2. PAUL’S EXPLANATION OF THE DAY OF THE LORD
(a). The Events Preceding the Day of the Lord
(1). First a Falling Away
Having received correspondence from Thessalonica that there was some misunderstanding in his teaching on the Day of the Lord, he now proceeds to correct this (the principal focus of his second epistle, see “Background” page i). He addresses what appears to be the difficulty they faced: “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him” , in reference to a report that they had received stating that the day of the Lord has already come .
(2). The Man of Sin Is Revealed
He now proceeds to clear up this misunderstanding. “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
Our Lord Jesus had already warned His disciples of what was expected prior to His return : many people will turn away from the faith, many false prophets will appear, there will be an increase in wickedness and ungodliness, following the teachings of demons and deceiving spirits. Finally the “man of lawlessness is revealed” who will oppose everything that is of God, setting himself up as God.
(3). The Restrainer Is Taken Out Of The Way
Paul then explains the sequence of events that will lead up to this revelation. Our Lord Jesus Christ will first appear at which time there will be a resurrection of the dead, referred to the as the first resurrection” and this was what Paul had written previously . After this event occurs the man of lawlessness will be revealed, and not before, because: “And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.” . The One who is holding him back is none other than The Holy Spirit who has been sent by God the Father to keep and protect His people from the evil one , so it is evident that once the first resurrection takes place the primary work of the Holy Spirit on earth will come to an end and evil and lawlessness will prevail.
(4). The Second Coming Of Christ
This time of evil will also come to an end as Paul continues to explain: “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” The final event will be the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth (the Day of the Lord), at which time the “the man of lawlessness” together with Satan, and all those who follow him in his wickedness and ungodliness, will be punished for their lifetime choice in their rejection of Christ . So Paul, and the Scriptures, teach that the Day of the Lord will not come until the first two events are completed.
(b). The Comfort of the Believer on the Day of the Lord
Paul concludes this teaching by a prayer that both God, and our Lord Jesus would give eternal encouragement and hope to the Thessalonian believers (and to us today) ; and he thanks God for them (and us as well) who are loved by the Lord because “from the beginning God chose you to be saved” , and in this statement we see the foreknowledge and Omniscience of God (His knowledge of all things and people, past, present, and future; events, circumstances, places. . The Thessalonian believers including all individuals on this earth, past present and future, are included in this choosing because of God’s Omniscience. The Scriptures teach that we have been chosen from before the creation of the world, and that God has “predestined” or “appointed us ahead of time” or “foreordained” us to be His people or children (adopted us) because of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection for the sins of all mankind . However, each individual has to personally accept God’s choosing and offer of His salvation; we do not become God’s people or children automatically. As with everything in life we have to make choices, some good and some bad; we must come to the point where we personally accept what God has to offer ; so our salvation comes about by our hearing and accepting the gospel message and “through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” . We are “set apart to God”, “sanctified” or “made holy” through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and this causes us to live for God as His disciple or believer. In order to do so Paul encourages all believers to “stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” , for this is the evidence of a true believer in God.