Every house has a firm foundation. Without it, the house would quickly fall down. Similarly, our faith has a firm foundation-Jesus Christ. That foundation can never be shaken.
The word “Shaken” is sometimes used to describe what happens to a home’s foundations in an earthquake. It can also describe what happens to weak faith when trouble comes. Believers in Thessalonica were alarmed because they mistakenly believed they had missed the rapture and were living in the Tribulation-a rumour they were more prone to believe because they were being persecuted. This false teaching had come to them either by a fraudulent revelation, a false report, or a forged letter bearing Paul’s name. Paul spent some time correcting this error.
The Day of the Lord doesn’t describe a literal 24-hour period but was prophesied by the Old Testament prophets as a time when God would visit the earth to judge the wicked and to save His people. In the New Testament, this event includes the Tribulation, the Second Coming, the millennium and the final judgment. Paul assumed that the arrival of the Day of the Lord and the Second Coming would occur at the same time as part of a single event. Paul wanted to help the Thessalonians gain a long-term perspective on their suffering. He assured them of God’s eternal plan, that he loved them, chose them, saved them, sanctified them, called them and has invited them to share in Christ’s glory.
Paul wanted to encourage the Thessalonians to stand firm in their faith. Paul assured them that the Day of the Lord and the Tribulation have not yet come. As proof, he mentioned certain things that must precede these events following the Rapture of the church. First, the truth of God’s word will be rejected. There will be a specific walking away from the truth people once believed. Second, just before Christ returns the Antichrist will be released and revealed. The Greek word for “revealed” also means “uncovered” or “unveiled.” It is the same word that described the revelation of Jesus. The Antichrist will in some ways imitate Christ, even as he opposes Him. The Antichrist doesn’t want any rivals. He will insist that he is God. The man of sin will sit as God in the temple of God and falsely declare himself to be the only one worthy of the world’s worship. This is another event that will happen before the Great Tribulation.
The “falling away” from God’s Word has started already. Church attendance is dwindling. There is increased opposition to Christianity in the world. Terrorism and wars are on the rise. At times like these, we need to look not to the world and its solutions but to Christ. These are signs that Christ’s return is near. We don’t know the exact date, but we can take comfort in the knowledge that Christ will soon make things right.
The Greek word for “chose” is used nowhere else in the New Testament. It means “to select for oneself” with the intent to enjoy it after it becomes yours. God chose His people before the foundation of the world; they could not possibly choose him unless he had chosen them first.
Being chosen by God is a call to responsibility. God has chosen us as his first fruits so that we can tell everyone we know about His love and saving grace. We will face ridicule, rejection and opposition like Jesus did, but we are to stand fast. We can do this because God will support, strengthen and encourage us. He loves us, consoles us and gives us hope because of His grace.
Christians don’t have to be worried about the Second Coming. We can be confident and encouraged because we have been sanctified and chosen to be saved by the Holy Spirit. There is no room for pride in our efforts to improve the world, and there’s also no room for despair at the state of the world around us. It’s important that we hold on to Christ’s teachings. They have been tried and tested and found to be true. Just like these teachings have withstood the test of time, God’s love has stood the test of time. Just like these teachings have transcended history, God’s love is infinite and eternal.
Because God has done so much for them, His people are urged to stand fast and hold tightly to the truth that they have been taught. They might not understand everything that is happening, but they can be confident in the resources God has provided from eternity past to eternity future. The word “traditions” does not refer to human institutions such as worship styles or musical preferences which will change with the times but the doctrinal teachings that originated with God and were taught by Paul and the other apostles. These must never change. Everything we do must be based on the lordship of Christ and the authority of the Bible. His standards must be our standards.
Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians in verses 16 and 17 provided them with an eternal perspective on the persecution they were facing. These verses focus on God’s love and grace in Christ. He wants them not just to know and protect the truth but to practice it, comforted, stabilized and ethical in every good word and work. Knowing and practicing the Word of God strengthens our Christian walk and spirit. God’s grace and love encourage and strengthen us in every good deed and word. If we want to grow close to God, we have to forgive our enemies, encourage others and pray daily. This is hard work, and at times we will be discouraged, but it will be worth it in the end.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; pp. 1693-1696)
- ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch 11 Bible software package.
- Demarest, G.W. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 32: 1,2 Thessalonians/1,2 Timothy/Titus (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1984; pp. 127-133)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible, New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
- Ryan Duncan, “A Spiritual Workout.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- Ed Young, “Consistency Over Culture.” Retrieved from www.edyoung.com
- T.M. Moore, “Word and Deed.” Retrieved from www.ailbe.org
- Mariam Kamell, “Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5,13-17.” Retrieved from http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1847