1 - 4 How To Recognize the Day of the Lord
1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for [it will not come] unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
As it is already said in the introduction, the emphasis in this second letter lies on correction. That was needed because the enemy was trying to paralyze the lives of the believers. In order to succeed, he makes use of false doctrines. He wants to create the right climate through the persecutions and tribulations so that he can introduce those false doctrines.
You have seen the tribulations in chapter 1. Paul made clear there how to confront them and he encouraged the believers on that by his teaching. In this chapter the false doctrines will be dealt with how the tempter and deceiver wants to deceive the believers with a false message on the future. Paul clarifies how you should approach it. Besides, in both chapters you see the two forms of appearance of the enemy: in chapter 1 the ‘roaring lion’ (1Pet 5:8) and in chapter 2 the ‘angel of light’ (2Cor 11:14).
The false teaching consisted of the guile of the enemy, in order to fool the Thessalonians that the day of the Lord had already come. The enemy had even spread the rumor that Paul himself believes and teaches that. Now you should pay careful attention to how Paul will fight and refute this false teaching by placing the truth against it.
V1. He does not issue an order. He even less blames them to be so stupid for giving room to the enemy for his false doctrines. No, he starts with “request” them. In that way he wants to make them ponder on what he was going to say and what the main theme of his letter will be. Then he places himself in their midst, and not above them, by addressing them again with the familiar word “brethren”, which word also instills confidence.
His starting point for refuting the false doctrine and the presentation of the truth is the coming of the Lord Jesus for His own. That’s what he means by “with regard to”. With that he says: ‘In order to make clear to you what the day of the Lord consists of, I want to remind you for a moment of the rapture of the believers.’ He is saying as it were to them: ‘Haven’t I told you that the Lord Jesus will come for His own first and that we will meet Him in the air, so that we may gather together to Him (1Thes 4:15-17)? You, who belong to Him, are still on earth. How could it be that the day of the Lord has come already, while the church is still on the earth? The coming of the Lord Jesus for those who are His is still to take place. Therefore there is no reason to accept that the day of the Lord has already come.’
V2. Don’t let yourself be fooled about anything. It is the purpose of the enemy to keep you (and every child of God) away from focusing your eyes surely and firmly on the personal coming of the Lord Jesus in the air to take up His own with Him. He uses all kinds of deceptions and tricks to succeed. He attacks you in your thinking, your mind, your capability to judge things. You must not let yourself be easily led to confusion.
Think about everything that you hear or see and judge the things according to the Word of God. Then you will not be shocked easily by certain events that are explained by false teachers as God’s actions. Neither will you be easily confused and excited by their ‘wonderful’ explanations.
They claim to have received one or another message by inspiration. But it is impossible that God’s Spirit is at work here. God’s Spirit is always in accordance with God’s Word. Therefore the spirits are to be tested according to God’s Word (1Jn 4:1). Therefore, don’t let yourself be surprised by their so-called ‘spiritual’ contacts. Don’t allow yourself to be deprived by their convincing-like arguments. You must examine what they say on the basis of God’s Word.
Even if they would come to you with a letter, a document of which they claim to be coming from an authority in religious matters, don’t allow yourself to be confused by it. Satan doesn’t care about which means he should use, as long as it is effective. As long as it results in having the Thessalonians think that the day of the Lord has come.
A wrong translation of this phrase is: ‘As the day of Christ is at hand’ (KJV). That wouldn’t be an error, for that day is indeed at hand. But the error that had found entrance was precisely that it had come now already. The proof of that, claimed by the deceivers, are the persecutions which the Thessalonians have to endure. That day is accompanied by tribulation after all, is it not? The suffering which they are enduring seem to be a confirmation to the deceivers. Is it not written that that day would be a day of fear and terror?
V3. There are two arguments in order to refute the error that the day of the Lord has come already. You just received the first argument: the believers have not been united with the Lord yet, for only after that He will come together with them to the earth. The second argument is that the lawless one (verse 8) has not been revealed yet and therefore the judgment cannot be executed yet.
