Study Notes

2Thessalonians 2:1-17


As we talked about last week, Paul wrote this second epistle to the Thessalonians within a year of writing the first one. You see, as the Thessalonian church continued to suffer persecution, someone had claimed by a word of prophecy that the Great Tribulation had begun. Then a letter showed up from Paul verifying this statement, saying that yes, the world was going through the Great Tribulation. The problem was, that Paul had never written such a letter - it was a forgery.

In chapter one, he encouraged them in their affliction, as they were suffering persecution. Now in chapter two, he is going to explain exactly how the end times are going to unfold, so that no one will misunderstand what is happening, no one will misrepresent the day, and no one will mislead them into believing a lie.

So he begins...

2:1-2 A Spirit, A Message, A Letter

He makes a request of them: "Hey guys, I'm asking that you not lose hope so quickly when a 'word of prophecy' comes forth, or you get a letter in the mail claiming to be from me, that says that they day of the Lord has come. It can't happen that way."

Notice the differentiation he places between the coming of the Lord, which is also called "The Day of the Lord," and our gathering together to Him, which we call "The Rapture." Paul can honestly say that they will never receive such a spirit or a letter that is true, because they won't be around to hear it or get it.

The Day Of The Lord

The prophets had much to say about The Day of the Lord.

Ezek. 30:3 "For the day is near, Even the day of the LORD is near; It will be a day of clouds, A time {of doom} for the nations."

Joel 1:15 Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, And it will come as destruction from the Almighty.

Joel also wrote,

Joel 2:30-31 "And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes."

These are signs that happen during the seven year period written about in the book of Revelation, as God is bringing judgment after judgment upon the earth, to bring men to repentance. The Day of the Lord will happen after these incredible things happen.

Another thing that must happen is that Elijah will come. Malachi tells us,

Mal. 4:5 "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.

This too happens in the book of Revelation, as we read about the two witnesses in chapter 11.

When The Day of the Lord does come, it will be terrible destruction.

Rev. 6:15-17 And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?"

So "The Day of the Lord," is the time when God's wrath will be poured out upon the earth. But Paul had told the Thessalonians, that Jesus...

1Ths. 1:10 ...delivers us from the wrath to come.

1Ths. 5:9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ

He also told the Romans,

Rom. 5:8-9 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath {of God} through Him.

The church will not be here during the period of time that God pours out His wrath on the earth - they will be raptured away, gathered together with the Lord. We discussed this in depth in our study of 1Thessalonians 4:13-18.

So we've seen some things that must happen before The Day of the Lord comes: the rapture, signs in the heavens like the moon turning to blood, and the appearance of Elijah. Now Paul tells them two more things that have to happen before the Day of the Lord will appear...

2:3-5 The Apostasy

Paul lists things that have to happen before the Day of the Lord comes: the apostasy, and the revelation of the man we call antichrist.

First, there is the apostasy. In Greek, it is "ap-os-tas-EE-ah," which is a falling away from the faith. Near the end of the church age, there will be a terrible departure from the faith.

"Wait a second," you say. "I've always been taught that there is going to be a huge revival at the end of the church age. Preachers have always told me that God's going to pour out His Spirit in the last days." Yes, there will be a massive end-times revival where God pours out His Spirit and millions of people come to Christ. But that will happen after the rapture of the church, during the Great Tribulation. The book of the prophet Joel describes a great army from the north coming down to invade Israel.

Joel 2:20 "But I will remove the northern {army} far from you, and I will drive it into a parched and desolate land, and its vanguard into the eastern sea, and its rear guard into the western sea. And its stench will arise and its foul smell will come up, for it has done great things."

Eight verses later, the Lord says,

Joel 2:28-31 "And it will come about AFTER THIS that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire, and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.

The Lord is going to pour out His Spirit AFTER the thwarted invasion attempt - at the same time when these signs in the heavens are happening. This is during the final seven years. Millions of people will be saved. Using the two witnesses, and the 144,000, God will proclaim His gospel to bunches of people. John says in Revelation 7,

Rev. 7:9-10 ...behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and {all} tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches {were} in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."

Why are they all in heaven? When John is asked,

Rev. 7:13-14 And one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and from where have they come?" And I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

They will be saved, and then martyred, because they will refuse to take the mark of the beast. They are the result of the massive end-times revival written about in Scripture.

