Paul's Essential Teaching on Eschatology
Updated: Dec 23, 2021
A short exposition of 2 Thessalonians chapters 1 and 2
When Paul wrote his second epistle to the Thessalonians, he let us know that they were experiencing persecutions and tribulations.
2Th 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;
2Th 1:4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
He encouraged them, thanking God that they responded rightly to the tribulations (pressures) and persecutions, which resulted in their faith and love abounding. -------------- He informed them that the persecution that they suffered was an indication of their worthiness of the Kingdom of God. He also encouraged them concerning their future deliverance at the REVELATION (apokalupsis) of Jesus Christ. Paul said, that it would be at that time, that God would RECOMPENSE TRIBULATION (thlipsis) upon those who have persecuted them.
2Th 1:5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
2Th 1:6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
2Th 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, Please note, that it is to His REVELATION that Christ refers when He makes clear that His coming will take place upon the same day that His own are rescued (raptured) and on the same day that He begins to pour out His wrath in recompence upon the earth-dwellers (Luke 17:26-30; Matt 24:37-39). It should also be noted that Paul makes a clear reference to the eschatological day of the Lord theme of RECOMPENSE (vs 6) and VENGEANCE (vs 8). Isa 34:8 For it is the day of the LORD'S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.
Isa 35:4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.
The revelation of Jesus Christ happens right after the sun, moon, and stars go dark and right before the resurrection of the just and the rapture (Luke 21:25-28; 17:30; 1Cor 1:7; 1Pet 1:7).
Rev 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
Mat 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
Mat 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Mat 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Note: The Revelation 19:11-21 description of Christ takes place after the trumpet and bowl judgements, His revelation referred to above takes place before the trumpet and bowl judgments following the events that John witnesses at the opening of the sixth seal. --------------
At His revelation His VENGEANCE will BEGIN to be poured out upon the unbelievers, the ultimate result of which, will be their everlasting destruction.
2Th 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
2Th 1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
Paul says all this will take place when Christ comes to be glorified in (with) his saints.
2Th 1:10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. The saints here are distinguished from all those who believe. The saints are those who Jude spoke of when quoting Enoch, as recorded in 1 Enoch 1:9. Jud 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
Jud 1:15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. The saints are those who came with the LORD when He appeared to the children of Israel at Sinai. Deu 33:2 And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them. The angels are said to be holy (hagios), they are the saints (hagios) that Jesus comes with.
Mat 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his GLORY, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: Notice that Christ said all His holy angels. Paul says all His saints. They are speaking of the same thing. 1Th 3:13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
Mar 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the GLORY of his Father with the holy angels.
Luk 9:26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own GLORY, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels. His appearing in glory with the mighty and holy angels is Christ’s REVELATION (apokalupsis). --------------
Paul said that he prayed that the Thessalonians would be counted worthy to suffer for Christ and that Christ’s name might be glorified in them, and they in Christ.
2Th 1:11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:
The calling is to suffer for Jesus.
Act 5:41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
Php 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
1Th 3:3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions [thlipsis]: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.
2Th 1:12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The martyrdom of the believer glorifies God. Here, we see that Jesus spoke of Peter’s future martyrdom.
Joh 21:19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
Chapter 2 is a significant portion of Paul's eschatological teaching. Paul says concerning Christ’s coming [parousia] and the resurrection/rapture don’t be shaken or troubled that it, the day of Christ (the Parousia, and rapture), is at hand or near in time. This is one of the 17 times in the New Testament where we see the semi-technical term parousia referring to Christ’s arrival and continuing presence.
2Th 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2Th 2:2 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.
The English expression “is at hand” was given by the KJV translators to represent the Greek word ἐνέστηκεν from the root ἐνίστημι (enistēmi) in this context. The expression “at hand” is defined as "near in time or not distant". Paul is correcting the misinformation that the Thessalonians had received. He is telling them that the day of Christ (the parousia and rapture) are not near in time.
Notice that there is nothing said in the text about the Thessalonians “thinking that they missed the rapture”. That is an extrapolation of those who interject a secret rapture, before the beginning of the week, into the text. Such a pre-trib rapture has no support from the text. They were experiencing severe persecution. They were erroneously told that it was the great tribulation (unprecedented persecution) that Jesus said would precede His parousia, at which time the day of the Lord would begin. So, they expected the day of Christ (the day of the Lord) to come anytime.
The day of Christ involves His coming and our gathering together unto Him. This future day (period of time) is also called the day of the Lord. The expression day of the Lord emphasizes Christ's interaction with the unbelieving, Beast-worshiping, earth-dwellers, particularly His wrath being poured upon them. Whereas, the day of Christ emphasizes Christ's interaction with His church. The expression day of the Lord doesn't change what Paul is communicating, because immediately after His revelation (the first of many acts upon that day), our resurrection, and rapture He BEGINS to pour out His fierce wrath upon the unbelieving, Beast worshiping, earth-dwellers. This fierce vengeance comes sequentially in the form of the trumpet and bowl judgments. Below we see various references to the day of Christ.
