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The Second Coming in Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians 2:1-17
You are, perhaps, aware that the Second Coming of Christ holds a very important place in both of Paul's Epistles to the church of the Thessalonians. The second Epistle majors in those particular judgments, which will be brought upon the earth prior to, or upon the coming of the Lord to the Mount of Olives. In opening our address we thought we would give you just a bird's-eye view of the two Epistles, relative to the Lord's return.
1. Let us consider 1 Thessalonians 1:10 . "To wait for His Son from Heaven." This expression occurs, showing us the results of the salvation of certain people in Thessalonica. When they were saved, they turned unto God from their idols. They began to serve the Lord, and they waited for the Lord's return. We wonder if all believers, today, are like the Thessalonians in this matter. In many Scriptures we have been commanded to watch, and to wait for the coming of the Lord. If we vainly imagine that His coming is in some distant era, there will be no zest to our looking or longing for His return.
2. Let us consider 1 Thessalonians 2:19 . This verse shows that the believer's joy and crown of rejoicing will reach its climax at the Second Coming of Christ. We live and labor down here for our Lord. We enter into the results of our labor when the Lord comes back.
3. Let us consider 1 Thessalonians 3:13 . This is Paul's great desire for the saints that the Lord, "May stablish your hearts, unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." This chapter as the first and second chapters closes with the appeal of our Lord's Second Advent. Just now we have before us the Coming of the Lord with His saints. For, when Christ comes back to the earth He brings them all with Him.
4. Let us consider 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 . This chapter gives added attention to the Lord's Coming, and emphasizes its relationship toward the upcatching, or rapture of the saints. It presents the Lord's Coming in the realm of the reunion between the dead and the living believers. It embraces the great comfort which the Coming of the Lord portrays, and it also suggests the change which will be ours at the resurrection.
5. Let us consider 1 Thessalonians 5:10 . This verse shows that the Coming of the Lord to the saints, means their eternal union with Him. We are not appointed unto wrath; for Christ died for us, "that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him."
6. Let us consider 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 . The Second Coming now begins to take on the thought of the judgment to the wicked, but of rest to the saints, both of which abide the time of the Lord's Return. We must remember that the second advent of the Lord means one thing to the redeemed, and another thing to the lost.
(1) The Coming of the Lord in relationship to the saved is found in 2 Thessalonians 1:7 , "And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels." Thus, we find out one of the meanings of the expression, "the blessed hope." It is blessed to us, because it leads us into rest. Rest from our labors, but also rest from our enemies, and from Satan and from every evil thing.
(2) The coming of the Lord in relationship to the unsaved. 2 Thessalonians 1:8 tells us that when He comes He will be revealed, "In flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." It is no wonder that the wicked are not interested in the Lord's Return. Unto them it is no more than a certain fearful looking for of fiery indignation and judgment, that will consume the adversary. When the Lord comes to the earth, the nations will be judged in the valley of Jehoshaphat. They will be separated as the sheep are separated from the goats. To the wicked who have fought against God's people, He will say, "Depart from Me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." In our lesson, verse eight gives the same thought, in these words: "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." Thus, when the Lord comes He comes to be admired in all them that believe. But the wicked shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.
I. THE COMING OF THE LORD AND THE RAPTURE OF THE SAINTS (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 )
1. The two phases of Christ's Second Advent. In the study of prophetic Scripture and the Lord's Second Advent we should remember that it is divided, chronologically, into two parts.
(1) There is the coming of the Lord for His saints. This is the Coming of the Lord not to the earth, but to the air above the earth. 2 Thessalonians 2:1 says, "We beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him." This truth is in line with what we read a moment ago about the dead being raised first, and the living being caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air. This Scripture is also in line with John 14:3 : "If I go I shall come again, and receive you unto myself."
(2) There is the Coming of the Lord with His saints. This is set forth in various Scriptures. In Zachariah we read these words: "And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives * * and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Him."
In the story of His Second Advent, as it is set forth in the nineteenth of Revelation, Christ is described as the Rider of the White Horse and the saints are described as following Him, or coming with Him, upon white horses, clothed in fine linen clean and white.
At the time when the Lord comes with His saints He comes to the earth, and He comes to judge the wicked. All of this has to do with the second phase of Christ's Second Advent.
2. There were some who tried to say that the day of Christ had already come. It was for this cause that Paul wrote unto the Thessalonians telling them not to be soon shaken in their mind or to be troubled as that the day of Christ was at hand, or had already come.
It seems from the full reading of 2 Thessalonians 2:2 , that some meddlers had forged Paul's name to a letter, and sent it to Thessalonica, suggesting that the Lord had already come. This, of course, was utterly false. It was false because the saints had not been gathered together unto Him. There are always some people who are saying that Christ is here, or Christ is there. We need, however, to remember that when Christ comes for His saints, it will be known the world over. It will be the most startling event of history. Then, also, the day of the Lord will follow and not precede this gathering unto Him. Remember in studying these two verses, that our gathering together unto Him in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 , and the day of Christ in 2 Thessalonians 2:2 , are distinct. The day of Christ evidently refers to the Day of the Lord. Our gathering together to Christ may occur at any moment, but the day of the Lord is the day of tribulation, and of His advent to the earth.
