Apostasy And The Anomiast
I am reminded, Lord, that even when I am tempted, Your grace is all I need. Even in my weakness, Your strength can be discerned.
Read 2 THESSALONIANS 2
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 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. 4 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.
5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 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. 8 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. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
New International Version (NIV)
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“Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come” (1 John 2:18, ESV).
Paul’s concern for eschatology continues. As in our times, when people engage in apocalyptic speculation, some are spreading rumors that the end has come or is imminent. Paul’s word is thus: take no notice of such nonsense, much has to happen first. This is a hotly contested passage, but it seems clear that Paul is giving further important details concerning Jesus’ second coming (cf. 1 Thess. 4:3—5:10; 2 Thess. 1:6–12).
Before the Parousia there must be a rebellion, an apostasyía engineered by Satan against God and goodness. Linked to this is the revelation of a particular “man of lawlessness” (anomia, hence anomiast, meaning “lawless one”), destined for eternal destruction (cf. Matt. 24:3–28; Rev. 13). He is a complete secularist, rejecting all religion. Yet, he exalts himself as god, calling to mind the ancient deification of rulers like the Caesars. Although something/someone unspecified is restraining him in the present (perhaps God and his Spirit?), it will be removed. He is the personification of Satan, evil, performing false signs and deceiving the lost. The good news is that Jesus will destroy him at his coming (cf. 2 Thess. 1). As elsewhere, this is not written to cause endless debate but to encourage the Thessalonians and us.
Paul finishes with prayer, beginning with gratitude (again!). He assures them that they (we) are God’s elect, called through the Gospel for salvation (not destruction), attaining to Christ’s glory, and for sanctification—by the Spirit’s power. So, we can “stand firm” (15), holding fast to the Gospel whatever the opposition. Why? Because God and his Son love us and comfort us in the Gospel. So, yet again, he will fill us with hope and grace and will comfort us and establish us—whatever we face, if only we, like Paul, ask. So, trusting him, we can keep going in every good work and word. This we pursue, until Jesus comes. Maranatha—“Come, Lord!” (1 Cor. 16:22).
How does this passage on Christ’s Second Coming, and all that will precede it, make you feel? How do you think Paul would have wanted you to feel?
Dear Father, I need the hope and encouragement that only You can give. You love me, and fill me with Your grace, so I can continue trusting You.