2nd Thessalonians Chapter II
by Tony Warren
PREFACEThere are so many different theories and interpretations proliferating within the Church about 2nd Thessalonians Chapter 2, that it is incumbent upon all who value sound hermeneutics to make an serious effort to carefully study these scriptures, and search out exactly what God is illustrating here. In this study, we will go over this chapter 'verse by verse' so that we might get a better understanding of what is the message (and indeed the warning) to the Church.
The common thread in most studies on 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2, is that they are usually built upon the writings and thoughts of other men. Whether it's the quotes of other authors, teachers, theorists, theologians, or historians, the studies are usually liberally quoting the words of men, and seldom supporting their ideas by what the scripture itself declares.
In this study, I submit for your consideration, not history lessons, secular evidences, or quotes of what others have said, but simply the 'Biblical evidence' of what this chapter is speaking about. By carefully 'comparing scripture with scripture' I believe that we can come to see what God Himself has inspired to inform His people. Because a sound Biblical hermeneutic is a system that allows the scriptures to interpret themselves through comparison, and a noble handling of the pertinent passages. In this study, there will be no consideration of extra-Biblical theories about plowed fields, Roman conquerors, or AD 70. There will be no name dropping, no repeating of speculations or regurgitating secular works and imaginations of men. But more importantly, there will be no 'ignoring' of any of the pertinent passages of scripture, which may have bearing on this chapter. When this study is complete, my hope is that you might appreciate that, unlike most contemporary commentaries, this study was based solely upon the word of God itself and requires no extra-biblical validations.
When there are assumptions proposed and inconsistencies seen in a study, then the conclusions of that study will usually not be in agreement with the whole of scripture. We hope that this endeavor will show itself consistent throughout, and firmly grounded upon what God has inspired written. There is no need for anyone to wonder where the Bible speaks of this alleged figure, or how we came to that alleged understanding, because I will provide the scripture references for whatever I assert. And if not, I won't assert it. For the key in any bible study is humility. Humility is to not found in attempting to lead the scripture here we might want it to go, but in nobly and humbly following it wherever it leads us. That is the difference between the sound hermeneutic of God's divine fiat in keeping (guarding from loss) the word of God, and forsaking or straying from it to follow the traditions and words of men. Keeping God's word is the only way that we can know that we have built our doctrine upon firm foundation. When we build our understanding upon the word of God alone (and in agreement with itself), we build upon that which no man can tear down.
In the final analysis, the words of men (right or wrong) are still just words. They are fallible and unprofitable for authority. Most Studies I have read rely heavily on the studies of other authors or man's writing, and very little (if any) on the actual study of the pertinent passages in view. They are always declaring things like, "..noted author Joe Theologian said this, and Dr. John Theologian said that, but Ph.D Jim Theologian makes interesting observations that could be right also." If they are not name dropping, they are alleging secular history explains this, or how archaeology reveals that, or how the Church fathers dealt with the verse. and all objections notwithstanding, this is not sound exegesis of scripture. Do we ever actually stop to think about why this is the case? Is it because these people generally don't have 'sufficient' scripture to back up what they are alleging, and so they fill in the void with name dropping, theological theories, Church tradition, and speculations, in lieu of those scriptures? It often seems many are more enamored with authors and scholarly style in literature, than they are with the God inspired written word itself. Is that an unfair assessment on my part? Generally, I don't think so. Of course there are faithful studious expositors of the gospel. And I have learned a great deal from many of them. But the truth is, they are a rare occurrence in the Church today.
There is only one thing that will ever answer the question of, "What is God's true interpretation of scripture," and that is the Bible itself. If the interpretation comes directly from the scriptures, then and only then can you be absolutely sure that it is God speaking. For the Bible is the word of God for us today. Therefore, if the word of God says one thing, and man says something different, we are bound as Christians to believe the word of God, and not the words of men. No matter how learned or scholarly they may be, no matter what position they may hold in the Church, no matter how many letters they have by their names, or what grand and non-diminutive words they use to express themselves. Without Biblical validation, they are still just the words of men. Theologians can cleverly chop, manipulates or wrests scripture, but God's word, read word for word, trumps them all and (as God's word) is the ultimate supreme authority.
Sad to say, even some well respected Theologians ignore pertinent scriptures, but as faithful students of the Bible we are bound by God to consider 'all' scripture, in light of scripture and in context. We are not innocently deceived when we deliberately ignore what God has said in favor of our teachers words. For ignoring God's word is a grievous sin, and that is why I put emphasis on this in my studies. Don't listen to me, listen to what the scriptures say. This is not insignificant (as some seem to believe) in our walk with the Lord. If you follow after Church traditions or popular teachers, there is no telling where this will lead you. But when you humbly follow the word of God, with a mind open to receive scripture, you can only be led closer to God. We are to do as the more noble Bereans did, search the scriptures (not the historical archives and commentaries) to see if these things that so many teachers are declaring, is the truth. And if we don't find the things that they teach (including myself) are actually in the scriptures, then there is no reason for you to put any credence in what is said. In other words, don't follow the leader, unless the leader is God Himself! Have reverence for His word as authoritative, not the words of human leaders. Try man's word by God's word to make sure that they are in agreement. And most of all, never be dissuaded by pious criticisms of your (supposed) lack of respect for tradition, history, Church or the great theologians of the past. t is written, "Try the spirits."
And I would expect any faithful Bible student to do the same with any study. If it is not fully supported by the scriptures, and cannot be justified by chapter and verse, then there is no reason for you to believe it. But by the same token, if these things are in the scriptures, then we cannot simply refuse to take note of it because our Church (tradition) teaches something contrary. For that, by definition, is being faithful to your Church, but unfaithful to God whom it professes to serve. The same error in the Church which caused the Reformers of old to break away from the Roman Catholic church in Protest (Thus, they were called Protest-ants) are rearing their heads in the Protestant Churches. We must always remember that wherever our authority is, there will be whom we serve. If the word of man, then we are serving man. If the word of God, then we are serving God. There is no in-between.
If you come to the truth of this Biblical study, it won't be because of anything I have said, it will be because God has laid it upon your heart to carefully consider "His word" in light of His Word. For the Holy Spirit of God is the teacher, and He teaches through the scriptures. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
May you not deflect what you hear, but in the spirit of God, reflect on what you hear. May you have the Spirit of the Bereans (Acts 17:11) of old. God declares that they were more noble (honest), to search man's word out in the scriptures to see if it was true. In this study, may you use that as your example, and make truth your goal.
..Pray for Wisdom and understanding.
A VERSE BY VERSE STUDY OFby Tony Warren
2ND THESSALONIANS CHAPTER 2
In verse one Paul is referencing the return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Previously He has told them how Christ has come as King, and has ascended to the throne of God, and here he is beseeching [erotao], or asking earnestly, in regard to, or concerning, the coming of the Lord. In other words, God here is speaking by or in regard to the prophecy of the Lord's return, and our gathering together to meet Him. The entire flow and context of this chapter confirms this. The only question is, #1) when will the second coming presence of the Lord be, and #2) when will the saints be gathered together to meet Him as this verse specifies? The only biblical answer to these questions I believe is, at the end of the world/age when what is commonly called 'The Rapture' will take place.
- "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,"
I should point out that there are some Christians who don't really like the use of this word Rapture. Generally they argue because it's not a word that is found in the Bible, or that they associate it with the Premillennial or dispensationalist viewpoints. However, not only do I see no problem with using this word, we can be assured that it perfectly describes what is unquestionably scripture. The word Rapture is derived from a Latin term meaning 'caught up' or 'caught away,' and is merely used by Christians to avoid repetitive repeating of an entire verse of scripture each time we reference this event. So let me be clear that when I use the word Rapture, I am simply speaking about nothing more (and nothing less) than what the scripture itself define as:
when the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and when the dead in Christ shall rise first, and we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we forever be with the Lord.
-1st Thess. 4:17
This is our being caught up (Raptured) together to be with Christ in the air at His coming presence. In order to avoid typing or repeating that whole verse every time we refer to this great event, we simplify it by calling this 'The Rapture.' When we use this word Rapture, 1st thessalonians 4:17 is what we are referencing. Nothing more.
And this is also what that first verse of 2nd Thessalonians 2 is speaking about. Christ's coming presence, and our 'gathering together' to meet Him. Comparing scripture with scripture, we read in 1st Thessalonians:
1st Thessalonians 4:15-17
Clearly, this is in full agreement with 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2:1. This is the coming presence of the Lord when the saints would be gathered together to meet Him. The two verses use almost the same language of the second parousia. It's not talking about 70 A.D., it's not talking about a time when the Romans overran Jerusalem, and it's not talking about a time when Pigs were slaughtered in a Temple as some surmise. By allowing scripture to interpret scripture, we can see that it's parallel language to the second parousia of the Lord, and our gathering together to Meet Him.
- "For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the Coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
- for the Lord Himself shall descend with a shout, and the voice of the Archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
- Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
It never ceases to amaze me how some people take a concise and relatively easy to understand verse (considering the rest of scripture), and by theological osmosis make it appear all over the place, where thirty different people can come to thirty different conclusions, and they all will be considered valid points of view. Many make it so complicated that it's almost as if they want you to think we can't know where the truth really lies, so that every idea will be valid.
For example, there are those who claim that since this Greek word translated coming [parousia] literally means presence, it's not really speaking about His second coming, or they claim it's speaking about a second presence of the Lord which occurred in the past. This theory is usually taught in order to support the Preterist doctrine that Christ returned in 70 A.D. to Jerusalem, gathered the Elect, and fulfilled Matthew chapter 24. While it is true that [parousia] can be used to mean presence (i.e., to be near), the context, content, and all other pertinent scriptures which relate to Christ's coming again, the apostasy, and God's judgments, make it unmistakably clear that this is referring to Christ's second coming presence at the end of the world. ..which we will see as this study progresses.
Verse two is intimately tied to verse one, so we will examine both together, and do an overview at the end.
The focus of this study is not to condemn preterism, but I feel I must briefly address the teaching that this verse alludes to the Church of Thessalonica believing that Christ had already come. They come to this conclusion based on erroneous assumptions, one of which is their handling of the words 'at hand' [enistemi], which means impending or soon. The problem is, this word can also be used to signify something which has come, or which is present. And this is why they make the error of thinking this can mean the Church thought Christ had already come. But when you read that verse with no preconceived ideas about what it means, and in the light of all other verses, we see that there is no possibility that it means that. And it is in error on multiple levels. Again:
- "That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of the Lord is at hand."
2nd Thessalonians 2:2
"That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand."Why would Paul be writing a epistle (letter) to them denying that Christ had already come? ..indeed why would the Church ask if Christ had already come and gathered the Church? This was not the false doctrine of Hymenaeus and Philetus which declared the resurrection past, it was an idea they had of the Lord's soon coming, and that they'd be gathering together to meet Him. Exactly as the text illustrates.
Faithfully going over that verse we find not a single word that says (either explicitly or implicitly) that the Church at Thessalonica was afraid that Christ had already come. Did they fear Christ already come had taken the Church up and left 'them' (and paul) there at Thessalonica? They were certainly made well aware that when Christ returned it would be to take them up to be with Him in the Kingdom of Heaven. How could they think it had already occurred? Just reading this seems unbelievable. Did God inspire Paul writing that the Church at Thessalonica was afraid that Christ had already come and taken the Church? No, they are the Church! Did they fear they weren't? And are we to incredibly believe that the Church at Thessalonica didn't know what 'the day of the Lord' was, and so thought it came and they missed it? Not at all. In fact, Paul told them in 1st thessalonians that they were Children of the Light and that day (the day of the Lord) would not overtake them as a thief in the night. So why would they then ask if it had? The whole idea that they thought the day of the Lord had come, is built upon theological tunnel vision and exegetal misdirection. It is not something read in scripture, it is something 'read into' scripture.
These verses are speaking of the misapprehension of the Church as they thought Christ would be returning soon that they would be gathered together to meet Him. The same righteous apprehension that we see every single prophet or righteous man in the old testament have at the presence of God. It is normal apprehension to know you'll be standing in the very Presence of God soon. It is the reverent fear of God.
Paul is explaining to the Church, don't be shaken or troubled in mind, that the day of the Lord was at hand. In other words, he is saying that it isn't at hand or soon coming. This is an 'important' point. A study of the term will show that The day of Christ (The Lord) is a reference to judgment day, not 70 A.D. He is telling them in no uncertain terms that it isn't at hand, and that it will not arrive immediately as they were told it would. And in fact, (verse 3) they should not be deceived by any man that it would, it would not come until certain things prophesied have taken place. This should alert anyone to the error of those who are claiming that the 'day of the Lord' he was talking about was already there, had already happened, or was soon to come in 70 A.D. It is clear that Paul is telling them, you hear it's coming soon, but it isn't coming soon, and that it would not arrive until certain things took place. Namely, the signs which Christ spoke of foreshadowing His second advent. He asks them earnestly that they not be soon shaken. Why would He tell them not to be soon shaken, if they were already shaken that it had already passed? On the contrary, he is telling them that they don't even have to worry or be troubled in mind about the Lord 'at hand' (soon) coming. It is not coming soon, and not until there first is an apostasy in the Holy Temple of God.
Does this language and context lead us to believe that the day would not come in their lifetime? It would certainly appear so, wouldn't it? He would certainly not be telling them don't worry about receiving an letter from us, or be troubled in mind about the day of the Lord being at hand, if it was indeed 'at hand,' now would he? And a letter from him saying that it had already come is ridiculous, isn't it? That comment itself proves he wasn't talking about a belief it had already happened. He's telling them they don't even have to worry or be troubled about it coming soon, or being at hand. You won't be receiving a messages from us saying the Lord is coming soon, because it won't be coming until the prophesy of apostasy, or the falling away of the Church takes place first. That's exactly what Paul is saying. How some theologians teach this in a way that (they theorize) it actually means Christ had come, or was coming in 70 A.D., is dubious at best. There isn't anything in this chapter that would lead anyone to that conclusion without outside influence. If he meant 70 A.D., then he's contradicting himself. For the time 'was' at hand, and yet he'd be declaring they shouldn't think so. The truth is, there is nothing here to suggest such an interpretation. And only those predisposed to believe this, would even think of such an understanding of this text (in my view). In other words, you'd have to be specifically directed to this, or specifically looking for such an interpretation. You'd have to 'read it into' the text in order to see it there. Because it's certainly not written that Christ came in 70 A.D., or that the Thessalonians thought that they had missed Christ's coming and their gathering together to meet Him. It's a disjointed understanding of the text.
