2Thessalonians 2:1-12

Sunday Morning Bible Study

November 5, 2000


Sometime after his first letter, some people had come to the Thessalonian church and had begun to tell the people that the great trials they were going through meant that they were already in the “day of the Lord”.  These people were teaching that the Thessalonians had somehow “missed” the rapture and the return of Jesus Christ

:1  Now we beseech you, brethren …

beseecherotao – to question; to ask; to request, entreat, beg, beseech

byhuper – in behalf of, for the sake of

comingparousia – presence; the coming, arrival, advent; the future visible return from heaven of Jesus, to raise the dead, hold the last judgment, and set up formally and gloriously the kingdom of God

gathering togetherepisunagoge – a gathering together in one place; the (religious) assembly (of Christians)

:2 …neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

soontacheos – quickly, shortly

shakensaleuo – a motion produced by winds, storms, waves, etc; to agitate or shake; to cause to totter; to shake thoroughly, of a measure filled by shaking its contents together; to shake down, overthrow; to cast down from one’s (secure and happy) state; to move, agitate the mind, to disturb one

mindnous – the mind, comprising alike the faculties of perceiving and understanding and those of feeling, judging, determining; the intellectual faculty, the understanding; reason in the narrower sense, as the capacity for spiritual truth, the higher powers of the soul, the faculty of perceiving divine things, of recognising goodness and of hating evil; the power of considering and judging soberly, calmly and impartially

troubledthroeo – to cry aloud, make a noise by outcry; in the NT, to trouble, frighten; to be troubled in mind, to be frightened

spiritpneuma – spirit; the Holy Spirit; human spirit; demonic spirit.  I think the idea is that someone might have had some sort of a “prophecy” about how the people had missed the coming of the Lord.

wordlogos – some people were repeating what others had said, saying that they were in the “day of the Lord”.

letter – apparently somebody had even sent the Thessalonians a letter, claiming to have been written by Paul.

is at handenistemi to place in or among, to put in; to be upon, impend, threaten; close at hand; present.  The verb here is a perfect tense, the idea is that it had happened in the past, with the consequences continuing on into the present.  Better translation, “had come”.

These false teachers had come into the Thessalonian church and had deceived them with false “prophecies” (spirit), teachings (word), and even fake letters from Paul.

:3 …except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

Paul gives two things that will happen before Jesus returns.

deceiveexapatao (“out of” + “to cheat”) – to deceive

meanstropos – a manner, way, fashion

that day shall not come” – not in the Greek text, it was added by translators to help give the sense of the passage.


The falling away

falling awayapostasia – a falling away, defection, apostasy.  What is it?  This is a feminine word used only here and in Acts 21:21 (translated “forsake”). There is a neuter form (apostasion), translated “divorcement” (Mt 5:31; Mt 19:7; Mr 10:4)
a.  Some have suggested that Paul might even be referring to the Rapture here, where we are “removed” from the earth.  I have to admit that certainly seems very possible. It comes from the verb aphistemi – to make stand off, to remove; to go away. to depart from anyone; become faithless.  This word is usually translated “departed” (Luke 2:37; 4:13)

Lu 2:37  And she [was] a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple…

Lu 4:13  And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.

b.  It probably is referring to an “apostasy”, a “falling away” of Christians from the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul uses the same word in:
1Ti 4:1  Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
I find this interesting since I had some very nice Mormon fellows at my door the other day who were trying to tell me that the entire church had “apostatized” after the first apostles died off, and that Joseph Smith had now restored it.

The Bible talks a lot about people falling away, but there is ALWAYS a remnant (Is. 1:9; 10:22; 11:11; 37:31-32; Jer. 23:3; 31:7).  God always has a witness on the earth.  Even in Elijah’s time, Elijah was on a self-pity trip when he thought that he was the last one alive who worshipped Yahweh, yet God told Elijah that He still had 7,000 true worshippers left in Israel (1Ki 19:18).  Jesus Himself said that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church (Mat. 16:18).

