2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
Stephen Caswell © 2000
Second Coming of Christ
The primitive church thought more about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ than about death or about heaven. The early Christians were looking not for a cleft in the ground called a Grave but for a cleavage in the sky called Glory. They were not watching for the undertaker but for the uppertaker. -- Alexander Maclaren
In 2 Thessalonians ch 1 we saw how Paul encouraged the Thessalonians in their trials through praise, promises and prayer. In chapter 2 he corrects their misunderstanding about the day of Christ and the revelation of Antichrist. The Thessalonians had received a letter supposedly from Paul claiming that the Day of the Lord had begun. Paul corrected this lie with the truth. The purpose of Bible prophecy is not for us to make a calendar, but to build character. The blessed hope should spur us on to godly living not lead us into retirement. Paul describes for us three major events in God's prophetic timetable. They are:
I. The Rapture Of The Church
II. The Revelation Of Antichrist
III.The Return Of Jesus Christ
Firstly The Rapture Of The Church
2 Thessalonians 2:1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, Paul gave the Thessalonians both correction and comfort.
To calm the Thessalonians down, Paul started by assuring them that the Church would be taken out before the Day of Christ began. Paul had given them much detail about this in his first letter. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 gives many details about the rapture. The word coming parousia means presence, advent, arrival or coming. This describes the time when Jesus Christ returns for His Church. Paul says that we will be gathered together unto Him. The word gathered together ejpisunagwgh" means to assemble together, to meet for worship. The Lord will gather together all believers to Himself in the clouds. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 refers to this:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. The rapture will gather all Christians together unto Christ. They will never be parted after this.
2 Thessalonians 2:2 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.
Paul assured the Thessalonians that they would be gathered unto Christ before the Day of the Lord began He then told them not to be shaken. In other words, they should be steadfast in the Blessed hope. The teaching they had previously received from Paul was correct. The false teaching about the day of Lord had shaken their solid faith in God's Word. The letter supposedly from Paul and the instruction of false teachers was to be rejected. God's Word was certain. They had no reason to be concerned about the Day of the Lord.
Illustration From A Jewish Wedding
In Hebrew culture certain protocols were observed at weddings. An engagement period culminated with the wedding ceremony. The bridegroom prepared a house for his bride during this time. The bride knew that the wedding ceremony was approaching but not exactly when it would take place. When the bridegrooms father was satisfied that the house was ready and everything was in order he would send the groom to her house. The groom would then collect the bride and bring her to their new home where the wedding feast took place.
In the same way the Church is the bride of Christ. Jesus Christ is our Heavenly Bridegroom. He is engaged to His bride and has given her an engagement ring, the Holy Spirit. After He returned to heaven Jesus built a place for His bride, even as He said He would. When everything is in order the Father will send Christ to earth to collect His bride. He will take her to heaven where we will celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Are you looking for Jesus' return? Will you be caught up to Christ in the clouds at the rapture? The rapture could happen at any time. Are you ready? Have you given your heart to the Savior? Or will you be left behind? It will be too late to receive Him when He comes.
Secondly The Revelation Of Antichrist
Paul now gives details about the revelation of Antichrist. He presents a timetable for Antichrist and details of his reign. God is sovereign and He will not allow Antichrist to appear until His appointed time.
a. His Rise To Power
2 Thessalonians 2:3a Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first,
1. Apostasy First
Paul says, that the Day will not come unless the falling away happens first. The words falling away ajpostasia means rebellion, abandonment, apostasy, defection from the truth, to forsake. Apostasy describes people who have departed from the truth. The same word is used in 1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. We can see apostasty everywhere today. Many prominent Church leaders deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Others claim that there are many ways to God, Jesus is not the only way as He claimed.
The Holy Spirit does not inspire this sort of teaching. This is the work of deceiving spirits. These are the doctrines of demons. How have these errors come into the Church? They have come in because people lack knowledge. Most Christians don't test what is being taught with God's word. They don't follow God's warnings given in 1 John 4:1-2. Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, The result is departure from the true faith!
2. Ascension Second
2 Thessalonians 2:3b-5 and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
After the apostasy of the Christian Church, Christ will come for His people. Luke 18:8 b Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Christ would not have said this unless there was going to be a falling away. Following the apostasy and the rapture of the Church, Antichrist will ascend to rule the world. Paul calls him the man of sin, the son of perdition. These are fitting titles since he will encourage iniquity to abound. However sin receives its punishment described here as perdition. Perdition ajpwleia means destruction or ruin. Antichrist is literally a son of destruction. He will cause the ruin of millions of people including himself. Judas Iscariot is given the same title in John 17:12.
Antichrist will oppose and exalt himself as God. Interestingly the prefix anti means against and instead of. This is very fitting because the Antichrist opposes God and His Christ. He resists the truth and will make war against God's people. The Antichrist also tries to take the place of God. He enters the temple in Jerusalem and sits as God in the most holy place of the temple. He stops the sacrifices from being offered to God and then commands people to worship him instead. Daniel calls this the abomination of desolation. Satan has always wanted to be worshipped, ever since he lead a rebellion in heaven. Through the rule of Antichrist he will receive worship from billions of people in the world. But not all. God has reserved a remnant that will turn to Him during the tribulation. Millions will be saved.
b. His Restraint At Present
2 Thessalonians 2:6-8a 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
Why hasn't Satan brought forth his man of sin before now? I am sure that he has tried many times starting with Nimrod. God has prevented Him from doing this until now because He desires to save people. He has restrained Satan's wickedness through His Holy Spirit. Right now, there is no doubt that Satan is trying to set up a one world government. This New World Order led by the Antichrist will institute a one world economy and one world religion. But at the present the Holy Spirit is restraining him. God may be using the Church to aid this also. After the rapture the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit will be removed from the world. Then Satan will reveal the lawless one, his Antichrist.
c. His Results From Preaching
1. Deceptive Works
2 Thessalonians 2:9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,
Paul now describes the work of Antichrist. Antichrist will perform many miraculous signs on the earth. Because Satan works with him he will have great power. No one will be able to stand against him. Revelation chapters 13 to 17 describe his reign. John calls him the beast. He will make a peace treaty with Israel for 7 years. He displays incredible power, working all kinds of miracles, even calling down fire from heaven. Revelation 13:1, 2b-4 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshipped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?”
