11. Avoiding Deception (1 Thessalonians 2)
2 Thessalonians 2
Scriptural Insight: Verses 1-23 contain truth about the end times revealed nowhere else in Scripture. This section is key to understanding future events, and it is central to the argument of this epistle…Many people throughout church history have confused the teaching of the apostles that Christ could come at any moment (for believers at the Rapture) and the unbiblical idea that He would come at any moment. The first correct view is the doctrine of imminence, but the second incorrect view involves date setting. (Constable’s Notes on 2 Thessalonians, p. 8)
Day One Study
1. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Verse 1 reviews Paul’s reason for writing this letter and refers back to a question he obviously addressed in the first letter (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:10). He gets specific in verse 2. What was unsettling the Thessalonians?
2. Paul had warned them in his first letter and given instruction. Explain the instructions given. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 and 2 Peter 3:15-16.
3. Gaining Perspective: Turning away from truth that previously had been acknowledged is called “apostasy.” Are you careful to critically analyze what you see, read, and hear? How do you know if it is truth or not?
4. Reread verse 2. The opposite attitude toward the day of the Lord can also be taken and is prevalent today. Read 2 Peter 3:3-7. What attitude does Peter warn about? What scripture do people with this attitude have to ignore or explain away?
5. Gaining Perspective: Describe any experiences you have had with people/churches who maintain the same attitude described in 2 Peter 3:3-7. What gives them hope, if not the return of Christ?
Day Two Study
6. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Describe the general “signs” preceding the day of the Lord. See also Daniel 9:24-27 and Matthew 24:1-35 which give more descriptive detail.
7. Regarding what Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2, what characteristics describe this man of lawlessness or abomination of desolation? See also Daniel 11:36-37 and Revelation 13:5-8.
8. Gaining Perspective: In our society, we are obsessed with the sensational. How can we know whether miracles, signs, and wonders are counterfeits or not? Review the purpose of miracles in Hebrews 2:3-4. How can we determine who will be glorified/worshipped as a result?
9. In verses 6-7, who and/or what do you think is holding back/restraining the man of lawlessness? Who is the only one who knows when these things will take place?
Focus on the Meaning: The “mystery” (truth previously not revealed but now made known) Paul referred to here is the revelation of a future climax of lawlessness that would follow the removal of the restrainer. This lawless movement was already underway in Paul’s day, but God was holding it back until His appointed time. Then He will remove the restraining influence. This removal is probably a reference to the Rapture when God’s restraint of evil through His people will end as He removes them from the earth. God will remove the Holy Spirit from the earth in the sense that God will remove those whom He indwells and He with them. He will not entirely abandon the earth, of course, since God is omnipresent. (Constable’s Notes on 2 Thessalonians, p. 15)
10. Gaining Perspective: As awful as the day of the Lord sounds, how does knowing who is in control of it all give you comfort and keep you from giving way to fear? Can you trust Him to carry out His plans and still take care of you?
Day Three Study
11. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Paul says, “For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work.” Read 2 Timothy 3:1-5, another prophecy concerning the last days. Do you agree with Paul? Explain your answer.
12. Discuss verses 9-12 in the context of what we have already learned regarding God’s judgment of those who refuse the gospel. See also Romans 1:20-32.
13. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 5:9-10 and 2 Thessalonians 2:8. What is the good news for the Thessalonian believers and for us?
14. Gaining Perspective: Praise God for His great salvation for you and me who have chosen to love the truth and believe His gospel!!! Meditate on what salvation truly means to you for the rest of the day.
Day Four Study
15. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17. From verses 13-15, list all that God has already done/planned to do for the Thessalonians and all believers.
16. So what is our responsibility now? To what traditions (NAS, NET) / teachings (NIV) was Paul referring? Refer back to 2 Thessalonians 2:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:9, 13; 4:1-2; 8-9.
Focus on the Meaning: In view of their calling, Paul urged his readers not to abandon what he and his associates had taught them in person and by letter. He wanted them to hold firmly to the inspired instructions that he handed on to them, “the traditions.” (Constable’s Notes on 2 Thessalonians, p. 18)
17. Paul wrote magnificent words of encouragement as the Holy Spirit led him to write. Who is the Ultimate Encourager? Discuss verses 16-17.
18. Gaining Perspective: Read Psalm 56:3,4. What do these verses say to you? God knows our every need. As His child, you can go directly to Him and ask for encouragement from Him for yourself.