beware of delighting in sin. For God may give you over to it and you wouldn't even know it.

God's Chosen Method

2Thess 2:13  But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

God foreordained that salvation would be through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.   "For people are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood" 1Peter 1:2

The sanctifying work of the Spirit brings a person to repentance. For "He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment"John 16:8 Paul previously described the gospel coming them saying, "our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction" 1Thess 1:5 Not a soul is saved without first being convicted of sin and repenting from it. That and consequently believing the gospel message constitute God's chosen method through with salvation is imparted. "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe."  1Cor 1:21  And "consequently, faith comes from hearing the message." Rom 10:17

Mr 1:15 "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"

Sharing in His Glory

2Thess 2:14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

"Now if we are children, then we are heirs— heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Rom 8:17,18

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2Cor 4:16-18

Thus we notice elsewhere this glory is spoken of in the contrast to the present suffering which is the context in which he is writing to the Thessalonians, enouraging the troops in the midst of battle by reminding them of the glory of victory. So when you suffer for your faith be encouraged in view of the glory to come.

Stand Firm on the Word

2Thess 2:15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Paul's teachings are not to be reckoned lightly or disregarded in living the Christian life, but rather they form a significant part of what constitutes being a Christian. Paul's teachings are to be reckoned scripture, infallible and above scrutiny, though of course there is the matter of interpretation. But even then, those who purposely misread Paul's writings to suit their own lifestyle do so to their own peril. Peter writes about Paul's writings saying, "He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction." 2Peter 3:16

Nor is there any basis in the Catholic/Orthodox claims that they follow the oral traditions of Paul, allegedly written down by their own post-Biblical theologians, some much of which in fact contradict what Paul actually said in the Bible. In vain do they make such claims, and only attract to themselves those predisposed to unbelief in what the Bible actually says. In this way they invent their own denominational forms and doctrines and put Paul's stamp of approval on them so as to inflate their denominational status. But they will have to give an account of themselves to God, as will all of us. So don't be led astray. Stick to what the Bible says. Follow its teachings. Stand firm in what it says. "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." 2Tim 4:3

Good Reasons to be Encouraged

2Thess 2:16,17  May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Nothing is more encouraging than the fact of God's graciousness to us in the atoning work of Christ and consequently the forgiveness of our sins, along with being adopted into his family, receiving the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance, and for that inheritance awaiting us, including the redemption of our bodies at the resurrection, entering the joy of His presence and co-reigning with Christ. These constitute the good hope we have. The feeling of anticipation based upon our faith in the promise of God.

And God wants us to be encouraged by faith, having given us good reasons to be encouraged. So while "we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" Acts 14:22, "our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Rom 8:18  Indeed every good deed we do and every appropriate word we say renders us productive and will have eternal consequences and reward. So be encouraged to exercise your faith and to remain true to it.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jan 27,2022