This is my Father’s world: O let me ne’er forget,
That though the wrong seem oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
Throughout Christian history, commentators have been puzzled about the meaning of 2 Thessalonians 2. Who is the “man of lawlessness” mentioned in verse three? Intense focus on whether this passage refers to the Emperor Nero, a sixteenth century Pope, or an unnamed future world leader misses the clear message that Paul delivers in verse 2: do not be alarmed! Christ will be victorious in the end. This morning, we will sing again and again about Christ’s final victory, and the comfort we receive from this truth. Psalms and hymns such as O Praise Ye The Lord And Sing A New Song—Psalm 149 and The Church’s One Foundation declare that “His saints shall not fail” and that “the church will never perish,” thanks to the work of Jesus (“His might shall prevail”; “her dear lord … is with her to the end”). He will “crush the fiends of hell” (I Know That My Redeemer Lives), and they “shall rise no more” (From Babel To Zion). Perhaps the best response to a passage like this is not worried speculation but thanksgiving and praise: in the words of the Baptist minister Robert Lowry, “No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that refuge clinging, since Christ is lord of Heaven and Earth, how can I keep from singing?” —Henry C. Haffner
Key Words: Coming, Shaken, Alarmed, Rebellion, Lawlessness, Restrains, Delusion
Keystone Verse: We ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (2 Thessalonians 2:2-3)
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.