Monday, December 17, 2012

Paul's Letter - Take 2

2nd Thessalonians is the second letter that Paul, Silas and Timothy together wrote to the Thessalonians. Paul and his friends had received some feedback after their first letter had reached the church in Thessalonica. It seemed that the Thessalonians still needed someone to teach them about certain things and had not understood some of what was in the first letter. This second letter clears up some stuff.

Because they now trust in the Lord Jesus, the Thessalonians must expect some persecution. However, God has a purpose and a plan in allowing them to suffer. He will reward them.

Paul, Silas, and Timothy have written to give them strength and encouragement. The Thessalonians must have had some weird ideas about the return of Christ, though. In fact, it seems that some said that the Lord had already come. Not so. Let’s look at 2nd Thessalonians 2: 1-2:

 1 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.

Looks like some thought that the Lord would come at any moment. The return of the Lord will be sudden, but there are things that must happen preceding His return. Here’s 2nd Thessalonians 2:3-12:

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.

Some of these Thessalonian Christians were, apparently, lazy. They had given up their jobs. They thought that Jesus’ return was eminent and now they depended on their friends to keep them housed and fed. Paul had mentioned this in the first letter (1st Thessalonians 5:14) and now he tells them what they should do to these people who refuse to work: (2nd Thess. 3:10) No work, no food. That’s quite a warning against idleness! But at least it ends on a pleasant note (vs. 13): never tire of doing what is good.
(taken in part from CROSSING THE SCRIPTURES)