If Joseph Smith was correct and the “apostasy” happened 1900 years ago, Paul’s letter here doesn’t make much sense.  Paul is using the “apostasy” to be a sign of the very end, not something that happens 1900 years in advance.

What is this “apostasy”?
Is it the Roman Catholic Church?  Is it the old mainline denominations that no longer believe in the truths of Scripture?  Is it cults like Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witnesses?  Could be.  But I’m not really sure it’s something that we see yet.  I think the real thing is probably what is described in the next verse (2Th. 2:4), the worship of the antichrist in place of Jesus Christ.

first – the apostacy and the antichrist will come before the return of Jesus Christ.  When you see those things, you can know you’re in the Tribulation.

be revealedapokalupto (“apocalypse”) – to uncover, lay open what has been veiled or covered up; disclose, make bare; to make known, make manifest, disclose what before was unknown.  Jesus’ return is called an “apocalypse” (2Th. 1:7), here the antichrist will also be “revealed”.

perditionapoleia – destroying,the destruction which consists of eternal misery in hell

Judas also received this same title from Jesus:

Joh 17:12  While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

sinhamartia – to miss the mark; to err, be mistaken; to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong; to wander from the law of God, violate God’s law, sin; that which is done wrong, sin, an offence, a violation of the divine law in thought or in act

We are all sinners.  This guy will be the worst.


The antichrist is revealed

We have the first of several titles that will be given to this individual.
He is the “son of perdition”, one who is destined for hell. He is the “man of sin”, the worst of all sinners. In the book of Revelation, he is referred to as the “beast” (Rev. 13:1).
We usually call him the “antichrist” (1Jo. 4:3). We often mistakenly think of the prefix “anti” to mean “opposite”, but it means “in place of”.  The “antichrist” is one who comes “in the place of” Jesus Christ, he will come to try and take the place of Jesus as the Messiah.  He will be a “false” Messiah.

Summary:  If you see this “falling away” and the “antichrist”, then perhaps you should be concerned about being in the Tribulation.  That’s when you should be concerned about missing the “gathering together” with Him.

:4 Who 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.

opposethantikeimai – to be set over against, opposite to; be adverse to, withstand

exaltethhuperairomai – to lift or raise up over some thing; to lift one’s self up, be exalted, be haughty; to carry one’s self haughtily to, behave insolently towards one

This word is used only in one other place –

2Co 12:7  And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
Anybody could exalt themselves above measure.  To keep Paul from doing that, God sent him a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble. Don’t be too grieved at your “thorns”.  Perhaps God is keeping you from becoming like the antichrist.

called God – things that aren’t God, but are still worshipped by people as “god”.

worshippedsebasma – whatever is religiously honoured, an object of worship; of temples, altars, statues, idolatrous images.  This guy will be “irreligious” of all but himself.

“so that he, in the temple of God, as God, sits.”

shewingapodeiknumi – to point out, show forth, to expose to view, exhibit; to declare, to prove what kind of person anyone is, to prove by arguments, demonstrate


Abomination of Desolation

This is the event we talked about last week, the event that marks the halfway point in the Tribulation (Dan. 9:27; Mat. 24:15).
This is when the antichrist will come into a rebuilt Jewish temple, stop the sacrifices, and demand to be worshipped as God.  This is such an “abomination”, that it will cause “desolation” of God’s temple.
Daniel was the first to speak of this event.
(Dan 9:26-27 KJV)  And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

Daniel is in the middle of a prophecy that details the coming of the Messiah, a period known as the “seventy weeks” of Daniel, seventy groups of seven years, or 490 years.  The first 489 years ended with the coming of Jesus, when He was “cut off”.  That’s when God’s time clock stopped.  The “prince that shall come” is a reference to the antichrist, and it would be his “people”, the Romans, who would destroy the city of Jerusalem in AD 70.