II. THE GREAT APOSTASY AND THE REVEALING OF THE SON OF PERDITION (2 Thessalonians 2:3 )
1. There is a great deal of talk these days about the signs of the times. On every hand these signs are multiplying, and we thoroughly believe in the signs as they are set forth in Scripture. They are becoming more and more significant. There is needed, however, a little warning to all believers. The signs of Christ's Coming are signs which have to do with His return to the earth, and not to His rapture of the saints.
When the disciples asked Christ the signs of His Coming, and of the end of the age, Christ gave many signs, but they were the signs which will follow the rapture.
This, however, remains true: As the signs of Christ's Return to the earth multiply we know that His coming for the saints must be very very near. We are considering in our Scripture, two things that must come to pass before the Lord returns to earth.
1. There must be the great falling away, known as the great apostasy. This falling away has to do with the ever increasing negations of the faith. The Spirit has made it very plain that evil men and seducers would enter into the church. He has told us of the certain men who would creep into the churches, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness and denying the Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. He also told us that, "In the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." There is no doubt but what the apostasy is here.
2. There must be the revealing of the man of sin, the Antichrist. This also must come to pass before the Lord's return to the earth. We do not say that the Antichrist is here, but the apostasy is here, and, therefore, we are quite certain that the Antichrist is here, or is at the door, for the simple reason that the culminating note of the apostasy with its denial of Christ, is its enthronement of the Antichrist. The Antichrist may be revealed later on yet he is very likely now on the earth.
III. THE DESCRIPTION OF THE MAN OF SIN (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 )
1. The naming of the man of sin. We realize, of course, that the man of sin is only one of the names of this great personage, who is to be revealed before the coming of the Lord to the Mount of Olives. He is the Man of Sin, because he has ruled God out of his heart, has no place for Christ, and recognizes no headship of the Spirit of God. Sin is not merely unrighteousness, and the breaking of the moral laws of God; it is rebellion; it is taking our ways, as against God's ways. This great person is called also, the Son of Perdition. With such a naming, we cannot but think of Judas. However, we do not say that Judas will be re-incarnated, we have no definite authority tor this. We may say that Judas was a type of the Antichrist. Another name is the Antichrist. The word means, of course, that he is against the Christ. He also is called the Idol Shepherd, and many other names, each of which shows a distinct characteristic of this consummation of iniquity in one person.
2. The consummate sin of the Antichrist. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 tells us that he, "opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." The spirit of Satan has always been the spirit of self exaltation. We read in the book of Isaiah chapter 14 a statement that would well fit both Satan and the Antichrist; "For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; * * I will be like the most high." In Ezekiel twenty-eight we have another statement: "Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom, by reason of thy brightness."
We remember how Satan sought to engender this spirit of pride and exaltation against God in the heart of Adam and Eve, when he said unto them, "In the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." It is this spirit of pride that pervades the earth today. People oppose God when they say, as Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?" The people of this world have revolted and gone. They will not have the Lord to reign over them.
The Apostle John spoke of the spirit of Antichrist that will dominate the world. It was the denial that Christ is come, or, is coming in the flesh.
IV. THE REVELATION OF THE ANTICHRIST (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 )
1. The mystery of iniquity doth already work. This is in line with what we just wrote, and it coincides with the statement of John. Iniquity, even that iniquity which will dominate the man of sin, like leaven is already working among men. It will soon head up in the coming Antichrist.
2. There is One who restraineth and who will restrain until He be taken out of the way. This is the message of 2 Thessalonians 2:7 . The Holy Spirit is the one who restraineth. Sin is now held in check by the Spirit of God, who is constantly convicting and reproving the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He is to be taken out of the way. The expression does not mean, necessarily, that when the church is raptured the Holy Spirit leaves the earth. We, rather, take it to mean that the special ministry of the Holy Spirit in His restraining power will cease. Some giant might stand in the door, and hinder one from passing through it. He could be taken away from the door, leaving a free exit or entrance, and yet he might not necessarily be obliterated from other operations.
During the rule and reign of the Antichrist sin will run riot. In the days of Noah every man walked in the imagination of his own eyes, of his own heart; and every man fulfilled the lustings of his own flesh. "As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man." The world will ripen in iniquity, and the Lord will be ready to thrust in His sickle and reap. Evil men and seducers are even now waxing worse and worse. Bolshevism is already, with its denials of God and authority, affecting every nation on the earth. Governments are falling under its enslaving power. Dictatorships which recognize no God and bow only to self-supremacy are arising on every hand. Thus, the Wicked One shall begin to rule any one of these days.
3. The Wicked One shall be destroyed at the Lord's Coming. Our text reads that Christ will "consume him with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy, with the brightness of His coming," thus the reign of the Antichrist will not be prolonged. Many Scriptures state that his reign will only reach seven years. What years of darkness and gloom they will be! If you want to read of the final end of the Antichrist, read Revelation 19:19-21 .
