Wednesday, 27 September 2017
…not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 2 Thessalonians 2:2
Correctly understanding Paul’s words of this verse are essential in forming an end-times doctrine which is sound and in accord with what will actually take place. So pay heed as we follow along with the words he gives. First he says that those in Thessalonica (and thus us!) are “not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled.” This is based on what he said in verse 1 about the rapture. He is asking them to be sound in their doctrine, and thus they will not be led astray in their minds. Their hope will remain steadfast, and their faith will not be weakened.
The idea of being “shaken” comes from a Greek word which concerns the tossing or swelling of the sea. They were to be firm and fixed, as if on dry land, not tossed about like a little boat on a raging sea. And this was to be in their mind, or seat of reason. He then says that this should be the case if presented with a false claim “either by spirit or by word or by letter.” The reason why it is false lies yet ahead in Paul’s words, but if a claim is made which contradicts the word of the Lord, then it is false.
Such a claim could be “by spirit.” This would be a supposed “prophetic utterance” by someone in a Christian setting. It would be a claim to divine revelation. Note: Today we have the word of God. We do not need, nor will we receive, such a word of “prophetic utterance.” Any claim of such a prophecy is to be rejected, and the supposed recipient is to be disregarded as a lunatic.
Next, Paul says, “by word or by letter.” The “word” would be a false claim that someone had an oral message from Paul or another apostle. What Paul will write now is to be considered doctrine. Any word brought to their ears (or ours!) which claims to be apostolic in nature, and which contradicts what Paul will write, is to be rejected. The “letter” is the same – a claim that a particular writing was from Paul or another apostle. As he says, “as if from us.” If a supposed letter or writing is received which contradicts what Paul will now say, then it should be tossed into the garbage can, soaked with gas, and lit on fire. Be careful to not burn down your house in the process!
With this thought of the importance of what he will now say out of the way, he finishes the verse with, “as though the day of Christ had come.” The focus here is on the day of Christ. This is the main thought of Paul’s words of this section. The “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering to Him” is being set in relation to “the day of Christ, not the other way around. If one does not properly follow this thought, then there will be confusion in end-times theology. When is the rapture? When is the anti-Christ revealed? These things have to be taken in connection with what is now said by Paul. Otherwise, an incorrect analysis of the timing of these events is inevitable. This is why Paul has specifically started with the rapture, and then set it in relation to “the day of Christ.”
What is “the day of Christ’ then? It needs to be understood that various manuscripts say “day of the Lord” and “day of Christ.” They both have the same meaning. Christ is the Lord. This is speaking of the 7 years of tribulation which are coming upon the world. It is not merely the last 3 ½ years of this period. This will become evident by what he says in verses 3 & 7. These seven years are what are spoken of in Daniel 9:24-27. The details of these seven years are given in numerous places in the Old Testament, and they are described in greater detail in Revelation 4:2 – 19:10. This is what Paul is referring to. In understanding that this is what Paul is using as his baseline for the coming prophetic events, it will then allow the reader to correctly follow the timeline of Paul’s coming words.
Life application: Do you believe in a “rapture” of the church? If so, do you accept a pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib rapture? What is the basis for your choice? If one follows what the Bible says, in context, the answers to these questions are given. Set aside your presuppositions, and follow Paul’s thoughts of this chapter as they come. In doing so, you will see how the timeline is properly revealed.
Lord God, what a blessed hope we have. Throughout the ages, man has walked in a contrary path to Your will. And a time is coming when You will lift Your hands and allow man to walk on that path without restraint. Man will sadly find out that life without You is beyond terrifying, but there will be no exit when that day comes. But for those who have trusted in Jesus, there is a place of safety. How blessed we are to possess this hope. Thank You for our Lord. Amen.