Throughout history there have been many aberrations of truth and some of it has been found in churches. False teaching had influenced the church in Thessalonica and St Paul wrote to correct this false teaching. It seems that some people had spread a view that the second coming of Jesus had already occurred. This had led to some in the church there being unsettled or even alarmed. Paul’s letter to them then, can help us know how to be aware of false teaching today.
The False Claim. Verses 1, 2.
1 “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. “ [Note 1].
Paul is stating that such false teaching about the coming of Christ does not come from him nor from any reliable source. He then goes on to explain what must take place before the second coming.
Events Before The Second Coming Of Jesus. Verses 3-5.
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.”
First there had to be a rebellion and the revealing of the man of lawlessness. This appears to be the AntiChrist. He is described as the son of destruction and one who is opposed to every so-called god or object of worship and exalts himself against them. This leads him to taking his seat in the temple and proclaiming himself to be God. This would be the evidence that the second coming of Jesus would follow after. It had definitely not already come as the false teaching suggested.
Paul was reminding them of what he had previously taught them as a means of settling their concerns and overcoming the alarmism that many in Thessalonica were experiencing.
Paul’s Confidence In The Thessalonians To Stand Firm In Coming Times. Verses 13-15. He gives 2 reasons for this confidence.
a]. Because God had chosen them. Verse 13
13 “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” There are a number of important truths in this single verse. Firstly, Paul says they are loved by God. What a wonderful reminder to the believers in Thessalonica as they were enduring persecution. Their opponents might hate them but Almighty God loved them.
Secondly he reminds them that God had chosen them. It was not that they had chosen God but rather that He had chosen them. It was what Jesus had said during His ministry on earth, “You did not choose me, but I chose you” John 15:16. [Note 2].
What an encouragement to those feeling the rejection of the Jews to be reminded that God Himself had chosen them in Thessalonica to belong to Him.
b]. Because God had called them. Verse 14
14 “To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The gospel message had come to the Thessalonians and through it God had called them to Himself. The gospel message is from God in which He calls people to respond to His invitation to come to Him. [Note 3].
A Final Command. Verse 15
15 “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” Paul’s words would have encouraged his readers in their faith pilgrimage. But there was still a need for them to remain faithful. This is the substance of this twofold command. Firstly to “stand firm” and secondly, to “hold on to the traditions” they had been taught. [Note 4].
A Final Benediction. Verse 16.
16 “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” This is a fine prayer for his readers, and the words contain some important truths. It combines the concept of Jesus Christ as “Lord” with the concept of God as “our Father.”
It appears that the “who” refers to God our Father, as the word is singular and so too are the verbs which follow. God our heavenly Father loves His people and gives them eternal comfort and good hope through grace. Paul is praying that this loving heavenly Father would continue to comfort their hearts as He had already done. But he adds to that, the prayer that God would establish them “in every good work and word.” [Note 5].
Living as believers in a world that is hostile to them is never easy. It doesn’t help when some of the information they have received has been just plain false. This was the situation for the believers in Thessalonica. Paul felt compelled to write to them to remind them of the truths he had shared with them when he first brought the gospel to them. He told them he praised God for their faithful witness to the truth and then brought the correction to the false teaching they had received.
They had been told that the second coming of Jesus had already occurred. Did that mean that they had missed out on the resurrection? No wonder they were shaken by that possibility. Paul assures them that Jesus had not come again and gave them some pointers that would herald His coming.
In verses 13, 14 Paul reminds them of the grace and love of God in choosing them and calling them through the gospel to surrender their lives to Him.
Finally he encouraged them to stand firm to what they had already received through Paul.
- “Coming” is from [parousia; παρουσία] from the present participle of [pareimi; πάρειμι] meaning to come, to be near, presence. It is used of Jesus’ second coming at the end of time to establish His unchallenged sovereignty over the universe.
- “Being gathered together” is from [episynagōgē; ἐπισυναγωγή] meaning a gathering together or an assembling. The only other occurrence of the word is in Hebrews 10:25 in the warning, “not neglecting to meet together.”
- “Chosen” is from [haireomai; αἱρέομαι] meaning to make a choice or to prefer.
- “As the first fruits to be saved.” “First fruits” is from [aparchē; ἀπαρχή]. Other text scholars prefer the reading [aparchēn] meaning “from the beginning” which would make sense here.
- “To be saved” shows God’s purpose for His people. It is literally “into [eis] salvation. [soteria.]”
- “Through sanctification by the Spirit.” This shows that salvation stems from God’s grace and is His initiative. God saved them by setting them apart to belong to Him by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. However their response is “belief in the truth” which opened them to the sanctifying ministry of the Holy Spirit.
- “Called” is from [kaleō; καλέω]. God had called them to belong to Him and so they had become part of the “called-out” ones, the [ekklēsia; ἐκκλησία] the church. 2 Thessalonians 1:1. “To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
- “Stand firm,” [stēkō; στήκω] is the perfect tense form of the verb. This means a completed act with a present abiding result. They had taken a stand and now they were to renew that resolve and remain standing firm.
- “Hold to the traditions.” Here the verb is a present tense of the verb. That is, “keep on holding to the traditions.”
- “Establish” is from [stērizō; στηρίζω] meaning to set fast, to make constant. Paul is praying that God would keep on working in their hearts so that they continually and constantly choose to always do and say what is glorifying to God.
Blog No.423 posted on Tuesday 06 September2022