2 Thessalonians 2:1-17: Stay focussed
When I was a teenager, there was a lot of speculation in the air about the Second Coming. There’s nothing new about that of course, and it’s interesting in the light of the fact that when the Bible speaks about Jesus’ return it is with a view to our sanctification, and not for speculation. Be that as it may, it was not uncommon back then to hear some Christians say, ‘’Keep your eyes on…’’ and then mention a leading American diplomat as a possible candidate for the role of antichrist. Again, there’s nothing particularly novel about such talk, and repeatedly Christian writers and preachers have got it wrong. While it is important to know that ‘’the man of lawlesslessness’’ will appear at the appointed time, it is much more important that we should keep our eyes on Jesus.
It is more important to think about the coming again of Christ, than it is to concentrate on the coming of antichrist. The second coming of Jesus is mentioned first in this chapter, and it should fill our minds and hearts more than any thoughts about the appearance of His arch-enemy. The simple thought that we are going to be ‘’gathered to him’’ (1; see 1 Thessalonians 4:17) is one of the most precious truths about the Second Advent. We will be ‘’with the Lord for ever.’’ What a comfort and encouragement that is. We are going to be drawn to Jesus like iron filings to a powerful magnet.
Nevertheless, it is important for us to know that the Christ will not come until the antichrist has first appeared. It seems that when Paul was in Thessalonica, he gave a lot of teaching about the return of Jesus. We know that this theme figures in his first letter. It seems that since he had left, the Thessalonian Christians had received messages, purporting to have come from Paul and his team, saying that Jesus had already returned. So he wrote his second letter predominantly to correct this false understanding (3).
If any of us should be alive when ‘’the man of lawlessness is revealed’’ it will be important to remember that he is ‘’the man doomed to destruction’’. For a little while he will be allowed to run riot on the world stage, and his reign will be bitter for all religious belief. But he will be no match for Jesus (8) and his day will be relatively and mercifully short.
I came across a comment in ‘The New Bible Commentary’’ pertaining to his rule: ‘’The principle of rebellion against God is already operating…but it is not openly enthroned in the world as it will be for the brief duration of antichrist’s domination…’’
Here are some other Biblical references to look at that probably refer to the same person: Daniel 7:25; 8:9ff; 11:36; Mark 13:14; Revelation 13. Although ‘’many antichrists have come’’ it remains true that ‘’the antichrist is coming.’’ (1 John 2:18).
Prayer: Lord keep me from wild speculation, as exciting as it may be. Help me to keep my eyes on Jesus.