False Alarms

In Second Thessalonians, Paul addresses rumors and claims that the “Day of the Lord has set in." False information about the “arrival” of Jesus was disrupting the Assembly, and this disinformation was being attributed either to a “spirit,” word (logos), or a letter “as if from” the Apostle Paul and his coworkers.

In response, Paul listed two events that must occur BEFORE the ‘Parousia’ or “arrival” of Jesus. First, the “revelation of the Man of Lawlessness,” and second, the “Apostasy.” The fact that neither had occurred in Thessalonica demonstrated that his return and the onset of the “Day of the Lord” remained in their future.

Letter - Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash
[Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash]

Paul prepared the ground for this subject in the preceding chapter. Despite hostility from without, the Thessalonians had exhibited “
endurance and faith in all their persecutions and tribulations.” However, God would recompense “tribulation to them that trouble you,” and provide “release” and “glory” to the beleaguered saints when Jesus was “revealed from heaven” - (2 Thessalonians 1:3-10).

Far more dangerous than persecution, however, was the threat posed by the deceivers who were spreading their deceptions and lies in the Assembly, including disinformation about the future that could easily cause many to apostatize.

Jesus also warned his followers not to be alarmed by deceivers who would spread false reports and cause anxiety about the “End.” His warning became all too real in Thessalonica.

  • (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2) - “But we request you, brethren, in behalf of the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to him, that you be not quickly tossed from your mind nor be put in alarm, either by spirit or by discourse or by letter as by us, as that the day of the Lord has set in.”

In this passage, the English term “arrival” translates the Greek noun ‘Parousia,’ the word applied most often by Paul to the future “coming of Jesus” in his letters to the Thessalonians. It denotes an “arrival” or “presence,” the arrival of someone or something. The clause “our gathering together” translates the Greek noun ‘episunagogé.’ Whatever this “gathering” was, Paul connected it to the ‘Parousia’ of Jesus and the “Day of the Lord” - (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 3:13, 4:15, 5:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2:8-9).

Jesus applied the same term to the “gathering of his elect” at his “coming” in his ‘Olivet Discourse’ (“Then shall he send his angels and gather together his elect from the four winds”). Paul wrote here that the same event will occur on the “Day of the Lord” - (Matthew 24:31, Mark 13:27, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

This warning was to prevent the Thessalonians from becoming “troubled.” The verb translated as “troubled” or ‘throeō’ occurs in the Greek New Testament only here and on the lips of Jesus in his ‘Olivet Discourse.’ Paul was echoing his warning about coming deceivers - And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you be not TROUBLED: for these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet” – (Matthew 24:6, Mark 13:7).

This false information must not be heeded - “whether by spirit or by discourse or by letter, as by us.” Paul was unsure how the false rumors were being spread. The term “spirit” is ambiguous but could refer to the exercise of a spiritual gift such as the gift of prophecy.

The Greek word translated as “discourse” or ‘logos’ could refer to several types of verbal communication. The significance of the noun “letter” is obvious. The clause “as by us” meant this communication was attributed falsely to Paul.

DAY OF THE LORD


Paul linked the “Day of the Lord.” Paul to the “arrival” of Jesus and the “gathering” of the elect. This is a common term in the Hebrew Bible for the time of visitation and judgment of God, the “Day of Yahweh” when He rescued His people and judged His enemies - (Isaiah 2:12, Joel 1:15, 2:1, 2:31, 3:14, Malachi 4:5).

Paul used the same phrase in his first letter and compared its sudden arrival to “a thief in the night,” the same analogy Jesus applied to his future “coming.” That Day would bring “sudden destruction” on those who opposed the Gospel and persecuted the Assembly.

Elsewhere in his epistles, the “Day of the Lord” becomes the “Day of Jesus Christ,” the hour when he will vindicate the righteous but also judge the wicked - (Matthew 24:42-44, Luke 12:39, 1 Corinthians 1:8, 5:5, 2 Corinthians 1:14, Philippian 1:6-10, 2:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).

Dawn Breaks - Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash
[Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash]

The phrase “
has set in” translates the Greek verb ‘enistemi,’ meaning “stand in, to set in.” Here, it is in the Greek perfect tense, signifying a completed actionIn this context, it indicates something imminent, or more likely, an event that has already commenced.

His reference to the “word” received “as from us” is also a verbal link to the conclusion of this literary section where he will exhort the Thessalonians to adhere strictly to the “traditions” they received from Paul and his coworkers - “whether through discourse or our letter.”

Regardless of their source, believers must not heed voices that deviate from the Apostolic Tradition, which is preserved for us on the pages of the Greek New Testament. By adhering to those teachings, we will avoid apostasy and deception, and attain the “acquisition of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” when he does appear.



RELATED POSTS:
  • Stand Fast! - (Believers prepare for the Apostasy and the coming Man of Lawlessness by standing firm in the apostolic tradition)
  • Seated in the Sanctuary - (The Man of Lawlessness will be unveiled when he seats himself in the House of God - 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
  • The Apostasy - (Paul warned the Thessalonians of the future apostasy which he linked to the unveiling of the Man of Lawlessness, the Son of Destruction)

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