The overview of verses one and two is that there was a misapprehension in the Church where they thought the Lord's second coming was at hand, and God inspires Paul to write a letter to remove their misapprehension on the subject. He is beseeching (or earnestly asking) them on this subject of the Coming of the Lord and our gathering together to meet him, that they not be misled, or soon shaken by thought, or be troubled in mind, thinking that they'd receive a letter declaring Christ coming soon. They wouldn't, because He wasn't coming soon. And that they'd receive a letter declaring Christ already came (which some say was their worry) is ludicrous.
Here again, Paul is telling them not to listen to those who would say the Lord's coming is at hand. He says, let no man deceive you by any means saying that. Again, a clear indication that this time would not come in their lifetime, because they have no need to be troubled in mind about it. It would come in a later time when there would be great tribulation, and a great forsaking of God in the Church, and when the members would fall away from the faith (1st Timothy 4:1). At this later time of Apostasy, the man of Sin (lawlessness) would be revealed, the son of perdition. This language is of a time of darkness and tribulation that becomes apparent (is revealed) when Christ's return is imminent (as has been prophesied all throughout scripture). It is this time when the Church would be gathered together (raptured) to meet Him.
- "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition."
As we go through this chapter, we will see clearly that this is not a 'then-specific' local Church warning. This is a well prophesied, future end time event when the Holy Temple (the visible representation of the kingdom of God on earth), would forsake the law of God, and serve other gods. There is really no other way for this verse to be understood Biblically, logically, and rationally, and have it be consistent with the whole chapter, and all other chapters of Holy canon. It will only agree as it is a future external Church 'falling away.' Individual Churches were already falling away. This is not a prophecy of anything like that. It was a prophecy of something far more catastrophic. For God declares that the restraint of lawlessness which resides in the Church, will be being taken out of it's midst. This is an event so terrible, that Satan (sent specifically from God) would deceive the people therein that they would believe a lie, and be damned (2 Thess. 2:7-12). How could anyone in clear conscience reasonably state that this is just another warning of unfaithfulness to the Church? No, this is a revelation or disclosure of an end time event of departing from the faith that is so terrible, that God Himself intervenes 'to damn' those who fall into this lawlessness. This is when the son of perdition is revealed. And note, this is not what I claim, this is what the verses of this chapter clearly say. Man often declares that this language 'implies' other things, but the Word of God does not say other things, it says this. Paul beseeches the Church on the subject of the coming of the Lord Jesus, and by their gathering together to meet Him, that they not be shaken in mind, or be troubled that the day was at hand. He says, Let no man deceive you as that day shall not come, except there come an [apostasia] first.
Obviously there were those in Thessalonica who were prophesying to the Church that the DAY OF THE LORD (His coming presence) was imminent. But Paul is telling them that this is not so. And he instructs them that they not be 'deceived' by these false prophets. He declares that the Lord's coming was not at hand because there has to first come a falling away from the faith by the Church.
The words translated 'falling away' in the king James version, is the Greek word [apostasia], from which we get the word apostasy. In this context it means to be separated from God. It illustrates that people in the Church begin to depart from the laws of God. Paul is prophesying that the unfaithful Church (which is the visible Holy Temple of God) will separate himself from God by forsaking His laws and doing whatever seems right in their own eyes. Being seduced by deceivers (verse 10), these people are committing 'spiritual fornication' or harlotry against God. This is manifested by their having 'another' to rule over the Church (verse 4). The term God uses for man forsaking Him to serve a false god is 'Abomination.' Serving other gods in the Holy Temple of God is the abomination which will leave the congregation desolate. The same as it did Israel, the Old Testament congregation of God.
In regards to this Abomination of Desolation, there is a school of thought that this actually refers to A.D. 70, but the literal earthly Temple in A.D. 70 was neither of God, nor was it Holy that it could fall from that plane to abomination. On the contrary, it was already the fallen Temple of those who rejected Christ. It could not have been God's Holy Temple at that time. This temple made with hands fell at the Cross and ceased to be a representation of Christ (who fulfilled it). And the 'building again' of the Holy Temple was in Christ. He was made the Chief corner stone of that rebuilding. The New Testament congregations (Churches) are now the Holy Temple of God, built upon that solid foundation. Thus it is in this New Testament representation of the Holy Temple of God where people will separate themselves from the law of Christ. And such a falling away from the faith can only occur at the loosing of Satan, who was bound at the cross. And that most certainly did not occur in A.D. 70 in a Jewish Temple which had long ago ceased to be the Holy Temple of God. This departing or forsaking the true God at the revealing of Satan, is because the Churches will be led of their own lusts and deceived of the antichrist that they won't recognize they are serving this false god. That indeed is the 'nature' of his deception.
1st Timothy 4:1
Does the Spirit speak this expressly to you? Because it speaks it expressly to me! It spoke it expressly to the Apostle Paul who penned it. It says that in the latter times there was going to be those who are seduced by evil spirits and doctrines of devils, who would depart from the faith. The man of sin is the ultimate result of the departing or falling away from the faith. Of course, this is in perfect agreement with 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2, of the deceiving of that spirit Satan by false doctrines and miraculous lies (2nd thessalonians 2:9), that there come a falling away or departing from the faith (apostasy). 1st Timothy 4 says this would happen at the latter times, just as 2nd Thessalonians 2 says it happens just before the coming of the Lord and our gathering together unto Him. It all fits perfectly and consistently because it's the unadulterated Word of God. Compare scripture with scripture and the picture of the end time events are made manifest.
- "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to Seducing spirits, and Doctrines of Devils;
- speaking Lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
- Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them that believe and know the truth."
There are those who would have you believe that this reference to the 'latter times' is simply talking about the 'Last Days' which covers the whole New Testament or New Covenant Period. But this theory can be easily refuted by faithfully adherence to God's Word. There is no Biblical justification for such an assumption here.
We should try to understand that it is the nature of man to want to be right, and that some theologians will go to great lengths to find excuses or rationalizations so that they can ignore what a passage actually says in order to fit scriptures into their tradition or teachings. Many will attempt to force scripture to 'mean' whatever they need it to mean in order to accommodate their doctrines. In other words, reading things 'into' scripture, rather than reading what is in scripture. Unfortunately, there is little nobility or humility in much of the Church today. Nevertheless, this verse says exactly what it says. Namely, that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith and fall prey to deceiving (seducing) spirits and doctrines of devils. They will speak lies because their conscience is seared as with a hot iron. This is concise language which is simple and plainly understandable.
- First of all, scripture says the [husteros kairos] latter times, not the [eschatos hemera] last days.
- Second, The word translated times here is never translated days.
- Third, and most important is that the Greek word 'Last,' and the Greek word 'Latter,' are two entirely different words. The word last (as in last days) is the Greek word [eschatos], and the word translated latter is the Greek word [huseron] and it means, what's coming afterward, or behind. That word is 'never' used in scripture in regards to the last days, or to the whole New Testament Period. So let no one deceive you saying that it is the same.
- Fourth, Paul is standing in the 'Last Days' (N.T. Period) and he is saying that afterward (in the latter time) these things shall come. When we seriously think about that, 'last days' theory makes no sense. For the context itself reveals that he was talking about a latter time event.
The scriptures often says the opposite of what some theologians believe, and at these times they will simply pass right over it (ignore it) as if it wasn't even there? I'm sure we've all probably had experiences like this with people. Is it just as 1st Timothy 4 says, that their conscience has become is seared. i.e., they've ignored the scriptures for so long that now their conscience no longer bothers them if their beliefs contradict the scripture. Normally, when a person does something wrong, their conscience will bother them. But if they do it again, and again, and again, pretty soon their conscience doesn't bother them as much (or at all) anymore. That's because it's become seared and they are spiritually branded slaves of Satan. Do not fall into this snare of the Devil. Obey God's Word, and treat it with the honor and reverence that it deserves. It's not to be trampled under foot, ignored, or rationalized away. It is to be heard, considered, and hid in our heart that we might not sin against God. Faithfulness to scripture is the historical calling card of true Christianity. God gives us some examples in Timothy of unrighteousness in the churches. Look at verse 3 of 1st Timothy 4:
There are denominations that declare that in order to be a leader of their Church, you cannot marry. Where does God say this? Nowhere! And here, God expressly speaks against such practices. But a seared conscience means they don't care what this says. If you show them this verse, they either ignore it, turn to the right hand and the left to get around it, or they delude themselves into believing that it actually means something other than what it says. And the reason is because what it says condemns what they 'want' to do. It's against their man made traditions or beliefs. Contradicting the Word for the sake of tradition isn't a catholic Phenomenon, it transcends Church boundaries and denominations. Many can look you right in the eye and declare that they are not in violation of the Word for anything which is written. They don't realize it (being deceived), but what they are really declaring is:
- "..Forbidding to marry.""I don't really care what God's Word says, I will follow the teachers of my Church, and believe whatever they interpret scripture to mean."And this is the kind of falling away from the truth that takes place near the end (the latter times) in many denominations and Congregations. A forsaking of the Word of God to serve the words of men. This is a time which I do believe that we are in now. Church after Church, denomination after denomination has begun listening to man and his traditions, and separating themselves from God's laws. Church members will carelessly and lustfully listen to men to define doctrine, and seldom search the scriptures to see for themselves what is true. In doing so, they become lawless, and they make man their god or ruler. Their god becomes the living image of themselves, and their law becomes whatever is right in their own eyes. For whosoever they hold as the law and the authority, that is whom they serve. And if the Word of God is not their law, then they are not serving God. The true Christian man is the lawful men, but he who forsakes God's laws is the 'lawless man' or (KJV) the man of sin. That word translated sin is lawlessness. It illustrates man rules himself refusing to be governed by God's laws.
One of the keys understanding 2nd Thessalonians 2:3 is found in the meaning of this Greek word [apokalupto], translated 'revealed.' It means 'to be uncovered,' or to be 'disclosed.' That the day of the Lord not coming until the man of sin or lawlessness is revealed, is declaring that Christ will not appear until the lawless man in the temple is uncovered or disclosed to the saints of God. The Church must be made aware of Satan's rise and presence in the Holy Temple through sinful man. The antichrist who will rule in place of God in God's house will be revealed to God's elect.
Despite objections from some theologians who insist that the world will become more righteous and Christianized, a degradation of the earth and great Apostasy in the Church before the second advent of the Lord, agrees perfectly with the rest of scripture. And 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 is a dynamic illustration of this time of great apostasy. Great tribulation for all true believers is the symptom of this desease of lawlessness.
In Revelation chapter 20 (the loosing of Satan), it is clear that he will be loosed near the end time and will gather the nations of the four quarters of the earth to go up to battle the camp of the saints (Rev. 20:8-9). This is not theory, this is not private interpretation, this is the Biblical facts of Prophesy. It is also fact that it happens near the time of the return of the Lord. Both Revelation 20, and 2nd Thessalonians 2 prophesy of this time of the second coming when Satan is revealed. They both speak of the time when the evil that was bound or held down, is to be loosed. They both speak of this great deceiving of Satan that takes place at this time. This is the consistency of scripture that reveals truth, yet many ignore these consistencies in favor of the inconsistencies in their own traditional teachings.
There are those who insist that 2nd Thessalonians 2 speaks about a time in the past, and not the second coming of the Lord when we will be gathering together to meet Him. In the face of what God's Word clearly says, can we dare depend on ourselves for truth? This type error is exactly why the unfaithful Church is deceived at this appointed time. As verse 10 of 2nd Thessalonians tells us, they were deceived because they would Not Receive the love of truth that they might be Saved, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. Their pleasure is in doing what is right in their own eyes, and not what is the law of God. That's the lusts of unrighteousness. Their pleasure is from thinking highly of themselves, and cleverly coming up with new ways to wrest (twist) scripture so that it 'appears' to agree with any doctrines they can dream up. This is the pleasure in unrighteousness that is the reason they are deceived. It was by their own stubbornness and pride in rejecting God's Word of Truth. And this unrighteousness gives place to the man of sin (literally, lawless man). Because of his lack of love for God's laws, he brings about this apostasy and Satan is uncovered or revealed.
The overview of verse three is that it is an exhortation to the Church that they not be deceived by any man that the coming of Christ is at hand. It is an illustration that they shouldn't expect Christ's coming, because there were certain signs or events which have to take place first. Namely, a great falling away or apostasy in the Church, and the removal of the restraint which held down the man of sin (as we'll see later). God declares that this power of Satan to rule in the Holy Temple, from a first-century vantage point, was yet to be "revealed." This is confirmation that the end time forsaking of God (as prophesied by Christ) is a sign that must first take place before any parousia or future coming presence of Christ. The Apostle Paul is correcting the false impression that the Thessalonians had in believing that the coming of Chrrist was imminent. Paul had told them of these signs previously while with them (verse 5), but now he writes to more fully expound upon these end time events.
This man of sin (transgressor of God's laws) has been pondered, and interpreted, and alleged to be every character from Judas Iscariot, Nero, the Pope, Mussolini, Napoleon, Adolf Hitler to Henry Kissinger. But speculations and guesswork are not the correct method of sound hermeneutics. Carefully considering what the scriptures say is paramount to our understanding of them. First of all, we know by the text exactly in what time period this will take place. It is the time just before the coming of the Lord, and our gathering together to meet Him (-verse 1). Second, we know this evil will be taking place in the Holy Temple of God (-verse 4). And so the logical question is, who is the lawless man who will sit to rule in the Holy Temple of God at this time, and how can that be? The simple answer is, "he is exactly what the text says he is." In other words, he is the "man of sin." this speaks of the man who transgresses the laws of God. Sin is the transgression of the law of God. And not the 10 commandments only, but any and all of what God commands in His Holy word. That in a nutshell is the biblical definition of sin. If God says, "love thy neighbor", and you don't love your neighbor for even one minute, efffectively you have transgressed the law. In other words, you have sinned. So all the more we should praise our God that "all" of our sins are forgiven once we have become saved. Because not one of us can past the test of sin. Thus we are eternally grateful that every one of our transgressions of the law have been atoned for. The point here is that, the man of transgressions in the Holy Temple is nothing more than what that passage says he is. He is the man that transgresses the law, and who takes a seat to rule in God's Holy Temple. Any man who is deceived by Satan to forsake God's laws and sit to rule himself in God's Temple, is the man of sin. Just as man is doing in the Churches today, ruling as if they are God, through the spirit of Satan. This is Abomination in God's sight. This prophesied man is not a single supernatural anti-Christ in human form. He is not Satan incarnate the super being, and he is not the Pope, nor any man in particular. He is the man of sin, period. In other words, lawless man as he forsakes God's laws, to be a law in and of himself and rule in the House of the Lord (Church) where God alone should rule. He is governing by his own rules and by what seems right in his own eyes. From the very beginning, in the garden of Eden, natural man has sought to be in a position equal with God. In his arrogance, man often thinks that it is his own 'right' to decide what is good and evil. He doesn't want God's will to be done, he wants his own will done in God's name. And so he forsakes the word of God for humanistic reasoning, thus becoming the lawless man, or the man of sin.
