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    • July 15, 2018 12:13 PM EDT
    • 2 THESSALONIANS 1

       

      OPENS WITH...ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE GODLY CHARACTER OF A PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us A greeting from Paul and his associates.

       

      "Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

       

      Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy...

       

      Paul traveled with these men and together they contributed to this letter. Though the name Paul is listed first, both Silvanus and Timothy were his trusted companions.

       

      SILVANUS (also known as SILAS) was a long and experienced companion of Paul. He traveled with Paul on his second missionary journey and was imprisoned and set free with Paul in the Philippian jail (Acts 16:19-27). When Paul first came to Thessalonica, Silas came with him (Acts 17:1-9), so the Thessalonians knew Silvanus well. He also collaborated with Paul on the first letter to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:1).

       

      TIMOTHY was a resident of Lystra, a city in the province of Galatia (Acts 16:1-3). He was the son of a Greek father (Acts 16:1), and a Jewish mother named Eunice (2 Timothy 1:5). From his youth, he had been taught in the Scriptures by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15). Timothy was a trusted companion and associate of Paul, and he accompanied Paul on many of his missionary journeys. Paul sent Timothy to the Thessalonians on a previous occasion (1 Thessalonians 3:2). With Silvanus, Timothy was also a collaborator on Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:1).

       

      To the church of the Thessalonians...

       

      Paul himself founded the church in Thessalonica on his second missionary journey (Acts 17:1-9). He was only in the city a short time because he was forced out by enemies of the Gospel. But the church of the Thessalonians left behind was alive and active. Paul’s deep concern for this young church, which he had to suddenly leave, prompted this letter – following after the letter of 1 Thessalonians.

       

      Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ...

       

      Paul brought his customary greeting to the Thessalonian Christians, hailing them in the grace and peace of God the Father.

       

      Verses 3-4 tells us Paul’s thanks and boasting about the Thessalonians.

       

      "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure,"

       

      We are bound to thank God always for you...

       

      For Paul, the giving of thanks for God’s great work was an obligation – he was bound to do so, and it was fitting, because of the work God did in the Thessalonian Christians.

       

      Because your faith grows exceedingly...

       

      Paul thanked God because the Thessalonians had:

       

      · Exceedingly growing faith.
      · Abounding love.
      · Patience and faith in all... persecutions and tribulations.

       

      This faith and love, thriving in the midst of persecutions and tribulations, made Paul boast of the Thessalonians to other churches.

       

      SPURGEON explained how to get a strong and growing faith: “By that means you are to grow. This is so with faith. Do all you can, and then do a little more; and when you can do that, then do a little more than you can. Always have something in hand that is greater then your present capacity. Grow up to it, and when you have grown up to it, grow more.”

       

      So that we ourselves...

       

      This “is a very emphatic expression, much more emphatic than we would have expected in such a connection. It implies a strong contrast. The idea is that though it was unusual for someone who planted a church to glory in its success and health, Paul was so impressed by what God was doing among the Thessalonians even Paul took the liberty to glory in that work.

       

      Verses 5-7 tells us The persecution and tribulation of the Thessalonians set the righteousness of God on display.

       

      "Which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,"

       

      Which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God...

       

      God’s righteous judgment was at work among the Thessalonians, beginning at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17), and purifying them as followers of Jesus. The good result – showing them worthy of the kingdom of God – was manifest evidence that God was good in allowing them to suffer the persecutions and tribulations described in 2 Thessalonians 1:4.

       

      We usually think that God is absent when we suffer, and that our suffering calls God’s righteous judgment into question. Paul took the exact opposite position and insisted that the Thessalonians’ suffering was evidence of the righteous judgment of God. Where suffering is coupled with righteous endurance, God’s work is done. The fires of persecution and tribulation were like the purifying fires of a refiner, burning away the dross from the gold, bringing forth a pure, precious metal.

       

      The idea behind counted worthy is not “seen as worthy” but “reckoned as worthy” as in a judicial decree. Paul’s prayer was that the worthiness of Jesus may be accounted to the Thessalonian Christians.

       

      Since it is a righteous thing with God...

       

      Many people question the righteousness of God’s judgment. They believe that God’s love and His judgment contradict each other. But God’s judgment is based on the great spiritual principle that it is a righteous thing with God to repay those who do evil. Since God is righteous, He will repay all evil, and it will all be judged and accounted for either at the cross or in hell.

       

      The judgment of God means that there is nothing unimportant in my life. Everything is under the eye of the God I must answer to.

       

      A world in which justice was not done at last would not be God’s world at all.

       

      To repay with tribulation those who trouble you...

       

      God was also shown as righteous when those who persecuted the Thessalonians were repaid with tribulation according to their evil works. They probably believed they did God a favor when they persecuted the Christians, but the righteous God would repay them and not reward them.

