Advent 2020: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

During the season of Advent, I am translating from Greek to English the weekday epistle readings out of the Daily Lectionary of the Book of Common Prayer.

Thursday, 10 December 2020 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12


Chapter Two

1. Now, brothers and sisters, we ask you, as it pertains the coming of our Lord Jesus Messiah and our gathering together around him

2. to not be hastily agitated in your mind nor be disturbed in your spirit about the Day of the Lord, especially not by any word or letter passed off as if it were from us.

3. Let no one deceive you. In no way will it come except the apostasy comes first. Then the man of lawlessness, the very son of perdition, shall be revealed,

4. the adversary, the one exalting himself over everything called or worshipped as god, so much so as to sit himself in the Temple of God claiming that he is god.

5. Do you not remember I kept telling you these things while I was with you?

6. Now you know what is restraining the one to be revealed until his own time. 

7. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, until the only one restraining him is out of the way. 

8. When the lawless one is revealed, the Lord will kill him by the breath of his mouth and annihilate him in the manifestation of his coming. 

9. Him who is by his actions, power, and marvelous lies the coming of the Satan.

10. Every deception and wickedness of those being destroyed is for those who did not welcome the love and truth that would save them.

11. Because of this, God sends them an effective error so that they will believe a lie.

12. Such that everyone who doesn’t believe the truth and who takes pleasure in wickedness shall be judged.


Commentary

Four things stand out in this tight section of amazing prophecy.

First, we are told to not be agitated by any kind of discussion regarding the end of all things. If only the people of God would listen to the Bible on this issue, for our history seems to be one of constant agitation about these things. Paul gives us the amazing stuff, but he couches it with the encouragement we need to just go on with our peaceful lives and not be bothered by it. These are things Jesus will take care of and he doesn’t need our help.

Second, the break in the levy is not the coming of the evil one, the antichrist, but instead it is the apostasy that seems to give him oxygen to operate. Not to be too wound up, but we live in a age of apostasy — ever increasing apostasy. People are walking away from the belief systems of the historic faith in favor of selfishness, sensuality, or down-right occultic practices. I am not saying the antichrist is imminent, but I am saying the cultural soup we live in is the perfect environment for one such as him to thrive.

Third, Jesus will kill this man of lawlessness, this son of perdition, the denizen of destruction. He will kill him with the breath of his mouth. That reminds me of Jesus saying, “I am” in John 18 and the guards falling down. It also reminds me of the image of Jesus with the word coming out of his mouth as a sword in Revelation 19. Jesus needs no army to accomplish is goals and to set things right.

Fourth, God is the one who will send a lie to the people who rejected him. I translate this as ‘effective error.’ The ESV talks about a ‘strong delusion.’ Either way, the Lord himself will bait the trap and then spring it. If you are concerned about this apparent duplicity in the Lord’s behavior, don’t be. This seems something closer akin in my mind to the decision the Lord made in Romans 1 where he let people who chased after idols and lies have their way and so he, ‘gave them up’ to their own desires. If people want to follow a lie, then he will let them follow it right one the cliff.


Questions For Application

  1. Are you agitated about world events? How can faith help you?
  2. Apostasy is all around us. Who do you know that has walked away from the faith? Assuming they are gone, what can you do to help others not make the same awful mistake?
  3. God’s word is a sword — cutting and piercing. How might this idea of Jesus cutting down the antichrist be about the proper application of the scriptures?
  4. How can you sharpen your skills to detective errors in the way people think and live, and also keep them from infecting your heart and mind?