- "who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he, as god sitteth in the Temple of God, shewing himself that he is god."
Those who think that Satan will come to earth as one man, haven't really read scripture very carefully. God's Word has never said that. Satan is a spirit, not a man. He has been around a long time and doesn't need to indwell 'one man' to work his evil in the world. He works his evil by dwelling in many men as the spirit of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2), making an army of lawless men to war against the Saints. He makes his abode with, and deceives any unsaved man. The spirit of Antichrist proper is Satan, but the working of antichrist is manifest in the heresy (1st John 2:18-22) of me who serve him.
Men are servants to him whose works they do, and to whose spirit they obey. in other words, the spirit of Satan rules in the Holy Temple through sinful men. The fact is, if you have man who has been deceived of Satan, ruling a Church, then you have the man of sin/lawlessness ruling that Temple. In actuality, we don't have to look any further than the very words there in the verse to discover who it is. Many of today's Theologians are looking for intricate and politically complex interpretations, and so the more curious and intriguing the interpretation, the better. But the truth is much more studied and Biblical. It is the man ...of sin. Anyone whom Satan uses to attack the Church from within, is a son of perdition, a child of the devil, and the man of lawlessness in the temple. Likewise, anyone whom God uses as a messenger of the gospel is a Son of God, and a Man of Lawfulness in the temple. Two distinct spirits warring for the souls of men. Believers with the Spirit of Christ, and unbelievers with the spirit of Antichrist. One man sinless, and another man of sin. There is nothing really difficult in comprehending this Biblical principle. That's why God tells us to test the spirits whether they be of God or of antichrist (1st John 4:1-3). What spirit we have, determines if we are the man of sin or lawlessness, or the man of lawfulness, who in Christ is without sin.
- "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?"
This word in Thessalonians which is translated perdition is the Greek word [apoleia] and means waste, or Destruction and ruin. For example, we see the word in the epistle of Peter:
2nd Peter 3:16
Here God is telling us there are things in the scriptures that are hard to be understood, and that there are some who call themselves Christian that are unlearned in the scripture, and so they twist these scriptures to get make them appear to mean whatever they want. They wrest these things 'to their own ruin or destruction.' That word translated destruction is the exact same Greek word [apoleia]. The exact same word translated perdition. This is the son of destruction (or perdition) which twists or wrests the scriptures so that he doesn't have to follow God's laws. i.e., the man of lawlessness.
- "And also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the scriptures, unto their own Destruction."
Again, Jesus says in Matthew 7:13, " ..broad is the way that leadeth unto destruction." That word again is the exact same word translated perdition in 2nd Thessalonians. Those on the broad way are those who are lawless, and those on the narrow way are those who obey the law of God.
The narrow way is the way of lawfulness, the broad the way of destruction. One a child of perdition and one a child of God. 2nd Peter 2:1 says the wicked bring in destroying, or damnable heresies into the Church. Again, that word translated damnable (KJV), and destroying in other versions, is the same Greek word [apoleia]. These are the lawless of the Church, sons or children of perdition or ruin who forsake God's Word for Heresy. And so this should give us a better Biblical guide to what is in view in 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2. The son of perdition is the son of destruction, or literally the son of total ruin and wasting because he is a man of sin. The children of the devil or the children of God. One the lawful man, the other the lawless man. One the man which cannot sin, the other the man of sin.
- "He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth."
1st John 3:9-10
One a man sinless, and the other a man of sin. Jesus called the leaders of the Old testament congregation who claimed to be Abraham's seed and of God, 'children of the Devil,' and not of God. It's the same principle. They were sons of perdition or destruction.
- "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
- In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother".
Ultimately Satan is the great destroyer which brings to ruin. He is the King of destruction [apollyon] (Revelation 9:11) and those who are of Satan are sons of destruction. They destroy the laws of God in the Holy Place, while the sons of God keep the laws of God faithfully (1st John 2:3-5). The Bible, being it's own interpreter, is where we will find the interpretations of these scriptures. We won't find them in the world, or in the fanciful imaginations of man.
Moreover, when we search the scriptures, we find that there is only one other place in the entire Bible where the exact phrase 'son of perdition' is mentioned. Not coincidentally, that man was a member of the early church. And he also betrayed the cause of Christ from within, as he came under the power and deception of Satan. This was Judas Iscariot. His very name implies part of the Church (Juda, a man from of Kerioth, which was in the tribe of Judah -Joshua 15:21-25). Judas wasn't Satan incarnate, he wasn't the pope, he wasn't a body politic, he was simply a man of lawlessness indwelt by Satan. He was just like so many other men who are deceived and made slaves to do his bidding. Jesus says,
Fulfilled that the betrayer is one of His own congregation, not the infidels or the nations, but the congregation.
- "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy Name: those that thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is Lost, but the Son of Perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled."
Judas, the thief, is a representation of the unfaithful in the Church who make the house of God, a den of thieves and robbers, buyers and sellers. Note that he was a son of perdition before we read Satan entered him. Therefore was he always lost from among the brethren. Can we look at Judas and claim he was a supernatural anti-Christ? He was a anti-christ to be sure, but he didn't control world economics, he controlled the Church purse. He was a Church thief, not a world leader. He went to the lawless Priests and Leaders of the Congregation to betray Christ, not to the King. And it should not escape our consideration that he betrayed Christ 'deceitfully' with a kiss, not by openly condemning Him. Likewise will the body of Christ be betrayed. With a Kiss by the thieves, the buyers and sellers in the Holy Temple of God who make merchandise of the Lord's house. This is the Character of the son of ruin or perdition.
- "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me."
That verse in the book of John about Judas is the only other place where the phrase 'son of perdition' is mentioned in scripture, and it illustrates he is one of us, whose end is perdition or destruction. Speaking of Him, we read in the Book of Acts, of the fulfillment of scripture,
Judas's house, the house of those he conspired against jesus with, was indeed left desolate (Luke 13:35). His office another did take because he was unworthy to hold it (acts 1:25). This is the fate of the son of perdition, the man of sin. When Satan entered into Judas (Luke 22:3) he sought to betray Christ because he was brought under control of Satan. He was in servitude to him. Remember what Jesus said to some of the Old Testament Congregation?
- "For it is written in the book of Psalms, let his habitation be DESOLATE, and no man dwell therein: and his office let another take."
Having the Devil as their father means that they are his sons or offspring. They were sons of perdition because their father was Satan, and the lusts of their father they would do. He was the King of Destruction (apollyon, -Rev. 9:11) and these would not receive the law of truth Jesus brought because there was no truth in their father, the Devil. Thus they would do the lusts of their father. In harmony with this, 2nd Thessalonians 2:10 says that those at this coming time of apostasy will be deceived because they, "Received not the love of truth." Again, because Satan is the 'Father' of lies, and because they are the son of perdition, the truth they will not believe, but they will believe the lies of their father. They are the man of lawlessness because they won't listen to the law of God, but they will listen to lawlessness. And in doing so, they place themselves (man) as ruler in the Temple "as if" they are God themselves.
- "Ye are of your Father the Devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."
Jesus told Peter, "get thee behind me Satan." Jesus wasn't saying Peter was a son of perdition, but He was illustrating those who are of Satan take pleasure or savor these same things. Look carefully at Christ's reason for calling Peter, Satan.
Those of Satan are not interested in seeing God's will be done, or following God's Word. They are interested in man's will and man's word. The Things that be of God they do not Love. If you quote scripture to them, they generally look at you like you are from another planet to believe such things. ..Why? Because they don't like what God says, they don't want to believe He means it, and they don't want to do what is written as law. In the Biblical vernacular, they have forsaken the Word of God, and want to hear smooth things, easy to swallow things, things that tickle the ears. Tell them smooth things or deceitful things and this they will receive. Just as Judas believed not the truth but listened to man's lies and briberies, because he loved not the things of God but had pleasure in unrighteousness. And so he betrayed our Lord for a stack of coins. And likewise, these spoken of in 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 will do the same.
- "But He turned, and said unto Peter, get thee behind Me, Satan: thou art an offence unto Me: because thou savorest Not the things that be of God, but those that be of Men."
Have you ever wondered why the time of the cross so closely parallels the time of the end, and the second coming, in almost every aspect? It is because Christ so magnificently identifies 'Himself' with the Church. So much so that it is pictured as the body, and He the Head. This is the marvelous picture of the great Salvation plan God has from the beginning placed in His book. Just as the Holy Temple (Christ) was destroyed, betrayed by one of those claiming to be of Him, so the Holy Temple (The Church) will be destroyed near His second coming by the same method. Those who are a son of perdition, claiming to be a part of the body, but who in reality are wolves in sheep's clothing. Those who are of Satan and "opposing" everything that is of God. When the Church leaders serve man instead of God, they are the lawless Man ruling in the Temple.
2nd Thessalonians Chapter 2 is just another picture of the abomination that makes desolate standing in The Holy Temple of God. The same which has been spoken about throughout scripture. It is the fulfillment of Matthew chapter 24 and other books and chapters that talk about this same end-time event, a precursor of the return of the Lord.
This is not A.D. 70, it is at the end of the world/age. If we study God's Word carefully then we can come to no other conclusion. Look first at the Context of the verses. It says the gospel will be preached to all the world, and 'then' the end will come. Therefore, when ye see the abomination stand in the Holy place, then flee to the mountains. The whole chapter in context is about end time events. Christ was asked when would the Temple be destroyed (verse 3), and what are the signs of His coming and the end of the world? And Christ proceeds to answer the questions. He tells them the signs that will alert them that His return is nigh, (false Christs, prophets, famine, Fig free, etc.) and says "Therefore", when you see the abomination stand in the Holy place, Flee to the Mountain. We can't ignore the fact that verse 14 is talking about the end of the world, and then verse 15 says therefore when you see the abomination in the temple, flee. By the use of the word 'therefore,' God has equated the time when iniquity abounds, love runs cold, false Christ arise, and the time of the end (verse 14), with the abomination that makes desolate (verse 15). To ignore that fact that the two verses go together would be disjointed and tortuous of scripture.
- "And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
- When ye Therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the Holy place, whoso readeth, let him understand:
- then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains."
For example, if I explained in several verses how, "It will be -20 degrees outside, how things will freeze, etc.," and in the next verse said, "therefore, when you go outside, you must wear a heavy coat," no one would think to understand it anyway but the way it is written. But because many Christians have been taught certain traditions, they ignore both context and flow of matthew 24 in order to hold on to whatever error they have been taught. There is no mistaking that Christ is telling us when the Holy Temple of God would be brought to desolation. It will be near the end of the world when abomination stands in it. Not a Non-Holy Temple that was ruined in A.D. 70 (since the A.D. 70 temple was not a sacred Temple of God to qualify for these Prophesies of having abomination stand in what is Holy). Christ was the Fulfillment (completion) of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem (the type) and the only Holy Temple after the cross was the literal body of Christ, the body of Christ which are the believers, and the Corporate Church external Covenant representation of the body of Christ. This is easily proven, conclusively, by scripture. The prophecy of Matthew chapter 24 was addressing the end times when believers would see these signs of spiritual declension. It is further confirmed to be talking about the coming end as verse 21 continues,
Again, 70 A.D. doesn't qualify to be the great Tribulation period, 'greater than any period ever before' or after. No matter how much men twist, push, shove, or distort what is said, A.D. 70 doesn't qualify. Neither were those days shortened, because if they weren't, no flesh on earth would have been Saved. That simply didn't happen in those days. With all due respect, it's quite ludicrous and overtly self serving to declare these pertinent passages were all fulfilled in A.D. 70. Again, notice the word 'then' indicating that these all take place at this time. This Great Tribulation is when the abomination stands in the Holy Place, and is when we reach the end of the world/age. For then shall be Great Tribulation which had been previously unheard of. The only way any logically thinking person could think that these refer to A.D. 70, or to two entirely separate occurrences, is if his indoctrination in such teachings predisposes him to think that way.
- "for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. and except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
The question is, why is it that people come to the conclusion that the desolation of the Holy Temple was in A.D. 70? The answer is because they are living by sight or by what seems to be, and listening to the reports of man, and not the report of the Bible. They are listening to their teachers, historians, and theorists, rather than letting the Holy Spirit be the teacher, through God's Word. The Theory of A.D. 70 is based upon secular historical accounts, not on scripture. It relies on man's record of what happened in Jerusalem. But God does not base interpretations of His Holy Word on man's writings and findings. No matter how trustworthy, we don't interpret scripture by man's non-canonical writings. God puts the understanding of His Word in His Word. The fact is, once examined carefully, this theory has more holes in it than Swiss Cheese. How could the Jewish Temple be the Holy Place in A.D. 70? It was neither Holy (God ripped the veil separating the Holy Place of the Temple in Jerusalem, from the top to the bottom the instant that Christ died on the cross -Matthew 7:51). That building, a shadow of the true building whose maker is God, fell at the cross. This tearing of the veil of the Temple signified that the Holy place which was a 'type' was no longer valid in that Building made with hands. The type had passed into history because it was fulfilled in Christ. A search of the pertinent scriptures would prove that to even the novice Bible student. Nor was this Temple building any longer the Holy Temple 'of God.' And to say it was makes a mockery of the work and accomplishment of Christ on the Cross. The only Holy Temple of God after the cross is either, Christ, the external Church, or the body of Believers. Nothing else after the cross qualifies as the Holy Temple of God to have further prophecy. The Old Testament Holy Temple of God had been Fulfilled and the New Holy Temple of God is in building in Christ. He is the Chief corner stone of it's building. And the veil separating the Holy Place from then on was not in a Temple made with hands in Jerusalem, but the veil to the Holy of Holiest (the Holy Place) is through His flesh (Read Hebrews 10:19-20 carefully). This is God's Word, not speculation. Christ Fulfilled the Temple just as he fulfilled the sacrifice. That building in Jerusalem no longer had any 'prophetic value' after the cross. To say that the literal Temple in Jerusalem has more scripture to be fulfilled after the cross is to virtually DENY Christ came as the fulfillment and completion of that Temple. Matthew chapter 24 speaks of believers fleeing from the Holy place, 'therefore' it cannot be talking about the Jewish Temple after the cross. Such an interpretation simply makes no sense, for it is disjointed. It doesn't fit. Inconsistency piled upon inconsistency.
