Keith Hunt - Bible Story, NT - Chapter Fifty-nine: Paul writes 2 Thessalonians   Restitution of All Things
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New Testament Bible
Story

Chapter Fifty-nine:

Paul writes 2 Thessalonians


                       THE BOOK OF ACTS 
                              and
                       RELATED EPISTLES

        ACTS 18:1-18; Second Epistle to Thessalonica


FIRST THESSALONIANS FINISHED

     Paul finished his third chapter with giving the
Thessalonians the great hope and promise of the resurrection at
the coming of the Lord back to earth (verses 13-18). He did not
want them to be ignorant of the truth of this absolute promise of
the resurrection. 
     Sometimes this passage is used, as quoting verse 14, to say
that Christians are already in heaven and Jesus brings them with
Him back to earth. Paul does say Jesus will bring them with Him,
but then connects his words with the explanation as to HOW Jesus
will be able to bring them with Him. He uses the connecting word
"for" (verse 15). 
     This is a good lesson in correct Bible reading. The lesson
is, do not take words or thoughts OUT of CONTEXT. Paul goes on to
explain his words of verse 14 with the words of verses 15-18.

     Those which are alive at the coming of Christ will not
precede those who are dead, or asleep. Notice Paul uses the word
"sleep" - death is a sleep. We saw in the Gospels that Jesus also
likened death to sleep (see John 11) and how Christ is the
resurrection from the dead. The whole of John chapter eleven
makes it very clear that Lazarus was dead, not just his body, but
the man himself. 
     Jesus will come Paul said, shall descend from heaven with a
SHOUT, with the voice of the arch-angel, and with the TRUMPET of
God, then the dead shall rise up, be resurrected. Then those
which are alive shall be caught up together with them in the
CLOUDS, to meet the Lord in the AIR, and so shall they ever be
with the Lord.

     All this is further explained in 1 Corinthians 15 and
Revelation 8:6-13; 9:15-19. Jesus also explained more in Matthew
24:29-29-31. We need to take note that the resurrection of dead
saints and instant change for the mortal Christians alive, takes
place when the last trumpet is blown, the angels go forth and
guide the resurrected saints to Jesus into the clouds of the
earth's air. This is not some "secret rapture" by an invisible
Jesus. This is the time of the visible coming of the Lord to
gather and meet with the saints in the clouds of heaven. The
teaching by Evangelic Christians of North America about a
mysterious invisible coming of Christ to snatch away Christians
is a very false theology. The resurrection of the saints takes
place when the glorious visible Jesus takes place. Then Paul says
they will ever be with the Lord. But does the Bible teach that
the Lord and the saints go back to heaven for seven years or
three and a half years (as various Evangelicals teach) or one
thousand years as Seventh Day Adventists teach? NO! It teaches no
such idea.
     Paul does not continue to tell us where the Lord well be
with the saints, but Paul knew his Old Testament prophetic
writings, he was well aware of Zechariah 14. And there
all along in the Old Testament is the answer to what happens
after the saints meet the Lord in the clouds of earth. The Lord
goes forth to fight the nations of the earth (verse 3)
centered around Jerusalem, just as Revelation also teaches (see
16:16-19; 19:11-21). In THAT DAY of this battle of Armageddon
(Rev.16:16) the FEET of the Lord will touch the Mount of Olives
(Zech.14:4). Yes, the Lord God shall come in the form of Jesus
Christ and He will bring the saints with Him (verse 5), because,
as we have seen, the RESURRECTION and instant change (1 Cor.15:
50-52) of saints takes place and they meet Jesus in the clouds,
He brings them with Him to the Mount of Olives.
     This is the very day, a literal 24 hour day, when all this
takes place, it is ONE day, that is known to God (Jesus said that
only God the Father knows when this day will be, see Matthew
24:36) as we are told in Zechariah 14:7.

     Will this truth Paul wrote,  we are to comfort each other (1
Thes.4:18).

