We wrestle with a problem that is not new. It is a question that has existed since shortly after Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, while some of the original twelve apostles still lived and walked among men. Men were still men even back then, some anxious, some fearful, some expectant. Perhaps the reality of what it meant to be a servant of Christ was nearer to the mark than it is in our day. Actually, I’m sure of it, but that did not keep some from causing enough of a rift, wherein Paul needed to address it.
Although Paul was not one of the original twelve, he did refer to himself as an apostle of Christ in multiple letters, including his first letter to Timothy, his second letter to the Corinthians, and his only letters to the Colossians and Ephesians.
It’s not as though Paul had nothing better to do than address a problem that wasn’t a problem. Enough whispers had been going about, and enough voices had been heard attempting to confuse the saints of old, wherein he took the time to pen an encouragement, a warning, and wise counsel all wrapped up in one.
It’s odd that some today would disregard certain of Paul’s writings while singling out others and making more of them than he’d intended. If it vaguely hints at being libertine, if it vaguely intimates that actions no longer have consequences and God loves you too much to let you walk away, then that’s the one to hang our hat on.
If, however, he speaks of anything other than those specific things, well, he was under much stress, and maybe the interpretation got corrupted. Some have even gone so far as to say Paul the Apostle of Christ was a demonic plant, to muddy the waters of Scripture. Some people just have too much free time.
Others will do and say anything to invalidate something they don’t like within the canon of Scripture. If you can’t argue the point, attack the man making it. Sling mud, make innuendoes, play the what-if game with his life and intentions. So what if he said he suffered for the sake of the gospel? So what if he was martyred for the cause of Christ? Bob in the wife beater with the armpit stains and Cheetos fingers said he was of the devil, so we got to go with Bob on this one.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, “Now brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means, for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
Although self-explanatory, let’s break these verses down for a minute. First, the what. What is Paul referencing? What is he writing to the church of Thessalonica about? The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him. These two events are not connected by a then; they are joined by an and. When Christ appears, we will be gathered together to Him.
There is no intimation that these would be separated by any length of time, even though they are two separate events.
Paul by no means denies the reality of these two events. His quarrel is with those who were saying that this had already occurred. Two thousand years ago, there were men roaming about, attempting to convince believers that the day of Christ had come, and they’d missed it.
To dispel any confusion, Paul then goes on to identify two notable events that would take place before the return of Christ and our subsequent gathering to Him.
First is the falling away; second is the revealing of the man of sin. Paul is clear that these two things must occur first before the day of Christ could.
I get that these verses throw a wrench in many a theory, but we are constrained by Scripture. It is what the book says. This is the roadmap we were left to follow to reach our destination.
What always stands out to me when reading this passage is that Paul didn’t say a falling away, but rather the falling away. Second, the man of sin will not be a mystery; we won’t have to guess at it; he will be revealed.
We’ll stop here. Tempus fugit, and I’ve got to try my hand at French toast this morning. “With chocolate chips,” daddy, “don’t forget the chocolate chips.”
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.