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2Thessalonians 2:1-8

Thursday Evening Bible Study

November 30, 2017


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Target 3300 words   Video = 75 wpm

As we saw with 1Thessalonians, the church in Thessalonica was started under difficult circumstances. (Acts 17)

Paul had been there maybe a month when the Jews of Thessalonica rose up against Paul and drove him out of town.

The new church continued, but they were under constant persecution.

In a way, they’ve been going through their own “tribulation”.

Paul wrote his two letters from Corinth to deal with some of the situations he had been hearing about from Timothy who had been visiting the Thessalonians.

We think that this second letter was written shortly after the first, perhaps as soon as a year later.

In this second letter, Paul deals with two issues:

1) Bad teaching about the Lord’s return.

2) Paul was also concerned about a growing group of people who had quit their jobs and weren’t working.

In Paul’s first letter, he had already mentioned several issues regarding the end times.

He had talked about a coming greater Tribulation as the “wrath to come”, and that God would protect us from it.

(1 Thessalonians 1:10 NKJV) and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
(1 Thessalonians 5:9 NKJV) For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

We now dive into his teaching about the End Times.

2:1-12 Antichrist

:1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,

:2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.

we ask youerotao – to question; to ask; to request, entreat, beg, beseech

concerninghuper – 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

:1 our gathering together to Him

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

Paul is talking about the rapture.
He’s already mentioned the rapture to them in the previous letter.
(1 Thessalonians 4:15–17 NKJV) —15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Video:  Rapture

Some folks want to group “the coming” of Jesus with “our gathering”, and make the rapture happen at the same time as Jesus’ return.

I think it’s interesting that Paul mentions the two issues separately.  I believe the “gathering” takes place 7 years before the “coming”.

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

(Luke 6:48 NKJV) He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.

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 recognizing goodness and of hating evil; the power of considering and judging soberly, calmly and impartially

:2 troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us

The Thessalonians had become shaken up concerning the issue of the Lord’s return.

“by spirit” carries the idea that someone had been giving prophecies that led people to think they had already missed it.

“by word” carries the idea that people were repeating what they had heard from others.

“by letter” seems to indicate that someone had written a letter and claimed it was from Paul himself, saying that Jesus had already returned.

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

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”.

:2 as though the day of Christ had come

“the day of Christ” is talking about Jesus’ actual return.

I don’t think it’s talking about the Rapture, but it’s talking about Jesus’ return after the seven year tribulation period.

had comeenistemi – to place in or among, 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 into the present.
The idea is not that the people were wrong in thinking that the coming of the Lord was close, but that it had already happened.  They had been told that they had missed the coming of the Lord.

Let’s review our End Times Timeline.

Gog/Magog war (Eze. 38-39)
Tribulation starts (lasting 7 years)
The Abomination of Desolation
Jesus returns
Millennial Kingdom (Mat. 20)

Keep in mind, we are talking about ancient times without telephones, TV, or the internet. So how would they know? If Jesus had returned to set up His kingdom in Israel, it might take weeks or months before the rest of the world would know.

Even though, John wrote something interesting about this during these ancient times,
(Revelation 1:7 NKJV) —7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

Yet back in Paul’s day, the people had no way of knowing that Jesus had not yet come.  After all, Thessalonica is 900 miles (as the crow flies) from Jerusalem.

In the last epistle, people were afraid that their dead believing friends had missed the resurrection.

Now, these folks have been duped into thinking they’ve missed the return of Christ.

:3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,

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

meanstropos – a manner, way, fashion

:3 that Day shall not come

Notice that this is in italics? This is not in the Greek text, it was added by translators to help give the sense of the passage.  They are picking up the idea from the mention in the previous verse of the “day of Christ”.

:3 unless the falling away comes first

falling awayapostasia – a falling away, defection, apostasy. 

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)
(Acts 21:21 NKJV) but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.
It comes from the verb aphistemi – to make stand off, to remove; to fall away, become faithless
Some have suggested that Paul might even be referring to the Rapture here, where we are “removed” from the earth. 
That’s possible.
It’s more likely to refer to an “apostasy”, a “falling away” of Christians from the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul uses the verb (aphistemi) in:

(1 Timothy 4:1 NKJV) Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,

If you talk long enough to the nice Mormon kids knocking at your door, they will eventually tell you that they believe the church “apostatized” after the death of the apostles, but that Joseph Smith restored the church to what it was supposed to be.
Yet Paul says this “apostacy” would happen at the end, not two millennia before.
What is this “apostasy”?
Plenty of folks will tell you it’s the Roman Catholic Church, or cults like the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Others will label every other church other than their own as being apostate.
I think he’s probably what is described in the next verse (2Th. 2:4), the worship of the antichrist in place of Jesus Christ.

first – Paul is simply telling the Thessalonians that they haven’t missed the return of Jesus because the apostacy and antichrist haven’t popped up yet.

If you are around to see this “falling away” and the antichrist, then perhaps you should be concerned about being in the “day of the Lord”.  Then you should be concerned about perhaps missing the “gathering together” with Him.

:3 the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition

be revealedapokalupto (“apocalypse”) – to uncover, lay open what has been veiled or covered up

Jesus’ return is called an “apocalypse” (2Th. 1:7). 
The Book of “Revelation” is the “apocalypse” or “revealing” of Jesus.
Here the antichrist has his own “apocalypse” or “revealing”.

perditionapoleia – utter destruction; the destruction which consists of eternal misery in hell

The antichrist is destined for hell.
Judas also received this same title from Jesus:
(John 17:12b NKJV) …Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

Judas has some things in common with this individual.