     1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 is also often not understood
correctly. First, Paul is talking about the "day of the Lord"
which is NOT the same as saying "the day on which Jesus
returns." The "day of the Lord" or "the day of God's wrath" is a
prophetic time covered by may Old Testament prophets and by the
book of Revelation. It is a time of many months when God takes a
direct hand in the intervention of world events. It is the time
as Revelation puts it "For the great day of His wrath is come and
who shall be able stand" (Rev.6:17). Most of the book of
Revelation takes place during this prophetic "day of God's
wrath."  But for a while BEFORE that time comes there will be
relative "peace" - they will say "peace, and safety" (1
Thes.5:3). The Great Tribulation and persecution of saints will
have taken place, the signs in the heavens with the sun and moon
will have taken place (see the Bible Story as I covered Matthew
24), and for a time the Babylon Beast power of Revelation will
claim "peace and safety."  But as Paul said in 1 Thes. 5:3 there
will come "sudden destruction."
     But the saints of God are not left in darkness Paul said.
God's true children can know the signs of the times. And so be
prepared for this prophetic time. Yet we are to be awake, not to
sleep, we are to watch and be mentally and spiritually sober
(verses 4-8) and Jesus also said that His disciples are to
"watch" (Matthew 24:42).

     The last verses of this 1 Thessalonians letter are packed
with many thoughts and teachings. Paul says God's children are to
KNOW them who labor among them and are spiritually elders and who
lead and give admonition. They are to even esteem them very
highly in love for the work of God that they do. 
     This would mean there are true ministers of God on this
earth, and the Lord's disciples must find who they are, which
also means some who claim to be minsters of God are not at all. 

     Paul also told the brethren to "warn" those among them who
were disorderly. Their attitude of mind, actions, words, would
soon tell who such people were. They were to comfort those who
were spiritually weak minded, we could say "babes in Christ" as
Paul put it in his other epistles, support the weak that were
weak in economical ways, and be patient with all people. They
were to not render evil to ANY person, for evil done to them.
The Christian is not one who plans ways to "get even" with others
or kicks dirt in the face of those who kicked dirt on them. They
were to follow "good" or "be good" to all individuals and among
themselves.
     They were to be a rejoicing people. They were to "pray
without ceasing" - a way of saying be in constant communion with
the Father, be thinking of His way of life under all situations,
as well as being a person who regularly prays.
     They were to not put out the working of the Holy Spirit in
their lives and minds. We are to ever let God's Spirit lead us,
guide us into the truth of His word, teach us, correct us, and
fill us with His love. 
     They were to never despise inspirational speaking and those
inspired at certain times, in certain situations, to speak the
word and truth of God.
     They were to "prove all things and hold fast to that which
is good" - just as the noble Bereans had done when Paul taught
and preached among them the word of God (Acts 17:10-12).
     And they were to abstain from "all appearances of evil."
Those who were doing the first admonitions that Paul just listed,
would be spiritually in tune with "appearances of evil" (1
Thes.5:12-22).

     Verse 23 and man being "spirit, soul, and body" (which Paul
desired would be kept in holiness until the coming of the Lord
Jesus Christ), does indeed show that man is made of three basic
parts, that have exposure to all that is good or all that is
evil. Man has a "spirit" that is in the mind that truly does make
us different than animals. No animal can write the volumes of the
Encyclopedia Britannica. We humans have a soul or life we
live as a whole, and we have a physical body that can do physical
acts of either good or evil. Paul wanted all three parts of what
makes US, what makes YOU and ME, much more than an animal, to be
going in the way of God, hence under His grace, which means
forgiven and blameless before Him. And God is faithful who will
give us the ability to be within His grace and so blameless
(verse 24).

     They were to pray for Paul and all the other servants of God
who were with him. They were to greet each other with a holy
kiss. That was the custom in those days and among those people,
as it is with people of various nations today. In the Anglo-Saxon
nations we use a hand shake. But be it a kiss or a hand-shake, it
was to be "holy" - that is it was to be truly done as if by God
Himself.

     To finish he blessed them with and desired them to have, the
grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (verses 25-28).


PAUL WRITES 2 THESSALONIANS

     From the "New King James Bible - Personal Study Edition" -
Nelson publishes, 1990, 1995, here is the introduction to this
epistle of Paul's.

AUTHOR AND DATE

Paul was joined in writing 2 Thessalonians by his missionary
companions, Salvanus and Timothy, just as he had been in writing
1 Thessalonians. This second letter was written from Corinth a
short time after 1 Thessalonians, probably late in A.D.51. See
Introduction to 1 Thessalonians: Author and Date.

BACKGROUND

Several issues found in 1 Thessalonians were still very much
alive: the suffering of Christians (2 Thess. 1:3-12; 1 Thess.
2:14-16), idleness (2 Thess. 3:615; 1 Thess. 4:9-12), and the
Lord's return (2 Thess. 2:1-12; 1 Thess. 4:13-5:11). See
Introduction to 1 Thessalonians: Background.

PURPOSE

This letter was written to encourage the Thessalonians in their
suffering, to help them better understand the Lord's return, and
to instruct them in a life of responsible industry. 
  

