There are multiple views about the second coming of Christ. It is easy to be overwhelmed by different and varied opinions.
No question about the return of Christ was more startling or wrong than the one being taught in Thessalonica at the time of Paul.
A false prophet claimed that Jesus had already returned. Given the persecution and oppression that the church faced, it is difficult to conceive why people believed it.
However, the belief was so real that it necessitated a second letter from Paul to the church.
2 Thessalonians 2.1-2 – As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters,
Not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.
The problem caused by the false prophet raises two issues.
(1) There were members of the church who had stopped working. It is believed that the false understanding that the day of the Lord had already arrived was the cause of this behavior.
I don’t know about the early church, but I have experienced people who were so preoccupied with the return of Christ that they took little interest in other aspects of the gospel ministry.
They appear to be “circling the wagons” while waiting for the rapture.
I believe the purposes of God will be better served by a more balanced understanding of God’s activity in the world.
(2) A second issue is the question of how to protect ourselves from false prophecies.
Like never before in my lifetime has religion been co-opted into politics. So-called prophetic words have created conspiracies and cult-like followings.
Some people with track records of bad behavior have embraced religion and blended the Christian faith with their view of politics.
Like the people in Thessalonica, we need to be careful with dangerous prophecies.
A balanced understanding of Scripture, along with a humble walk with the Lord, will help protect us from deception.
The Man of Lawlessness
There are very visible elements that must take place before the day of the Lord. One factor is the appearance of the man of lawlessness.
2 Thessalonians 3-4 – Let no one deceive you in any way, for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction.
He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God.
Rebellion is the nature of the lawless one. He promotes turning away from God.
His followers become aware of the truth and deliberately turn away from it.
Jesus identified essential characteristics of the lawless one and his followers.
— John 8.44 – You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires.
He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of the lie.”
The devil is a murderer who “steals, kills, and destroys” (John 10.10).
The devil’s method is to distort the truth and cause people to reject the truth, in order to accomplish his murderous purposes.
The lawless one is arrogant, not accepting anything less than service reserved for God.
Daniel and Ezekiel identified traits of the lawless one.
— Daniel 11:36 – “The king shall act as he pleases. He shall exalt himself and consider himself greater than any god and shall speak horrendous things against the God of gods.”
— Ezekiel 28:2 – Mortal, say to the prince of Tyre: Thus says the Lord God:
Because your heart is proud
and you have said, “I am a god;
I sit in the seat of the gods,
in the heart of the seas,”
Yet you are but a mortal and no god,
though you compare your mind
with the mind of a god.
We should take these words as a warning. Let’s be careful to not follow people who exalt themselves and regularly twist the truth.
Let’s be careful with personal pride and arrogance.
If we join this crowd, we may fall under Jesus’ condemnation, “You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires” (John 8.44).
Protection and Comfort
It is good to remember the “whole counsel of God.” A thorough understanding of God’s word will protect us and comfort us in troubling times.
The early church didn’t have Bibles, but they did have Paul’s personal teaching.
2 Thessalonians 2.5 – Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you?
What Paul taught the church was to be remembered and followed.
With so many confusing voices filling the world with various views, we do well to immerse ourselves in the Gospels and the Old Testament Prophets.
They will comfort us and direct us to God’s paths.
Rudy Ross and I have decided to continue our New Testament study through to the end of Revelation. Please join us in our study on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please send your prayer request to email@example.com. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.