This second argument Paul now explains. If you understand that and hold on to it, the enemy will in no way be able to confuse you anymore about it. The first that Paul points to is “the apostasy”, which is the spiritual climate that will prevail after the rapture of the believers. That apostasy is the public denial of something that was formerly professed. Here it is about the apostasy of Christendom as the only religion wherein God has revealed Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is the radical denial that there is a supreme Being beyond man, to Whom man should submit himself. The apostasy means that man arrogates to himself the absolute authority in the world and in the universe.
In order to prevent a misconception, it is good for you to know that ‘the apostasy’ is not the apostasy of the believer, the born again Christian. The believer cannot become an apostate. The Lord Jesus has given the assurance of that (Jn 10:27-29). It is actually true that in the time wherein we live, the “latter times”, “some will fall away from the faith” (1Tim 4:1). That regards people who seemingly have Godliness, but not the real Godliness though, which means those who are not born again (2Tim 3:5). But that is not the same as the general apostasy of the whole that calls itself Christian. Apostasy does not mean that the love of certain people is growing cold or the introduction of evil things in the church, but it is fully giving up the truth of God. Apostasy means that man dethrones God and puts himself on the throne.
The stage in which all Christians will apostate is still to come. The apostasy only starts when the rapture of the church has happened and when only nominal Christians are left on earth. That what will then be called Christianity will completely fall away. In the spiritual climate that will then prevail, a person will thrive who is the embodiment of the rebellion against God. This person is the concentration of all lawlessness. He is called “the man of sin” and “the son of destruction”.
Sin has absolute authority over this man. Sin has the unlimited and uncontrollable disposal over this person. There is in no way any connection with God or something that comes from God. This person has delivered himself to sin as a willing instrument, so that sin can reveal itself in all its horror in him.
Such a person cannot possibly be any one else than ‘the son of destruction’. This is how Judas is also called by the Lord Jesus (Jn 17:12). This name is an indicator of the character. You also read for instance about “a son of peace” (Lk 10:6) as someone who is characterized by peace, who as it were has peace as his father, which his character shows. ‘The son of destruction’ finds its origin in the destruction, his actions are characterized by destruction and his end is in the destruction.
V4. However, when he reaches his end, he will draw all spiritual leadership to himself. The person of the antichrist will be revealed. This is the person who is indicated in Daniel 11 as “the king” who “will do as he pleases” (Dan 11:36). Paul quotes that verse here. From that verse it also appears that the antichrist is a Jew.
In the New Testament you see him as the apostate leader of Christendom (he denies the Father and the Son) and of Judaism (he denies that Jesus is the Christ) (1Jn 2:22-23). In Revelation 13 you see him as the beast that comes up out of the earth (Rev 13:11-18). The description shows much similarity with Christ as the Lamb. The antichrist is imitating Him, He pretends to be the Christ, but is in all views the opponent of Christ.
When he will be reigning, he will prohibit every form of religion. In that way he will open the way for an unprecedented blasphemous performance: he will oblige all Jews and nominal Christians to honor him as God (cf. Eze 28:2). Therefore he will take place in the temple of God, which is the temple in Jerusalem, the religious center of the Jews. The antichrist will take care that the dictator of the restored Roman Empire will be worshipped. Therefore he will make an image of that dictator and will place it in the temple where it can be worshipped (Rev 13:14-15).
That he takes place in the temple, proves once again that the antichrist is a Jew. The (apostate) Jews would otherwise never accept him as christ or messiah and also not allow him to take possession of the temple of God. The Lord Jesus has said of him that he will come in his own name and that the Jews will accept him (Jn 5:43).
Now read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 again.
Reflection: Which proofs do you find in this portion that the day of the Lord has not come yet?
5 - 8 That Lawless One
5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 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. 8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;
V5. In the previous verses Paul actually did not do much more than remind the believers in Thessalonica of what he had told them earlier. Apparently this subject belongs to the basic equipment of each believer. He will not have gone deeper into that, for he only stayed with them for a short time. Nevertheless he points out to them what he had then said and in that way wants to refresh their memory.