       

      We can see a statement like 2 Thessalonians 1:6 in much the same context as those passages in the Psalms where the writer happily wishes ill upon his enemies – they are a prayer of entrusting the judgment of these enemies to God, instead of personally taking the initiative.

       

      The tribulation upon these persecutors of God’s people is not like a purifying fire. It is like the fire of a pure and holy judgment.

       

      And to give you who are troubled rest...

       

      Thessalonian Christians were persecuted and had tribulation; and God used it for His glory. But the time of persecution would not last. A day of rest is promised for every believer.

       

      Verses 8-10 tells us The coming day of judgment for both the persecuted and their persecutors.

       

      "In flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed."

       

      In flaming fire taking vengeance...

       

      This is what the day of judgment will be like for those who persecuted the Thessalonians. For the persecutors, those who do not know God, and those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus, that will be a day of vengeance and everlasting destruction.

       

      In flaming fire...

       

      It isn’t the fire that makes hell what it is. In the fiery furnace, the three Jewish young men were completely comfortable, as long as the Lord was with them in the fire (Daniel 3). What truly characterizes hell is that there, people are from the presence of the Lord, in the sense of being apart from anything good or blessed in God’s presence. From the presence of the Lord sums up the Bible’s understanding of hell. Nothing must be said more about its horrors, other than hell will be completely devoid of God and every aspect of His character, except one: His unrelenting holy justice.

       

      It is not wrong for God to take vengeance; we understand this when we understand what the word means in the ancient Greek language.

       

      “The word rendered ‘vengeance’ has no associations of vindictiveness. It is a compound based on the same root as the word rendered ‘righteous’ in vv. 5, 6, and it has the idea of a firm administration of unwavering justice.” (Morris) The idea is the application of full justice on the offender; nothing more and nothing less.

       

      Everlasting destruction...

       

      We must not be moved from the idea that the punishment of the wicked is everlasting. As the blessings of heaven are eternal, the penalty of hell is also eternal. “The perpetual duration of this death is proved from the fact that its opposite is the glory of Christ. This is eternal and has no end.” (Calvin)

       

      To be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe...

       

      For the persecuted saints, those who believe, they will have God glorified in them on that Day, and they will see and admire Jesus more than ever.

       

      We will admire what God has done in others and in us.

       

      SPURGEON adds, “Those who look upon the saints will feel a sudden wonderment of sacred delight; they will be startled with the surprising glory of the Lord’s work in them; ‘We thought He would do great things, but this! This surpasseth conception!’ Every saint will be a wonder to himself. ‘I thought my bliss would be great, but not like this!’ All his brethren will be a wonder to the perfected believer. He will say, ‘I thought the saints would be perfect, but I never imagined such a transfiguration of excessive glory would be put upon each of them. I could not have imagined my Lord to be so good and gracious.’ ”

       

      Because our testimony among you was believed...

       

      This shows the difference between one destined for judgment and one destined for glory. The difference is belief in the message Paul preached (our testimony), the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ.

       

      Paul knew what it was like to be transformed from a persecutor to the persecuted. He believed the testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it changed his life.

       

      Verses 11-12 tells us Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians.

       

      "Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."

       

      Therefore we also pray always...

       

      Since the Thessalonian Christians were in the midst of persecution and tribulation, they needed prayer. Here, Paul assured them that he and his associates pray always for them.

       

      That our God would count you worthy of this calling...

       

      God gives Christians a high calling, mentioned in the previous sentence. The calling is to see Him glorified in us at His coming. Paul rightly prays that the Thessalonians may be counted worthy of this calling, and he shows ways to fulfill this calling.

       


      We live worthy of His call when we fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, living lives touched by His goodness, and displaying His goodness.

       

      We live worthy of His call when we fulfill... the work of faith with power, believing on Jesus and seeing His work done all around us by faith.

       

      We live worthy of His call when the name of our Lord Jesus Christ is glorified in us. We understand that this means more than the name of our Lord Jesus as a word, but also as a representation of His character.

       

      We live worthy of His call when we are glorified in Him, when He alone is our source of glory and exaltation, and who we are in Jesus is more important than who we are in anything else.

       

      According to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ...

       

      This great work of living worthy of His calling can only happen according to the grace of God. It happens by His power, favor, and acceptance in work in us, moving along our will and cooperation.

    • July 15, 2018 12:05 PM EDT
    • 2 THESSALONIANS 2


      OPENS WITH...Instruction regarding the TWO FUTURE comings of Jesus:THE COMING OF THAT DAY

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us Paul’s comfort to the troubled Thessalonians and their question.

       

      "Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come."

       

      Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him...

       

      Paul here addressed questions raised by his FIRST letter, where he instructed the Thessalonians about the catching away of the church to be with Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

       

      The challenge in understanding this chapter comes from the fact that it is a supplement to what Paul has already taught the Thessalonians in words. Yet the ideas are clear enough if carefully pieced together.