Jesus also said not one stone would be left standing upon another (Matthew 24:2) in this Temple. He was Very Specific that it would be not one stone upon another. Of course some theologians again attempt to 'ignore' the fact that stones were left standing one upon another after the literal Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. In fact, you can still find the Temple ruins in Israel with the foundation stones One upon another. Not only the Spirit of truth, but even common sense should tell us that inconsistency is the hallmark of error. Moreover, the prophecy was not only in specifics of the temple, but Christ declared that of all the buildings there, not one stone would be left standing (Mark 13:1-2). If that wasn't enough, Jesus wept over the city and said of the city that it would be laid 'even with the ground' and not one stone left standing upon another (Luke 19:43-44). In all these passages, God is 'obviously' taking great pains to show that He's not just saying it's destroyed, He's being specific about the destruction. Just as obvious is that there were stones were left standing one upon another in the city after A.D. 70.
So the question arises, how do professed Christians get around these obvious contradictions to the popular A.D. 70 theory? Most will simply rationalize their inconsistencies away, declaring that, "..Jesus didn't really mean it literally, He could have been using a type of hyperbole or extravagant exaggeration." but the more they wrest the text, the more they entangle themselves in a web. Because first they insist that when Jesus was speaking about this Temple, He was speaking about a literal temple and not spiritually of the Church. Then when it becomes obvious that many of the literal stones of the literal Temple were left standing one on another, (i.e., the prophecy doesn't fit), then they do the exact opposite and declare, on the stones part, He was talking figuratively about not one left standing one upon another."Inconsistency is the hallmark of error" -WiseManSayIf the Temple is literal, then the stones which Christ was very specific about, must also be Literal. And if the stones not left standing are not literal, then the Temple which they consist in cannot be Literal. But you cannot say that this is a literal Temple but when the stones fall they're not real falling stones, but an exaggeration or speaking figuratively about none left standing one upon another. You can't have it both ways where it's (in the same temple) both literal when man sees fit, and then figurative when literal doesn't fit. For then we are not conforming to what scripture says, we're trying to make scripture conform to what we believe.
The Temple fell once at the cross, and it's rebuilding (building again) was in Christ. He was the Chief Corner stone of that building. There are stones being laid in this Temple which are Gold, Silver, and Precious. And then there are other stones which are of wood, hay, and stubble. Judgment day will reveal which is which. This is image of the Holy Temple of God which at the end of the World will have great apostasy stand in it. It's not a physical building in Jerusalem, and it wasn't so in A.D. 70 . The Holy Temple fell once at the cross, and the Holy Temple which is the Church falls once near the end of the world/age. This is why Christ so closely identifies the Church with Himself. The Buyers and sellers were in this temple at Christ's first advent, and they will be again at His second advent.
If we forget what some Theologians say, and rely solely upon what the Bible declares, then we see that the Holy Temple (after the cross) is the Congregation of God, and the stones of The Holy Temple are representative of professed Christians. In other words, those people of the Church are the stones. Some good and precious, and some sub-standard and worthless. Some will burn, and some will not. And this is not some theologian's interpretation, this is directly from the Word of God.
- "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone;
- In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an Holy Temple in the Lord."
There it is in God's Word, for all to see. We (the Church) are the earthly representation of the Holy Temple of God (after the Cross). God said that, not Man. Man says the Holy Temple is made with hands and still consists of literal bricks and Mortar, but God defines it differently after Christ fulfilled it. These teachers are making the exact same mistake that the Jewish people made when Jesus told them as much. When Jesus threw the Buyers and Sellers out of the Temple, the people asked for a sign showing He had authority to do these things? In reply, Jesus gave them a sign. He said, "Destroy this Temple and in 3 days I will raise it up." Yet all the people could think about was the literal Temple that they were standing in front of which He had just thrown the buyers and Sellers out of. Their minds were on the earthly or literal bricks and Mortar Temple. But God's ways were far above man's ways, and He wasn't talking about that Temple building, He was talking about the Body of Christ.
You would have thought Christians would have learned a lesson. Because that is exactly why it is there. As a lesson to us. When the scriptures said that Elias must come first, the people were baffled, because John the Baptist wasn't Elias incarnate. But nevertheless he 'was' the fulfillment of 'that' scripture of Elijah's coming. The people just didn't understand how God uses prophecy in the spiritual sense. John the Baptist wasn't literally Elijah, but he came in the Spirit and Power of Elijah. In other words, Spiritually speaking (Luke 1:17), he was as Elijah because he had the same Spirit of witness and prophecy. Christians just don't seem to learn from Biblical History. Again, we can see how the people in the time of the first advent thought that Christ came to set up a earthly Kingdom. They didn't understand that His Kingdom is a Spiritual Kingdom, and He didn't come to reign on an earthly throne, but that by his ascension to the throne, we would become kings and priests unto our God and reign on earth through Him. Setting up an earthly Kingdom is man's idea. Christ told us plainly that His kingdom was now 'not' of this world, but is within us. If we have Christ dwell within us, we are members of that Kingdom and do reign. Those worldly kingdoms of Biblical history were a 'type' (as David's) signifying a greater rule, and with His coming the types were fulfilled. Yet today, there are those who make the exact same mistake as Israel did. They tell you Christ is coming back to govern and to reign on this sin cursed earth. Just as Israel before them, these theologians are missing the point. His Kingdom is not a earthly one, it's a heavenly one. His kingdom not of this world, but in this world in the camp of the saints.
Likewise, the old Temple fell at the cross, and the 'Building Again' is in Christ. It's foundation is the Apostles, and we are built up on them.
1st Peter 2:5
That's not speculation on the stones of the Temple, or from the desks of archaeologists, or the pens of secular historians. That's not from the mouth of man, that's the Word directly from the mouth of God. When the man of lawlessness or sin takes a seat in The Temple of God, this is speaking of sinful man taking a ruling position in the Church. The Church is the Temple of God.
- "Ye also as living Stones, are built up a spiritual house.."
This is all in conjunction with the Prophecy of Revelation chapter 20. When Satan is loosed, he will go forth deceiving and bring the wicked against the camp of the saints (The only Saints in this world is the believers, the Church). He will bring them against the Holy City (The only city that is holy 'after the cross' is the Church). If you think any other city is Holy besides the City set upon a Hill that can't be hid (Matthew 5:14), you are kidding yourself. Satan attacks the household of God by bringing deceivers into it. This is what is illustrated in chapters such as 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2, Revelation 20, and Matthew 24. It is Satan's deception that has people believing a lie. False teachers bringing false gospels are signs and lying wonders where people are not worshiping the God of the Bible, but are worshiping a false god. A god of their own construction and image. A god after the imagination of their own hearts. The God of the Bible is worshiped by keeping His commandments or laws. But these are identified or made manifest in that they don't 'keep' the laws of God, but are lawless. They have become the man of lawlessness instead of the the man of God.
This is the man of sin in contrast to the sinner. The man of lawlessness verses the man of lawfulness. The man of sin shall die. The man of lawfulness shall live.
- "Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
- But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right,"
The overview of verse four of 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2, is that God is telling us that Satan indwells the man of sin (lawlessness), the son of perdition, just as he did with Judas, so that he will be deceived and betray Christ. Satan thus rules in the temple of God through the servitude of lawless man. And by man ruling as if he is God, he exalts himself above the true ruler, thus displaying himself as being God Himself. This is the humanistic teachings of the unfaithful Church, which in essence proclaim man has the right to choose his own path, to hold to opinion and to do whatever he decides is right, regardless of what God's law actually says. ii.e., manipulate God's word. ut the true Saints of God will not be unequally yoked with idolatry of any kind (2nd Cor. 6:16), and so they will come out of this Temple that has become filled with abomination, that we not be partaker with her sins. When professed Christians will not obey God's Word, the Lord speaks of this as building a house not upon Christ (The Solid Rock), but upon the shifting foundation of earth or sand. And that is precisely why the Holy Temple is brought to desolation. Because it is not Built on the Solid Rock. It forsakes the word of God (Apostasy) and so falls to it's own destruction.
Just as the ruin of Judas' house was great, and was brought to desolation (acts 1:16-20) though he was numbered with the Apostles, so the ruin of every man who is a son of perdition and will not listen to the Word of God will be great. Their house will be brought to desolation because their house will be a den of thieves, as Judas. It will not be the house of God, but fall headlong as the house of Satan. And great will be the ruin of that house. Such abomination is brought to desolation.
- "He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a Rock: and when the flood arose the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a Rock. BUT he that
- heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell and the ruin of that house was great."
Paul informs us that when he was still with those of Thessalonica, he had told them before about the coming of the Lord, and the lawlessness that would be revealed. His teaching of the rise of apostasy and the ruin of Antichrist was necessary for the Church. Even though these things were not to take place in their time, He had taught them about it when with them, and is repeating the prophecy here both for their state of mind, and for us. This teaching is really a warning to the faithful against degradation and adulteration, and to the unfaithful about the judgments of such unfaithfulness.
- "Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?"
But more than a simple statement by Paul to those at Thessalonica, I believe that under inspiration of God this is a exhortation by the lord that He has told 'all of us' these things in Christ's teachings, and that we should now bring it to mind with this statement. The Lord works in marvelous ways, and one way is to address something to the Church at Philipi, or Corinthians, or Romans, and have it 'truly' be to the whole Church, not simply to those immediate individuals to whom it is addressed, or speaking to at that particular moment in time.
Regardless, Christ 'did' tell the Church these things when He was here with them on earth. For example in Matthew Chapter 24 where He told the Church about His coming, and those who would be deceived of Satan near the end of the world. When He was asked when the Temple would be destroyed, and when would be the sign of His coming, and when would be the end of the world, Christ started telling them all these things signifying how many false prophets and false Christs' would arise (verse 5), Kingdom against Kingdom (verse 7) and there would be affliction that they would be hated of all for His name's sake (verse 9). He declared that many false teachers would arise and deceive many (verse 11) and that he that shall endure to the end would be saved (verse 13). He said that this gospel shall be preached in all the world for a witness and 'then' the end would come (verse 14). This is the exact same illustration we see in 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2.
You will note that among the countless inconsistencies of those Theologians who teach that this all speaks about A.D. 70 is that it blatantly ignores content, context, and flow. Many chop this chapter up like cold turkey, claiming one verse deals with A.D. 70, and the next verses deal with all through time, and still the next verses deal with the end of the world. This theological view is tortuous of the text here, for it is all talking about the same time period. GOD is Not the author of confusion. You cannot go to the Bible interpreting one verse in one time and space, and the next in another time and space, and then in the next you go back to the first time. There is no Biblical justification for doing so.
The correlation between the apostasy of 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2, and the apostasy of Matthew chapter 24, is self evident by comparing scripture with scripture. This is the time of Christ's soon return, when Satan is loosed and deceives so many of the world with false gospel, that it is a time of such Great tribulation as never before.
Yes, Jesus has told us before. When He was with the Apostles on the earth He told them (and us) all about this falling away or increase in iniquity, and this time when many false prophets would deceive the Church. But not a lot of Christians are listening. They ask, 'where did He tell us that?' Show them where there is Great Tribulation prophesied near the end of the world, and they will ask again, where does it say that? You show them where, and they'll retort, that's just your interpretation. The Church today cannot see what is right before their eyes because they are too busy turning to the right hand and to the left in order to avoid the truth right in front of them. But The Word of God has told it time and time again, in one way and another. Just as Paul does in this verse of 2nd Thessalonians. He says, "remember ye not that when I was with you, I told you these things." And as Paul said in 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2, so Jesus says in Matthew chapter 24:25 when talking about these very same things,
We should by the Spirit be starting to get the picture. We have been told before. The teacher prophet told us before. Paul has told us before. Christ has told us before. God has told us before. There is no excuse for you not knowing about the coming apostasy and the great deception of Satan which is to come, because you have been told before. ..and if we don't hear it, then perhaps it's because we're not listening.
- ".....Behold, I have TOLD you before."
Who is Christ talking to there? Was He just talking to those who were standing there at the time, or is He talking to them, you and me? That is the question! He has foretold them/us all these things about this apostasy. What are these signs and Wonders? Were they in A.D. 70? Certainly not. Satan wasn't loosed in A.D. 70 so that there was Great Tribulation such as never was before in the history of the world, nor ever would be. Despite the protests by some, it doesn't qualify for fulfillment of these scriptures.
- "for false Christ's and false Prophets shall arise and shall Shew SIGNS and WONDERS, to SEDUCE if it were possible, even the very elect.
- But take heed: Behold, I have foretold you all things."
2nd Thessalonians 2:9
This is what the prophecies of Matthew and Mark were talking about. Just as we read in 2nd Thessalonians 2 as it talked about the time of the end, and the coming of the Lord. Likewise Mark and Matthew prophesies of this. The Bible says when Satan is loosed, he goes forth deceiving, and that this deceiving is a sign and lying wonders. This is illustrated in many places and can only be false prophets and false teachers who come to seduce the Church.
- "Even Him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and lying signs and Wonders."
The overview of verse five is that here God is alerting us that these are not new things. God has told us of this before. When speaking of false Christs' and false prophets coming, Christ said, "But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things." - Mark 13:23. He has told us before. But who has believed His report, or in other words, who is listening to what He is really saying? He who hath an ear to hear will receive the love of the truth of scripture, while the rest will ignore it's meaning. So when God says, "Behold, I have told you before," He gives no guarantee, He'll tell you again. For revelation is by Grace of God.