{27} And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

The “he” refers to the “prince that shall come”, the antichrist.  He will make some sort of “treaty” or “covenant” with the Jews for the last “week”, or, seven years.  In the middle of this period, after 3 ½ years, he will stop the sacrifices in the temple and do something in the temple that will be so abominable in the temple that God would consider it a desolate place.

We know a little about what this might be like because something like it has already occurred, before Jesus’ time, when Antiochus Epiphanes, a Greek governor, sacrificed a pig to Zeus in the Jerusalem temple, an event also referred to by Daniel as an abomination of desolation (Dan. 11:31).

Jesus told His Jewish audience that if they saw this happen, they ought to head for the hills.
(Mat 24:15-22 KJV)  When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) {16} Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: {17} Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: {18} Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. {19} And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! {20} But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: {21} For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. {22} And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

Jesus’ reference to the “sabbath day” indicates He is talking to a Jewish audience.  On the Sabbath, a Jew is only allowed to make short trips.  The “elect” here also refers to the Jews, not Christians.

There will be people who will come to the Lord after the rapture, people who will be around to see the abomination of desolation and run for the hills.

Why would they Jews need to run?  Because the antichrist will persecute the Jews like they’ve never been persecuted.  He will make Hitler look like a schoolboy.

:5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

remembermnemoneuo – to be mindful of, to remember, to call to mind

toldlego – to say, to speak.  The verb is an “imperfect” tense, meaning that Paul was continually telling them these things while he was with them.

This was a review for the Thessalonians.  They already knew this stuff.

:6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

withholdethkatecho – to hold back, detain, retain; from going away; to restrain, hinder (the course or progress of); to check a ship’s headway i.e. to hold or head the ship.  The Greek grammar (present participle) indicates a continuous action.

revealedapokalupto – to uncover, lay open what has been veiled or covered up; disclose, make bare; to make known, make manifest, disclose what before was unknown

timekairos – due measure; a measure of time; a fixed and definite time, the time when things are brought to crisis, the decisive epoch waited for; opportune or seasonable time; the right time

Paul says that the Thessalonians knew (we don’t) what was continually holding back the antichrist from being revealed.  At just the right time the antichrist will be revealed.

:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work:

mysterymusterion – hidden thing, secret, mystery; generally mysteries, religious secrets, confided only to the initiated and not to ordinary mortals; a hidden or secret thing, not obvious to the understanding; a hidden purpose or counsel

iniquityanomia – the condition of without law, lawlessness

workenergeo – to be operative, put forth power; to work for one

already – ede – now, already

The thing that will be driving the antichrist was already operative in Paul’s day.  The apostle John wrote,

(1 John 4:3 KJV)  And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.


Antichrist is already here.

The “spirit” of antichrist has been at work for a long time.  Don’t think it unusual that there is wickedness in the world.
The actual person of the antichrist may also already be in place, just waiting for his “time”.  He may already be a world leader.
Things we think might be true of the antichrist:
1.  He is probably Jewish, but one who does not believe in God. 

Daniel says he would not “regard the God of his fathers” (Dan. 11:37).

It would be hard to see how the Jews would be able to receive a Gentile as their “Messiah”.  The Jews will at first embrace him as their Messiah, only to find out that he’s going to try and exterminate them.

2.  He probably will be a ruler in Europe.

Daniel referred to the Romans as his people (Dan. 9:26). 

He will rule over some form of a revived Roman empire (Dan. 7:19-22)

:7  only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

nowarti – just now, this moment; now at this time, at this very time, this moment

lettethkatecho – to hold back; the same word as “withholdeth” in verse 6.

untilheos – till, until

the waymesos – middle; the midst; in the midst of, amongst

be takenginomai – to become, i.e. to come into existence; to arise, appear in history, come upon the stage

If you were to translate strictly from the order of the words, it would go like this:  “only the one who is restraining now at this time, until out of the midst, it appears in history”

There will be a time when this restraining influence will make itself evident in history by stepping away (“becoming out of the midst”) from holding back the antichrist.