CONTENTS

Paul rejoices that the Thessalonians have endured in spite of
their suffering (1:3,4). Such endurance is a sign of God's
righteousness. When Christ returns, Christians will be given
"rest;" and the ungodly who persecuted them will be finally
judged (1:5-12). Christ has not yet returned; Christians must not
be disturbed thinking that they have missed His coming (2:1,2).
Before His return, a great rebellion will occur led by a person
who will claim to take the place of God (2:3-7). But Christ will
come and utterly destroy him and his followers (2:8-12). For the
present Christians must "stand fast" upon the teaching they
have received (2:13-17), pray for the spread of the gospel
(3:1-5), and live lives of responsibility, industry, and
helpfulness (3:6-15).

OUTLINE of 2 Thessalonians

1.Salutation  1:1,2                 

2.Judgment at Christ's coming  1:3-12   
                                      
A. Thanks to God for their endurance  1:3,4
B. Assurance of vindication at Christ's return  1:5-10
C. Prayer for God to complete His work in them  1:11,12     

3. Rebellion before Christ's coming  2:1-12  

A. A lawless one will arise  2:1-5 
B. A restraining power now keeps him back  2:6,7
C. Christ will destroy the Antichrist and his followers  2:8-12
     
4. Instruction for the present  2:13-3:15

A. Obey the teaching you have received  2:13-17
B. Pray for the spread of the gospel  3:1-6  
C. Live responsibly and industriously  3:7-15

5. Benediction  3:16-18

PERTINENT COMMENTS

     Paul gives us some interesting and instructive teaching in
1:7-10.  Rest for Christians is coming, the rest of the
resurrection and immortality, when we shall be free from sin
forever more, as he had told them about in 1 Thessalonians
4:13-18. This rest is to come at the return of the Lord Jesus,
who will come with His mighty angels, as the margin says, "His
angels of power." Jesus made reference to this in Matthew
24:29-31. Christ is to come with or in "flaming fire" (see also
Malachi 3:2.3). He is to judge and take vengeance (see
Rev.6:10,11 and in symbolism what the saints cry out to God) on
those who know not God and/or as disobedient to the Gospel of
Christ (this has reference to the battle of Armageddon in Rev.16
with chapter 19). They will be punished with everlasting
destruction from the presence of the Lord. The destruction is
everlasting not that they continue to live in the torment of a
burning hell-fire for all eternity, as is commonly taught among
many Christian denominations.
     This is all to take place when He comes to be glorified in
His saints (the resurrection and the saints being made glorified
immortal beings)  AND NOTICE..."and to be admired in all them
that BELIEVE in THAT DAY." The words "because our testimony among
you was believed" is in parenthesis.
     Contrary to the teaching of most Evangelical Christian
teachers MANY on the earth when Jesus comes again, will on THAT
DAY, REPENT AND BELIEVE, who did not repent and believe before
that day. I guess so, for when Christ comes in glory and power,
who can deny that God is God and Christ is alive and is the Son
of God. To be sure as we can see also in Zechariah 14 and
Revelation 16 and 19, some will try to FIGHT Jesus on His coming,
they will be destroyed, BUT many will BELIEVE on that day. The
popular Evangelical teaching is that the saints have been
secretly raptured away some number of years before Jesus returns
and  when He comes He will destroy MILLIONS. This idea
is NOT upheld by the prophecies of the Bible, including this
passage we are looking at in 2 Thessalonians. MANY in that day of
Christ's return will REPENT and will BELIEVE!

     Chapter 2:1-12.  The great prophetic section of Paul's
writings concerning THE man of sin and his organization that
falls away from the truth.
     Many believe that the apostles and saints thought that Jesus
would return in their life time. That may be so, but Paul knew
that certain events MUST take place BEFORE Jesus could come
again. This prophetic event of 2 Thes.2:1-12 was one of them.
Some were sending letters around telling people that Jesus'
coming could be "today" or "tomorrow" - just as some today teach
the same. No, it could not be according to Paul.
     Paul was told (remember he was personally taught by Jesus as
we saw in Galatians chapter one) that a falling away from THE
TRUTH had to come first, and a man who would claim the
prerogatives of God had to come. He would also have to come from
and sit within the "temple of God." This has nothing to do with a
physical building. Letting the Bible or in this case, the New
Testament, interpret itself and letting Paul himself interpret
himself from all of his writings, we can see that Paul only ever
used "the temple of God" in reference to the "body of Christ" or
to "the Church of God" - to Christians. Use a concordance and
look up every place where Paul uses "temple" in his writings.
     We see from this passage that Paul said "the mystery of
iniquity does already work" - in that very day, about 51,52 A.D.
the truth of God was getting distorted, but it was being held
back from FULL fruition for a time, but finally it would all be
revealed and ONE type man would come along who would epitomize
and "head up" this great falling away.
     Jesus, said Paul, could not come until all this was
fulfilled. It finally was fulfilled when the great Roman pontiff
established the Roman Catholic faith, and declared he was
head of the Christian church, and vicar of Christ on earth. He
and his followers taught, and still do teach, that the Pope is
"God on earth." This was brought out very clearly when in the
1990s the Pope visited a South American country and when a lady
in her early 20s was asked by a TV reporter what she thought of
the Pope coming to her country, her reply was "he is God on
earth."