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 epitome.


The antichrist

We have several titles given to this individual.
He is the “son of perdition”, one who is destined for hell.
He is the “man of sin”, the epitome of all sinners.
He will also be called the “lawless one” (v.8)
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.

:4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

:4 opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God

opposesantikeimai – to be set over against, opposite to; to oppose, be adverse to, withstand

exaltshuperairomai – 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 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

Halfway through the tribulation period, the antichrist will move from being a world leader, to someone claiming divinity.

He will declare that he’s better than all other gods and demand to be worshipped in the very Temple of Jerusalem…which will have to have been rebuilt by then.

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

showingapodeiknumi – 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

Paul is describing a key event in our end times timeline.
This is the event that marks the halfway point in the Tribulation.
Daniel was the first to speak of this event:
(Daniel 9:26–27 NKJV) —26 “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till 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.  Each “week” is a period of seven years.

The first seven “weeks” lead to the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

The next 62 “weeks” culminate in the first coming of Jesus, when He was “cut off”. 

That’s when God’s time clock stopped, after a total of 69 weeks.

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 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on 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).

Yet we know this wasn’t the ultimate “abomination of desolation” because Jesus would say it was still coming.

Jesus told His Jewish audience that if they saw this happen, they ought to head for the hills.
(Matthew 24:15–22 NKJV) —15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will 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 (including many Jews) 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.

We have some ideas as to where they will run.
Isaiah has a prophecy about a city hiding God’s outcasts.

(Isaiah 16:1 NKJV) Send the lamb to the ruler of the land, From Sela to the wilderness, To the mount of the daughter of Zion.

Sela is another name for Petra.

There will be Jews hiding in Petra, sending some sort of peace offering to a ruler in Zion.

Isaiah also mentions the city of Bozrah, which is about 30 miles north of Petra. (Is. 63:1)

(Isaiah 63:1 NKJV) Who is this who comes from Edom, With dyed garments from Bozrah, This One who is glorious in His apparel, Traveling in the greatness of His strength?— “I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”

It is fascinating that in the last couple of years, Jordan and Israel have begun to trust each other and are working together.  Not so 30 years ago.
Our guide Hassan was telling us about all the caves throughout the land of Jordan, and how they would be perfect for hiding from war, how easy it would be to stock them with food and live in as shelter.

He said they weren’t currently stocked like this, but that it could be done.

He had no idea about these predictions when he told us.  I asked.

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.
John had a vision of this time, and in it Israel is described as a “woman”.  Satan is describes as the “serpent” or “dragon”.

(Revelation 12:14–17 NKJV) —14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15 So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

The “serpent” is involved because the Bible tells us that the antichrist will be completely “possessed” by Satan (Rev. 13).  Satan is behind all the antichrist does.

The woman flees to the wilderness – perhaps Jordan.

“time and times and half a time” is the 3 ½ years of the last part of the Tribulation.

:5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?

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

:5 I told you these things?

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.

:6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.

:6 what is restraining

restrainingkatecho – to hold back, detain; to hinder

Present participle, continual action.

Something is holding back the antichrist from being “revealed”.

The Thessalonians knew this.

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

:7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.

:7 the mystery of lawlessness is already at 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

lawlessnessanomia – the condition of without law; contempt and violation of law, iniquity, wickedness

workenergeo – to be operative, be at work, put forth power; to work for one, aid one; to effect; to display one’s activity, show one’s self operative

alreadyede – now, already

The things that will be driving the antichrist are already at work.  They were at work in Paul’s day. 


Antichrist is already here

The person of the antichrist may indeed be present in our world today, but the “spirit” that drives him has been around for a very long time.
The apostle John wrote,
(1 John 4:3 NKJV) and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

Part of the spirit of antichrist is about Jesus, about having the wrong ideas of Jesus, even denying that He was a real, physical person.

There are other things we believe to be true about the coming person of the antichrist:
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.

He probably will be a ruler in Europe.

Daniel refers 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 He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way

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

restrainskatecho – to hold back, detain, retain; from going away; to restrain, hinder (the course or progress of); that which hinders, Antichrist from making his appearance; to check a ship’s headway i.e. to hold or head the ship

untilheos – till, until

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

This restrainer will be taken “out of the midst”.

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 is someone or something that has been holding back this spirit of the antichrist from developing into the person of the antichrist.


What Restrains

There have been plenty of suggestions throughout history about who or what is restraining the antichrist.
Some see it as an angel. 

There is certainly Biblical evidence of angelic forces being at work behind the scenes.

Some see it has God or specifically the Holy Spirit.

The problem with this idea is the concept of being “taken out of the way”.  God, the Holy Spirit, is always present and will continue to be present and work on the earth.

I think it might very be 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 bring pornography into every home and 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”.

:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.

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

the lawless oneanomos – destitute of (the Mosaic) law; of the Gentiles; departing from the law, a violator of the law, lawless, wicked.

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

breath 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

:8 whom the Lord will consume


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.
John describes the event:
(Revelation 19:15–21 NKJV) —15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, 18 that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” 19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
Though we’ve been talking a lot about the “antichrist”, we don’t want to forget that we’re not really looking for the antichrist, we’re looking for Jesus Christ.