1 & 2 Thessalonians

by Sim Kay Tee

Day 26

Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

To correct erroneous teachings concerning Christ's return, Paul had explained to the Thessalonian church in his first letter how and when Jesus would return (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:1-11). Soon after, however, some teachers began to teach that the day of the Lord had already come. Therefore, the persecuted Thessalonian believers concluded that they were now experiencing God's wrath on the dreadful day of judgment.

Jesus is in absolute control of the situation, and He will make all things right and good

Paul identified three possible sources of the fake news-″a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter″ (2 Thessalonians 2:2). This false teaching purportedly came from Paul himself, making it seem authentic and authoritative. It not only ″unsettled″ many, but also led some believers to give up working for a living, a problem which Paul would deal with later (3:6-14).

Paul sought to correct this falsehood by reminding them of what he had taught previously (2:5). His purpose was always to pastor his flock, not to predict future events.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 may be one of the more difficult New Testament passages to interpret. But this teaching would have been clear to Paul's first readers, for he had taught them these things before, when he was with them (v. 5). They had heard about ″the man of lawlessness″ who would oppose God, exalt himself, and proclaim himself to be God (vv. 3-4). They had also heard about ″the one who now holds it back″-a restrainer of some sort who would hold back the man of lawlessness until relieved of the task (vv. 6-7).

Because we don't know exactly what Paul taught them, it is impossible for us to know the identities of the restrainer and the lawless man. But of this we can be certain: the day of the Lord has not yet come, for certain key events are yet to happen (v. 3). Three events must occur, Paul notes, before the Lord returns.

First, there will be a worldwide rebellion against God: ″That day will not come until the rebellion occurs″ (v. 3).

Second, the man of lawlessness will be revealed. This ″man doomed to destruction″ will emerge from the shadows at the proper time to proclaim himself as God, defying and rebelling against God (vv. 3-4, 8). Whoever this man is, he is not himself Satan (v. 9).

Third, the restrainer-scholars have not agreed on who this man is-who hitherto restrained lawlessness and evil, will be relieved of this responsibility (vv. 6-7). When this happens, all hell will break loose on earth!

Paul warns of evil and dangerous times ahead once all these events occur. The man of lawlessness will ″use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie″ and deceive those who are perishing (vv. 9-10).

But Paul also gives the assurance that God will not abandon His people-Jesus is in absolute control of the situation, and He will make all things right and good (v. 8).

Think through:

Consider the three things that Paul says must happen before Jesus Christ returns (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; see also 1 Timothy 4:1-2; 2 Timothy 4:3-4). What signs of the times do you see today that might suggest we are inching nearer to Christ's return?

Do you think that Jesus will come in your lifetime? Why or why not?




About Author

Sim Kay Tee is a Bible teacher and writer of Our Daily Bread Ministries. Based in Singapore, K.T. writes for the Discovery Series Bible Study guides, the Journey Through Series devotional, and is a regular contributor to the Insights for Our Daily Bread. K.T. has taught the Bible in various countries. He has three daughters and one granddaughter.

Author of Journey Through Series:

Our Daily Bread Journey Through® Series is a publication of Our Daily Bread Ministries.

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