It is surely not the case that Paul has mentioned this subject blandly. You cannot see it in this translation, but he says that he has repeatedly mentioned this subject. Therefore it includes a resonance of reprimand – still in a gentle way of course. If they had understood what he had said, they would not have had the difficulties that they were now suffering in the circumstances they found themselves. Due to the ‘forgetfulness’ of the Thessalonians we may now profit from the teaching on the future.
V6-7. Paul moves on with his teaching. He thereby connects to the knowledge of which he presumed them to be having. They knew that the revelation of the antichrist was being restrained. This being restrained happens by a “what” (verse 6) and a “who” (verse 7). There is ‘something’ that restrains and ‘someone’, a person, who restrains. The question is ‘what’ and ‘whom’ we should be thinking of, what is the meaning. Several interpreters put forward several solutions. I would like to tell you which one appeals the most to me and why.
“What restrains him”, is the church. Paul has said that as long as the church is on the earth, the day of the Lord could not possibly have come already. He has also said that, before the day of the Lord comes, the apostasy, which is in relation with the public revelation of the antichrist, must come first. But the presence of the church on earth means that there is still no general denial of God and Christ yet.
“He who now restrains”, is the Holy Spirit. That it is a reference to the Holy Spirit, is clear to me, because following that is written “until he is taken out of the way”. When the church will be taken out of the way, the Holy Spirit also will be taken out of the way. Will He then be no more on earth? He surely will, but not in the same way like when the church was on the earth. Then He dwelled in the church. On the day of Pentecost, at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, He came to dwell in the believers.
Before that time He worked on earth. You can already read about that in the first verses of the Bible (Gen 1:2). Each work of God on earth happened (and is still happening) by the Holy Spirit. But only after the Lord Jesus had ascended to heaven after the accomplishment of the work on the cross, the Spirit came to dwell (Jn 7:39) on earth. How that has happened you can read in Acts 2:1-4. His coming to the earth was the beginning of the church. His dwelling place is the church (1Cor 3:16; Eph 2:22). You see how much the church and the Holy Spirit are related with each other.
Due to the presence on earth of both the church and the Holy Spirit, the full revelation of the evil is still being restrained. An example of that restraining is the failure of spiritualistic manifestations due to the presence of a praying believer there. What also can happen is that an ungodly or nasty conversation may stop when a devoted believer joins the talkers, of whom they know to be a devoted believer.
This ‘restraining’ stops when the church has been caught up to heaven. And when the church is caught up, it cannot be otherwise than that the Holy Spirit leaves the earth. The church is His dwelling place forever. A proof of that is to be found in what the Lord Jesus has said of the Holy Spirit, namely that He abides with and will be in the believers forever (Jn 14:15-17). When the church has been caught up into heaven, the Holy Spirit will not dwell on earth anymore. As far as His work is concerned, it will be again like it was in the time before the church was on earth.
The full revelation of the evil is therefore being restrained. But “the mystery of lawlessness” is already at work. To those who are blind to it, the unbelievers, it is still a ‘mystery’. The unbelievers even cooperate massively with the lawlessness. To you it doesn’t have to be a mystery. You may allow yourself to take in what Paul is saying here about this phenomenon. The reason that it unfortunately is still a mystery to many believers, is because they do not read the Scripture. If you do read the Scripture, then this increasing lawlessness doesn’t have to be surprising to you.
With lawlessness you must not think just of breaking the law. Lawlessness goes far beyond that. Lawlessness is the essence of sin, for sin is lawlessness (1Jn 3:4). It is the complete denial of any form of authority. Is that not what you observe around you? Do you not notice that man wants to become autonomous, independent, self-reliant more and more? He is less and less willing to submit himself to authority and certainly not to God’s authority.
