2 Thessalonians 2:1-2
1. What is upsetting the believers in Thessalonica?
False teaching that asserts that Jesus has already returned and that there is no longer any hope for eternal life.
2. Why would this false teaching spread?
In our fallen state we seem to tend to want to believe the worst. In my experience bad news always spreads further and faster than good news. The other reason specific to this congregation is that they were new believers and life as a Jesus follower was harder than they expected. When life gets hard, we find it easy to believe things that we think would make life easier.
3. What made it easy to fall for?
Every day that Jesus didn’t return made it easier to believe that He had already come or that He was never coming.
4. What similar forces exist in our world today?
Google and the Internet are powerful forces in our world. Most sources of information are tuned to reinforce what we already believe and want to hear. Whatever the form of media that comes into our life it is very difficult to find objective truth.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-8
This is a difficult portion of scripture to interpret. Some are certain that they understand what all the images that Paul uses mean, but I am not. There are too many views on the end times for me to be confident that one particular view has all the right answers. Paul is painting a picture and my hope is that the questions and comments below help to make this passage applicable to our daily lives as we wait for Jesus’ return.
1. How does Paul reassure us regarding the possibility that we might have missed Jesus’ return?
There is something that is going to happen before Jesus returns. There will be a great rebellion with a very visible leader, and this must happen before the coming of Jesus.
2. What kinds of forces are at work in our world?
There are spiritual forces at work promoting lawlessness. We see the impact of this in education, politics, and entertainment. In truth, we see lawlessness everywhere we look. We see the effect in what people everywhere are doing, but we must not forget that the source is the spiritual power of evil that is led by Satan.
3. What should give us hope despite the evil that is all around us?
The evil around us is temporary. The struggle we are going through is real, but we have been reassured that Jesus will be victorious and the power of evil will be destroyed. The proof of Jesus power is in His resurrection from the dead.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
1. What are the primary tools of the lawless one?
The primary tool of the lawless one is deception. He will deceive with actions that appear miraculous to convince us that what he tells us is true. He will appear to be very powerful when he is not.
2. Why are we so easily deceived?
Most people most of the time desire evil rather than truth. We want the lie to be true to justify what we are thinking and doing. As long as we desire evil more than we desire God we will search for the lies that convince us that our desires are good.
3. What is the best weapon against deception?
A desire for truth is the best weapon against deception. It is hard to love the truth because often the truth is hard to hear. If we do not want to be deceived, we must search out the truth even when it hurts.
4. How does God respond to those who reject Him?
This is a hard saying that is reinforced in Romans 1:20-32. Note especially the phrase “God gave them over” in verses 24 and 26. I think this is the same thing that Paul is describing in verse 11 of 2 Thessalonians 2. God will not attempt to convince us of His goodness and truth against our will. When we encounter people who have rejected God we should expect them to be thoroughly convinced of their position.
5. How should this shape our prayers?
We should continually be praying that people would know the truth, love the truth, so that they can be set free by the truth. We should pray that people’s eyes are opened and that they can see the truth and recognize the deception for the lie that it is. We should pray that we would grow in our desire for the truth more and more.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
1. How are we saved?
We are saved by our belief in the truth of the gospel. Our salvation is made secure as we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us to make us more and more like Jesus.
2. What is the result of being saved?
We will share in the glory of Jesus. I cannot describe what that will be like because it is beyond my knowledge and experience. I have great confidence that it will be far better than anything I can imagine.
3. What should followers of Jesus be doing while they wait for His return?
We should be standing firm and holding fast. I love reading novels that describe the period of time when naval warfare involved great sailing ships. In almost every book the ship and crew encounter a great storm. When the great storm hits movement on board the ship is very limited. When out on deck exposed to the storm everyone from the lowliest crewman to the captain must grab hold of the lifeline and hang on with every ounce of strength they have, to stand firm and avoid being swept overboard. We are experiencing a great storm and we must grab hold of our lifeline and stand firm.
1. Who is God?
God is the person in control. The lie is that everything is out of control, but it is not. God has a plan and the power to make it happen.
2. What is God doing?
God is waiting. While He is waiting, He is limiting evil and reinforcing those who have decided to pursue evil.
3. Who are we?
We are travelers seeking eternity with God who are experiencing great storms of evil along the way.
4. What should we be doing?
We should hang on to God and with great confidence stand firm in the truth of the gospel.
Material for this and the other lessons from Thessalonians are drawn from two primary sources and my own observations: