The Keys To Understanding The Book Of Second Thessalonians
Key Studies In Second Thessalonians
1. THE CHURCH THAT PLEASES GOD
In our study of First Thessalonians we saw that Paul taught the imminent return of our Lord and quieted the fears of the believers regarding their departed loved ones and friends. Chapter 4:16,17: "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout,...and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." The First Epistle deals with the Second Coming in relation to the Body of Christ, the True and Faithful Bible Believing Church.
In the Second Epistle Paul puts a stop to mistaken views about Christ's coming. It refers to the coming of our Lord after the Great Tribulation Period when He returns to the earth to set up His kingdom. Paul teaches regarding this event that the apostasy will occur and the man of sin be revealed, even Antichrist. The Second Epistle deals with the Second Coming in relation to the world and the foes of the true church.
In Chapter 1 verses 1 and 2 we see Paul and his two companions sending greetings "unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." The risen Lord still speaks to the churches through His chosen leaders. And what our Lord says we must do.
In verses 3 and 4 Paul points out how thankful he was for this church and he gives 3 reasons:
First, the Christians were growing in their faith;
Second, their love for one another was abounding;
Third, they remained faithful in the face of persecution.
The apostle never used flattery, but he took pleasure in speaking well of the believers. It is a great blessing when The True And Faithful Bible Believing Christians can praise the Lord for one another. It is so much easier to notice the faults of others and to speak of their failures. If you are in a sound and True Bible Believing Church and have a faithful and True Bible Believing Pastor, praise the Lord for it, and for every evidence of the True Holy Spirit's working.
The Thessalonian believers were growing in the Lord. Personal faith is nourished and sustained when the truth of God's Word is accepted and applied. The words "groweth exceedingly" (vs.3), means that their faith was growing and there was no stopping it. Every True Christian should grow daily through the reading of the Word, by prayer, and by being a True and faithful witness for the Lord Jesus.
In verse 4 Paul says: "So that we ourselves glory in you...for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure." The Thessalonians were perfect examples of what all True Christians should be when confronted with opposition. We are prone to question the Lord's dealings with us and to ask, "What have I done to deserve this?" Beloved, God is perfectly just to refine our faith and strengthen our patience through daily trials and many pressures. But He has promised to bring us through as victors. We are saved by His grace, and this same grace will see us through our sufferings and enable us to be faithful and to bring glory to His Name.
In verse 5 we read that the sufferings of the Thessalonians believers were "a manifest token of the righteous judgement of God." Their many trials were the means of purifying their affections and desires and strengthening their faith. As true Christians, we must judge ourselves, for sin is just as wrong in the life of the professing believer as it is in the life of the unsaved. We must live a holy life before the Lord and before the world. Nothing hinders Bible truth today more than the compromising lives of so many false, apostate or counterfeit Christians.
In verses 6-10 the Apostle points out that Jesus will one day deal effectively with the enemies of righteousness. These are those that "know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." To obey the gospel means to accept the gospel which is based on the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those who do not obey the gospel are those who reject Christ. All Christ rejectors are enemies of God and of all righteousness, and if they continue as such, they will one day be the objects of His wrath and consigned to an eternal Hell.
In verses 7-8 Paul says that "...the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God." The word "revealed" is the word "revelation" when He shall come and be unveiled before the whole world. This is not the Rapture, but the Revelation which follows the period of the Great Tribulation.
It is going to be a very serious day when the Lord returns from Heaven with His mighty angels to execute judgement upon the world of apostates and unbelievers. It will be a fire judgement. God promised after the flood of Noah's day that He would never again destroy the earth by water. But He is going to deal with all Christ rejectors with fire. Hell is a place of torment and fire - forever.
In Revelation 20 we have the final picture of all the unsaved dead as they stand before God in judgement. We read that the books will be opened to recount the way in which each person lived while here upon the earth and to give the true relationship each one had with the Lord. Then the Book of Life will be opened, which is the Lamb's book of life. "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:15).
I often hear people say, "Why, I thought God was a God of love. How could He put sinners in a lake of fire?" The answer is found in 2 Thessalonians 1:6: "Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you."
Notice this carefully - if you are not TRULY SAVED, you are an enemy of God. Our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, is constantly holding His arms of redeeming love out to you. He is inviting you to seek first the kingdom of God, and then all things for time and eternity will be added to you. If you insist upon rejecting Christ as your own personal Saviour, If you are living a life of sin: - rebellion and disobedience, then justice must take over, and justice will demand your everlasting punishment. The choice to accept or reject Christ is up to you.
Paul concludes this chapter with the following prayer requests for the True Thessalonian believers: "Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil 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 ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ" (vss. 11-12).
First, he prayed that God would make them worthy of His calling and that their lives would be led by the Holy Spirit. His second request was that God would "fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness" so that they might live to please the Lord. Yes, and he prayed for the work of faith and power.
How we need greater faith today! If we are going to accomplish great things for our Lord we must step out by faith. Many times Christians aim low and they generally hit what they shoot at. Do we believe God can save souls today? Do we believe He can enable us to do His work without going into debt? Do we believe God can supply all our need "according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus"? Do we believe that His grace is sufficient? Do we believe that the promises of God are yea, and amen in Christ Jesus? Do we believe that marriages which are breaking up can be saved? Do we believe the Lord is able to provide the needed job? Do you walk in direct obedience to the True Word Of God? What we need is faith in a supernatural God to do even the impossible.
Paul's final request was "That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him" (vs. 12). As the Holy Spirit works in us and has His way, then gradually but surely we shall be conformed to the image of our Saviour. Unless Christ is glorified in His true believers He will not be glorified in the world. We are His portion, His inheritance, and we are to glorify Him before men even as Christ glorified the Father while He was here upon the earth. The coming of the Lord Jesus Christ at the rapture will complete the glorification of theTrue Saints, which is called "the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23).
2. APOSTASY AND THE MAN OF SIN
Paul's Second Epistle to the Thessalonians was written to correct error. Due to their afflictions and persecutions some of the believers thought the Great Tribulation had already arrived. Now Paul writes to remind them, and us, that before the Day of the Lord there will come a time of great apostasy.
In Chapter 2:1-12 the Apostle points out four important facts regarding the coming of the Lord.
(1) False teachers would arise to turn The True Christians away from the truth and towards a counterfeit - False Christianity
(2) There would be great apostasy - a falling away - led by these false teachers
(3) The coming Antichrist would be revealed in all his wickedness.
(4) The Temple in Jerusalem would be rebuilt before Christ returns.
1. Paul warns them of false teachers. "Now we beseech you, brethren,...That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand" (vss. 1-2). Even as the Thessalonians were shaken in mind because of false teaching, so today different views of the Second Coming are shaking up the Lord's people. Some teach that the Lord has already come; others say that He will come on a certain date. The Bible is clear, however, that the Rapture may take place at any moment and only then will the Great Tribulation period begin.
2. Paul also warns of great apostasy. Verse 3: "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that today shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." The Greek word for "falling away" is apostasia meaning apostasy, which is a defection, a revolt against the True faith, a rejection of Bible truth. That day is now upon us.
There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that there will be a world-wide revival before the Lord's return. There is no such thing as winning the world by the year 2000 and presenting it to Jesus. No, before the Lord's return apostasy will be world-wide and the Christian faith under great attack.
This Spirit of Antichrist is at work today in the New Age Movement, in the doing away with the Bibles in the schools, in the modern Bible versions (perversions) that change or omit 5000 words or verses, in the open persecution of Christians who stand for the literal interpretation of God's Word. Jesus said in Luke 18:8: "When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?"
When I started preaching fifty years ago there was not the sociology, psychology, or social gospel that we have now. The True Word was preached exactly as it is: Heaven and Hell were proclaimed, salvation through the blood of Christ was explained, proper water Baptism was taught and practised, obedience to the Holy Word of God was taught, separation from the world was upheld. Today it is different and far too many professing Christians are going along with the tide and are being taken up with personalities rather than with the Word of God.
3. Another event regarding the Day of the Lord will be the revelation of Antichrist. Verse 6 tells us of One (the Holy Spirit) who is holding back the tide of evil lest it take full control. Verses 3-12 give certain facts concerning Antichrist:
(1) He is the man of lawlessness and the increase of lawlessness throughout the world today is preparing for him to come and take over.
(2) He takes the place of God and will be worshipped as God.
(3) He will imitate the power of God (vs. 9) by being supernaturally empowered by Satan.
(4) He is a deceiver (vs. 10). He will lead many to believe he is Christ. "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (vss. 11-12).
(5) Jesus will have the last say. Speaking of the Antichrist, verse 8 says: "And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming." This will take place at the final battle of Armageddon when our Lord shall cast him into the Lake of Fire burning with brimstone (Rev. 19:20).
4. The Temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt before our Lord returns to this earth (2 Thess. 2:4). During the Great Tribulation Period the Antichrist will set himself up as God in the Temple of God, and the multitudes will worship him. We know from news reports today that there is a great interest right now in the rebuilding of the Temple. Three times a day faithful Jews pray this prayer: "May it be Thy will that the Temple be speedily rebuilt in our days."
Paul continues this chapter in verse 13 by giving thanks for the Thessalonians: "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."
What a blessing to know that we are saved from the condemnation of sin and will not have to endure the damnation of Hell. We are called to share the Saviour's glory, not the Antichrist's shame. Those who are truly born again will not be deceived by the Antichrist. They are kept by the power of God. Heaven is the gift of God for all true believers and not just a glorious reward to a faithful few. We are chosen in Christ. "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain" (John 15:16). All true believers have chosen the Lord but the Lord has chosen us first. Natural man does not seek after God (Romans 3:11).
Paul's final exhortation to the Thessalonians is that they stand fast (vs. 15). Yes, and "hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." I believe in standing fast to the traditions of the true Word of God. We have the tradition of salvation through the precious blood and we desire no substitute for the blood. We have the tradition of the True Holy Bible as in the KJV and we want no other versions that water down its truths. We have the tradition of living daily by faith and in direct obedience to God and we want no confidence in the flesh. We want the tradition of a holy walk with God, living in direct obedience to the true Word Of God, for if we do not have true repentence, or true obedience or have the truth of Jesus with us, we have no true salvation and no strength for the daily journey.
Verses 16-17: "Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work." Paul prayed for these dear believers to know the comfort of God. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter (John 16:7) who came to assist, teach, and empower us. He also prayed for God to "stablish" them so that they would stand immovable, and not be carried about with every wind of doctrine. Though persecution come, they were still to stand for God and His Word.
Beloved, as believers, we don't have to apologize for believing what God says in His Word.
3. FAITHFUL PRAYING
In 2 Thessalonians 2:13 Paul gives thanks for the believers in that city. He expresses thanksgiving many times in these two epistles: 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 2:13; 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 2:13. He was thankful for the way they responded to God's Word and work. All of this radiated from the love of God on their behalf. God chose them (2 Thess. 2:13b), sanctified them or set them apart for Himself (2 Thess. 2:13c), and called them (vs. 14).
In view of what the Lord had done for them Paul encourages them (vs. 15) to "stand fast, and hold the traditions" which they were taught. To "stand fast" means to stay by the truth of the Gospel. To "hold fast the traditions" simply means to hold the truth that had been handed down to them. If we stand for truth we can hold the truth.
We are to stand for the truth of God's Word no matter what others believe or how great the apostasy is. Ephesians 4:14 expresses it this way: "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive." 2 thessalonians 3:1: "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word you." The Christians of Paul's day were under great opposition as they sought to preach the Word of God. Diabolic forces were arrayed on every side against them. The enemies of the cross were working overtime to stop the progress of the Christian faith.
We have such opposition today. Just a little while ago the Ontario Court of Appeal struck down the regulation requiring that religious education be included in Ontario public schools curricula. The Court rules that religious education was unconstitutional because it promoted indoctrination in a particular religious faith. It is alright to teach evolution that is based on the Devil's lie! Will the Ontario Government and all Governments ensure that the constitutional right to freedom of conscience and religion for all includes Bible Christians also? Will the Christian belief in the Word of God be respected?
In Psalm 10 the Psalmist is lamenting over the philosophy of ungodly men. In verse 4 he writes: "The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts." What he is saying is that the wicked, in all his thinking, is trying to expel the concept of God. He is trying to get all ideas of God out of his mind. That is why Paul calls upon the believers for the word of the Lord to have free course and be glorified.
Prayer is the answer to the present anti-God philosophy of our generation. The Word of God is a living Word and "The word of God is not bound" (2 Tim. 2:9). No one can really stop the Word of God for Psalm 147:15 says: "His Word runneth very swiftly." Did the Communists stop the Word of God in Russia? Did Castro stop the Word of God in Cuba? Can the New Age Movement and the humanistic philosophy of our Governments and leaders stop the Word of God in our nation?
Paul also asks them to pray that the word of the Lord "be glorified, even as it is with you." How is it with us? Is the Word of God glorified, given the place of honour in our home and church? Is our preference for the good news of the Bible as over against the bad news of the media? Are we spending time reading and studying it? Are we sharing it with the lost multitudes of our day? What a blessing when the Bible is glorified in our lives and before others whom we meet each day.
Chapter 3:2: "And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith." This is Paul's second prayer request. The desire for deliverance from perverse, bigoted, and wicked men is not for selfish purposes, but it is for liberty to proclaim the Gospel and bear fruit for Christ. There always will be those who oppose the Gospel and do all they can to interfere with God's work.
It is with sadness that Paul says, "for all men have not faith." All do not believe the Word of God. The majority of people have no desire for the salvation that is found alone in Christ, and the reason is that they have no consciousness of sin before a holy God. They believe in good works and admire truth and courage, but they see no need for a proper relationship with God on the basis of faith. many are so occupied with life here upon the earth that they have no time for the life which is to come. It is not only in the future that we have to face God, but we have to do with Him right here and now. A proper relationship with God is of the utmost importance for it determines whether our future place will be Heaven or Hell.
Verse 3: "But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil." While many men may reject the faith the Lord is faithful. Paul praises the Lord for strengthening the Thessalonian Christians to stand firm.
The Lord is able to do the same for us. He can make every Christian a firm believer - stable, steadfast, and steady. The Lord will guard and stay on guard for God never slumbers nor sleeps. We read in 1 Corinthians 1:9: "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord." We are told in 1 Corinthians 10:13: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but GOD IS FAITHFUL, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
Praise God that He is faithful in His offer of salvation and will save all who come to Him by faith. "For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed" (Romans 10:11). In verse 13 we read: "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.." The Gospel rests upon the faithfulness of God. What He has promised He will fulfil for God cannot lie.
It is common for believers to be unstable but through the work of the Holy Spirit, and by the Word of God and Prayer, God establishes us and makes us strong, bold, and powerful Christians. There is no need for any Christian to wander in the wilderness of a dry experience. Yes, and our God will keep us from evil. Temptations and trials befall us all along the way. Evil surrounds us on every hand. But we must not participate in the evil ways of the world. Our Lord taught us to pray: "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matt. 6:13). And how wonderful to know that our Lord Himself prays for us. Hebrews 7:25: "Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them."
He cannot fail, for He is God. He cannot fail, He's pledged His Word. He cannot fail, He'll see you through, 'Tis God with whom we have to do.
4. DISORDERLY CHRISTIANS
Let us continue our study of Paul's Second Epistle to the Thessalonians Chapter 3. In our last study we saw that Paul prayed for the Word of the Lord to have free course and be glorified. He also praised the Lord for His faithfulness in meeting the needs of His people (vss. 1-3). Paul reminds the Christians (verse 4) that they were to obey what they had been taught. His confidence was in the Lord working on their behalf so that they would become the Christians God wanted them to be.
In verse 5 is another prayer: "And the Lord direct yours hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ." Here Paul's request is that God would make the Christians aware of the fact that they could not drift beyond His love and care. He also prays that while they look for the return of their Lord, their hearts will wait patiently for Him. The word "patient" means to endure, to hold firm, to remain constant. Christians are to persevere and to remain firm until Jesus returns. We are to faithfully serve the Lord by sharing our faith with others.
When W. E. Blackstone, author of the book, Jesus Is Coming, was asked if he was still looking for the Lord, he replied, "I'm looking for the Lord every day, but I'm hustling to get the chores done before He gets here." Christian, are you being faithful in doing your 'daily chores' - witnessing for the Lord until He comes?
Paul then goes on to deal with existing problems in the church. In verse 6 we have the important instruction concerning our fellowship with those who compromise the truth of God's Word: "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." Believers are commanded to withdraw from anyone who does not believe and will not obey the Scriptures.
I just received a telephone call from a Seventh Day Adventist lady who said: "We shall all be in Heaven together so it does not matter if we have some differences in doctrine."
My answer was, "First, we have to be sure that we shall reach Heaven by having our sins forgiven, and our forgiveness is based on true repentance, complete obedience to the Holy Word of God and the blood-atoning work of Christ, not by keeping ourselves under any church law or doctrine."
The same truth is mentioned here in verse 14: "And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed." It is not possible to join hands with those who do not obey the Bible and the Bible way of salvation.
Someone wrote the other day saying, "If souls are saved when believers and unbelievers work together then it will be worthwhile." But this is contrary to plain Bible teaching.
You remember the disobedience of Moses in Numbers Chapter 20. In the attempt to get water for the rebellious Israelites, Moses disobeyed the Lord by angrily smiting the rock twice. For that disobedience Moses was not permitted to enter the Promised Land. This was a stern judgement from God. But did Moses have good results? Yes, he did. The water gushed out and quenched the thirst of millions of Israelites and their beasts. God, in His grace, quenched the thirst of His people, but that did not make Moses' action right.
The Ohio Bible Fellowship Visitor gives this illustration. Henry Parsons Crowell was a bountiful benefactor of Moody Bible Institute. In Richard Ellsworth Day's biography of Mr. Crowell we read these significant words which sum up what I have sought to articulate in this article:
"Mr. Crowell finally realized that all attacks on faith were essentially the same: the discrediting of the Bible as the inerrant and perfect revelation of Truth and the Will of God. That was the leaven of the Sadducees, whether it was the innuendo of a maturing mind, or the broadside blasts of an endowed professor...He realized that not only must Faith be careful to select workers and leaders who are Bible believers; but these workers and leaders themselves must be intolerant of unbelievers in office! If they were tolerant they could bring defeat just as effectively as if they themselves were infidels. Therefore, faith must not support men in authority who, though they are themselves Bible believers, are tolerant of others in position of trust and authority who do not so believe. Mr. Crowell saw that the battle against the leaven of the Sadducees was being lost in Christendom today by reason of tolerance toward believers who were tolerant toward unbelievers."
Mr. Crowell went home to be with the Lord many years ago, but his statement has been vindicated by time.
Paul then points out in verses 7-9 that some of the Christians were behaving disorderly, living on other people's charity, refusing to work for the Lord, and becoming busybodies. They wanted to sit down and wait until the Lord came. Paul instructs them by the Spirit that they were to work for God and look after their own families and help others.
Verse 13: "But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing." The faithful and True Bible Believing Christians were discouraged by the conduct of careless ones who refused to work for the Lord, some of whom were probably not true Christians at all, working in disobedience and against Christ and The True Word Of God. Paul instructs the true Christians to keep on doing what is right. We are told in Galatians 6:10: "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."
2 Thess. 3:16: "Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all." This is Paul's last prayer on their behalf. The church was disturbed by "disorderly" brothers and now he prays for peace by all means. I do not believe there should be any compromise within any local church. But I believe more attention should be given to praying and working towards peace and unity within the True Christian fold. God is the God of peace and by His Holy Spirit there should be more peace within the true Christian churches.
"The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." (vss. 17-18). Here Paul signs his own name to the epistle. What he has written is by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Then Paul finally reminds them of God's grace. If we depend on the grace of God and live lives of true obedience to The True Word Of God, we can do His will to the glory of God: "My grace is sufficient for thee" (2 Cor. 12:9).
The grace of our Lord is sufficient to meet our needs and deal with the problems of the True Christian whether in the life of the individual or within the local True church assembly. This grace is for all the True Saints and will bring peace and joy as we look forward to the coming of the Lord.
Let Us Pray Together--
PRAY: "God be merciful to me a sinner. Receive me now for Christ's sake. Cleanse me from my sin by your precious blood, shed on the cross for me; lead me to be Baptized and fill me with your Holy Spirit. Teach me to pray each day; to read Your will for my life from your word, the Bible; and help me to worship and serve You in the fellowship of your church. I thank you Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN!
This Is The End Of This Lesson Series.