V8. This work of ‘the mystery of lawlessness’ goes on until the man of sin, the lawless one, can fully expose himself. Therefore, don’t let yourself be deceived by voices who want to make you believe that the world will be won for Christ through the gospel. That is a great error. You read here what the future of the world looks like.
That doesn’t mean that you should not proclaim the gospel. On the contrary, it is exactly an exhortation to do that. However, the gospel is for the individual and not for the mass. As it is said, the mass will fall away, will turn its back on God and worship the antichrist. “Then”, this is how verse 8 begins. That means: at this moment and not earlier, the lawless one will be revealed. The lawlessness which is already at work mysteriously, will at that moment take shape in a person. It is the same as John writes about the many antichrists, while there is just only one who is the antichrist (1Jn 2:18). Everything happens according to God’s plan. Satan and his demons can in no way change anything about that. No, the fact is even that they cooperate against their will to the fulfillment of it.
Once the lawless one has been revealed, it will be the beginning of a time of unprecedented terror on earth. You don’t read anything about his rule of terror here. You can read it in the book of Revelation. Here you read briefly, and therefore impressive, about his inglorious, humiliating and horrible end. He does not come to an end by being defeated in a fight of life and death. The Lord Jesus will personally slay him by nothing more than the breath of His mouth (cf. Isa 11:4). You can also think of His Word, a word of power (Psa 33:6; Rev 1:16).
Imagine: There you have the lawless man who exalts himself above everything and has made himself God instead of being submitted to God. This puffed-up, bragging blasphemer will be slain by a simple (but oh so powerful!) act. And by Whom? By the Man Who has first humbled Himself on earth and became obedient until death and Who afterwards was glorified by God and became Lord of lords. His appearance, so when He comes visible on earth, means the end of the lawless one.
“To slay” and “bring to an end” do not mean the end of his existence. These words indicate that it is finished with his position and the exertion of his power. In Revelation 19 you see how that will happen (Rev 19:20). There the lawless one is called “the false prophet”. Together with the beast, which is the dictator of the restored Roman Empire (the united Europe), he is thrown into the lake of fire without trial. These two monstrous persons will come into hell as the first ones. They will also be the only ones there during the thousand years of peace that will follow on earth after their condemnation. When the thousand years will be over, then the devil will be thrown into it (Rev 20:10) and ultimately all the unbelievers (Rev 20:11-12,15).
Now read 2 Thessalonians 2:5-8 again.
Reflection: Mention situations wherein the mystery of lawlessness is already at work.
9 - 12 Those Who Perish
9 [that is], the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
V9. In these verses Paul tells some particularities about the antichrist. The antichrist is not only ungodly and focused on himself, he is also the great deceiver. By displaying “power and signs and false wonders” he deceives those who have no life from God.
God also gives these observable manifestations. You can see them in the life of the Lord Jesus and His apostles and in the first church (Acts 2:22; Rom 15:19; 2Cor 12:12; Heb 2:4). The antichrist is therefore also a great imitator of the Lord Jesus. The source from which he draws his displays, is the lie. That means that satan is his inspirer, for satan is the father of lies (Jn 8:44). Satan tries everything to tempt people.
It is important to keep in mind that what at the beginning was meant for the benefit of the believers, served to emphasize the Word of God. The Word of God was not complete then. Now it has been completed we need no more confirmation through signs and wonders.
We are living in the time of faith, not of sight (2Cor 5:7). God is asking of each individual to have faith in His Word. You know that the period of faith is coming to an end. We are living in the latter days. The coming apostasy is becoming more and more sharply outlined. A sign of that is the declining interest in God’s Word. That a huge number of people is buying modern, freely translated, easy reading Bible translations, is not a proof of a revival. It is rather a satisfaction of the human spiritual need. You are allowed to read the koran as well next to it. The language usage has been adjusted to the requirement of the time. And do you remember which particular time that is? Right – the end time.
