2 Thessalonians 1-3 (Psalm 18)
I encourage you to watch the video summary of this book, (click here).
To understand these New Testament letters, when they describe and consider Christ’s return, it is good to remember what we learnt from the prophets of the Old Testament. The Day of the Lord will come suddenly (unexpectedly), it will be cosmic and unmistakable, and it will be a time of judgement. The Thessalonians are under persecution and are being subjected to speculation that this Day has already come. Paul clearly tells them the contrary and explains how their suffering for Christ will prove worthwhile; they will be worthy of God’s Kingdom whereas those who refuse God, and persecute the Church, will face eternal punishment.
Paul goes on to describe what will occur before and at Christ’s return. Evil, delusions and lawlessness will increase and culminate in the arrival of the ‘man of lawlessness,’ (see further under application). Jesus will defeat all, true judgement will arrive, and God’s Kingdom will come in full.
Finally there is a warning against idleness which leads to problems and sin. This may be simply a practical warning but may also refer to a way of life in the culture of the day.
These big and serious topics are wonderfully interlaced with prayers of encouragement, words of grace and reasons for hope (1: 3-4, 11-2; 2: 13-17; & 3: 1-5, 16). The Church is to endure and preserve in the certain hope of Christ. Peace and grace are their foundation on which they are to stand firm. They are encouraged to be a thankful Church whose faith grows strong and whose love increases.
End times writings and prophecies often cause speculation and concern. In some ways that is what they are meant to do; we should be concerned about and ready for Christ’s return, we should be reading the times that we are in and acting accordingly (Matt. 16:3).
The ‘man of lawlessness’ has been understood in differing ways. To name two: a cycle of growing evil that Jesus will completely overcome on His return (Bible Project Video for example); or as an actual individual, worse than those seen before (an antichrist 1 John 2: 18, 22; 4:3). Personally I remain open to what it may mean but favour the growing cycle of evil as that is what I see in our history and it fits with Christ’s words on this matter (Matt. 24 esp. vs. 33). Speculation and fretfulness over end times and application to current context can be harmful or beneficial. Negatively it can lead to false prophecies, division, unrest of hearts and minds, and an incorrect and unhealthy focus; we can forget our hope in Christ and purpose as a Church. In a positive way it can cause us to fix our eyes on Jesus, strengthen our faith in His hope, live in readiness and reassure us that God is Sovereign.
Truth to aid us in the positive: the time is only known to God the Father (Matt. 24: 36); there is purpose in this situation and it’s delay (2 Peter 3: 9-11); there is evil in the world but Jesus in us is greater than anything (1 John 4: 4); God is Sovereign (Eph. 1: 11b); and His Victory is assured (2 Thess. 2: 8).
The Question of Application
There is much in our readings today about false truths, delusions, counterfeit signs and deception. In our current situation what may be deceiving you and causing anxiety? How might a right focus on the truth of Christ reassure you and grow your faith?
May our God make us worthy of His calling, that by His power He may bring to fruition our every desire for goodness and our every deed prompted by faith. May the Lord Jesus guide our hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. All this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in us, and us in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
From 1 Thess. 11-12 & 3: 5
Days of Elijah by Robin Mark
The Lion and the Lamb by Bethel Music
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.