Paul says here that the good work of partnership in the Gospel will be performed until the day of Jesus Christ.
Php 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Paul says we are to be sincere and without offense till we see Christ. The day of Jesus Christ is when we see Him.
Php 1:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
1Jn 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
1Jn 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
Paul tells the Thessalonians that two things must happen before that day can come: a falling away and the revelation of the man of sin. Remember verse 1 tells us of the events which characterize that day, the second coming [parousia] and resurrection/rapture gathering unto Christ.
2Th 2:3 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;
The falling away is described in detail by Christ in the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24:9-11, 24). In Christ’s description of the period of unprecedented persecution and supernatural deception that takes place prior to His coming, He says that many will be offended (fall away) and many will be deceived. The falling away is due to the severe persecution, false Christs, false prophets, and supernatural deceptions. Jesus said that the deception will be so great that if it were possible even the truly elect would be deceived. This departure from the faith is illustrated in the parable of the soils in Matthew 13:20-21. There we see that the word was received with joy but when persecution and tribulation came they were offended, that is, they forsook Christ. There will be a notable falling away during the great tribulation. In the recent history of pretribulationism, many have begun to claim that “falling away” is a mistranslation and instead the word apostasia should be translated “departure”. They say this departure is the rapture of the Church. This is just the latest attempt by the pretribulationists to find a pre-seventieth week rapture in the text of Scripture. This novel interpretation is not only contrary to the history of teaching on that text, but it makes what Paul is saying nonsensical. If apostasia refers to the rapture, Paul would be saying, “the rapture will not come until the rapture comes first.”
The revelation of the man of sin will involve the Antichrist (Beast) in the Temple demanding to be worshiped as God. Jesus referred to this as the start of the great tribulation (Matt 25:15, 21) which Daniel testified will take place in the middle of the week (Dan 9:27).
2Th 2:4 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.
This is none other than the Beast that arises out of the sea (Rev 13), because it is he that worship is directed toward on behalf of the Dragon. There is no Scriptural indication that the false prophet receives worship on behalf of the Dragon.
Paul says that he told the Thessalonians these things before.
2Th 2:5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
-------------- What Paul says in verse 6 is often misunderstood. It is usually taught that it refers to the same restrainer that is spoken of in verse 7. However, there is good reason to make a contrary conclusion. To see this verse correctly it must be understood that it is implicit that Christ’s revelation [apokalupsis] takes place at His arrival on the day of Christ (day of the Lord). So, the Thessalonians “now” know, having just been told “WHAT” was preventing the revelation of Christ from being at hand (near in time), that being, the apostasia and the revelation of the man of sin must come first. This view is further reinforced by the use of “what” in verse 6 as opposed to “he” in verse 7 for the restrainer. The absence of the revelation of the man of sin and the precipitant apostasia are preventing the day of Christ (involving Christ’s revelation) from being at hand (near in time).
2Th 2:6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
-------------- In verse 7 the one withholding is a “he” not a “what”. It should be noted that the same Greek word is used for “withholdeth”, “letteth”, and “let”. Each expresses the idea of hindering or restraining. It should also be noted that the word translated “the way” is the Greek word “mesos” which means middle. Additionally, we should consider the unusual translation of “ginomai” in this text. Of the 672 uses of the word in the NT, only once, here in this text, is it translated “be taken”. What does all this mean? It means that we must with great care be diligent to not err concerning who this restrainer of the mystery of iniquity is. Who is presently restraining Satan from giving power unto the man of sin that he may reveal himself?
2Th 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
The restrainer is Michael the archangel that Daniel said would stand up (stand aside) after which would be a time of unparalleled trouble. This unprecedented trouble is that same period of persecution that Jesus called great tribulation. It is that same period that Moses referred to in Deut 4:30 and Deut 32:36, and Jeremiah spoke of in Jer 30:7. The revelation of the Beast in the Temple takes place in the middle of the week. Michael stands aside in the middle of the week. Satan is cast out of heaven by Michael in the middle of the week. The middle is very significant.
Dan 12:1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
Dan 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Dan 12:7b … it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.
Mat 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Mat 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Dan 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
Notice that Michael is specially equipped to deal with Satan. He did it before.
Jud 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
He will do it again in the middle of the week.
Rev 12:7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
Rev 12:8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Rev 12:12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
Dan 10:13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. --------------
When Michael casts Satan to the earth in the middle of the week (Rev 12) the Antichrist shall be revealed. His end is to be consumed in the brightness of Christ’s presence.
2Th 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: --------------
Satan gives the Beast his power and lying wonders are performed by the False Prophet. Those who choose not the love of the truth are deceived and perish.
2Th 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
2Th 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. --------------
Because they didn’t love, but instead rejected the truth, the earth dwellers will be convinced by the miracles performed by the False Prophet and worship the Beast, receiving his mark and thereby be eternally damned. God gives those, who refuse the truth and love their sins, a convincing lie that they might be damned.
2Th 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
2Th 2:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.