Just take a look around you. The demand for visible and tangible elements that could be of help for the faith experience, is increasing. Christians, even true Christians, start to attach more and more importance to rituals and relics. It paves the way through which ‘power and signs and false wonders’ can enter into the professing church. The spirit of the antichrist is very busy.
Movies, in which the so-called good or white magic is used to conquer the evil, are watched by a huge number of people. Such movies are ‘sold’ to Christians as inspiring, in order to do the good. What a deception that is! The opposite effect is happening. Christians are sold to the magic! And let this be clear: there is no such thing as good or white magic. Magic comes from the lie.
V10. Satan uses “all the deception of wickedness”. Nothing is too foolish for him. Everything is useful, as long as it serves his purpose. There is no trace of uprightness in him. He will absolutely manipulate people without conscience and drag them with him into destruction. That is his goal, because he thinks to hit God the most in such a way. But also here it appears that he doesn’t know God.
His deception only eagerly finds entrance with “those who perish”. Those are the people to whom the word of the cross is foolishness (1Cor 1:18). The gospel, the truth, has been offered to them, but they have rejected it as ridiculous. There is no love for the truth. They refuse to open their heart to the truth; the preaching does not matter to them. They do not want to be saved.
V11. “For this reason” (or ‘on this basis’) God will make sure that they believe the lie. You see that they owe it to themselves. Their attitude towards the truth is the blame that they perish. God wants to save them (1Tim 2:4), but they refuse. Many times He has begged them through His servants to let themselves to be reconciled to Him (2Cor 5:20), but they reject Him, again and again. They perish because they have not obeyed the gospel (2Thes 1:8) and because they have not received it, which the Thessalonians and you have done (1Thes 1:6; 2:13).
Therefore it is about people to whom the way of salvation has been presented, but who did not accept it. It is therefore not about people who have never heard of the gospel. That means that this judgment of hardening will come upon our Western world especially, where the word of the gospel has sounded so clear. Although they have not died yet, it will be too late for them to repent. They have lost the opportunity, just like Pharaoh did (Jer 46:17). The judgment of hardening will strike the ungodly (Rom 1:22-32), will strike Israel, with the exception of a remnant (Rom 11:25) and in this section it will strike Christianity after the rapture of the believers.
What will remain as Christianity on earth after the rapture of church is a Christ-less Christianity. Christianity will then exist of people who maintain their confession as Christians without any connection with the Christ of God. They will be an easy prey for the work of the error which will then be sent by God.
Therefore it then will be impossible for them to repent from their sins. Therefore there will be no more opportunity after the rapture of believers for those whom have not believed the truth before that had happened. For those whom have ever heard the gospel and rejected it, there will be therefore no second chance! Because they refused to believe the truth, they will believe the lie.
God uses satan to execute the judgment that He has determined. God has sovereign power in His use of satan and his demons. He has used satan to test His servant Job. He has used a spirit of lies to tempt Ahab, so that he would be killed in the battle (1Kgs 22:19-23).
V12. The revenge that God brings upon people is closely related to the violation that they have committed (Eze 14:9). Have these people preferred the lie of the devil above the love for the truth? Then God will make sure that they will embrace the lie of the devil to their own judgment. The lie which they will believe is the claim of the antichrist that he is God (verse 4). You see today how God is being excluded further and further from society and that man becomes the center more and more. Well, the admiration of man will soon be impossible to be reversed and will come to a completion when man will pay tribute to the man of sin.
This is the result when the truth is not believed. It comes down to faith in the truth. That is not a matter of the intellect, but of the heart. Therefore you read earlier about ‘love’ of the truth. Love is something of the heart. Therefore the truth has got nothing to do with a theoretical, theologian knowledge of the head, but a relationship with a person. That Person is the Lord Jesus.
He is the truth (Jn 14:6). Do you want to know the truth about God? Then you will learn to know it if you are occupied with Him. Do you want to know the truth about man? Then you must look at Him. What man is supposed to be before God you see in Him. What man is as a sinner, is missing completely with Him. Every deed, every word, every thought of God, becomes completely visible in Him and it is also the test for everything that you as man do, say and think.