That Greek word translated withholdeth [katecho] literally means to 'hold down.' It is illustrating a restraint. The question then is, what is being restrained, or who is doing the 'Holding Down?' This is a verse that many theologians conveniently skirt over or give superficial attention to, because then they can continue to parrot the 'line' that the iniquity or the wickedness in Satan wasn't bound at the cross. Because once you honestly addressed this question, you can only come to the conclusion that the iniquity of Satan (at the time of the writing of 2nd Thessalonians) was being restrained or held down of God that the spirit of Antichrist not be revealed until his appointed time. These verses make clear that this spirit Satan was bound or being held down until the time period of the second coming of the Lord. Lest we forget, that's what the beginning verses of this chapter illustrated. Christ couldn't come 'until' after this Apostasy brought by satan would occur in the Holy Temple of God.
- "And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time."
It is often helpful to look look at this logically as well as Biblically. How do we know that this is Satan being restrained until this set time? We know it because God tells us that this wickedness or lawlessness [anomos] that would be revealed, was already at work at the time this epistle was written (around 2000 years ago). And yet, clearly God declares that it would also be loosed or unrestrained at the appointed time (2nd Thessalonians 2:7). The coming of the man of sin is according to the workings of Satan with all signs and lying wonders to deceive. By sound exegesis and Biblical induction, we can only conclude that the only wicked presence or coming that could be at work in the world at that time, yet be bound or restrained (held Down) for 2000 years to be released at the appointed time to deceive the peoples of the world and bring about the man of lawlessness, is Satan. The unadulterated truth is, it can 'only' be Satan. He is the only spirit who can qualify to live that long working evil in the world continually, and yet have been held down to be loosed when God allows. The spirit being called Satan is the only one who qualifies here. That is to say, if we follow scripture, and not the imaginations of men. He is that evil Spirit of iniquity which was bound at the cross, to be loosed at the appointed time.
This loosing of restraint of iniquity by no coincidence matches the language of Satan being bound, and then loosed near the end of the world as recorded in Revelation Chapter 20. There too when he is loosed he goes forth deceiving the world and to accost the camp of the saints (Church). These things are consistent and agree right down the line not because it is coincidence, but because it is God breathed and true. More on this subject when we deal with verse 9.
The iniquity being held down or restrained is the work of the spirit of Satan. He is the spirit of AntiChrist. He was already in the world then, and yet was also coming in the future when he is to be loosed. Is it a contradiction that satan was restrained, yet working in the world? No, not when we understand all the scriptures in their proper context. Satan is the prince of this world, he goes about as a roaring lion, but that doesn't then mean that Christ didn't defeat him at the cross. By the death and resurrection of Christ Satan was bound, restrained, and made ineffective against the elect. This was done that Christ could free the captives (which we were before we were Saved). By conquest He took us from the House of Satan and the habitation of bondage. He spoiled Satan's house and set free the captivity. Every one us (believers) are sinners that became Saved because we have been freed from the prison house of Satan. We were slaves to him, and in order to free us, Satan had to be bound. Not bound for the sake of the world, as God allows him still to be the prince of this world, but for our sakes. Christ has been made our Prince as we were delivered from Satan's Kingdom to His. What this means is that Satan was not bound for every soul in the world, but bound so that he could not prevent the Lord's freeing His captives (Luke 11:22, Mark 3:27) and building His Church from the nations. He will only be loosed after the testimony of the witnesses of Christ is finished and the Church is built. Then (only for a little season), he will be loosed as judgment, and the Lord will return to Rapture His Church. It must be only a short time because Satan the destroyer is terrible, and there would be no flesh left on earth to be Saved in a rapture, if he continued. This great evil period has to be only for a short time. Which is also why he had to be bound in the first place. To prevent this great evil from taking place the last 2000 years. In other words, so that there could be this time (the New Covenant Church Period) of Peace when all nations 'could' be Saved. But the point is, he was bound for this specific purpose, not so the world could be free of him, but so the Chosen could be free from him. Not so that the world would be free of bondage to him, but so that the elect could be free of bondage to him. He was bound so that the kingdom of God could reign on earth, and the Church could be built throughout this New Testament period.
2nd Thessalonians 2:6 poses a second question, which is, 'who is restraining this spirit of Iniquity?' Let us look at two facts from the study of these verses.
#1. It was already bound (held down or restrained) at the time of Paul's writing. And,It's very important that we see those two FACTS, because they contradict the widely held view that the spirit being Satan will be bound sometime in the future, and wasn't bound at the cross. This theory cannot stand when carefully compared with all passages of scripture. The Iniquity that is after the working of Satan which will manifest itself when he is loosed, was obviously restrained at the cross. It's not something to be bound, it's something that Paul under inspiration of God declared was already restrained, else iniquity would have increased even then. The reason it couldn't was because Satan (the spirit of Antichrist) was bound. Jesus Himself (speaking of Satan) said clearly:
#2. It would be loosed or un-restrained before the coming of the Lord, and our gathering together to meet Him.
Anyone with eyes to see will know the spiritual truth of these words. Satan is unquestionably the strong man of this parable, and his goods are those who are under his control (the unsaved). He that seeks to Spoil (take by way of conquest) satan's property is the Lord Jesus Christ. Unambiguously, God illustrates here that Christ could not build His Church by freeing those in captivity to Satan, except He first bind Satan. That is the picture that Christ (not I) is painting here. And this word bind [deo] is the exact same Greek word bound found in Revelation 20:2 where Christ 'binds' Satan. Looking at the context of matthew 12 we see that Christ had authority over Satan by the Power of God (Matthew 12:28), therefore the Kingdom of God had come as Christ spoiled [diarpazo] (or seized by right of conquest), Satan's goods. i.e., Christ bound Satan and plundered his house establishing the Kingdom of God. He didn't fail to do this, He accomplished His task bringing the glorious gift of Salvation to men. But the parable states that He 'FIRST' had to bind Satan before He could do this. This truth is lost on many theologians, but it is nonetheless the Word of God. It is the same truth illustrated in the passage that declares that, 'When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.' -Ephesians 4:8. The gifts to men is Salvation, but first He had to lead captivity captive. The prison house of bondage or slavery in which Satan held us is broken. the law to which we had to answer to because of our sin, is fulfilled in His His death and resurrection. And if Christ therefore has made us free, then are we free indeed (John 8:36). Speaking of Christ, we read in Colossians:
- "Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except He first Bind the strong man? and then He will spoil his house."
Exactly what principalities or rules and power did Christ triumph over, and when was this done? The 'only' honorable answer is that He triumphed over that ruler Satan, and the power he spoiled [apekduomai] or divested himself of by His death, is the power satan had over us. Christ triumphed, or gained the victory over Satan for us. He broke the power that Satan had, and He did it at the cross. He by strength greater than Satan's, took us from that kingdom (the Kingdom of the strong) and translated us into His Kingdom. And He did this by the power of God and the work of the cross. Christ came for the Lost sheep of the House of Israel, and he took them from the house of the strong (Matthew 12) which no one was able to break free from.
- "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
- And having spoiled principalities and POWERS, He made a shew of them Openly, triumphing over them in it."
He that was stronger than Israel is power of Satan. Christ redeemed Israel from the hand of Satan (that was stronger than Israel) by the cross. But as Matthew 12:29 declares, 'First' Christ had to bind him. In doing so, He allowed us to go free from his prison house of darkness (Isaiah 42:7; Luke 4:18). That's why when Jesus spoke of this binding (luke 11:21-22, Matt 12:29), He said if this be so, then the Kingdom had come.
- "Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.
- For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he."
He has redeemed us, delivered us from captivity in one kingdom and translated us into Christ's Kingdom. Colossians 1:13
- "But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you".
So then, at the very least we must confess, Yes, Christ triumphed over Satan, bound him, spoiled his house, and put down his principality or rule. He gave freedom to many of those whom Satan had held in bondage to sin. Indeed the scriptures again and again testify to these things.
- "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son."
The Word of God says that by the cross, Christ destroyed Satan in order to deliver us from Bondage by him. That's not my private interpretation or my spin on it, that is what God said there. And it's an important witness, because many Christians do 'mock' at the idea that Satan was put under restraint by the cross. That word translated 'destroy' in Hebrews is the Greek word [katargeo] meaning literally to bring down to inactivity. It's from the two root words [kata] meaning down, and [argeo] meaning inactivity or to make idle. [katargeo] means Christ brought Satan down to powerlessness or idleness as far as believers go. As a frame of reference, the Greek word [kataballo] means "throw down," or the word [katagelao] meaning "laugh down" (translated sometimes, laughed to scorn). [katargeo] means to be brought down to idleness. Though translated destroy, it doesn't mean destroy in the sense we would normally understand the word. We all know Satan is not destroyed in that sense. This Greek word means he is destroyed in the sense that Christ had bound his power to hold the saints. Instead of him ruling over them, they rule over him (Psalms 91:13; Luke 10:19; Mark 16:18; Romans 16:20) By His death He has brought Satan down to idleness against the saints that He could deliver those who all their lifetime were subject in bondage. Hebrews says, that is what Christ did for us by His death. It's just another way God speaks about the binding or restraining of Satan by His cross, and the spoiling of his house (our deliverance). Matthew 12 and Revelation 20 speaks about it as the binding of Satan, 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 speaks about it as the Holding down or restraining of iniquity, Ephesians 4:8 speaks about it as leading captivity captive to give gifts to men, Mark and Isaiah speak of it as house of the strong man, and ransoming from the hand of the strong. These are all different ways God is saying that we become ruler of the serpent (satan) rather than the serpent ruler over us (Mark 16). They are all talking about the exact same event. Literally, Hebrews chapter 2 is saying:
- "...that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the DEVIL;
- and Deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to Bondage.
Not for all the world, but for all of the world that are Chosen. For them Christ led captivity captive. For them Satan was bound, or made idle that he cannot desolate the Church or it's work until the time he is loosed and the great Apostasy and tribulation will occur. He's not bound for the unsaved (he goes about as a roaring lion), he is bound so that the Lord's house could be built. He's bound for those who would be set free.
- ..that through death, Christ might "bring down to idleness" him that hath the power of death, that is the Devil or Satan.
A clear reference to Isaiah 41:1-7 and Isaiah 61. The fulfilling of the freeing of the captivity. In other words, those who are held captive by Satan, not held by the Roman empire, as surmised by some.
- "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,"
Not to set free literal criminals from literal prison houses, but to set free those who have broken the laws of God from the prison house of Satan. That is the captivity of Israel which Christ came to free (or set at liberty). The Jews (like many theologians today) didn't understand the spiritual nature of prophecy, retorting that they were already free (John 8:33). They didn't understand that they were held in bondage by Satan and Christ came to set them at liberty from 'this' prison. But in order to do that, He first had to bind Satan, or bring him down to idleness against them. Satan was the strong that held them and Christ did [atargeo] or destroy Satan through His death. He delivered or 'released' the chosen from Satan's house of bondage, leading him captive to giving gifts to men. The Gift is that we have no more fear of death, because we are brought out of that house of pain.
- "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
- To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
- To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified".
Those best selling authors and highly touted Theologians who don't understand that Satan was bound at the cross, or who arrogantly claim that Jesus didn't need to bind Satan to spoil his house, demonstrate a lack of careful exegesis of the scriptures. Matthew 12:29 says, How could Satan's house be spoiled, unless Satan was first bound? Then and only then could his house be spoiled. That's God's testimony of what "had" to happen verses man's claims that it didn't happen, and wasn't necessary. God's Word is magnificently in total agreement with itself when we let it interpret itself instead of forcing scripture to say what we have been taught by vaunted Theologians.
The overview of 2nd Thessalonians 2:6 is that God is declaring that the Church knows the impediment that hinders Satan's revelation then, that it will be revealed at the time appointed. He declares, "You know what is restraining, that he might be revealed in his time." The question is, what is his time? And the answer is, it's the time near our gathering together to meet the Lord at His second advent. The time when this restraining of Satan is loosed. That which restrains Satan is the power of the Holy Spirit of God. Since Christ bound Satan, and has the keys of Hell and death, only Christ can loose him. This Messenger of the Covenant who put the seal (security) of God upon Satan when He bound him (Revelation 20:2-3), is He that will loose him at the appointed time. And when the spirit of Satan is loosed, then will the lawless man (transgressor) in the Holy Temple of God be revealed.
This is the verse we touched on earlier. Iniquity was already at work at the time of the writing of this epistle, and yet it was being restrained. This is one of those rare instances where the "old english" language of the King James Bible may be a little confusing. That word translated 'letteth' is an old English word which simply means restrains. In the literal Greek it is [katecho], meaning to hold down, and by implication to prevent one from doing something. For example, if I were to grab someone and hold them down so that they couldn't attack someone, I would be restraining them. That is how this word is used here. To be Held Down or restrained from doing something.
- "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way."
The mystery was that Satan was going to deceive the masses of the Churches into lawlessness. The Greek word iniquity [anomia] literally means, lawlessness or transgression of God's laws. The Church deceived will be allowed to act outside of God's law without restraint. And this secret or mystery is revealed to the saints as rebellion against the laws of God by man. In a word, 'lawlessness.' This mystery of Iniquity was already at work when 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 was written, but was restrained so that the Church could be built. There are those Theologians who like to argue that, "If Satan was bound at the cross, why is there so much evil in the world," or who actually mock declaring that, "He must not have been bound to tightly, because he is sure loose in the world today." I can understand this sentiment in light of the world, but not in the 'light' of the Scripture. First of all, this is what this verse is saying, not something man merely claims that it says. It says Yes, iniquity was already at work in the world even then, and yet it declares it nevertheless was being restrained, and would continue to be restrained until the time when he who restrains it was removed from the midst. God Said that. And for any Christian to mock or deny that is tank foolishness on his part.
We didn't say iniquity was working and yet was restrained, God said that. So all these Theologians who want to argue semantics are arguing with God. How can iniquity be held down if it's up and working in the world? Because 'God Defines Terms,' not man! It's not defined by Webster's dictionary of what is bound, restrained, or held down, but God's Word. The fact is, Satan was bound/restrained for a specific reason. He was not so that there would be no more evil in the world, he was not restrained so that the Church would never be persecuted, and he was not held in check so there would be a golden age of purity. He was (as we've clearly seen) bound so that he could not go forth deceiving the nations to gather them together to assault the camp of the Saints until after Christ's Church was built. That is why he was bound. Satan has no defense against Christ's onslaught at his gates. When Christ assaults the gates of Satan's Kingdom, He builds His Church with the spoils thereof.
- "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:
- But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him,he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils."
