August 16, 2015.
Daily Reading: II Thessalonians 1-3.
Background: This epistle is the second letter that we have addressed to the church in Thessalonica from Paul (with Timothy and Silvanus). The church in Thessalonica was founded in Acts 17:1-19 on Paul’s second missionary journey.
Concepts and Connections.
The second return of Christ: Paul opens the letter in his typical fashion, identifying himself and giving thanks for the church to whom he is writing. It seems that the church in Thessolonica was being persecuted at this time as Paul commends them for their perseverance through steadfast faith these times of suffering. Then he begins to add meaning to their preserving though struggles, as all will be made right when the Lord comes back. Notice the vivd imagery of the second coming, picturing Jesus coming in flaming fire, exacting vengeance. The reason that we can preserver and not take vengeance is because we know that it is not our vengeance to take, but the Lord’s (see Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19 and Hebrews 10:30). On that day, when He comes, all accounts will be settled and justice will be done, according to the only pure and true standard, a standard that we as human beings could not fully adhere to if we tried. On that day, He will be glorified. Thus, we wait patiently for that day, and just as Paul says here at the end of this chapter, we pray that we might be made worthy of His calling and glorify Him in our bodies. May it ever be.
The man of lawlessness: After describing the second coming of our Lord in the previous chapter, Paul moves on in this chapter to explain what must come first before the second coming will occur. He talks about a rebellion that must happen first, and then the setting up of the man of lawlessness. There have been different ideas as to who this is over the centuries, but whoever it is, it is clear that he is set up though the working of Satan. At the time that Paul was writing, the man of lawlessness was already at work, though he was being restrained for the time being. After this restraint, he would rise to power and set himself up in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Many would be led astray by him, as he would preform many false signs and wonders. Notice that Paul even says that God will send a strong delusion to those who want to believe in him, that they might believe a lie. However, when Jesus returns, He will ultimately put a stop to the man of lawlessness, as clearly depicted here. And even before the second return, Paul reminds the Thessalonians that they should give thanks to God for their salvation through the grace of God, that they might stand firm and hold to what they had been taught through word and letter. May we be comforted in this.
Final words and warnings: As Paul finishes his letter to the Thessalonians, he asks them to pray for him and the work that he and the people with him are trying to do, that the word of God might be spread speedily. He reminds them that the Lord will protect them from the evil one and that they are thinking about them and have much faith in them. Then Paul gives a warning to those in the church who were being idle, not doing work (by implication, those who could work, see v. 12) but rather using others to sustain them. While he and his fellow workers were with the Thessalonians, he reminds them of the example they set before them, not burdening them with anything, but working to get their own bread to eat while building up the church. Note that he makes it clear that he did this as an example, not because he did not have the right to get funds for his work in the Lord (see I Corinthians 9). He also gave the command while he was there that if a man refused to work, he should not eat, or rather, he should not be supported by his fellow brethren in his idleness. Each was to work quietly and earn their own living. He finishes by telling them not to grow weary in well doing and to mark those who did not abide in the teaching that they had received, that the person would be ashamed/warned and come back to the flock. Then he sends them off in his usual fashion, with the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Leviticus 19-21.
The Lord of peace be with you all.