Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?2 Thessalonians 2:5(NASB)
While the first chapter of this epistle gives a broad overview of coming prophetic events, chapter 2 goes into greater detail about the coming Day of the Lord. It begins with Paul having to correct certain doctrinal misunderstandings which caused the Thessalonians great concern.
Paul had already taught about the Day of the Lord during his brief visit to Thessalonica, but the truth had been distorted by a hoax letter they thought had come from him... which made false statements about the Great Tribulation and the Antichrist. It caused these believers to fear that the Day of the Lord had already started and that the Antichrist was in their midst... without the promised resurrection of Church-age saints and the Rapture of living believers having taken place... as Paul had originally taught them.
Paul did not want any believer to be confused or uninformed about the Day of the Lord. His teaching was meant to comfort, not concern or confuse. He wanted those who had trusted in Christ to gain a thorough understanding that the Lord would return for His church before the outpouring of God's wrath in the Great Tribulation period. "Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?" he asked them.
He had taught that the Day of the Lord would come without warning, like a thief in the night, for unbelievers. However, Christians have illumination and are children of the day. Believers should be prepared and ready. We have light and knowledge and should be watching and waiting expectantly as we see the day approaching. "We do not want you to be uninformed about those who have already died," he wrote. "We don't want you to grieve like unbelievers who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead, we also believe that God will resurrect ALL Christians who have fallen asleep in death."
Paul had taught them that Rapture of Church-age Christians (which included both the resurrection of Christians who had died and the catching away of Christians who were still alive), would happen before the Day of the Lord because God did not appoint us to suffer His wrath... which is to be out-poured at the beginning of the Day of the Lord. Christians have obtained salvation by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and are not appointed to wrath, but these concerned believers thought that the Day of the Lord had already started. So Paul wrote to remind them of his earlier teaching. "Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? Don't you remember that I repeatedly told you about these things when I was still with you? Have you forgotten what I said to you when I was with you?" he asked.
The Christians in Thessalonica were fairly new believers, but Paul had made sure that he taught them the full counsel of God, including prophecies about the Rapture, the Great Tribulation, the coming man-of-perdition, and the terrible wrath of God that will be poured out on a world that rejected Him and refused to be saved by faith in Jesus Christ.
He had also explained that when Christ returns for His church, "Christians who are alive will not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep. Firstly, the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God. Then the dead in Christ will rise first... after which we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with His resurrected saints into the clouds... to meet the Lord in the air, and from then on we shall always be with the Lord."
"Do you not remember that I used to tell you these things when I was still with you?" he asked. He had told them that something was restraining the man-of-lawlessness from emerging onto the world scene. The work of the indwelling Holy Spirt through the prayers of Christians was a restraining influence on evil. It prevented the prophesied man-of-lawlessness from emerging onto the world scene before God's predetermined time. He reminded them that Daniel taught that the identity of this man would not be revealed until God's appointed time.
Lawlessness is a mystery that is secretly but constantly working within this world and will continue to spread like a cancer until it produces the prophesied man-of-sin - the Antichrist. The restraining power of the indwelling Holy Spirit will be removed... through the Rapture of the Church, when wickedness has reached its fullness. It is THEN that the man-of-sin will be revealed.
In this passage, Paul reminds them of many things the man-of-sin will do, while the prophet Daniel tells us that this satanically inspired man will come onto the world scene for seven years, during which time God's wrath will be poured out on a God-hating, Christ-rejecting, sinful world.
No wonder the Thessalonian believers were concerned that the Day of the Lord had started. It would have meant that the pre-Tribulation Rapture had not happened and would have rendered Paul's teaching to be false. Too many Christians are unaware of the truth of the coming Day of the Lord and do not take to heart the whole counsel of God. If Paul considered it necessary to teach the fledgling believers at Thessalonica the finer details of the Rapture of the Church, the Day of the Lord, and that Christians are not appointed to wrath - should we not also diligently study the Scriptures to show ourselves approved unto God?
Heavenly Father, thank You that by faith in Christ I am not appointed to wrath because Jesus took the punishment for my sin in His body on the tree. Thank You that You have given us history in advance so that we do not fear as the lost who have no hope of eternal life, but have confidence in Your Word. Thank You that all that You have purposed for us will certainly come to pass and I praise You for the blessed hope I have in Christ. May I be ever watching and waiting expectantly for the return of the Lord Jesus to resurrect His dead and rapture all living believers - for which I praise and thank You in Jesus' name, AMEN.
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