Whoever does not believe the truth and has no inward relationship with it nor feels any love for it, will set his own standards. Those are by definition standards, which allow the sinful man to live as he pleases. From such a life it appears to be “a pleasure in wickedness”. Such a person chooses deliberately and consciously for fulfilling the desires of the own ‘I’. It does not arise in his mind what God wants and what is to the honor of the Lord Jesus. God’s judgment upon him will be righteous.
Now read 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 again.
Reflection: What do you do with what you have learnt about the terrible future of the unbelievers?
13 - 17 Chosen and Called
13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 14 It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word [of mouth] or by letter from us. 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, 17 comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.
This section starts with the word “but”. It indicates that what follows is in contrast to what has preceded it. A brief repetition of it is not a bad idea, I think. Paul has previously dealt with false doctrines about the day of the Lord. Deceivers came with those false doctrines. In chapter 1 he encourages the Thessalonians to look forward to the coming of the Lord and exhorts them to endure sufferings for the sake of the Name of the Lord until that time. In chapter 2 Paul goes into details on the false doctrine. He shows that the day of the Lord has not come yet.
In chapter 1 he points at the characteristic of that day. He makes clear that then the situation will be the reverse of the situation that they are dealing with now. In chapter 2 he explains why that day has not come yet, which is because some other events are still to take place first – first the antichrist, then the apostasy. But also the antichrist can only come when something and somebody has been taken away, which is the church and the Holy Spirit. Then the evil can break loose, although it will not happen at once in all its intensity. The full extent of the evil will reveal itself when the devil will be thrown to the earth and he demands and exercises his demonic government. That will take place about three and a half years after the rapture of the church. Then all brakes of the evil will be loosened.
Paul also points to the people who will be left behind (verse 12). After the rapture of the believers there will certainly be a number of people that repent. That will happen through the preaching of believing Jews. Those are however not the people from verse 12, for those are people who have consciously refused to believe the gospel. A judgment of hardening will come upon them. They will believe the lie of the antichrist and perish together with him in unbelief. There will be no such thing as a second chance.
V13. When you realize that you are surrounded by such people, you may almost get discouraged. You may even think in a weak moment: ‘Could this also be my fate?’ Well, Paul is reassuring you. He addresses the Thessalonians, and you may also include yourself, as “brethren beloved by the Lord”. One does not say that of people who do not have love for the truth. You indeed say that of those who love the truth sincerely. Whoever loves the truth, is beloved by the Lord.
Paul has pictured the dark scene of the fate which the antichrist and his supporters will be subjected to when the believers have been caught up. The persecutors and the oppressors who were still attacking and cursing the Thessalonians, will partake of that fate. It must have been very beneficial to them to hear in the midst of all their sufferings, that Paul was still giving thanks to God for them. It must have also done them good to hear that they were “chosen” by God “for salvation”. That brings an end to all doubt.
There is another encouragement added. God has chosen them “from the beginning” or “to be the first fruits” That indicates that they are special to God. When there is mention of a ‘first fruit’ it means that a lot more will follow. A ‘first fruit’ indicates a harvest that follows. The Thessalonians were therefore the first of a great harvest of believers that God will bring in (cf. Rom 16:5; 1Cor 16:15; Rev 14:14). The church will only be complete when all who God has chosen, will be saved. When the last soul has been added, then the church will be complete and will be caught up. The Thessalonians were the beginning of this great work of God. In them God saw as it were the whole of the redeemed ones. That must have been a great joy for Paul’s heart.
But how did Paul know then that God had chosen them? He could know it by the fruits that he saw in their lives. And he who has been chosen by God will be saved. The salvation stands here against the eternal destruction (2Thes 1:9). It is the arrival at the place of destination and reaching the full rest.
God has fulfilled his election by the work of His Spirit in your heart and conscience. The Spirit has sanctified you, set you apart from the world for God (1Pet 1:2). Here you see God’s side of the work in you. There is another side though, your side, which is that you have believed the truth. You have acknowledged that what God says about sin and the sinner applies to you and you have accepted the gospel.
