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2 Thessalonians

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©John Yerkes

Chapter 2:1-4 (ESV)

Posted on May 09, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 2:1-4 (ESV) - Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, 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. 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, 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. 

Question to consider: Do you think this man of lawlessness is a past or future figure (or both)? (Give a reason for your answer)

In his first letter, Paul encouraged the Thessalonians that they did not need to despair over those who had died, for they would be raised and be the first to meet Christ when He returned. Now someone had taken this word from Paul of Christ’s return, and proclaimed that the event had already taken place. Think for a moment of how wicked it was for someone to fake a letter from Paul to discourage this poor church by saying they missed out on the return of Christ while they endured terrible suffering.

Paul reassured them by reiterating that there were still some things that needed to happen before the day of the Lord came. I’m sure Paul was once again appealing to the words of Christ to His disciples on the Mount of Olives, “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” (Mark 13:14)  “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.” (Mark 13:21-22

I believe that “the man of lawlessness” mentioned by Paul matched up with the one who would be an abomination of desolation in the temple, standing where he ought not to be. When this occurred, Jesus told those in Judea to flee to the mountains (rather than to the city walls), for the city and temple would be destroyed. I again appeal to the fact that Jesus proclaimed that all of these things would come upon that generation (the generation of the disciples). In order for this prophecy to have a future fulfillment, the temple would need to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. The book of Hebrews prohibits such a thing from happening, for the writer considered the return to Old Testament sacrifices to be crucifying Christ all over again (see Hebrews 6:1-8). The writer demonstrated that in every conceivable way, the New Covenant was better than the Old Covenant and therefore made it obsolete.

If this is the case, we should consider whether there were any historical events surrounding the temple in that generation before its fall which could have met his description. Caesar Titus was the Roman emperor whose armies surrounded Jerusalem during the Jewish rebellion, and the Roman standard was set up in the temple. The people were forced to bow down and worship Caesar as Lord as early as Caesar Nero. Nero would have first come to power a couple of years after this letter was written.

Once Rome squashed Jerusalem and the Jewish rebellion, the persecution of Christians eventually subsided. I believe the Thessalonians were a witness to all of these things. While we can attribute this judgment of Jerusalem to Christ just as He had judged Jerusalem previously by the Babylonians, we can also look forward to a day when Christ Himself will physically return, call the dead from their graves, and fully and finally put an end to sin and death. This day can come at any time and does not depend upon any other signs to be revealed.


Dear heavenly Father, of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain;    they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. May the children of your servants  dwell secure and their offspring be established before you. Amen. (From Psalm 102:25-28)