2Th 2:1-4 “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
Many commentaries and scholars view these verses in the context of the final coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I readily confess that I do not consider myself to be more intelligent than these men. However, I do believe that the scripture has been given primarily to teach us, the church, about things that are going to affect us here. I do not believe that Paul’s words here were meant to comfort the church in that they (or we) had not missed the Rapture. While this is a discussion for another time, let me just say that I do not understand the scripture to teach what many look for as the Rapture (an event, not a feeling).
The brothers and sisters that made up the church in Thessalonica were under great persecution and distress. Paul had only been able to spend a short time (less than a month) with them before he was forced to move on (Acts 17:1-10). They were plagued by those who were still devoted to either a form of Judaism or else of Paganism. These people were apparently trying to convince the believers that since they had not seen Jesus or been rescued by Jesus in a manner consistent with men’s ideas of rescue, that He either was not coming or else had already come and they had missed it.
Just as then, there are many today who would try and convince us that Jesus is not really coming back (looking to a future time) or else never really came at all (relegating Him to the status of myth). They also try and convince us that, since our confidence in Jesus has no basis in their idea of fact, our experience of grace is not real. Men still claim to have had some direct word from God (that often contradicts the scripture), that they have had some new revelation in their spirit (that also contradicts the scripture), or that some new writing has been discovered (again, that contradicts the scripture).
Like Paul, we beg you, brethren, not to discount the coming of our Lord Jesus. In truth, by the power of the Holy Ghost, those that believe have already experienced His coming and thereby are sure that He is coming again. We gather together unto Him to worship and praise Him because we are sure that He will come. We are sure that He will come because we know He is come and we have not missed it. In His coming, we first found in ourselves a falling away.
When Jesus first makes Himself real to us, it comes first of all with the conviction that we are sinners. He reveals to us that we are “that man of sin”; Adam multiplied (son of ruin). He causes us to understand that, in our vanity, we are opposed to God. We believe that we determine our steps and our whole life is in our power to do with as we please without consequence, thus exalting ourselves above all that is called God or worshipped. We sit (dwell) in the temple of God (1Co 6:19) behaving as those it belongs to us.
It is the coming or our Lord Jesus Christ that sets us in our right mind (Luk 8:35). The ability to acknowledge that we are sinners and our hope rests in Christ alone is proof of His coming and the motivation for our gathering together unto Him. Our confidence that He will come is based on the fact that He has come, both as our Deliverer on the cross and as our Deliverer in our hearts. Let no man deceive us; we do not come to Him on our own terms or according to our own devices.
May God bless us to be steadfast in our mind and heart that, by His grace, we are delivered from sin and found in Him!