     Many in the Church of God do not realize that for about the
first two hundred years of the Christian age, the Roman Church of
God was accepted as being still a part of God's people. The two
famous bishops - Polycarp and after him Polycrates, from Asia
Minor, went to Rome to debate with the Roman bishops of their
time, about the Passover/Easter issue, the time to remember the
death of Christ. I'm sure they debated about much more, such as
the Sabbath/Sunday issue, that was also raging at the time.
But neither Polycarp nor Polycrates could persuade the Roman
bishop to return to the "faith once delivered to the saints." The
apostasy and the falling away from within the Church of God was
taking place. The falling away led to that office of "THE man of
sin" -  the office of Pope, coming on the Christian scene and
world.
     The prophecy of Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2, does have a final
end-time fulfillment. for this "man of sin" will have a final
"THAT WICKED" one at the very time when Jesus will return. He
will be revealed to the world and Christ will CONSUME him,
destroy him, with the BRIGHTNESS of his coming (we read about
this as the "false prophet" of Revelation, and how Jesus at His
coming casts him into the furnace of fire - see Rev.19).

     This "wicked" one will be able to perform miracles, signs
and wonders, so is the false prophet of Revelation. They are one
and the same man. It is really the work of Satan the Devil.  This
man and all his billion and more followers around the world do
not "receive the love the truth" and the true way to salvation.
At Christ's coming this deceptive world religious Babylon power
will be destroyed, see again Revelation 17, 18 and 19.

     Paul tells the brethren at Thessalonica to stand fast and
hold to the traditions and teachings they received from him and
others with him and from his epistles to them. Traditions of
truth are not wrong. Or to put it another way, some truth is
tradition, i.e. the observance of the Passover and not Easter is
a correct truth of tradition, as being something traditionally
done year after year (2 Thes.2:13-17).

     Paul asks them to always pray for him and others with him,
to be delivered from wicked men who do not have the faith, and he
tells them how confident he is that they will remain steadfast to
the commandments and truth that he and his fellow apostles
delivered to them (3:1-5).

     As he just talked about "commands" he takes the opportunity
to give a few more, because of certain problems that he had heard
about within their congregation. Those who were walking and
living "dis-orderly" and not after the true teachings and
traditions they had received, they were to withdraw from. He
reminds them they should be following the example he and the
other apostles with him, had set when among  them. He reminds
them he and the others with him worked at secular jobs, so they
did not have to live off their physical gifts, but not because
they did not have the right to "live off them" under God's laws,
which they did, but they did it to set them an example of
"working."  Obviously some of the Thessalonians had a "secular
work habit" problem, for Paul continues to remind them that when
the apostles were with them, they commanded that if a person did
not work neither should they eat. And now he was hearing that
many still did not work, but were busy being "disorderly" and
"busybodies."  He says, "Now them that are such we command and
exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they
work, and eat their own bread." (verses 6-12).

     Here Paul is talking about people who CAN and are ABLE to
work, NOT working but causing trouble for others, and getting
into the face of others. It can be a very true saying that "idle
hands leads to much mischief." Paul is not talking about people
who for various physical or mental reasons cannot work. He is not
talking about people who are "laid off work" and are busy looking
for work. He is talking about people who CAN work but choose not
to and who try to "live of the church."

     For those who will not live by God's word, the truth of the
Lord, as written by such people as Paul in his epistles, they
were to "note that man" and not to have them as
buddy-buddy-friends. They were not to count them as "enemies" but
to kindly but firmly, admonish or correct them as still being a
brother/sister in Christ (verses 14,15).

     Paul closes his second epistle with, "Now the Lord of peace
Himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you
all" (verse 16).

              ................................

April 2004

TO BE CONTINUED


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