Unfortunately, the opposite is prophesied for the church.

1Tim. 4:1 ...The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons

People will depart from the true Christian faith and fall away. Notice that they will not leave the church, but leave the faith. How will this happen? They will follow after deceiving spiritual things, and demonic doctrines.

Now I'm going to say something very controversial: I believe that we are in the midst of that apostasy right now. Many are claiming that the church is experiencing great revival, but what does this revival consist of? Is it a "back to the Word of God" revival? Is it a revival marked by repentance and forsaking of sin? No. This is a revival based on unbiblical spiritual experiences like being "slain in the Spirit" and "holy laughter" - Deceitful spirits! This is a revival based on unbiblical teachings that tickle the ears, yet deceive the soul. Creating your own reality by "naming it and claiming it," teachers proclaiming the "health and wealth" prosperity doctrines, and such. These are doctrines that have been conceived in hell itself! Doctrines of demons!

2Tim. 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but {wanting} to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.

The Bible warns the church to expect to see apostasy in the form of a counterfeit revival.

As we finish up the book of 2Thessalonians, we will begin our study of the book of Jude, which will teach us how to recognize apostasy and apsotates in the church.

The Man Of Lawlessness

The second thing that Paul says will happen before The Day of the Lord is the revealing of the antichrist. We don't have the time this morning to examine everything that the Bible has to say about this man, but I do want us to look at what Paul describes here.

Bible prophecy is very clear about this man. In the future, 10 nations from the former Roman Empire will arise out of the European community in dominance (Rev. 17). The antichrist will come to power and make a "firm covenant" (Dan 9:27), a 7-year peace treaty with Israel, that will include the rebuilding of their Temple. The Jews will hail him as their Messiah, who has finally come. But after just 3 1/2 years, he will break it by committing the "Abomination of Desolation" by standing in the very Holy of Holies in the rebuilt temple and proclaiming and exalting himself above all that is called God, claiming to be God. Of that day, Jesus said,

Matt. 24:15-21 "Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days! But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath; for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall."

On that day, a horrible persecution will break out against the Jews, such as has never been seen in the history of the world - Hitler's persecution included.

2:6-7 The Restrainer

The antichrist's revelation is being restrained right now. By what? Actually, verse 7 tells us that the Restrainer is a Who. Someone has been restraining evil on the earth from the days of Paul, and for the last 2,000 years. Who is this? He is the Holy Spirit, working through the church, to be salt and light to a corrupted world. But when the church is raptured, He will be taken out of the way, He will no longer be restraining the spirit of antichrist.

The point to the Thessalonians is this: "You can't be experiencing the Day of the Lord, because that can't happen until after the apostasy and the revelation of the antichrist. But the antichrist can't be revealed until the church is raptured! So, you guys can see, that you're not going through the Great Tribulation, and this persecution you're suffering is not the wrath of God, it is the affliction that Jesus promised we would have."

2:8-12 The Lord Will Slay

When the antichrist is revealed, he is going to deceive people with satanic power to perform signs and wonders. All who have rejected Christ will be deluded, believing his lies. But Christ will ultimately be victorious:

Rev. 19:20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.

The antichrist will finally get what he deserves.

2:13-14 Called Through The Gospel

We could get really freaked out focusing on how awful the last days scenario is, but Paul reminds us that...

2Ths. 2:13 ...God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation...

We will not be subjected to these terrible times.

2:15 The Traditions

Because Jesus delivers us from the wrath to come, we need to stand firm and hold to... to what? To what Paul calls,

2Ths. 2:15 ...the traditions which you were taught, whether by word {of mouth} or by letter from us.

Not the traditions of men or the traditions of religion. Jesus condemned those types of traditions, saying,

Mark 7:7-9 'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." He was also saying to them, "You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition."

No, the traditions that we need to stand firm in and hold onto are that which have been given to us in the Bible.

2:16-17 Comfort And Strength

The world will be judged, but you who know the Lord personally will be raptured, saved from the wrath of God. In thankfulness, God expects that you will hold to what He's given you in Scripture.

Be busy in good works and good words, and God will bring you comfort and strength to endure.

Go to next study

Go to previous study