Christ assaults satan's gates to build His Church, spoiling his kingdom and translating those He chooses from that prison house of darkness into the glorious Kingdom of the Lord. Nothing will prevent the Church from being built, and that is why Satan was bound. But when the time nears for Christ's return (meaning the Church is complete or nearly complete) then Satan will be loosed, and will deceive again and cause a "great Apostasy" and Tribulation in the world. But only for a little season, as judgment upon the unfaithful Church. As it is written, Judgment must begin at the House of God (1st Peter 4:127). Iniquity is restrained of God, until Christ is removed out of the midst of the temple, the light of the world darkened.
- "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
Many have hypothesized about what really restrains sin. Church tradition once held that it was restrained by the law of the Roman Empire. But that didn't last long because after Roman law was long gone, the Church prospered and grew even more. Others theorized that it was the gospel itself being witnessed which restrained sin. This is a much more biblical interpretation, but still does not really get down to the root, or efficacy of the restraint. i.e., sin is not restrained by words (scripture), but by the power of the Word (which is the Spirit).
Again, that which restrains iniquity is referred to as that which restrains (verse 6), and as he which restrains (verse 7). This would seem to indicate a power involving personal agency. Moreover, we 'know most assuredly' that the only true restrainer of sin is the Holy Spirit of God. Thus, we have our answer. The Holy Spirit is this restrainer of iniquity of which Paul writes, and which has been doing it's job for 2000 years since this epistle was penned.
He who is in the midst of the Church who restrains, is the Spirit of Christ. When Christ is taken out of the Churches, then the Spirit is no longer there. Then will the spirit of Satan be loosed to take it's place as the substitute, or anti-Christ. This is the time when many false authorities or pseudo Christs' arise because of lack of restraint. In other words, these were already here in the world, but were being restrained. In fact, when we look carefully at 2nd Thessalonians verse 7, it is not unlike what we read of Anti-Christ in 1st John:
1st John 4:3
Is this evil spirit of Anti-Christ Coming? Indeed it is. And yet God said that this spirit was already there in the world even then. It's very easy for some Theologians to mock and say how can Satan be bound when he's loose in the world, or how can Satan be destroyed (made idle down) when he goes about as a roaring lion in the world, but this mocking shows a unbridled ignorance of scriptures. And this verse declaring of the spirit of Antichrist (Satan, the spirit against or opposed to Christ) even then was already in the world, and yet was also coming, illustrates this principle very clearly. Because he was at the time, simply "held Down" that in the future he would be released to come in power which he didn't have the authority to do then. There are Christians who will tell you that the Anti Christ must come. They are absolutely right. But then they tell you it is a single man, and they are totally wrong. No man was already in the world when these passages were written, and will also be in the world when the end comes. This is obviously no single man. It is the spirit being Satan, working his deceivings through man. Not through 'a man,' but through mankind. Only Satan could exist from the time of John, to the time of the second coming. And even though some Theologians try to split hairs in saying, "there are many antichrists but these are the spirit of AntiChrist, not Antichrist. But careful examination of scriptures shows that they are grasping at straws. We read unambiguously that the antichrist was already there at that time also.
- "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is NOT of God: and this is that spirit of anti-Christ, whereof ye have heard that it Should Come; and Even Now Already is it in the world."
2nd John 1:7
This doesn't say The spirit of Antichrist, or Thee antichrist, it says an "antichrist". Obviously there are many, and it's not just one man as is popularly theorized. So then, if we have an antichrist at the time of John, and will come to power near the end, then this theory that this is a single man cannot be Biblically validated nor substantiated. Let me say with all due respect to those who believe such things, It can "nowhere" be shown in the scriptures that the Antichrist is one single man who manifests himself near the end. If we let the Bible (and not our imaginations and teachers) "define" what Antichrist is, then we will have no problem understanding scripture, nor God's interpretation. Satan is the Antichrist. The Problem comes in when people ignore how the Word of God defines the spirit antichrist, and accept what some teachers say he is. That is a old and yet continuing mistake in the Church. God defines terms, not preachers, horror movies, tradition or webster's dictionary. The Word of God says a deceiver who confesses not that Jesus is the Christ, is an AntiChrist. And that is because he has the spirit of Satan.
- "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a DECEIVER and an ANTICHRIST."
Many make the exact same error in defining the man of sin (lawlessness) as they think he also is a single man, thee Antichrist. But the man of sin is an Antichrist, not "thee" Antichrist. He was here at the time of the writing of scripture, and he will/and has come in our day. Only the spirit of Satan qualifies as both. Antichrist was to come, and yet scripture also said it was already in the world at that time of John. That's exactly what 2nd Thessalonians 2:7 means when it says the iniquity was already at work, yet was restrained to be revealed at a future time. Both verses say the same thing. There will come a time when the spirit of Satan will be loosed and iniquity will increase and abound. It is a time of great deceiving when the spirit Satan is loosed. There is no one lawless man coming, but many will be a man of sin or lawlessness. And this man of lawlessness will rule in the Holy Temple in his own authority (as if he is God) and cause it's downfall. These evil men who don't follow the laws of God all have one thing in common. They all are sons of the Devil with the spirit of Satan in them. They are son of Perdition, all in servitude to Satan.
Why is it that the Great Tribulation period could not come upon the world until near the end of Time? What was preventing it? The answer is that it was God of course. This great tribulation and iniquity (matthew 24) has been prevented from happening for nearly 2000 years because Satan was bound as God builds His Church. Satan could not muster his armies from the all the nations to assault the camp of the Saints in a way that would bring this great tribulation (greater than this world has ever seen, nor will see thereafter). Are we to think that Satan didn't want to bring this iniquity and Great tribulation 1000 years ago? 500 year ago? 100 years ago? Surely he does because he is the father of lies and deception, the epitome of Evil. But he was obviously bound from being able to do so by God. He cannot bring it until he is loosed.
The overview of verse seven is that God is telling us that there is a mystery in how the iniquity of Satan was at work in the world already then, but was being restrained until the time when he who restrained it was taken out of the way (midst). Because of Satan's being bound in this New Testament millennial reign of Christ, many through the years were freed from his captivity, and are risen up to live and reign with Christ in His kingdom. Because of this restraint of Satan many are translated from the power of darkness to the Kingdom of God. The point is, when the time comes, Satan is loosed as God takes His hand of restraint out of the midst of the Church. This is what this verse is declaring. Iniquity was still at work, and yet was restrained until He who retrains it will be taken out of the midst. And verse 8 continues:
When the time comes, and Christ is taken out of the midst (translated way in the KJV) of the Church, then will this iniquity or lawlessness of Satan be revealed. This is when the real time of trouble starts. In other words, that which has been restrained of God all those years is let loose to do it's work in man. The Spirit of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2) will be free to make the man of sin or lawless man. Revelation chapter 20 says, then Satan must be loosed a little season. And though it doesn't say in this verse he's loosed a little season, it is clear by the context and language that it is for a short period just before the coming of the Lord. The context after all 'is' (verse 1-3)the return of the Lord when we shall gather to meet Him, and the things which must happen first. God declares that He will consume this evil with the Spirit of His Mouth (The Word of God) and shall destroy it with the brightness [epiphaneia] of His coming. That Greek word [epiphaneia] means his notable or conspicuous appearing or manifestation. Clearly, when the iniquity is loosed the lawless man in the spirit of antichrist won't be destroyed until Christ's second coming. And it will be a notable manifestation of Christ, not secret. Not like the 'alleged' coming in A.D. 70. All will see Him.
- "And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming;"
This passage isn't talking about 70 A.D., or anytime thereabouts. It's talking about Christ coming in "final" judgment and there will not be one eye anywhere on the earth that will not see Him. This is the brightness or notable shining that Christ comes with. The brightness shines from the east even unto the west and none shall be able to hide from His presence. It will lighten every corner. The minute His light shines upon them, the wicked will be undone. And they know they are undone, and must stand for the Judgment.
- "For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and SHINETH even unto the west; so shall also the COMING of the Son of man be."
The overview of verse eight is that it is illustrating to us that when the spirit of Satan is loosed, then will Satan, that wicked one, be revealed as he works within man to bring wickedness upon the earth. This is he who the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, which is the Word of God. The wicked shall be destroyed with the brightness of Christ's coming and then will man discover that life really wasn't a game after all. Then will be the realization of the seriousness of crimes against the most Holy God.
This verse tells us who Christ will destroy with the brightness of His coming. He will destroy him (lawless man), whose coming is after the working or operation of Satan, with all signs and "lying" wonders. Again, Satan manifests himself in man, not as a red colored aberration with goat horns a pitch fork with fish hook tail. He doesn't manifest himself as a single man with dark and supernatural powers to spin beds or command dogs, he works (operates) through mankind. Through false prophets with signs and lying wonders which is a synonym for false gospels.
- "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders."
Note that the man of sin (sinful man) has the primary work of spiritual deception of the Church with the power of false gospels signified by lying wonders. He is not the political ruler governing nations, nor does he have military domination. The apostasy is obviously of a Christian Church character, and is that which welcomes this lawlessness of man. we should not miss the point that if the gospel that people bring is false, then the god that they worship is false. The man of sin (who is not of God) will come with these signs of lying wonders. In other words, in contrast to the true signs and miracles of Salvation, their signs and miracles are of damnation. No one is Saved by their gospel, but they are deceived into thinking that they are. That's the 'lie.' These false Prophets say 'Peace and Safety' when there is none. There is no Peace with God in their gospel, and there is no Safety in the arms of the Lord when they follow false teachings (despite what some church leaders will tell you). The false gospels deceive the people into thinking they have Salvation. And from all scriptures we learn that this is exactly what will happen near the end of the world. Satan will be loosed and false Christs (Churches are the body of Christ) and false prophets will abound to deceive even the elect (chosen) if that were possible. But it is not possible, because the Elect don't put stock in man's words, fables, private interpretations, or the writings of secular History. They rely on God's Word ONLY (sola scriptura) as the ultimate authority for truth, that they are not deceived by man's teachings.
So when Satan is loosed, he shall come upon the world manifesting himself in false prophets with signs and lying wonders. Again this perfectly mirrors Matthew 24 of Abomination standing in the Holy Place and false Christs, and false prophets arising to deceive even the Elect if that were possible. It is called a time of great tribulation or a time of trouble. As well it would be because when false prophets are loosed in the Holy Temple, they make it abominable and there can be no greater tribulation for true believers. What could be worse than that? What could be more trouble than having the Temple of God brought to desolation by those under Satan's power, deceiving by lying wonders or miracles? Deceived, the Church will not receive the love of truth of God's Word, but they will receive these lying words of wonder. Those bringing the truth will be reviled, spoken evil of, and persecuted as uncompassionate and unloving legalistic and judgmental. This because they come with the truth of the Word rather than compromise with the way of the world. Those who forsake God's Word the Churches will call caring, and compassionate and Loving Christians. These are confused times when man will give every excuse imaginable for turning away from God's Word, except the truth (that they don't want to obey it). They don't wish to be under God's law, and that is why they are called lawless man or the man of lawlessness. They have no love for it, as their love has grown cold (matthew 24:12). This is the man of sin. When you don't want to follow God's Laws, then you will have in your heart hatred for someone who keeps bringing it up (testifying of it) because it is become as a torment to you. This is what Revelation 13:13-14 is talking about when it declares:
This is the same spirit of Satan working through false prophets and deceiving many by signs and lying wonders. The same as we see in 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2. The Beast is "Symbolic" of those men of Satan's Kingdom. Throughout scripture, Beasts symbolize Kingdoms (see Daniel's Beasts for example). The symbolism is Horns like a Lamb (imitating the power of Christ, the Lamb) but speaks like a Dragon. The Dragon is "symbolic" of Satan. In other words, Revelation is saying that they "appear" as the power of Christ, but their words (what they speak) are not word of God, but of the Dragon, Satan. They go forth doing great wonders and deceiving the people on earth by the great miracles they had power to do in the sight of the Beast (those men of Satan's kingdom). Those of his kingdom see this as miraculous works, but not the faithful children of God. Christ brought the true miracle, but these are of Satan and they bring false miracles. Miracles symbolize salvation. Healing the sick, raising the dead, opening the eyes of the blind, having the deaf to hear, laying hands on the sick and they recover, all these things are representing the true nature of salvation. Christ did the true miracles "representing" true salvation. but the man of sin deceives those who do not love the truth of God's word, by virtue of the "lying miracles" he effects. These are counterfeit miracles or false salvation. False salvation in that people worship the false god (represented by the image or likeness of the beast). They've made their god in the image of themselves, and the kingdom in which they serve. Those who will not worship this false god are spiritually killed. That means all the true believers in the Church are silenced. For the true believers "of the Spirit" can see this abomination in the Holy Place and they speak out against it (unlike those deceived who are overcome of this death). And in standing against this abomination, they are driven from the Churches that their witness is dead (killed). No one mourns the loss of the Witness of truth in the Church at this time, they rejoice.
- "And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
- and DECEIVETH them that dwell on the earth, by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword and did live."
The two witnesses know a lying miracle when they see it, and they know the fire from heaven (Judgment of God) called, when they see it. And because they testify against the deeds of the Church, they are hated, driven out, killed (in the spiritual sense -rev. 11:7), yet they will not be Satan's Slave (marked 666), they will not worship the beast, nor stay in a place that is abominable to God. They will flee to the mountain retreat or refuge, as God had warned them to do. Security is in the mount of God, it is the only retreat in this time of trouble. It is the great mountain Kingdom of the Lord. God has promised, "They will not Hurt Nor Destroy, in all My Holy Mountain" -Isaiah 11:9. This is the only place we are Safe and Secure from the Destroyer. And the true believers leaving the unfaithful or harlot churches of course leaves behind them a Dead church, an assembly without life. Without Christians, without Christ, and therefore it is without Life. Christ has been removed from the midst. The believers see this power of Satan ruling there, and understand they must flee. For what agreement has the Holy Temple of God with an image of the beast? None!
The Overview of verse nine is that God telling us that when Satan is loosed from his prison, he will come in the form of the man of sin. In other words, the coming of the lawless man is in accord with activity of Satan. The ruler of the Holy Temple will be acting as an agent of the devil. That is what is meant by, his operation is after the working [energeia] of Satan. In other words, the man of sin gets his energy from that ruling spirit working within him, which is Satan. This spirit of disobedience moves him to bring false gospels with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish. These false signs and wonders are significations of a false Salvation program, as contrasted with the true signs and wonders of the Apostles which illustrated the true Salvation plan.