V14. That gospel has been the calling voice of God. In that way He has called you and you have believed it. You may know that you will take part in the glory of the Lord Jesus. That is awesome, isn’t it? We are not there yet, we still have to wait, but this is a certainty. You will obtain the glory which belongs to the Lord Jesus. In its fullness this goes beyond the inheritance in the kingdom of peace. You may consider this the glory that the Lord Jesus has received from the Father because of His work on the cross, where He glorified the Father (Jn 17:4-5). He will share that glory with all who will be with Him in the house of the Father (Jn 17:22). That is great, isn’t it?
V15. Therefore, if this has been reserved for you, you must not let yourself be confused. The enemy will do his utmost to take this perspective out of your mind. But it actually must motivate you to stand firm, which means that the thought of your call will make you spiritually stable. That firmness does not lie in the so-called letters or revelations that people have so-called received (see also verse 2). That firmness lies in the fact that they take to heart what the apostle has taught them. He reminds them of the statutes that he has taught them.
He first has done that orally when he was with them. Later he did that by his first letter to them and also by this second letter. If they take those statutes seriously, if they acknowledge that they are given on God’s behalf, because Paul has received them from God (cf. Gal 1:12), they will keep them. Then they will not become prey to the false teachers with their destructive and miserable making doctrines.
By putting first in writing what he had told them orally, the statutes have gotten a permanent and therefore unchangeable character. That is important to us. We have no new statutes by word or by letter to be expected anymore. Everyone who comes with a ‘new’ message in order to add something to the Scripture can be unmasked as a deceiver. The Scripture is complete. You can be assured about that. Everything that God wants you to know, is fixed in the Bible which is in your hand. If you use that to test what a person wants to make you believe, you will not run the risk to lose your steadfastness.
V16. In the concluding words of this chapter Paul adds something more. He has shown us the importance of holding fast to the traditions, which is the Scripture. Now he still emphatically refers them to two Divine Persons. He makes holding on to the Scripture a matter of the Lord Jesus and God. You may think of the love that both these Divine Persons have for you. All of Their love goes out to you. They have shown Their love for you when the Lord Jesus died for you under the judgment of God (Jn 3:16; Gal 2:20).
Due to that you have received “an eternal comfort”. When you were still unconverted, the moment then came that you feared the wrath of God. You were discouraged. Then you came to faith in the Lord Jesus and God’s wrath was taken away from you and you found comfort with Them (Isa 12:1). Also as a believer you experienced comfort from Them in all kinds of situations of sorrow and even despair, for God is the “God of all comfort” (2Cor 1:3-4). Therefore you will experience that comfort forever (cf. Lk 16:25; Rev 7:17).
Both these Divine Persons have also given you “good hope”. If you open yourself to false teachers you will have insecurity. You will lose the sight of what God has prepared for you. The good hope is the opposite of that. The biblical hope is a security. God is after all “the God of hope” (Rom 15:13). Nothing is insecure with Him. There is mention of hope because the fulfillment lies in the future and God ensures that. It is nothing to boast in if you know that that comfort and hope are your part. It is your part because of God’s “grace”. To Him be all honor for that!
V17. Paul closes with a wish. He wishes that the Lord Jesus and God the Father will do something with the hearts of the Thessalonians. Even though they know the love of these Divine Persons and that they also know to have gained the eternal comfort and good hope, they still have a way to go. It is not the intention that you will wait for the fulfillment of hope with your arms crossed. No, the intention is that everything (“every”) that you do (“work”) and what you say (“word”) is “good”, is useful, is a help or benefit for others.
Because from your heart all your activities flow (Pro 4:23), Paul looks up to God and the Lord Jesus, that They may “comfort” and “strengthen” you with a view to that. In the next chapter you will receive practical teaching on that.
Now read 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 again.
Reflection: What do you learn from these verses about election and calling?