The Expository Files

 Don't Be Troubled By Speculative Propaganda; Stand Fast!

2 Thessalonians 2:1-2


"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 the Christ had come."

The above statement must be understood in the setting of all the New Testament says about the church of the Thessalonians. This church was composed of people converted out of paganism (1 Thess. 1:9), but who had displayed remarkable growth (1 Thess. 1:3; 2 Thess. 1:3).

There was a troubling issue, first introduced in 1 Thess. 5. "But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night," (1 Thess. 5:1,2). Apparently, some in Thessalonica were troubled by speculative propaganda about final events.

In the second chapter of the second epistle (in the opening statement quoted above), Paul bring up this issue again. The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, "and our gathering together to Him" is a future event obedient believers long for, though we do not know when it will happen. What we know is, "when He comes, in that Day," He will be "glorified in His saints," and "admired among all those who believe," (2 Thess. 1:10). For those who do not take God seriously (therefore, do not obey the gospel), it will be a time of "flaming fire." Paul said, "These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power," (2 Thess. 1:9). "When He comes," it will be glorious for us, but horrific for the disobedient. An event of this spectacular and certain impact, should not be influenced by the speculations of men.

So Paul said: "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." He is urging the brethren in Thessalonica to be calm when they hear various things circulating; to not be shaken. Beyond verse two, Paul explains that "that day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition," (2 Thess. 2:3).

Paul's main point is that the day of the Lord cannot be here already, because that day will not come until two other things happen: The Falling Away, and the Man of Sin Revealed. "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," (v.3). I believe this passage to be a reference to the rebellion against God that led to the Roman Catholic institution and papal idolatry in particular; others connect this with Roman Emperor Worship. But even without assigning historical connection, the main point in this context is - Don't let anyone tell you that the Second Coming has already happened! That day will not come until after this massive apostasy.

The fundamental theme of every apostasy is, opposition to God expressed in "lawlessness," (see verse 7). Those who lead people away from the faith never say they are doing that. This is not admitted, advertised or acknowledged. But at the core of every apostasy, there is this common theme - opposition to God expressed in lawlessness; exalting man above God (see also, Isa. 14:13-14 and Ezek. 28:2).

One thing we need to learn from this: It is essential to know the difference between Scripture and Speculation. What men say, however passionate, should never be the object of my faith and practice. What men say, even if said by many, should not cause me to change my convictions. My faith, practice, teaching and zeal should be derived from Scripture. Or, as stated later in 2 Thessalonians 2 - "belief in the truth."

Another lesson to learn from the text is that we must be certain we do not share, participate in, or be deceived by any opposition to God. Apostasy amounts to opposition to God expressed in lawlessness. The outbreak of apostasy in your heart is conquered so long as you "stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle," (2 Thess. 2:15).

By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 9-4; April 2002

 

 

 

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