Satan deceives those who are unfaithful to God's Word. This is expressly why Satan is loosed. Does not Revelation chapter 20 tell us this plainly, in that he is Loosed and deceives the nations. And this verse tells us that those who are deceived by the false prophets are deceived because they would not receive the love of truth that they might be Saved. These are the unfaithful of the Churches who won't take heed to what the Word of God says. They are the unrighteous spoken of here that are going to perish because they don't want the truth. The testimony here is that they refused to receive the love of truth. They don't really love God because they don't want truth. The question is often asked, "What is the truth?" The answer is that "it is Christ, and it is the Word which His Spirit reveals to us." None will receive it but him who God gives it as a gift.
- "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of Truth that they might be saved."
Only those who are truly Saved love God (because He first loved them) and thus will receive the love of truth. The rest will not receive it because they want to do their own will instead of God's. They will be judged because of their unfaithfulness. We must try or test what our teachers tell us, that we not be deceived. When we receive what the scriptures say, we evidence the love of God and truth. If we without questioning believe our Pastors, or Teachers, or Church leaders, or TV Evangelist, then we place ourselves in a position to be deceived by things which we want to hear. We must always make an effort never to fight against God's Word because of our own will or Church traditions, but receive His truth with humility and surrendering love. Because there are those who no matter how many scripture passages there are to prove God said something, will fight against it without fail. In other words, they don't really like what God has to say and so they won't "receive" it as truth. And it doesn't matter if it's plainly written or if it's not plainly written, because if it goes against what they already believe or have been taught, they will not receive it. They are drawn into lawlessness or sin because they don't truly love God.
- "Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know Him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."
1st John 5:3
2nd John 1:6
- "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."
When we receive God's laws, we receive the love of truth. Those who will not receive it will come under God's wrath. And with each passage witnessed to them that verifies that the Bible indeed says something contrary to their teachings, many will become more agitated and will revile you for making them uncomfortable in their beliefs. They simply don't want to hear that scripture contradicts their views. Some become so incensed that they start calling names like false prophet, or they may refuse to even consider the verses or even speak to you. This is because the Word is as a torment to them because they don't want to be under it's authority. the witness of, "Thus saith the Lord," torments them. It's like a burr in the saddle. What they want to hear is that they're right, or that God is flexible in His laws, or that we can compromise about what the Word says. They want to hear nothing which makes them uncomfortable in their sins. And this verse of 2nd thessalonians is speaking of those who are just such people. People under wrath of God who have no excuse for their refusal to receive the love of truth.
- "And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it."
God shall judge them in His wrath because they held the truth in unrighteousness, who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creation more than the Creator. They served themselves (man of lawlessness) in the Holy Temple, not God. Therefore will God remove His hand of restraint of iniquity and will give them up, just as He has done before.
- "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;"
Sound familiar? Sound at all like what is going on in our day? A reprobate [adokimos] mind is an unapproved, or unsound mind. It is a flawed mind, a mind which cannot make sound judgments. It is the mind which is spiritually marked of the beast, and antithetical to the mind of Christ (1st Corinthians 2:16). We look around at obvious (to children of God) lawlessness in the Churches and we ask ourselves how can professing Christians condone such, and put to silence those who would dare to testify to God's Word which speaks against it? And the answer is that the mind is become unsound and reprobate. The heart of natural man is desperately wicked, and the prophecy is that near the end, this heart will be more and more in the Church. Iniquity abounds and the love of God grows cold (matthew 24). This is what we see prophesied in these verses of Thessalonians. But God is not mocked, and will judge.
- "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
- And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.
- And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;"
The overview of verse ten is that when the man of sin comes, energized by that spirit Satan, he will come with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. And the reason they will perish God tells us is that "they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." In other words, the unfaithful of the Church became backslidden, where they turned away from the God of the Bible having a lapse in morals where they fell to lawlessness or sin. God indeed is longsuffering or patient, but when the time is come to the full, God will reveal the judgement of His wrath on these people. God is informing us that these are the unlawful, and 'this' is why they will be deceived of Satan. It is because they would not receive the Love of the truth.
This is God's judgment upon the unfaithful Church who will not keep His commandments. God is not neutral in this deception coming. We look at Christians and we ask ourselves, 'how can they believe such nonsense,' and the answer is that God has "given them up" to delusion. We've seen in the last verse why God brings this judgment. It is because they wouldn't receive love of truth. And now God tells us what is the purpose of this judgement and who sends it. God Himself takes an active roll in the judgment of the unfaithful. It was the Lord who "bound" Satan that the Church could be built, and it must be the Lord who "looses" him as judgement after it is completed. And there need be no mystery as to why, because the answer is right here. He is loosed that the unfaithful be deluded that they believe a lie and fall that all may be fulfilled. God has warned the Church time after time about faithfulness, but the Church is continuing in it's unrighteousness just as Israel of old. And just as Israel of old was judged, Israel of New (the Church) will be judged of God.
- "And for this cause GOD shall send them STRONG delusion, that they should believe a lie."
God is not mocked by those who call themselves His people but who practice abomination in His house. It is the unwritten vain philosophy of man that we are our own god in that we have the right to decide what is good and what is evil. This is Satan's lie which man today has accepted. The overview of verse eleven is that God is illustrating to us that for the reason of man's unfaithfulness in the Church and his refusal to love God and receive truth, God will send him strong [energeia] delusion, that he should believe a lie. That word translated strong (KJV) is the same word found in verse 9 translated working (after the working of Satan), and means the energy or that which produces the intended effect. i.e., the spirit of Satan working within man. God is the one who looses Satan and thus sends this spirit against the nations for their disobedience. The Church has become a house where believing the truth and having a love for God has grown cold. There is no fear of the Lord, no eschewing evil, no lawfulness. This is why God sends this spirit of delusion. Just as God judged Israel of the Old testament, God begins judgment at His Sanctuary. Judgment must start at the House of the Lord (1st Peter 4:17). As Judgment, God will send them this strong one (Satan) who He had previously bound, that in his effectual working he might delude them that they believe the lies of the devil brought by his false prophets. And again in the next verse, God tells us why.
- "And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
- And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
- Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house".
God tells us again so as to make it clear, that there is no ambiguity about the reasons for the Judgment in the temple of God. It is because they have turned from the truth of the Word of God in favor of their lusts or what gives them pleasure. In other words, in favor of whatever is "their will" instead of God's Will. We see this today as Church after Church is forsaking God's Word for whatever is right in their own eyes, or whatever is pleasurable, or politically correct, or socially acceptable. This is their refusing to believe the truth (what is written) in favor of what they want (what is their pleasure) to believe. Does the Church think that it can turn away from the statutes of the Living God and not come under the Judgment of God for this? Israel did, and the Church is following in her footsteps. But in thinking so, they have been reading some other Bible, or following some other gospel, because GOD has told us time and again that the Church would be judged if it did not repent and started falling away from the faith. We have the examples of Israel, we have all the parables Jesus told, and we have the warnings of God in Revelation chapter 2 to the messenger of the Church at Ephesus. ..and indeed to all Churches.
- "That they all might be Damned who believed NOT the Truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
Would the Church for one minute think God is 'only' talking to the Church at Ephesus? God forbid. He is talking to all Churches. He's talking to all of us. The 7 Churches of Asia represent all Churches, and the message to them is a message to all. He warns the Church that has left it's first love to repent! In other words, TURN AWAY from your unrighteousness and remember from where you are fallen. God is saying these have fallen away from Him and that they should bring their first estate to mind, and remember just from where they have come. They are commanded to repent and be faithful to do what Christ had sent them forth to do (The first works, the works of the resurrection). Our Commission is to bring the gospel message of the work of the cross to the world. Bring the Word faithfully to the world. That is our work. It's not to build ourselves a swimming pool, to obtain a second home, to move up the corporate ladder, or to exalt ourselves. It's not to live as worldly as we can while saying 'God Bless.' Often today people who call themselves Christians just sit in the Church pews and intermittently listen to the Word, but they don't hear it. Nor do they work to spread the gospel truth. Where is their usury. far to many professed Christians have the mindset that after going to Church on sunday, their work is complete. In truth, they aren't working. They aren't doing their job. They have "forgotten" the great commission. Freely we received, freely we are to give. And that includes of ourselves.
- "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast LEFT thy First Love. Remember therefore from whence thou art FALLEN, and repent and do the first works; or else I will come quickly, and will REMOVE THY CANDLESTICK out of it's place, except thou Repent."
We're servants of God and our first works are to spread the Gospel. That is the job we were 'sent' to do. Spread the good news, send forth the gospel message, preach the Word faithfully, keep the Word of God, and stay with our first love which is God. That's what Revelation chapter 2 is warning the Church about. If we don't, The Lord will not be an idle bystander. He says that He will take action against those messengers and will remove their Candlestick (Church) out of it's place. God say, He will 'Come Quickly' (language of Judgment) and will remove that Church from it's Place. In other words, that Church will no longer be the Church of God. It will no longer stand as "The Holy Place" because it will no longer have Christ dwell in the midst of it. After all, that is what truly makes it a holy Place. Without Christ it is not the Holy place, it is just a place. That Church will be left a Church not of God, but of Satan. This was God's warning to the Church at Ephesus, and it is God's warning to the Churches Today. When lawlessness or the transgressing of God's laws abound, they are leaving their first Love, and their pleasure is then in lawlessness.
- "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of LIBERTY, and continueth therein, he being not a FORGETFUL hearer, but a DOER of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."
This is why they are damned. Verse 12 of 2nd Thessalonians tells it plainly. They were damned because they believed NOT the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. How many times have you testified to something written 'clearly' in the scriptures, read it accurately (Word For Word), and the Church member you're addressing will look you right in the eye and say (with a straight face),
...well, that's just your interpretation or opinion.
It wasn't your interpretation, it was God's unadulterated Word, word for word, but you see this is what scripture calls "doing what is right in their own eyes", instead of obeying God's Word. Unlike the (faithful to the Word) Bereans (acts 17:11) they refuse to receive the love of truth. Because of Pride, because they don't want to give up some sin, because of ego, because they are comfortable with their tradition or teaching, or whatever the rationalization may be, they simply ignore the scripture and continue believing whatever they want. And this is reason for God's wrath upon them.
The overview of verse twelve is that God is once again illustrating why they all might be damned. He declares that it is because they believed not the truth, and instead had pleasure in unrighteousness. In other words, they loved unrighteousness. Pleasure is what you "like" to do. And what they liked was to do their own will, abide by their own laws, and make up their own rules in the Church. Yes these will "like" a religion which makes them feel good (gives them pleasure), but won't believe the truth written word for word in scripture because they don't like it. they have no pleasure in God's Word because they don't truly love God. And because of this lawlessness in the Churches, God will send them a strong 'effectual' delusion, that they all might be damned. That's exactly what this verse of Thessalonians is telling us. Indeed, it will be a time of great tribulation and trouble for those who are are faithful and stand up against this type of lawlessness by man.
Note how the rest of the verses of 2nd Thessalonians chapter two are a contrast to the Judgment of God in the preceding verses. Paul is saying, yes iniquity is going to increase and abound, and yes God will judge the unfaithful Church who are lawless and will not believe the truth, But he gives thanks for you (Elect), the beloved of the Lord. This is total consistency with Revelation chapter twenty where Satan musters his army to come up against the camp of the Saints, the beloved city. The true believers are the beloved paul speaks of, and the beloved city of Revelation twenty, because they are those who are in Christ, the Beloved of God. Where the saints assemble is the camp, the beloved city. Thessalonians declares that we were Chosen from the beginning unto salvation through sanctification of the Spirit. In other words, we were predestinated from the foundation of the world to come to Saving faith. And it is by the Holy Spirit that we have been sanctified or 'set apart' for the service of God that we would believe the truth.
- "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning CHOSEN you to salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the Truth."
1st John 2:20-21
We have an unction [chrisma] or anointing of the Spirit from God that we know the difference between the truth and the lies of Satan. We are the ELECT (Chosen) who cannot be deceived (Matthew 24:24) because we believe the truth (The Word of God) and will not blindly follow Church or Church leaders. That is why it says we are sanctified through the Spirit to belief of the truth.
- "But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.
- I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth."
I had a conversation with a gentleman who expounded on the topic of Church and insisted that we Protestants could not even know the truth except his particular Church told it to us. Though I tried to reason with him and explain that it is by the unction of the Holy Spirit that we know what is true and believe what is 'written' in the scriptures, somehow he never heard me. Oh, I'm sure he heard me in the audible sense, but he couldn't Hear that I was testifying to God's Word, not my own. It is very much like the lawless child where you speak and him/her goes in one ear and out the other finding no place. It is the Holy Spirit of God that guides us into all truth. It didn't come just to guide Peter or the other Apostles, Christ sent it to guide all believers into the truth. And he who does not have that Spirit, will not receive the love of truth that they might 'truly' believe and be Saved. When we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God, then we will believe the truth. Then we will not ignore what is written in order to embrace man made doctrines or traditions. And those who are truly Saved (as this verse in Thessalonians illustrates), were sanctified and Chosen from the beginning (Pre-selected) to belief of the truth. It's by the Grace of God that we know these things, not by any inherent goodness or wisdom of our own. The natural man (and that includes the natural men in the churches) apart from God will not receive the truth.
1st Corinthians 2:13
It's a gift of God. our Lord says, "ask and I will give it unto You." The problem is, people don't ask because they are so exalted in their own eyes that they think that they are so smart that they already know the truth. They don't feel they need anymore understanding of scripture. Unfortunately, their philosophy seems to be that:
- "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
- But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned"."...I know what I know, so don't try and tell me anything."
That is generally the sad state of the Church today. Most are unwilling to surrender their will to the will of God. They are unwilling to receive God's Word of truth with all readiness of mind to learn what 'He' has to say about the issues. Any doctrine that is not the doctrine they have learned, they take the position that it is automatically wrong, no matter how many scriptures may support it. i.e., they refuse to receive the love of truth of scripture. As they love their church tradition more than God. This in contrast to the beloved of God whom were endowed unto belief of truth.
The overview of verse thirteen is that Paul is bound to rejoice and give thanks to God for the elect, his beloved brothers in Christ, who (in contrast to those in the Church who fall prey to the man of sin), God has called to the obtaining of glory, and chosen unto new life. He thanks God that He had from the beginning chosen them to Salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. In other words, all those whom the Lord had chosen from the beginning, will accept the truth and not be snared by the lying wonders, omens of their pending doom.