       

      Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him...

       

      Paul clearly wrote of the return of Jesus, but the wording here implies a DIFFERENCE between "THE COMING" and "OUR GATHERING". This strongly suggests that there are essentially TWO MORE comings of Jesus.

       

      THE FIRST FUTURE COMING OF JESUS is FOR His church (as described clearly in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) BEFORE the Tribulation begins.

       

      THE SECOND FUTURE COMING is WITH His church, to judge a rebellious world at the END of the GREAT Tribulation.

       

      This is completely consistent with other passages of Scripture that indicate that there MUST BE TWO aspects of Jesus’ second coming, and the aspects MUST BE SEPARATED by some appreciable period of time.

       

      HOW?

       

      · Different world conditions are described (Matthew 24:37-42, Matthew 24:21, Revelation 6:15-16).
      · Different manners of Jesus’ return are described (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Revelation 19:11, 14-15, 21).
      · Different scenarios regarding the predictability of the date of Jesus’ return are established (Matthew 24:36, Daniel 12:11).

       

      We ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled...

       

      Apparently, a misunderstanding of Paul’s teaching (or an incorrect application of it) had caused the Thessalonians to be shaken in mind and troubled. Here Paul used a strong wording, speaking of both a sudden jolt (shaken in mind) and a continuing state of upset (troubled). Their fears centered on the idea that the day of Christ had [already] come.

       

      A preferred manuscript reading of 2 Thessalonians 2:2 has the day of the Lord rather than the day of Christ. The day of the Lord is a concept with a rich Old Testament background, and was mentioned in Paul’s previous letter to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 5:2). It is not a single day, but a period associated with God’s outpouring of judgment and the deliverance of God’s people. A significant aspect of the day of the Lord is the Great Tribulation described in Matthew 24:1-31.

       

      As though the day of Christ had come...

       

      The Thessalonians were not afraid that the day of Christ was coming, but that they were in it & had been left behind to face the full wrath of God=The Tribulation..

       

      Paul will go on to demonstrate that it also had not yet dawned, because the Thessalonians were afraid that they were in the Great Tribulation (the day of the Lord), and feared that they had MISSED the rapture. But Paul will demonstrate that they are NOT in the day of Christ; because if they were, then certain signs would be present.

       

      It is important to notice that the Thessalonians would be shaken or troubled by the thought of being in the Great Tribulation only if they had been taught by Paul that they would escape that period through the rapture. Otherwise they would, in a sense, welcome the Great Tribulation as a necessary prelude to the Second Coming. But Paul had clearly taught them that they would ESCAPE God’s judgment on this earth during the period known as the day of the Lord or the day of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18).

       

      Either by spirit or by word or by letter...

       

      Perhaps the troubling word had come through a misguided prophecy (spirit or by word). Or perhaps some other leader wrote the Thessalonians a letter teaching FALSELY that they were already in the day of Christ. Either way, they were upset at the idea that they had somehow missed the rapture.

       

      Verse 3 tells us SIGNS marking the coming day.

       

      "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,"

       

      For that Day will not come...

       

      Paul will not describe events which must precede the rapture, but events that are concrete evidence of the Great Tribulation – the day of Christ. In this sense, one cannot be certain the day of Christ (the Great Tribulation) has come unless these signs are present.

       

      Unless the falling away comes first...

       

      The ancient Greek wording for falling away indicates a rebellion or a departure. Bible scholars debate if it refers to an apostasy among those who once followed God, or a general worldwide rebellion. In fact, Paul may have BOTH in mind, because there is evidence of EACH in the end times (1 Timothy 4:1-3, 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and 4:3-4). Nevertheless, Paul’s point is clear: “You are worried that we are in the Great Tribulation and that you missed the rapture. But you can know that we are not in the Great Tribulation, because we have not yet seen the falling away that comes first.”

       

      The falling away...

       

      The article “THE” makes it even MORE significant. This is not A falling away, but THE falling away, the GREAT & FINAL rebellion.

       

      Some have FALSELY/WRONGLY suggested that the idea behind falling away is really a departure, in the sense of the rapture of the church. But a departure implies that the one leaving does so of his OWN accord and initiative, and this is NOT the case with the catching away of the church. In addition, the ancient Greek word in the New Testament (Acts 21:21, forsake) or in the Septuagint, always implies something sinful and negative.

       

      The idea of a great end-times apostasy also does not contradict the idea of a great end-times revival. Some Christians doubt the idea of great revival in the last days, or even welcome apostasy believing it signals the end. But just as the Book of Revelation describes great rejection of Jesus during the Great Tribulation (Revelation 9:20-21 and 17:2-6) and great acceptance of Him (Revelation 7:9-14), the two can stand side-by-side.

       

      And the man of sin is revealed...

