Reading through the Bible together

Saturday, May 9, 2015

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No matter how carefully a pastor may watch over a church, there are multiple ways in which false ideas can take root. It is sometimes easier for members to accept a report or rumor than to carefully examine the Scriptures for themselves. Sometimes the new ideas may even be biblical, but are promoted out of balance with complementary teachings. The latter seems to have been the problem in Thessalonica. So in this text Paul’s goal is not to lay out his whole eschatology (2:5), instead his goal is pastoral, to calm them down and persuade them to be more patient regarding the events of the End-time.

Combining verses 3 through 7 we can see that Paul is outlining three stages of history from his time until the end. The final stage is at the Second Coming. This is mentioned briefly in verse 8. Before that stage is the revelation of the man of sin (verse 4), the lawless one (verse 8). And before that stage, going back all the way to Paul’s day, is a time of mystery and restraint (2:6-7).

The man of sin/lawless one was introduced in 2:3-4. The power in history that best fits all the specifications of these prophecies is the medieval papacy. But Second Thessalonians 2:8-10a draws back the curtain to reveal an even greater Antichrist behind the one that has operated among the nations in the course of history. Satan himself is the author and finisher of the deceptions of the End-time.

What counts as we approach the End is not the extent to which we have calculated just when and how this revelation will come, but whether we have received and shared the love of the truth. The showdown may be world-wide but the choice is still personal for you and for me.

Jon Paulien

Loma Linda University

United States