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From Ancient Thessalonica to Us Today

Believers around the world face a fierce enemy, Satan himself Satan stirs up unbelievers to join him in his hostility toward us. Even the work of Satan, however, is ultimately under the sovereign hand of God ; see also Job —22; ; Acts Warning against laziness. The third chapter of 2 Thessalonians contains many exhortations but the central theme is that of working diligently for the Lord. Paul says he has heard that some of the Thessalonians are proving slack in their efforts 2 Thess. Perhaps this was because of mistaken understandings about the timing of the day of the Lord —2.

The Thessalonians are commanded to stay away from those who are idle Instead, they should imitate the intense efforts of Paul and his companions —8. One thinks not only of the fundamental need for all people everywhere to hear the good news of the gospel, but also of all kinds of earthly needs, such as basic human rights and the kind of legislation that supports such rights.

Never before in world history has the church been as widely persecuted for its faith in Christ. Yet whatever kind of hostility Christians are enduring, the great promises of the gospel of grace hold true and provide solid footing. But the time of persecution would not last. A day of rest is promised for every believer. In flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

In flaming fire taking vengeance : This is what the day of judgment will be like for those who persecuted the Thessalonians.

1 and 2 Thessalonians

For the persecutors, those who do not know God , and those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus , that will be a day of vengeance and everlasting destruction. In the fiery furnace, the three Jewish young men were completely comfortable, as long as the Lord was with them in the fire Daniel 3. Nothing must be said more about its horrors, other than hell will be completely devoid of God and every aspect of His character, except one: His unrelenting holy justice.

It is not wrong for God to take vengeance ; we understand this when we understand what the word means in the ancient Greek language. Everlasting destruction : We must not be moved from the idea that the punishment of the wicked is everlasting. As the blessings of heaven are eternal, the penalty of hell is also eternal.

This is eternal and has no end. To be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe : For the persecuted saints , those who believe , they will have God glorified in them on that Day , and they will see and admire Jesus more than ever. We will admire what God has done in others and in us. This surpasseth conception!

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I could not have imagined my Lord to be so good and gracious. Because our testimony among you was believed : This shows the difference between one destined for judgment and one destined for glory.

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  • The difference is belief in the message Paul preached our testimony , the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul knew what it was like to be transformed from a persecutor to the persecuted.

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    • He believed the testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it changed his life. Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill 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 you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

      Therefore we also pray always : Since the Thessalonian Christians were in the midst of persecution and tribulation, they needed prayer. Here, Paul assured them that he and his associates pray always for them.

      Introduction to 1 & 2 Thessalonians

      That our God would count you worthy of this calling : God gives Christians a high calling , mentioned in the previous sentence. The calling is to see Him glorified in us at His coming. So Paul patiently explains that the Antichrist must come first. Christ will come only after the appearance of the Antichrist. Without this chapter and some information in Revelation 13 , we wouldn't know much about the Antichrist, so I guess it's good for us that Paul had to give the Thessalonian church this explanation.

      The reason that Paul must write the congregation is because they are upset and confused about eschatology, the study of the Last Days. Look at the words Paul uses to describe their state:.

      2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 "The Antichrist"

      What makes it particular disturbing is that someone has spread this false teaching that Christ has already come in a letter claiming to be from Paul. Paul dashes off this letter to set the record straight. You'll notice at the end of the epistle , he points to a final note in his own handwriting as an indication that this letter is authentic.

      What is the order of Christ's coming in relation to the revealing of the Antichrist? While Paul uses the term "man of lawlessness" to describe the evil figure that will be revealed in the last days, the generic term for this figure is the Antichrist. The actual term "antichrist" occurs only in John's letters. However, in the apocalyptic literature of the Bible we see various mentions of this figure who will appear in the end times as an opponent of God and his Messiah.

      This figure may also be mentioned by other prophecies -- we're not trying to be exhaustive here.

      Second Epistle to the Thessalonians

      The term "man of lawlessness" is a typical Hebraic construction where "man of They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. The Antichrist exhibits several characteristic actions to indicate that there will be no mistake about who he is. He is seeking to take God's rightful place.

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      You'll find another description of the Antichrist in Revelation , where he is known as "the beast coming out of the sea. Revelation tells us that the Antichrist had a "fatal wound" that had been healed, inspiring awe throughout the world, probably one of his counterfeit miracles. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.

      He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast -- all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. The Antichrist initiates a huge persecution against the church, since he is "allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them" Revelation The Antichrist will try to force everyone to worship his image.

      They won't be allowed to buy and sell unless they are marked with the mark of the beast Revelation As Jesus told us:. Whether this a literal or figurative period of time, I'll leave to those who love to speculate. What does Revelation add to our basic understanding? Now Paul explains that something is restraining the Antichrist until he is finally revealed.

      Paul had obviously explained all this to the Thessalonians when he was with them verse 5. We can only wish that he had explained to us what the restraining force is. There are all sorts of speculations, which include:.

      Second Thessalonians and Redemptive History

      I could present the arguments given for several of these positions, but, frankly, we just don't know who the Restrainer is. People's interpretations of this question depend a lot on their general interpretation of the end times. To speculate about it doesn't lead us to further truth. Like some other Bible questions to which we'd like an authoritative answer, this one will have to wait until we get to heaven. Now Paul explains that Christ's coming will precipitate the downfall of the Antichrist. Though the Antichrist will finally be revealed after the Restrainer is removed, he won't stay in power long.

      Soon after that, Christ will return and destroy him.

      1 Peter was written primarily for the benefit of Christians who were suffering from

      Paul refers again to "the splendor of his coming" that he had described in Christ will come with blazing fire, powerful angels, the majesty of his power, and his glory in his people. According to the text, the Antichrist's downfall will come about by Christ's two-fold action:. You can sense the drama and grandeur of Christ's victory and the Antichrist's downfall. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.

      He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood , and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: ' King of kings and Lord of lords. Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army.

      But the beast was captured , and with him the false prophet The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. However, while he is yet active, the Antichrist will perform all sorts of signs and wonders and succeed in deceiving the world. The Antichrist is a master of deception, learned from Satan himself.