       

      Before the Great Tribulation can be identified with certainty, a particular person – known as the man of sin, – must be revealed.

       

      Paul’s point is clear: “You are worried that we are in the Great Tribulation and that you missed the rapture. But you can know that we are not in the Great Tribulation, because we have not yet seen the man of sin... revealed.”

       

      The most traditional understanding of this man of sin is to say that he is not ONLY an individual, but a system or an office. Historically, Protestant interpreters have seen the man of sin to be the succession of popes. Calvin thought this way: “Paul, however, is not speaking of one individual, but of a kingdom that was to be seized by Satan for the purpose of setting up a seat of abomination in the midst of God’s temple. This we see accomplished in popery.”

       

      However, there is no good reason to see this man of sin to be other than what the plainest meaning is here – an individual who will come to great prominence in the very last days. This was how it was understood in the earliest days of Christianity. “The fathers understood the Antichrist to be intended, but of this person they seemed to have formed no specific idea.” (Clarke)

       

      · Daniel described an individual person: The prince who is to come (Daniel 9:26), the king of fierce countenance (Daniel 8:23), the willful king (Daniel 11:36-45).
      · Jesus described an individual person: The one who comes in his own name (John 5:43).
      · We are not surprised that Paul described this man of sin as an individual person, not as a system or an office.

       

      This man of sin is a prominent figure in the Bible, and the ultimate personification of the spirit of the Antichrist spoken of in 1 John 4:2-3. He will no doubt live many years before the Great Tribulation, but he will only be revealed as the man of sin during that period. The idea behind the title man of sin is that “Sin has such absolute domination over him that he seems to be the very embodiment of it.

       

      Son of perdition...

       

      Perdition means destruction, the complete loss of well-being. It is really the opposite of salvation. To call him the son of perdition means his character is marked by this destruction. Moffatt says the phrase “son of perdition” essentially means the doomed one.

       

      Verse 4 tells us What the man of sin does.

       

      "Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."

       

      Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or is worshipped...

       

      The man of sin demands worship for himself that belongs to God only (Luke 4:8). This demand for worship is also described in Revelation 13:1-6.

       

      Understanding the strength and breadth of this statement shows us that saying that the Antichrist is the Pope is far too simplistic. He will sponsor a religion that does not tolerate the worship of anyone or anything except himself. The apostate Roman Catholic Church may be part of this end-times religion, but it will not encompass it.

       

      Notice, that the meaning of these words cannot by any probability be fulfilled by any one who, as the Pope, creates objects of worship, and thus (by inference merely) makes himself greater than the objects which he creates: but it is required that this Antichrist should set himself up as an object of worship, above, and as superior to, ‘everyone that is called God or worshipped.

       

      So that he sits as God in the temple of God...

       

      The man of sin’s demand for worship will be so extreme, he will set himself up as God in the temple at Jerusalem, demanding this blasphemous worship from everyone (Revelation 13:14-15 and Matthew 24:15, 21, 29-31).

       

      The temple of God...

       

      That this is a literal temple is clear from the text, and has been understood as such by even the earliest Christians. “But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom.” (Irenaeus, writing in the late second century)

       

      The literal understanding of Paul’s words is also supported by the fact that when he wrote this letter, something similar to this almost happened in the recent past. “The recent attempt of Caligula to erect a statue of himself in the Temple at Jerusalem may have furnished a trait for Paul’s delineation of the future Deceiver; the fearful impiety of this outburst had sent a profound shock through Judaism, which would be felt by Jewish Christians as well.”

       

      He sits as God in the temple...

       

      The specific ancient Greek word for temple indicates the most holy place and not the temple as a whole. “It is not that he enters the temple precincts: he invades the most sacred place and there takes his seat. His action is itself a claim to deity.” (Morris) This is the ultimate blasphemy that results in certain judgment, the abomination of desolation spoken of by both Daniel and Jesus.

       

      The prophet Daniel told us the Antichrist will break his covenant with the Jews and bring sacrifice and offerings to an end; that the Antichrist will defile the temple by setting something abominable there (Daniel 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11).

       

      Jesus said to look for an abomination standing in the holy place, which would be the pivotal sign that the season of God’s wrath was upon the earth (Matthew 24:15-16 and 24:21).

       

      Showing himself that he is God...

       

      The man of sin is truly an Anti-Christ. Satan has planned the career of the man of sin to mirror the ministry of Jesus.

       

      · Both Jesus and the man of sin have a coming (2 Thessalonians 2:1 and 2:9).
      · Both Jesus and the man of sin are revealed (2 Thessalonians 1:7 and 2:3).
      · Both Jesus and the man of sin have a gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11).
      · Both Jesus and the man of sin say that they alone should be worshipped (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
      · Both Jesus and the man of sin have support for their claims by miraculous works (2 Thessalonians 2:9).

