Caution, Confidence, and Grace
2 Thessalonians 2
I can be guilty of coming across a text,… and exhaustively trying to cover it all in one sermon… I can’t and won’t do that today. This is a notoriously difficult passage and subject. But I won’t ignore it either. And as I looked up numerous resources from early church fathers Tertullian, John Chrysostom, Augustine, to Reformation guys Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Wesley, to Contemporaries Ryrie, Scofield, Morris, Ladd, Gentry, MacArthur…. I want to approach, with you, with caution, confidence, and grace. This is a journey of study. This will only be a part of that Journey.
Leon Morris “We must bear in mind the gaps in our knowledge, and not be too confident in our interpretations of this notoriously difficult passage.”
George Eldon Ladd “Any interpretation must be at best a hypothesis.” Reference the restrainer.
Read 2 Thess. 2
50AD…. Back drop is persecution from fellow Jews and fellow Gentiles in Thessalonica.
General thrusts of both letters is 1 Thess. 5:23-24. “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
Similarly from the Gospels… might not understand all prophecy… but point is to be alert, awake, ready!
We shouldn’t throw up our hands and not study the End, We shouldn’t be obsessive and only study the End, and We shouldn’t become so dogmatic in our view that we exclude other orthodox Christians.
2 Thessalonians 2
This letters is further teaching that is a supplement to Paul’s oral teaching. We find it difficult to fill in some gaps on assumptions of things the Thessalonians knew and we don’t.
Your Interpretive Scheme will effect the way you interpret key words and phrases in this 2 Thess. 2 passage. Be aware of the interpretations going on in your mind as you read.
Preterism: most prophecies fulfilled in destruction of the second temple 70AD. Roman 3 year siege to destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Abomination of Desolation armies around Jerusalem. Luis De Alcasar, Hugo Grotius, Thomas Hayne, Joseph Hall, Henry Hammond, Firmin Abauzit, Henry Alford, Kenneth Gentry.
Historicism: identify prophetic passages with historic world events from 70AD to future. Identify much of persecution against the church, and the papacy as “anti-christ”. John Calvin, Adam Clarke, Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Henry, Martin Luther, John Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon.
Futurism: most prophecies are still yet to be fulfilled in the future from now. John Darby, Cyrus Scofield, Norman Geisler, Hal Lindsey, John MacArthur, J. Vernon McGee, Tim LaHaye.
2 Thessalonians 2
First the Rebellion, vs. 3.
It restraining him, He is out of the way, vs. 6.
Lawless one is revealed, vs. 3.
Sits in Temple of God, vs. 4.
World believes lies, because rejected truth, vs. 10.
Jesus appearance of his coming, vs. 8.
Jesus kills lawless one with his breath, vs. 8.
(1 Thess. 4:15ff Jesus gathers elect caught up to him.)
The Olivet Discourse spoken in 33AD, is the background to Paul’s further teaching in 2 Thess. 2. We as 2011 Christians must come to understand the importance of the 2nd Temple, Jesus’ prophecy against it, and its 70AD destruction within that generation, controlling our imaginative horses that “runs to a 3rd Temple”. No matter what scheme of interpretation we fall under, we must appreciate the monumentual transition from the Old Covenant, to the New Covenant, with the “coincidence” of Jesus presence, death, resurrection, and 2nd Temple destruction. Useful points below, similar to Paul’s later expanded teaching in bold.
Mark 13 The Olivet Discourse or Little Apocalypse (Matt. 24 almost identical) (Luke 21 differences in parenthesis.)
2ND Temple will be destroyed.
Many false christs, wars, end is not yet.
Nations vs nations.
Earthquakes, birth pangs…. Just the beginning.
Persecution from synagogues and kings.
Gospel to all nations.
Abomination of desolation standing where it ought not be (reader understand.)
(Luke: Jerusalem surrounded by armies, its desolation has come near.)
In Judea flee, not pregnant, not winter, not Sabbath.
(Luke: Jerusalem trampled by Gentiles, until their time is fulfilled.)
Tribulation of all time.
After those days.
Stellar apocalyptic happenings.
Son of Man on the clouds.
Gather the elect from all over the earth.
(Luke: Your redemption near.)
Fig tree branches and summer.
Within this “generation”.
“That day”… no one knows when.
WOW! That’s a lot to bite off and continue with in your journey through the Scriptures.
No easy answers here. Enjoy!