Updated: Feb 11
The little book of 2 Thessalonians provides us with an example of deceptive practice. We often, especially in political debate, see words twisted, and given meaning that was not intended initially. Words matter, and words can be destructive, so getting the message right is important. We see in these chapters the danger of devious word twisting and the urgency of the writer Paul in addressing these twisted words.
What is surprising is that Paul, the Apostle, does not rush to address the error, but he begins the letter by addressing the effect. He only addresses the error after chapter one. The false teaching which followed his first letter to the Thessalonians, taught that this new church had missed the rapture of the Church and were now in the Day of the Lord, or to be more precise, they were caught up in the Tribulation. What made it even more believable is that the church was under persecution, which had begun when Paul first ministered to them. The Devil hates the gospel, hates believers, and if he cannot attack the Lord, he can attack the saints and throw them into confusion. It does not matter the topic; the effect is always the goal.
Here are some lessons to be learned from Paul's approach to error. Before addressing error always check your peace and be in fellowship with the Lord. Let the Holy Spirit be your guide and trust Him to guide through His word (Wuest's Expanded Translation, 1956) . What do you do, when the world doesn't make sense, when fear is everywhere, when the mind is confused and turmoil abounds? You re-establish your spiritual walk first, and then deal with those other issues. Let truth, including the inward truth of fellowship with Him, confront the error.
Paul was angry about the deception and the word twisting, but he was more concerned about the effects on the mind and hearts of the saints. In Chapter Two he confronts the deception directly.
In Chapter One, Paul seeks to calm them, to breath grace and peace to them, and assure them of God's love and plan for them. They are not under God's wrath. Romans 5:9-11 would not to be written for another five years when Paul would write to the Roman church, but an important set of verses from that book, that we have, which the Thessalonian believers did not have, says "...having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath by Him" and, "there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." [Romans 8:1, NKJV] Before Paul has them look at truth with him, first he wants their hearts to be assured and for them to be at peace, walking with His Spirit. Indeed they were an amazing church. Paul talked about them and praised them to other churches, because to be in their midst was to be surrounded by people whose love abounded toward you and whose "faith grows exceedingly". Wouldn't we all want to be loved that way by fellow believers? Wouldn't we want to find our faith edified, and growing, just by being around them?
It is encouraging to read Paul's words, that those who persecute and lie to the church will themselves be persecuted by God Himself. It is a matter of His character, that He repay the wrongs we suffer. The Day of the Lord is a day of division, of separation, and a day His glory is revealed. It will be for some a day of wrath and indignation, as unbelievers, face flaming vengeance, while believers see His revealed glory, admire Him and are glorified by Him forever as their bodies undergo transformation, and their spirits begin to understand all things.
Paul goes on to teach in Chapter Two, the things of the Day of the Lord
that signs will precede the Day of the Lord before it occurs. We are not their yet my friends, but we should keep ready.