       

      Clearly, the man of sin is Satan’s parody of the true Messiah. Yet in the end, the man of sin can only show himself that he is God. The coming of Jesus and the judgment of God will make it clear that the man of sin is not God at all.

       

      Verses 5-8 tells us What RESTRAINS the coming of this man of sin.

       

      "Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming."

       

      When I was still with you I told you these things...

       

      Paul was only with the Thessalonians a few weeks (Acts 17:1-10). But Paul thought it important to teach these brand new Christians about Biblical prophecy, and he taught them in some detail.

       

      And now you know what is restraining...

       

      For now, Satan and the man of sin are being restrained. The principle of their working is now present (the mystery of lawlessness is already at work). But at the right time, the Holy Spirit (He who restrains) who restrains their full revelation will be taken out of the way.

       

      Taken out of the way...

       

      We should not think that the Holy Spirit would COMPLETELY leave the earth during the Great Tribulation. The Holy Spirit's RESTRAINING hand will be removed from the earth, but His Holy Spirit be present on the earth during the Great Tribulation because many are saved, sealed, and serve God during this period (Revelation 7:3-14 and 14:1-5), and this can’t happen without the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is taken out of the way, not removed.

       

      The mystery of lawlessness is already at work...

       

      This great principle of evil is already present in the world. It will be ultimately unveiled in the man of sin, but he does not introduce a new wickedness into the world, only an intensity of prior wickedness.

       

      Right now, this lawlessness is a mystery – that it is, it can only be seen and understood by revelation. Otherwise it is hidden. “It is not open sin and wickedness, but dissembled piety, specious errors, wickedness under a form of godliness cunningly managed, that is here meant.

       

      And then the lawless one will be revealed...

       

      Paul states TWO certain facts about the man of sin, here called the lawless one.

       

      FIRST, it is certain that the lawless one will THEN AND ONLY THEN be revealed when the Holy Spirit removes His restraint FROM THE EARTH.

       

      SECOND, it is certain that the lawless one will be destroyed by the mere brightness of Jesus at His coming.

       

      Paul probably has Isaiah 11:4 in mind: He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. The Isaiah passage refers to the Lord – to Yahweh – but Paul freely used it of Jesus, recognizing that Jesus is Yahweh.

       

      Whoever the man of sin is, he has not had his career yet. We know this because at the end of his career, the man of sin is destroyed by Jesus Christ Himself.

       

      Verses 9-12 tells us The character and strategy of the man of sin.

       

      "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

       

      The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan...

       

      The Antichrist will come with power, with signs and with lying wonders. But all of this is according to the working of Satan, as described in Revelation 13:13-17.

       

      If someone has spiritual power, signs, or wonders, those are not enough to prove they are from God. Satan can perform his own powerful works, either through deception or through his own resources of power.

       

      He is Satan’s messiah, an infernal caricature of the true messiah.

       

      Among those who perish...

       

      However, the deception can only take root in those who do not receive the love of the truth. These people are ready for the deception of the Antichrist, because they want a lie, and God will send them a strong delusion.

       

      God will send them...

       

      In the end, the Antichrist is only God’s messenger. God has judgment to bring, and He will send... a strong delusion through the Antichrist. God will not force this delusion on anyone, but those who do not receive & willingly & willfully REJECT the love of the truth IN JESUS CHRIST, will receive this strong delusion.

       

      That they should believe the lie...

       

      Specifically, God sends them the lie. This isn’t just any lie, but THE LIE, the lie that has enthralled the human race since Adam. This is the lie that God is not God, and that we are or can be gods.

       

      His point is that the last pseudo-Messiah or anti-Christ will embody all that is profane and blasphemous, every conceivable element of impiety; and that, instead of being repudiated, he will be welcomed by Jews as well as pagans.

       

      That they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness...

       

      As God gives rebellious man the lie he desires, it isn’t out of His generosity. Instead, it shows God’s judgment on those who reject the truth. As Romans 1 points out, in judgment God may give a man up to the depravity of his heart, to his pleasure in unrighteousness.

       

      They think that they are acting in defiance of Him. But in the end they find that those very acts in which they expressed their defiance were the vehicle of their punishment.

       

      Verses 13-14 tells us Encouragement for last days believers. Paul gives thanks for God’s work in the Thessalonians

       

      "But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."

       

      But we are bound to give thanks...

       

      Paul repeats his idea from 2 Thessalonians 1:3, that he was obligated to thank God for His work in the Thessalonians, in light of the greatness of that work.

       

      Brethren beloved by the Lord...

       

      Paul is first thankful that they are beloved by the Lord. God’s love for us is the primary motivation for all His work in and through us.

       

      Because God from the beginning chose you for salvation...

       

      Paul also praised the sovereign choice of God in bringing the Thessalonians to salvation. God’s choice was from the beginning. Before they chose God, He chose them, and He chose them for salvation through sanctification.

