2 THESSALONIANS 2 IN CONTEXT

In 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, the apostle Paul specifically addresses a specific issue related to the 2nd Coming of Jesus and the day of the Lord. Somebody in the Thessalonian church community had been spreading wrong information in Paul’s name, saying that God’s final act of justice on human evil, the day of the Lord was upon them, and has actually returned. These people had likely been predicting dates about the end of all things, and they were frightening and confusing other Christians, and you can see why. Due to the intense persecution, they were vulnerable to somebody claiming that Jesus had already returned like a thief in the night, they’ve been left behind (cf. 2 Thess. 5:2)! Maybe He abandoned the Thesslonians to their suffering. This kind of talk really ticks Paul off. It’s misrepresenting his teaching. THE RETURN OF JESUS SHOULD NEVER INSPIRE FEAR AND CONFUSION, BUT RATHER HOPE AND CONFIDENCE. Paul reminds them of everything he taught them about Jesus’ return back when he was in Thessalonica. And he gives a short summary here, it’s actually too short. This chapter has lots of puzzles and problems of interpretation, but what’s clear is that he cites the well known theme from the prophets Isaiah and Daniel (cf. Isaiah 13-14; Daniel 7-12) that the kingdoms of this world will continue to produce rulers who rebel against God like Nebuchadnezzar or the King of the North did in the past. These leaders had exalted themselves to divine authority, and for Paul, these ancient kings and prophecies; they give us images, they set out a pattern that he saw fulfilled in his own day in the Roman emperors, Caligula and Nero. And he expected that it would be repeated again, that history would culminate with such a rebellious rule, empowered by evil itself someone who will wreak havoc and violence in God’s world, but not forever.

When Jesus returns, He will confront the rebel and all who perpetrate evil, and He will deliver His people. So Paul’s point here is not to give later readers fuel for apocalyptic prediction and speculation. Rather, he’s comforting the Thessalonians. He’s recalling the teaching of Jesus from Mark 13 who said that the events leading up to His return would be very public and obvious. so they don’t need to be scared, worried, and unsettled that they’ve been left behind, rather they need to stay faithful until Jesus returns to deliver them.

#2nd-coming, #apostle-paul