V. THE ANTICHRIST WILL BE THE AMBASSADOR OF SATAN (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 )
1. The Wicked One comes after the working of Satan. The expression suggests that the Antichrist is under the controlling power, and enabling of the devil. We remember how Satan once, in the wilderness, showed unto Christ all the kingdoms of the world, and the glories of them, saying, "All these things will I give Thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." Christ immediately rebuked the devil.
A similar proposition will be made to the Antichrist and he will accept it. He comes therefore, after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders. A description of many of his miraculous deeds are set forth in the book of Revelation. He will seek to play the trick that Pharaoh played with his magicians endeavoring to do everything that Moses and Aaron did.
2. The result of Antichrist's miraculous signs. He will deceive the whole world. He comes with all deceitfulness of unrighteousness, to them that perish. It is written that if it were possible he would deceive the very elect. The world will rave after this miracle worker. The world is, even now, ready to enthrone any great one who can deliver it out of its depression, and bring in financial betterment.
There will also be a false prophet, who will magnify the Antichrist, and will cause all men both rich and poor to worship the man of sin. No man can buy or sell upon the earth in those days, without he carries upon his hands, and upon his forehead the mark of the beast, and the number of his name.
3. God will send strong delusion. He will cause that all men who have not received the love of the truth to believe a lie. It is written in the book of Romans, "Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind."
When men refuse God, and glorify not God, neither are thankful, God will give them up to uncleanness. When men change the truth of God into a lie, and serve the creature more than the Creator, God will give them up to vile affection. This is an eternal law in the spiritual realm. Those who love truth, and follow on to know it, will comprehend the truth. Those who shut their eyes against the truth will soon believe a lie. The Word of God cuts unto life, or unto death. To hear and to reject the light, means added darkness.
VI. IN THE MIDST OF DARKNESS THE LIGHT SHINES (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 )
1. A note of thanksgiving. How striking it is that Paul stopped to give thanks unto God for the brethren who are beloved of the Lord, and who were from the beginning chosen to salvation, to sanctification of the Spirit, and to the belief of the truth. To us it is so refreshing that, hot upon the heels of the ruin and wreckage of the rule and reign of the Antichrist, is Paul's great thanksgiving for the saints who know and love God. Thus it has always been; where sin has abounded, grace has much more abounded. In the midst of a world darkness which is ever deepening, God has His own who are going from glory to glory, from truth to truth, from life to the life more abundant.
2. A note of anticipation. We have been studying how the followers of the Antichrist will be damned because they believe not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness. To such is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. How different is the picture of these who know God. 2 Thessalonians 2:14 states the contrast, when it says to the saints, "Wherefore He called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
We are reminded of how Peter wrote, "Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." Peter also said, "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while." We who have been partakers with Christ in His sufferings, will also be partakers with Him, of His glory. When that glory is revealed, we shall be glad with exceeding joy.
3. The final plea. In 2 Thessalonians 2:15 the Spirit says, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast." Christians should never waver, even though the man of sin be revealed, even though the world is made to reel to and fro, because of its wickedness. Saints should stand fast. We want to shine as lights, in the midst of the darkness. We want to live righteously, where others are living shamefully and wickedly. We want to be true, where others have fallen.
Satan may come against us with terrific onslaught, yet the Lord says unto us, "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." May God comfort our heart and stablish us in every good word and work, until we enter into the everlasting consolation and good hope through grace.
VII. FINAL ADMONITIONS (2 Thessalonians 3:5-6 ; 2 Thessalonians 3:14 )
The apostle is now bringing to a close his second Epistle to the Thessalonians. He gives a few final words which we all need to study.
1. A prayer for the Thessalonians, This is a twofold prayer.
(1) The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God. What a wonderful place to dwell in the love of God. In the little book of Jude, it is written, "Keep yourselves in the love of God." Paul said to Timothy: "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." Where is there a realm in which we can move with such freedom, such comfort, such peace, such joy, as in the love of God? Let us never do anything that will cause His wrath to fall upon us, or bring us His displeasure.
(2) The Lord direct your hearts into the patient waiting for Christ. Now and then we get letters from our beloved friend, Dr. Wm. L. Pettingill. He invariably closes his letters, "Keep looking up." That's what Paul wanted the Thessalonians to do, but he wanted them to be patient while they were looking. In James we read the admonition, "Be patient therefore brethren, * * for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh."
James wrote this in his last chapter, in 2 Thessalonians 3:7 and again in 2 Thessalonians 3:8 . Yes, we have need of patience. We must not weary in our watching, or waiting for the Lord to come. We must not be overwhelmed with the cares of life, or with the obstacles of service. We must be patiently waiting for the Lord to come.
2. A command to the Thessalonians. This commandment is not usually received, today, with any great ardor. The command is: "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." We know what this tradition was. It was relative to the Second Coming of Christ.
Study once again the two Epistles to the Thessalonians and you will discover that the burden of the message in each of these chapters is the coming of the Lord. That is not all that Paul said, but that is the climactic thing. Then he adds his commandment that saints are to withdraw from every brother that walketh not after this tradition.
The longer we live the more we realize that there is a chasm that is great and large between those who accept the personal, visible, corporeal, and premillennial coming of Christ and those who denying each of these things.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30