       

      From the beginning! Who shall compute the contents of the vast unknown abyss, which is comprehended in that phrase? The beginning of creation was preceded by the anticipation of Redemption, and the love of God to all who were one with Christ.

       

      Salvation through sanctification...

       

      The two go together. Those who claim to be chosen but lack evidence of sanctification (separation from the world and unto God) are on shaky ground. We can’t see if a person is chosen, but we can see if they are sanctified.

       

      By the Spirit and belief in the truth...

       

      God’s work of sanctification uses two great forces, the Spirit and the belief in the truth. The Spirit of God and the Word of God are essential to our sanctification.

       

      To which He called you by our gospel...

       

      The call for this salvation comes through the gospel, the Gospel Paul preached (we preach Christ crucified, 1 Corinthians 1:23), and the Gospel that will enable us to obtain the glory of Jesus.

       

      For the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ...

       

      This is the same glory John wrote of in 1 John 3:2 – we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

       

      Verse 15 tells us An exhortation to stand fast.

       

      "Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle."

       

      Therefore, brethren, stand fast...

       

      Therefore means that Paul wants us to consider what he has written up to this point. In this letter, he has given compelling reasons why Christians must stand fast and not be moved.

       

      · Stand fast because the current distress (the persecutions and tribulations described in 2 Thessalonians 1:4).
      · Stand fast because of the coming judgment of this world (in flaming fire taking vengeance, 2 Thessalonians 1:8).
      · Stand fast because of the strength of coming deception (all power, signs, and lying wonders, 2 Thessalonians 2:9).
      · Stand fast because of our glorious destiny (the glory of our Lord Jesus, 2 Thessalonians 2:14).

       

      Stand fast and hold the traditions...

       

      The command to stand fast implies a location, and this tells us what Christians must stand fast upon. They must keep standing on God’s Word, delivered both by the authoritative word of the apostles (by word) and the letters of the apostles (our epistle).

       

      Traditions...

       

      The Bible recognizes that traditions can be a dangerous feature of religious systems (Matthew 15:2-3) or the traditions of man (Colossians 2:8). But Paul has in mind the apostolic traditions preserved for us in the record of the New Testament.

       

      It is only this anchor of God’s Word that can enable us to stand fast under the weight of our present tribulation, and the weight of our coming glory.

       

      Verses 16-17 tells us A prayer for the Thessalonians.

       

      "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work."

       

      Who has loved us...

       

      Before Paul asked God to do something specific for the Thessalonians, he remembered all God had done for them. God has loved them, and gave them everlasting consolation and good hope by grace.

       

      In our intercession and petition, we do well to remember God’s past faithfulness and present blessing. His faithfulness in the past is a promise of His faithfulness for the future.

       

      Comfort your hearts and establish you...

       

      Paul asked God to do two things in the Thessalonian Christians. First, he wanted God to comfort their hearts. Second, he asked God to establish them in every good word and work. This prayer for comfort and continued testimony and work for Jesus is fitting in light of the special needs of believers under pressure.

       

      This is a prayer full of useful and important suggestions:

       

      · Jesus is ours.
      · God is our Father.
      · God has loved us.
      · God has given us much.
      · We have everlasting consolation.
      · It is all through grace.

       

      In every good word and work...

       

      There is some textual evidence that Paul originally put the order as every good work and word. Though this is a small difference, Charles Spurgeon saw an important distinction in the order, "Some Christian people think that ‘word’ should be everything and work nothing, but the Scriptures are not of their mind. These professors speak a great deal about what they will do, talk a great deal about what other people ought to do, and a great deal more about what others fail to do; and so they go on with word, word, word, and nothing else but word. They do not get as far as ‘work,’ but the apostle put work first in this case.”

       

    • July 15, 2018 11:56 AM EDT
    • 2 THESSALONIANS 3

       

      OPENS WITH...GUIDANCE FOR CHURCH LIFE

       

      Verses 1-2 tells us Paul’s Prayer requested and given.

       

      "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith."

       

      Finally, brethren, pray for us...

       

      Paul constantly asked other Christians to pray for him (Romans 15:30, 2 Corinthians 1:11, Ephesians 6:18-19, Philippians 1:19, Colossians 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:25, and Philemon 1:22). Paul knew that the success of his ministry in some measure depended on the prayers of God’s people.

       

      SPURGEON adds, "You cannot tell how much God’s servants are helped by the prayers of his people. The strongest man in Israel will be the better for the prayers of the weakest saint in Israel.”

       

      That the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified...

       

      Paul’s great concern – what he first asked the Thessalonian Christians to pray for – was that God’s Word be free to do its work among others, even as it had among the Thessalonians (just as it is with you).

       

      Paul asked for prayer so that the Word can run freely, without any hindrance. Paul’s prayer request makes us wonder how often the work of God’s Word is hindered by our prayerlessness.