It is God who has called us and who has chosen us to believe the truth, through the gospel, via the unction or anointing of His Spirit. The faith that we not only read, but hear what we read in God's Word, is not our own but the faith of Christ. It is He who has called us by the gospel to believe the truth.
- "Whereunto He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
When someone preaches the gospel and the elect hears it and becomes Saved, He has been called by the preaching of the gospel to Christ. When Paul preached the gospel, these people at Thessalonica were called by it to obtain the Glory of Christ. Likewise, when we preach the gospel today, many are called and become Saved by the Spirit that had begun work within them. It is that Spirit which (allegorically speaking) softens and prepares the ground for the planting of the seed. It is that Spirit which makes our hearts fertile to bring forth fruit. And we can take no credit upon ourselves for what God has done.
- "So the, Faith cometh by Hearing, and Hearing by the Word of God".
1st Corinthians 3:6-7
When the Word comes upon those who ignore it, it's like the seed falling on rocky ground where it can't take root and give increase. But God in His Mercy is also able to break that rocky soil, and soften it to where the seed will take root. He is able to gives ears to the deaf, and eyes to the blind that His truth is made manifest to them. If He calls, and chooses, who can but answer? He does everything from providing the seed, to conditioning the soil to receive the seed, as well as giving the increase. It is god who conforms us to His will that we will go forth for the accomplishment of His purposes. And this calling by the gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ was ordained long ago.
- "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
- So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase."
This is just as we read in the previous verse of Thessalonians that God had "from the beginning" chosen us to Salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.
- "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
- For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
The overview of verse fourteen is that God is illustrating that the true believers have an anointing of God wherein He calls them to this salvation and belief in the truth by the preaching of the gospel. And this was from the beginning predestinated unto the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The glory and honor which God gave Christ, He has conferred upon His bride by admitting them to like union with Him. Christ went to the cross and died that we might partake of the same glory as the Saviour by being one with Him. We are effectually called by faith to obtain eternal glory and happiness in Christ.
- "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:"
When some denominations read this verse, they want you to believe that this means that we must obey Church tradition on the same level as the written Word. Nothing could be further from 5the truth. They ignore two important points.
- "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."#1. The ordinances or traditions, whether written, or spoken, were the Word of God which Paul brought to them. There is nothing which would lead anyone to believe that there were any new traditions which Paul instituted. When Paul spoke, just as with the Prophets of the old testament, it was by divine inspiration of God.
#2. When Paul wrote, the Bible was not completed, and words that God spoke through him for the Church were "The Word of God" (The Bible). Naturally, they should hold fast what Paul had to say. This does not hold true today. The Bible is completed and none can add or take away from it.
This scripture clearly does not then mean that we should hold fast in our day what a theologians says, or what a Pope says,or what Minister Bill, or Brother Ihave A. Ph.D. has to say. Unless of course they are testifying faithfully to the Word of God. For anyone to claim that this passage justifies following oral traditions of a Church 'apart from the Testimony of scripture,' is an misapplication of scripture, and a contradiction to 'the whole' of scripture.
Let's take a closer look at this issue. First, the word translated tradition is [paradosis] and means 'a transmitting,' such as a law or an ordinance would be. And note carefully in Thessalonians it is not used here to contrast between the written law, and the spoken law. That can be seen rather easily if one does not ignore the context and read the passage attentively. It speaks of this tradition (ordinance transmitted) as being a teaching both by word and by epistle (Letter). And so you see, any logical thinking person can deduce that it is not saying the tradition is the spoken word and the Epistle is the letter. It is saying the transmissions or ordinances (traditions) were taught them by 'both' word and by letter. The [paradosis] was by both. i.e., whether Paul testified of the Word of God by his mouth directly on a rooftop, or whether he had written them of it in a letter, it was this ordinance or transmission of the gospel. That is the traditions that they should hold fast. As a practical example, if I testify of the scriptures from a pulpit, or if I write a letter testifying to them, they should 'both' be kept. They're not different, they are both the same ordinances transmitted differently. We might better understand this word by seeing how it is translated in other passages.
1st Corinthians 11:2
This word translated ordinances is the exact same word translated traditions. It is the law or precepts delivered or transmitted to them. Is Paul talking about tradition in the sense that many today understand the word. No, not at all. Paul is talking about the precepts that he had taught them about the New Testament Church. In fact, right in the chapter itself, Paul is giving instruction how the Church is to be run, how Christ is the head, etc., etc. This is an example of the ordinances (traditions) or Word of God he wants them to keep. And that's exactly the same thing he is saying in 2nd Thessalonians chapter. He's declaring that whether he writes them in a message, or speaks them to them by word of mouth, they should keep these ordinances. For He spoke as he was moved by the Spirit, because 'God' was inspiring him to pen His Holy Word. God was putting together the Bible. And as we can see, clearly this verse does not contrast the written word with the spoken word. The word tradition (ordinance) here, is used to identify both spoken word of Paul, and his written word. Paul, as the Prophets before him, was divinely inspired of God to write and speak these ordinances which are today our scriptures. So this verse in no way gives justification for men of the Church today to speak divinely by oral or 'out of scripture' traditions or ordinances which we should receive as law.
- "But now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I have delivered them to you."
The overview of verse fifteen is that God having given us the illustration of how satan works, and his coming by deception and divine judgement, that we who are anointed by the Spirit of truth should stand fast or do not stray from the faithfulness to God's Word. And that we should hold the traditions or ordinances which we have been taught, whether by hearing the gospel or reading the gospel. This verse is an encouragement to the Church to remain faithful knowing how the devil is a lira and a great deceiver of the Church. we should not be deceived by adding to the ordinances traditions of God, the traditions of men (as some Churches do today). To be sure there are traditions of men (Mark 7:13) which seek to subvert the Word of God, and then there are traditions of God (1st Corinthians 11:2) which are the Word of God. The Old Testament Priests held traditions which were outside of God's Holy Word (oral traditions) and Jesus condemned them for it, saying by that their traditions subverted the Word of God (matthew 15:3; mark 7:8, 7:13) making it of non effect. The exhorting here is that we stick to the scriptures (the Word of God) which are the traditions or transmissions from God, and we are sure not to be deceived in time of great tribulation.
In this verse we see illustrated the 'Loving Kindness' and the Mercy of God. Because the Lord loved us, He chose us unto Mercy, that we would have eternal consolation or comfort. If we are Saved, then we have the love and mercy of God upon us and eternal consolation. As 1st Thessalonians 4 declared of the Lord's coming to gather us together unto Him, "and so shall we ever be with the Lord." This is our patience and our Hope. And we have this hope because God sent The Lord Jesus Christ, the Sacrifice Lamb, that we could become adopted children of God, and He our Heavenly father. It is all by Grace (unmerited favor of God) wherein He loved us and had mercy upon us. And none of us can boast because it was not because of our love.
- "Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath Loved us and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through Grace."
1st John 4:19
He first loved us, and we are eternally grateful for His blessings. We didn't do anything to merit salvation, God Saved us by His own arm, his own calling, His own drawing, His own choosing, and His own sanctification. It is all through God's Mercy and Grace that we are Saved and escape the deception and strong delusion of Satan.
- "We love him, because he first loved us."
The overview of verse sixteen is that the love of God in Christ Jesus, is where all our hope springs from. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, is our comfort. This is a recognition of Christ as our source of solace and comfort, and an illustration of the union with the father. He has had mercy upon us, not because we loved him, but because He loved us. Thus there is good reason for solace, because now we have hope through that grace by which we have obtained the mercy of God.
With this Hope and knowledge, our hearts are comforted in knowing that God loves us, and has given us everlasting Life. And with this knowledge we are established in every good work and Word. We didn't establish ourselves in good work (as some believe), God established us in every good work and word. The word that we preach, the Work or labor that we do for the gospel, is all because we have been stablished in Christ. And it is for this reason that God looks upon us as perfect, and without fault.
- "Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work."
Our word and work is not of us, but it is of God. Do we know because we are smarter than the next person? No. Do we have hope in time of affliction or tribulation because we are desperate? No. Do we love because we are more virtuous than the next person? No. It is all because Of God. It's by His Grace we have been established that we should not fall. And as He has done for us to give us consolation, so we should do to the Brethren. To strengthen and comfort them in times of trail.
- "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
- Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily."
1st Thessalonians 3:2-3
When Satan is loosed, and there is affliction and trial, the Church can have hope and consolation knowing that they are loved us, and given everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, and have their hearts comforted and stablish in every good word and work. And it all being of the mercy and Grace of God.
- "And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:
- That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto."
The overview of verse seventeen is that the God of Mercy has comforted our hearts, and stablished us in every good word and work, that we should not be moved or fall because of these afflictions which have been prophesied. God comforts and establishes us because we are his people established in every good thing. And it is in this knowledge that we are comforted.
Thus we've come to the conclusion of this study of 2nd Thessalonians Chapter 2. This is the Biblical overview of 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2. It was explained verse by verse and is completely consistent with the whole of scripture, which shows clearly that there will be a time of great tribulation for the saints, a period of apostasy in the Church that must occur before the second coming of the Lord. It is also clear from the context that this chapter is talking about the second advent of the Lord (verses 1-3) and not some other period in history as is sometimes taught. It also could not be referring to the popes and Church of Rome, nor the system of the papacy. It is not referring to a belief that Christ had already come in secret and the Church at Thessalonica believed that it had missed Him. It is a exposition of what must take place in the Church in the latter days before Christ's second advent. Paul beseeched the Church by the coming of Christ and by our gathering together unto him, that the not be shaken or have a troubled mind that the day of Christ is at hand. He assured them that it wasn't, and that they should make sure that they weren't deceived by man that it was. Because the day of the Lord would not come, except there come a departing from the faith, a falling away that man of lawlessness be revealed. And we were told that when the lawless man came, he would sit in the Holy Temple opposing God and exalting Himself. This can only be man under authority of the dragon Satan, ruling in the Church. It is the only Holy Temple which man can sit in 'after the death of Christ on the cross.' God informs us that at that time the restraint of Satan would be stopped as He that restrained Him would be taken out of the way revealing this great iniquity. Even man, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power of this beast, and with signs and lying wonders. With these he deceives the unrighteous, because they would not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved. In other words, in contrast to those who love God because He first loved them, these have no love of God, and are not stablished in Him that they not fall under strong delusion, which God sends as judgement for rejecting the truth.
To verse thirteen God illustrates the terrible wickedness and deception that shall befall the unrighteous, and after verse thirteen God illustrates something better that awaits those whom God loves. paul says he was bound to give thanks always to God for the beloved of the Lord, because God has chosen them to salvation from the beginning, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. A stark contrast to those who were not chosen, who reject the true gospel and will not receive the love of truth. For it is ny the gospel that we are called to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are to stand fast and hold the doctrines on faithfulness which we have been taught. It closes with a exhorting that our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father which has loved us and given us everlasting solace and good hope through grace, Comfort our hearts, and stablish us in every good word and work. This is the magnificent Sword of God in both illustrating His judgments upon His Church, and His faithfulness to His Church. Every man according to his works, whether good or bad. The unfaithful will be judged because they are worthy, and the chosen of God who are established in Christ have hope and comfort, even in these times of great affliction, persecution and tribulation. In the election, not a few good words or a few good works that we do, but every good word and work that we do is established in us by God. We have been called and Chosen, a Royal Priesthood, a Holy nation, a peculiar or special people, a Beloved People, the Children of God, all because God Loved us and stablished us for His purposes.
One of the most important thing that we have seen in this study is that these passages are explained in the scriptures, by the scriptures. They don't require private or personal interpretation by secular historians, archaeologists, paleontologists, professors, or Greek experts to tell us what God means. God Himself explains them by our comparing His Word with His Word. We also see that it doesn't take a Ph.d to understand these scriptures. All it takes is a God given willingness to receive the love of truth that we not ignore what God has inspired written. It has become a common practice and even somewhat chic for Christians to say, "this is a really hard chapter to understand so let's not worry about it, because we'll all understand it better by and by..." The truth is that it's only hard to understand when we have a slothful spirit, are uncomfortable in the Word, are negligent in careful study, or are close minded. If we are not open-minded to scripture (Acts 17:11) then we won't bother to check it out to see if they are true or not. Perhaps because we don't want to turn away from what we have been taught because we've grown comfortable with it. But if we go to the scripture with all readiness of mind to receive the truth, we find that what was once hard, becomes much more more easily understood.
What is really hard with man is turning away from indoctrination, and yet with God, all things are possible. When man doesn't rely on the Bible, but on himself, history, archaeology, politics, current affairs, or out-of-scripture writings, you can be sure of one thing. That it's not a Biblically validated interpretation. It's not grounded in scripture. Man simply cannot interpret God's Word, because interpretations belong to God (Genesis 40:8). And we get God's interpretation through His Word, comparing scripture with scripture, via the Spirit of Truth.
If there are contradictions between what I have said here and what the scriptures say, and I will examine and correct them post haste. Because inconsistency is the hallmark of error. But when the scripture is in agreement with all other scripture, and there is consistency throughout where there are no contradictions, then you have come to the truth of the Word. The only question then is,
..will we RECEIVE it. Have we the Love of Truth in us.
This chapter is dealing with how the unfaithful of the Church are not safe, because they are not founded upon a rock. It is a warning to those who would exalt their leaders as gods, that they will ultimately be deceived and brought under judgment. At the same time it's a promise to the faithful, beloved of the Church, that they are always safe because it is the Church that cannot be moved, and will endure every conceivable evil or trial. To the end that it is stronger than it was before the trial. The Church has survived fiery trials in persecution, blood letting, stonings, inquisitions, attempts to silence it in every imaginable way. It cannot be supposed that it will not withstand even this time of horrendous apostasy, because if God be for us, who can come against us. This Church is not a corporate Church that will survive, but a Church which is a chosen 'people' of divine creation which will endure in the midst of such degradation, corruption, and incessant attempts to destroy them. For this is the Church of the living God founded by the Lord Himself. May we all have hope in this glorious promise to them whom God loves.
May the Lord who is gracious above all, give us the wisdom, knowledge and understanding to discern between the man of lawfulness, and the man of lawlessness, between the Dragon, and the Lamb, between the children of God and the children of the Devil. For then shall we be comforted with eternal consolations.
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Copyright ©1993 Tony Warren
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