This chapter feels oddly like the direction our world and culture have taken, but it’s not without hope. Let’s read through what Paul tells these believers who have started to think Christ had already returned or would be returning at any moment.
The Man of Lawlessness
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. 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.
13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
Look at verses 3 & 4, what is Paul telling his church about when Christ will return?
Verse 3 has so much for us between the lines. This day will come and our application sheds light into the details of this. “Throughout history there have been individuals who epitomized evil and who were hostile to everything Christ stands for. These antichrists have lived in every generation and will continue to work their evil. Then just before Christ’s second coming, ‘the man of lawlessness…the man doomed to destruction,’ a completely evil man, will arise. He will be Satan’s tool, equipped with Satan’s power. This lawless man will be the antichrist.” I don’t know about you, but it feels like we are facing a whole lot of hostility towards everything Christ stands for, the antichrist may not be identified yet, but we sure can see evil trying to take over in some areas, so I think this chapter feel so relevant right now.
In verse 7 what does scripture say to affirm this thinking?
Let’s let our application teach us about what this means. “’The secret power of lawlessness is already at work’ means that the work that this antichrist will do is already going on. ‘Secret’ means something no one can discover, but something God will reveal. ‘Lawlessness’ is the hidden, subtle, underlying force from which all sin springs.” It goes on to tell us how this will happen. Right now, God has someone/things in place restraining this complete lawlessness, but that at some point God will remove it making way for this antichrist. Like most people you may be wondering why would God let this happen and our application tells us “to show people and nations their own sinfulness, and to show them by bitter experience the true alternative to the lordship of Christ.”
Look at verse 9 and 10 what do you find interesting about this?
Scripture tells us this lawless one will have “displays of power through signs and wonders”, but that doesn’t mean it’s Gods power, this power will be used towards evil and we know that God hates evil and that no evil comes from God. Our application tells us “[this power] will be from Satan. He will use this power to destroy and to lead people away from God and toward himself. If any so-called religious personality draws attention only to himself or herself, his or her works is not from God.”
Although we know these things will happen, hope is not lost; I don’t believe Paul wrote this letter for us to accept the antichrist and simply wait for Christ, not. at. all. I believe it is so we can have our eyes opened to what will happen so we can know what to look for and we can know what is and what it is not from God.
Verse 15 tells us what to do while we wait for Christs return. What is it?
We as believers have to stand firm. We know the truth. Jesus is the truth, the life and the way. We have to cling to the word of God and spread the good news of salvation. The way this letter feels so relevant today, is all the more reason for us to focus on Him and sharing our faith with the people God places in our lives.
Christ is our encourager and our strength, it is to him we must go as we struggle with uncertainty. Is there an area of your life where you needed this reminder? Write it down and how things change looking to Christ in this way.
Heavenly Father, there have been many times in history where people have thought Christ must be returning soon. Only you know when that day will come. Help us until then to cling to you, to your truth and your way. Help us to have open eyes to the evil that is not from you, help us to be able to share about who you are with those you place in our lives. Lord, help us to stand firm and hold onto the teachings from your word like this. Thank you that you have gone before us, that you know exactly what is going to happen, help us to trust in you and your plan and thank you that you will overcome all evil and that this antichrist will not win, that you work all things out for your glory and goodness, that You win, You are the victory and we can be confident in our faith because of this! In your good and glorious name, AMEN!