2 Thessalonians 2
1Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,
2that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
They had written the Thessalonians earlier to teach them about the coming of Christ so that they would have hope and comfort that they would see their loved ones in Jesus again. Yet now there were those who were sending them misleading information, even purporting that the information was from Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus. These deceptive letters were saying that the day of the Lord had already come. Based on what they knew from the first letter from Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus, the day of the Lord comes after the rapture. Thus, they were concerned and getting alarmed that they had somehow missed the coming of Christ to meet Him in the air. Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus wanted them to remain unshaken and composed in their hope of the gathering of believers to Christ. This had not happened yet, and neither had the day of the Lord come yet. They are going to explain some of the precursors to the day of the Lord so that, unless they see these things, they need not worry. If they were to see them, then they would be of darkness and not of light, needing to repent, for they would have missed the rapture.
3Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
4who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
They need not be deceived if they remember that there is a general apostasy that comes first as the world turns to pagan religion. This will include the institutional church. The antichrist, the man who defines lawlessness and breeds destruction, will be evident on the world scene, for he will exalt himself above every object of worship. He will insist that he be worshipped. He will take his seat in the temple in Jerusalem, profaning the altar (Mark 13:14, Daniel 12:11), and displaying himself as “God.” (In our time, this implies that the temple will have to be rebuilt before the last days).
5Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?
When Paul was still with them, he did teach them about these things, but perhaps they had forgot, not totally understood, or been distracted and discouraged by the deceptive letters, thinking that Paul had changed his mind, which of course he had not.
6And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.
7For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.
Though the Thessalonians knew what restrained the advent of the antichrist on the world scene, probably because Paul had taught them about this, it is not revealed clearly to us. Regardless, the message is clear that only at God’s appointed time will this man of lawlessness be revealed. Indeed, this mystery is already at work, meaning that Satan is working to put things in place to deceive the nations (Revelation 20:3) and set up a ruler over them. “The restrainer” will hinder the culmination of this work of Satan until the ordained time in the last days. Then, he will be taken out of the way so that this work of the devil can come to its ultimate, but temporary, fruition.
8Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;
9that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,
10and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.
This ruler over much of the earth will be slayed instantly simply by the breath of the mouth of Christ at His Second Coming (Revelation 19:19-20). The advent of the antichrist will be with much power, signs, and false wonders, backed not by the power of God but by the deceptive power of the devil. Those who are wicked will be deceived and perish because they did not receive the love of the truth. They hated it, rejected it, and refused the call of the Spirit unto salvation (Mark 3:29).
11For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false,
12in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
God is not forcing these people to be deceived, for we just saw in verse 10 that they refused to receive the gift of salvation. They choose to be deceived, and for this reason, God gave them the fruit of their decisions, a deluding influence to believe falsehood. God will allow the wicked to be deceived in the last days so that they will be judged for what was in their hearts. They refused to believe the truth about the gospel, and they found their pleasure in wickedness. The unsaved love evil, not good, and not Christ. It is not just that they do evil, but their hearts are evil (Jeremiah 17:9).
13But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
14It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus give thanks for these faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, as they did in the first epistle (1 Thessalonians 1:2). They rejoice that God had chosen them from the beginning for salvation and sanctification. They chose to put their faith in the truth, which demonstrated that God had indeed ordained these choices before the foundation of the world (Psalm 139:16), though in no way did He force the decisions, given that He still holds man responsible. The gospel preached to the Thessalonians was for the purpose of salvation and sanctification so that they could gain the glory of Christ by enjoying Him and worshipping Him forever.
15So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.
The admonition is to live out practically what is true spiritually. These believers needed to live out the reality of their faith by living in holiness day to day. They needed to stand fast according to the Word of God given to them in the Old Testament, in letters from the apostles, or in words that the apostles had spoken to them.
16Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace,
17comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.
We as Christians have an eternal comfort and good hope to look forward to with certainty because of the grace of God. We will be raptured and go to be with Christ in eternity. The wrath of God is not for us but for the wicked who refuse to receive the gospel. We have the love of God in our hearts. Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus pray that the Thessalonians will be comforted and strengthened in their hearts to honor and serve God in good works and in every word. All that they do and say is to be honoring and glorifying to God, reflective of their saved souls and changed hearts.