       

      God has promised that His Word would be free and perform its work...

       

      It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11). But as with many of God’s promises, we are expected to take this promise in faith, and in prayer, to ask God to perform the promise for HIS GLORY and NOT our own glory.

       

      That we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men...

       

      These were those who wanted to hinder the work of the gospel. Paul wanted God to either deliver him from such men, or change them into reasonable and godly men.

       

      Verses 3-5 tells us Paul’s confidence in the Lord and prayer for the Thessalonians.

       

      "But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you. Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ."

       

      But the Lord is faithful...

       

      Even if not all men have faith, the Lord is faithful. This was the basis of Paul’s confidence in God’s ability to establish and guard us from the evil one.

       

      WE ALL NEED TO HIGHLIGHT THESE VERSES & REMEMBER THEM EVERY DAY.

       

      God promised to keep Satan on a leash. He will not allow any temptation to become too great for us (1 Corinthians 10:13), and will not allow Satan to do whatever he wants with us (Luke 22:31-32).

       

      And we have confidence in the Lord...

       

      Paul was also confident (in the Lord) regarding the Thessalonians themselves, that they would follow through and be obedient to God’s Word (that you do and will do the things we command you). This shows that God’s work of establishing and guarding us is done, in part, through His appeal to our will in obeying His Word.

       

      God doesn’t just pour spiritual maturity and stability into us. He works it in us through our cooperation with His will.

       

      Now may the Lord direct your hearts...

       

      Towards this end, Paul wisely prayed for both love and patience (endurance) for the Thessalonian Christians. These were two qualities essential for the kind of spiritual stability and strength the Thessalonians needed.

       

      Verse 6 tells us Instructions for the strength and purity of the church. The command to withdraw from the disorderly.

       

      "But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us."

       

      But we command you...

       

      The strength of this statement is plain. It was not only a command, but it was also made in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

       

      That you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly...

       

      Paul defined the disorderly as those who did not walk according to the tradition (the pattern of teaching and living) Paul and the apostles gave to them.

       

      Churches should never withdraw from someone because he fails to conform to MAN'S rites, rituals, traditions or teachings. The only standard to uphold is JESUS WORD, tradition and teaching.

       

      Withdraw from every brother...

       

      Paul had already told the Thessalonians to warn the unruly (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Apparently, the problem still remained in some measure, so he told them to now discipline the unruly ones in question.

       

      The purpose in withdrawing from these disobedient was not so much punishment, but more so simply to deny these disobedient ones the aid and comfort of the fellowship of the body of Christ until they repented. It put them out of the church into the “domain” of Satan (the world), in hope that they might miss the fellowship of the church so much they would repent of their disobedience.

       

      Paul echoed the same idea in 1 Corinthians 5:4-5. The purpose was to bring about repentance and salvation in the disobedient ones, not to condemn or **** them.

       

      In an indirect way, Paul showed that his vision for the church was that it should be such a place of love and comfort that one would genuinely feel sad and sorry to be excluded from the church. Churches today should also fit that description.

       


      Verses 7-9 tells us Paul describes the life displayed by the apostolic tradition.

       

      "For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us."

       

      For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us...

       

      Paul was an excellent example among the Thessalonians, in that he worked hard to support his own needs. This wasn’t because apostles like Paul didn’t have the right to request support. Instead, it was because he wanted to set a good example of hard work and prove false any accusation that he preached the Gospel for personal gain.

       

      To make ourselves an example of how you should follow us...

       

      Therefore, the Thessalonians should follow Paul in his example of both hard work and willingness to sacrifice for the furtherance and integrity of the Gospel.

       

      Verse 10 tells us Paul describes the teaching presented by the apostolic tradition.

       

      "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat."

       

      If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat...

       

      Simply put, Paul says that if anyone will not work (instead of can not work), neither shall he eat. God’s plan is to provide for our needs through our work.

       

      Neither shall he eat...

       

      Since God is able to provide through our needs in any manner imaginable, it means something that He has chosen (for the most part) to meet our needs through work. This is part of God’s character, because He is a busy God and always at work.

       


      Verses 11-13 tells us Paul applies the apostolic tradition to the situation among the Thessalonians.

       

      "For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good."

       

      There are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner...

       

      The idleness of some had become a source of sin. It was not only because of the work that they didn’t do, but also because of the harm they did do with their idle time (but are busybodies).

       

      There is a play on words between the ancient Greek phrasing in the lines not working at all and but are busybodies. The idea is something like “busybodies who do no business.”

       

      Perhaps these busybodies thought that if Jesus was coming soon, it made no sense to work. It would then be easy for them to intrude into the lives of others and take advantage of Christian generosity.

       

      CALVIN adds, "It is the inactive drones whom Paul is berating – those who live by the sweat of others while they themselves do nothing for the common good to help the human race, such as our monks and priests who acquire ample dimensions by their inactivity."

