1 As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. 4 He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. 5 Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you? 6 And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, 10 and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, 12 so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.
Thoughts: It is too common for people today to degrade God to almost nothing so we do not fear Him or think anything out of the normal can or will happen. The second coming of Christ is the ultimate intersection of the supernatural (wtih power) with the natural. The day of his coming is not "already here" (vs. 2), as if it were another ordinary day with a super-ordinary person. Too many today are secularized so much that God is relegated to the natural and commonplace and we don't want to believe in this intersection of the supernatural with the natural. Ironically, as we move away from supernatural good, we move toward supernatural evil. So, in our secular culture, less believe in God and His angels, but more believe instead in UFOs and have a fascination with horror, devils, vampires and ghosts- especially this week (Halloween accounts for over $5 billion in retail sales in America- though granted for most it is just a "dress up" day or an excuse for a party). The "lawless one" described here (Anti-Christ in other passages), fools the unbelievers with wicked miracles. But these same unbelievers refuse to see God's hand and love the truth and so be saved. Just because something is supernatural does not mean it is good. So the ultimate lawless One fools people by "wicked deception." Ironically, there is a link between unbelief and superstition. Historically, when people try to move to an atheistic, secular way of thinking they find theirselves falling to unchecked superstition. It is no accident that the secular Nazis and atheistic communists in the USSR did extensive experiments with esp, psychics, and mind control. The ancient pagan Romans were not devoted to their gods as much as they were superstitious (reading entrails and bewaring the Ides of March, etc.). The pagan Druids also lived in fear and superstition. Christ gives us the benefit of eliminating fear of life with trust in the Creator of Life. We do not need to live in fear of horror, but should seek to trust God- who will redeem us from the fear of this world.
Prayer: Lord, give me eyes to see your hand, and strength to listen to you.
John Calvin abridged: There were some who were saying the resurrection may have been the second coming, and others who were saying the day was very close when Christ comes back. This shows lack of human patience at God's timing. For when the day is said to be near, if doesn't arrive quickly, humanity-in our impatience- begins to languish and languishing turns into despair. There were three kinds of falsification here: false spirit (false prophecy- we are called to test the spirits 1 Jn 4:1), false word (false doctrine and teaching), and false letter (using Paul's name falsely). It seems that saying "as if the Day is at hand" is at odds with other passages that infer that the Day is near. But it is near in God's eyes- as one day is as a thousand years (2 Pt. 3:8). Today we should be constantly waiting for him in such a way that we do not limit him to a certain time. We should learn from this passage that when the Church has entered into a "scattered condition" we should not be surprised. This passage definitely is not referring to the fall of Rome. The rebellion (vs. 4) may refer to the destruction of half the church by Islam, and the "lawless one in the temple of God" may refer to those who corrupt the Church that is left. While the Antichrist may deceive many (vs 10), he will not deceive the elect- so the power of Satan is limited. Believers are called to "love the truth" meaning that faith is always joined to a reverence for God. We do not properly believe the Word of God unless it is pleasant and lovely to us.