Who or what is the “restrainer”?

I think the best possibility is that it is the work of the Holy Spirit in the church.
Right now, the church is a type of restraining influence upon evil in the world.  Jesus said we were the “salt of the earth” (Mat. 5:13).  In ancient days, salt was the main method of preserving things, keeping your meat from spoiling.  When you remove the preservative, the meat spoils.
When the church is removed from the planet in the rapture, I think there will be a great unleashing of wickedness on the earth.  Right now, we’re just a big pain in the neck to people who want to do things like bring pornography into your home or who want to teach your children that there is no such thing as right and wrong.  But one day we won’t be around to say “no”.

Note:  We’re still here on planet earth.  If we aren’t raptured before Tuesday, please be a responsible part of this “restraining” and be sure to vote.  I am allowed by the government to encourage you to vote, I am just not allowed to tell you who to vote for.

:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed,

revealedapokalupto – to uncover, lay open what has been veiled or covered up; disclose, make bare; to make known, make manifest, disclose what before was unknown

that Wickedanomos – destitute of (the Mosaic) law; of the Gentiles; departing from the law, a violator of the law, lawless, wicked.  This is a related word to what is translated “iniquity” in verse 7.

:8  whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

consumeanalisko – to expend; to consume, use up, destroy

spirit of his mouth – I think this refers to the “sword” that will be in Jesus’ mouth when He returns, the “word of God”.

destroykatargeo – to render idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative; to deprive of force, influence, power; to cause to cease, put an end to, do away with, annul, abolish

brightnessepiphaneia – an appearing, appearance

comingparousia – presence; the coming, arrival, advent; the future visible return from heaven of Jesus, to raise the dead, hold the last judgment, and set up formally and gloriously the kingdom of God


Jesus wins!

That’s what the headlines will read.
Martin Luther in the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, wrote, (second verse)
And though this world with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim,
We tremble not for him –
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure:
One little word shall fell him.
As scary as the antichrist seems, Jesus is stronger.  John describes:
(Rev 19:11-21 KJV)  And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. {12} His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. {13} And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. {14} And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. {15} And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. {16} And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. {17} And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; {18} That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. {19} And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. {20} And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. {21} And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
Though we are talking a lot about the “antichrist” this morning, we need to be careful that our focus is on Jesus Christ. We aren’t looking for antichrist, we’re looking for Jesus Christ.

:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

comingparousia – presence; the coming, arrival, advent.  This is the same word used to describe the coming of Jesus (vs. 8).

workingenergeia – working, efficiency; in the NT used only of superhuman power, whether of God or of the Devil

powerdunamis – strength, power, ability

signssemeion – a sign, mark, token; of miracles and wonders by which God authenticates the men sent by him, or by which men prove that the cause they are pleading is God’s

wondersteras – a prodigy, portent; miracle: performed by any one


Signs and wonders don’t prove it’s God

We have the mistaken idea at times that if a “miracle” happens, that it must be God. It may be.  It may not be.  Even Satan can do “signs and wonders”.
God warned through Moses:
(Deu 13:1-3 KJV)  If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, {2} And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; {3} Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

God may allow miracles to happen that are not from Him as a way of testing you to see if you’re paying attention to whether or not the person is telling you about the one True God.

This doesn’t mean that we ignore signs and wonders, and it doesn’t mean that we should go to the extreme of saying that all “miracles” are of the devil.  But it means that if we see a miracle, we still need to ask ourselves, “Is this person representing God?”

:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish;

deceivablenessapate – deceit, deceitfulness; from apatao – to cheat, beguile, deceive

unrighteousnessadikia – injustice, of a judge; unrighteousness of heart and life; a deed violating law and justice, act of unrighteousness

perishapollumi – to destroy; to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to ruin; metaph. to devote or give over to eternal misery in hell; to perish, to be lost, ruined, destroyed

:10  because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

receiveddechomai – to take with the hand; to receive or grant access to, not to refuse friendship; to receive favorably, give ear to, embrace, make one’s own, not to reject

love – agape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

truth – aletheia – what is true in any matter under consideration; what is true in things appertaining to God and the duties of man, moral and religious truth

The people who will be deceived by the antichrist in the future are people who right now do not embrace a love for the truth.