Satan is the master deceiver and this will be his greatest deception yet. Paul calls his miracles lying wonders. The miracles are genuine but they lead people into bondage and destruction. The miracles of the Antichrist are but an imitation of the miracles of Jesus Christ. Christ's miracles lead people to believe in Himself and be saved. Antichrist's miracles will lead his followers to believe the lie and be destroyed. He will force people to take his mark and worship him. Those who refuse won't be able to buy or sell. They will go hungry. Many will be killed for refusing to worship the Antichrist. His miraculous works will deceive billions.
2. Deceptive Words
2 Thessalonians 2:10-11 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
Paul now climaxes the results of Antichrists reign. Make no mistake, the Antichrist will be a world class statesmen. His words will seem to be as smooth as silk. He will deceive people with wonderful speeches. He will cause them to believe the lie. What is the lie that has been foisted upon mankind since the beginning? You shall be as gods. Satan tried to be like God when he rebelled against God. Then he offered the same thing to Eve in the garden. He has offered this same lie to men through out the ages. Some have believed him down the ages. In the Tribulation most of the world will wonder after the beast and his teaching. This is the teaching the new age movement. You are gods. As gods, you can do as you want, you aren't accountable to anyone. Is it any wonder lawlessness will cover the earth at that time?
At election time the various candidates canvass the community seeking support from the voters. They give speeches outlining their policies. They make promises to improve things. They promise they will fix health, education, aged care and unemployment. You have to weigh up what they say and make a choice. You can't vote for all the politicians. You have to choose who you think is honest and will do the best job. Then you give them your vote. The same is true when Antichrist reigns. People will have to make a choice. It is not God's fault if they make the wrong one. If people reject the truth then they must believe the lie. There is no other option. Because they don't receive God's word He will allow them to believe the lie.
Will you have to go through the Great Tribulation because you don't know Christ? Will you have to endure the fury of the Antichrist? Will you have to deal with his lies and deception?
Thirdly The Return Of Jesus Christ
a. Judgment Of Antichrist
2 Thessalonians 2:8 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 Jesus Christ returns He will punish the Antichrist. Paul says that Christ will consume him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him with His glorious appearing. The word consume ajnalivskw means to use up, destroy or consume. The word destroy katargevw means to render idle or useless, to do away with, to destroy, to bring to nought, to put away. However in the context of this passage both words cannot mean annihilation or destruction. Rather they mean that God will put him away, bring his work to nothing. Certainly God will punish the Antichrist and bring his rule to an end. But Christ will not annihilate him.
Revelation 19:20; 20:10 Gives us more details here. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. One thousand years later Satan joins them there. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
b. Judgment Of Unsaved
2 Thessalonians 2:12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
All the followers of the Antichrist will be condemned. They're not condemned for being deceived by him but for rejecting the truth. For refusing to believe what God has said. Jesus said that this would happen. John 5:43 “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. If people reject the Son of God they will have to receive the Son of perdition. The result is condemnation. The word condemned krivnw means to punish, to avenge, to damn, to sentence. People who take pleasure in wickedness will be condemned to hell. They wouldn't feel comfortable in heaven anyway. A holy God dwells there and righteousness abounds. Only the elect angels and saints will dwell with God forever. Jesus Christ will condemn all who reject His offer of salvation.
Revelation 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Because the Thessalonians had believed the Gospel they had hope. They would not receive God's wrath but be delivered from the Great Tribulation. Therefore Paul commands them to stand firm and hold the teaching that they had received from him. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-16 tells us that they believed the Gospel and therefore were chosen by God for salvation. Are you ready for Christ's return? Have you believed In Jesus Christ? Has He washed your sins away? Or will you believe the lie and be damned because you have rejected the truth? Your eternal destiny rests with your decision. What will you do with Jesus Christ the Savior?
Tonight we have seen God's program for the end of the world. Paul lists three major events.
I. The Rapture Of The Church
The Christians hope rests in the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ our Heavenly Bridegroom will soon come back for His Bride. We will return to heaven with Him to celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb. Will you be caught up at the rapture? Or will you be left behind? Christ will only take His own. He knows who they are they have been born again of the Holy Spirit. He is their engagement ring. Do you have this sure hope?
II. The Revelation Of Antichrist
For non Christians the future is bleak. They will be left behind at the rapture. They will then see the Antichrist rise to power. He will deceive most of the world with miraculous signs and lying wonders. He will be worshipped by the world as they take his mark and are condemned forever. Will this be your fate for rejecting the truth now?
III.The Return Of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ will not allow the Antichrist to rule for long. Christ will come back again after seven years and condemn Him to hell forever. Those who follow him will be cast into hell with him. Will this be your fate for rejecting your Savior? Can I urge you to give your life to Christ now. Won't you trust in Him now and receive His grace and forgiveness? Amen!
Titus 2:13-14 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Amen