       

      Now those who are such we command...

       

      With authority, through our Lord Jesus, Paul commanded these busybodies to work, to get out of the business of others (in quietness) and to provide for their own needs (eat their own bread) instead of expecting other Christians to provide for them.

       

      HERE IS A LESSON FOR US TODAY. WE ARE TO HELP THE PROVEN TRULY NEEDY IN THEIR MOMENTS OF TRUE NEED, BUT WE ARE TO ALSO HELP THEM BY ENCOURAGING & FINDING THEM WORK. WE ARE NEVER TO ENCOURAGE, OR SUPPORT THOSE WHO REFUSE TO WORK, AND EXPECT TO SIT BACK AND HAVE EVERYTHING HANDED TO THEM.

       

      The early church did provide for the TRULY needy among them, but only after being certain that they were truly needy and after putting them to work for the church (1 Timothy 5:3-16).

       

      Paul FORBIDS the Thessalonians to encourage their laziness by indulging it, and teaches that it is those who proved themselves with the necessities of life by honourable and useful work that lead a life of holiness.

       

      Do not grow weary in doing good...

       

      This was a proper encouragement for those who were working as they should. Few things are more WEARYING AND TAXING TO OUR GIVING HEARTS AND LIVES than seeing others take advantage of Christian generosity. But we should never let the manipulations of some discourage us from doing good to the truly needy.

       

      The older King James Version has this, be not weary in well doing. There is plenty of well-wishing in the world. Well-resolving, well-suggesting, and well-criticizing are also found in plenty. Many people are good at well-talking, but there is not enough of simple well doing.

       

      JUST AS JESUS ASKED THE LAME MAN, "DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE ASKING OF ME?" WHAT JESUS MEANT IS THIS: THAT MAN HAD MADE A LIVING OFF OF THE KINDNESS AND GENEROSITY OF OTHERS. WHEN JESUS HEALED HIM, HE WOULD LOSS HIS BEGGAR'S LICENSE AND HE WOULD NO LONGER BE ABLE TO BEG AND DEPEND ON OTHERS FOR HIS LIFE. HE WOULD HAVE TO WORK, HE WOULD HAVE TO EARN HIS OWN WAY.

       

      There are many excuses one might make to allowing weariness in doing good, but they should all be rejected.

       

      · “It takes so much effort to keep doing good” – but you will extend effort towards the things of the world.
      · “It takes so much self-denial to keep doing good” – but it is worth it when we consider the reward.
      · “It just brings me persecution to do good” – but your persecutions are nothing compared to that which others have suffered.
      · “People don’t respond and there are little results when I do good” – but remember how slow you were to respond to Jesus Christ.
      · “It doesn’t earn much gratitude when I do good” – but God sends many blessings even to those who do not thank or appreciate Him.

       

      Verses 14-15 tells us More on how to deal with the disobedient.

       

      "And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."

       

      And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle...

       

      Here, Paul finished the thought introduced at 2 Thessalonians 3:6. He here elaborates on what it means to withdraw from a brother as mentioned previously.

       

      Note that person and do not keep company with him...

       

      To withdraw means to note that person, and to not keep company with him, with the purpose of causing him to be ashamed. Yet, the purpose is not to make him an enemy of the church, but through the severity of the withdrawal from fellowship, to warn and admonish him as an erring brother.

       

      Verses 16-18 tells us Conclusion to the letter.

       

      "Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all. The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every epistle; so I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."

       

      Now may the Lord of peace...

       

      Paul’s blessing of peace (always in every way) was appropriate for this church experiencing both persecution and tribulation. It is the presence of the Lord of peace that will grant them this peace.

       

      SPURGEON says it well, “I want to call particular attention to the apostle’s words in this place. He does not say ‘May the Lord of peace send his angel to give you peace.’ It were a great mercy if he did, and we might be as glad as Jacob was at Mahanaim, when the angels of God met him. He does not even say, ‘May the Lord of peace send his minister to give you peace.’ If he did we might be as happy as Abraham when Melchizedec refreshed him with bread and wine. He does not even say, ‘May the Lord of peace at the communion table, or in reading the word, or in prayer, or in some other sacred exercise give you peace.’ In all these we might well be as refreshed... but he says ‘the Lord of peace himself give you peace,’ as if he alone in his own person could give peace, and as if his presence were the sole means of such a divine peace as he desires.”

       

      The salutation of Paul with my own hand...

       

      As was his custom, Paul himself wrote the final words of the epistle with his own hand. This was both a personal demonstration of affection, and proof that the letter was authentic (a sign in every epistle).

       

      The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all...

       

      For Paul, God’s grace was the beginning and the end of the Christian life. It was appropriate that this letter – and most – of his letters began and ended with a mention of grace.