I think this is specifically talking about the truth in Jesus Christ, that we must believe in Him to be saved.


Do you love the truth?

True or False

On the Internet, you will hear all sorts of stories, all sorts of “urban myths”.  Below are some of the myths that have been discussed on the Internet and conclusions that have been drawn about them. What do you think? Are they true or false?

1.     A penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building will embed itself in the pavement. (false)

2.     Unless marked “dairy”, fast-food shakes aren’t milk, but mostly carrageen gel. (true)

3.     The Bubbles in bubble-wrap (the packing material) contain a toxic gas. (false)

4.     If the entire population of China jumped up and down at the same time, the earth’s orbit would be disturbed. (false)

5.     Some Oregon highway workers blew up a whale and showered the town with whale blubber. (true)

Edited from More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice.  Copyright 1995 by Youth Specialties, Inc.

It isn’t always that easy to tell what’s true and what’s false, is it?
What’s at stake isn’t whether you can always tell the truth from the lie, but whether or not you love the truth.

Do you love the truth about Jesus Christ?

Do you love truth in general?  Do you love to tell the truth?  Is your life truthful? Flip Wilson used to say, “What you see is what you get”.  Is that true in you?

:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

It is amazing what people will believe when they no longer have a love for the truth.  In recent grocery store tabloids, the following headlines were observed:

* Cow Mattresses Help Cows Produce More Milk

* Mom To Be On Diet Of Only Chicken, Lays Huge Egg

* WWII Bomber Found On The Moon

* Woman Gives Birth To 2 Year Old Baby:  Child Walks & Talks In 3 Days

* Adam & Eve's Bones Found In Asia:  Eve Was A Space Alien

strongenergeia – working, efficiency; in the NT used only of superhuman power, whether of God or of the Devil.  This is the same word that was translated “working” (v. 9) to describe the antichrist “whose coming is after the working of Satan”.

delusionplane – a wandering, a straying about; one led astray from the right way, roams hither and thither; error, wrong opinion relative to morals or religion; error which shows itself in action, a wrong mode of acting; error, that which leads into error, deceit or fraud

If people make a choice now to not love the truth, they will have a hard time later believing the truth.

:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth …


The Truth:  God wants people to be saved.

I think we need to be careful here and not get the wrong idea.  God wants people to be saved.
(1 Tim 2:4-6 NLT)  for he wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. {5} For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus. {6} He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message that God gave to the world at the proper time.
(2 Pet 3:9 NLT)  The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent.
But if people refuse to pay attention to God’s remedy for their sin, they may face the possibility of being deluded during the Tribulation.

damnedkrino – to separate; to judge; to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong; to be judged, i.e. summoned to trial that one’s case may be examined and judgment passed upon it; to pronounce judgment, to subject to censure

had pleasureeudokeo – it seems good to one, is one’s good pleasure; think it good, choose, determine, decide; to do willingly

unrighteousnessadikia – injustice, of a judge; unrighteousness of heart and life; a deed violating law and justice, act of unrighteousness


If you don’t love the truth now, you may never.

Some people have the idea that they’ll wait until after the rapture, and then they’ll decide to follow Jesus.
The problem is that if you don’t pay attention to the truth now, when it’s fairly easy to follow Jesus, what makes you think you’ll pay attention to the truth then, when following Jesus may mean dying a martyr’s death?
For others, the issue is about learning to live in truth.
Are there areas of your life that you are hiding from?  Are there areas that just seem too wicked to really face up to?
You’ll have a hard time being able to get out of bondage if you don’t deal with the truth.