Evening Bible Study
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.
1:10 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.
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.
: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.
:1 our gathering together to Him
gathering together – episunagoge
– a gathering together in one place; the (religious) assembly (of
Paul is talking about the rapture.
He’s already mentioned the rapture to them in the previous letter.
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
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.
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”.
: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
“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
“by letter” seems to indicate that someone had written a letter and claimed
it was from Paul himself, saying that Jesus had already returned.
: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 come – enistemi – 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
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
Even though, John wrote something interesting about this during these
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
: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
: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 away – apostasia –
a falling away, defection, apostasy.
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.
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)
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,
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
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
:3 the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition
be revealed – apokalupto (“apocalypse”)
– to uncover, lay open what has been veiled or covered up
The Book of “Revelation” is the “apocalypse” or “revealing” of Jesus.
Here the antichrist has his own “apocalypse” or “revealing”.
perdition – apoleia – 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.
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
:4 opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God
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
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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)
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”.
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
:6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own
:6 what is restraining
restraining – katecho – to
hold back, detain; to hinder
Present participle, continual action.
Something is holding back the antichrist from being “revealed”.
The Thessalonians knew this.
: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
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
There are other things we believe to be true about the coming person of the
He is probably Jewish, but one who does not believe in God.
Daniel says he would not “regard the God of his fathers”
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.
He will rule over some form of a revived Roman empire
:7 He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the
out of the way – mesos –
middle; the midst; in the midst of, amongst
This restrainer will be taken “out of the midst”.
There is someone or something that has been holding back this spirit of the
antichrist from developing into the person of the antichrist.
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.
:8 whom the Lord will consume
That’s what the headlines will read.
Martin Luther in the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, wrote,
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:
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
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