Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Oct 14 2013 - 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 – Sharing the glory of Christ

I wonder whether the apostle Peter had a particular passage in mind when he admitted that some of the things Paul wrote were "hard to understand" (2 Peter 3:16). Peter was writing about the return of Christ and I wonder whether he had in mind the passage we know as 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Here is a passage that that has baffled many and given plenty for commentators to argue about: Who is "the man of lawlessness" (2 Thessalonians 2:3)? Who or what is the one "holding him back" (2:6)? I'm not even going to venture suggestions here. I'm content to confess that, at least for me, this is among the "things that are hard to understand."

But there are many things that are quite clear from these verses. Some had started rumours that had reached the ears of the Christians in Thessalonica that Christ had already returned. They even seem to think that this assertion originated in some way from Paul. Don’t you believe it, says Paul, when Jesus comes again you won't be able to miss it. It will be, quite literally, an earth-shaking event. It will be evident to all.

In that day, Jesus will appear in great glory. He will come to destroy all the powers that have opposed the purposes of God and have spoilt his creation. He will “overthrow [them] with the breath of his mouth and destroy [them] by the splendour of his coming” (2:8). He will overthrow them not in some terrible and fierce battle, but simply by his presence and the power of his word. This is the power that is already at work in the world in and through those who have acknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord. Christ is at work now through us – through the power of his word and Spirit – to overthrow the powers of darkness and bring the whole world to submit to Christ and embrace him as Saviour and Lord. We have been chosen by God as the firstfruits of his harvest (2:13), the evidence and promise of a greater and more glorious harvest to come.

And when Christ comes in his glory, we who have believed in him and known the sanctifying work of his Spirit (2:13) will "share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2:14). What a wonderful day that will be! Let's live in the light of that day, focusing on the things that have been clearly revealed and getting on with the work that Jesus has entrusted to us rather than speculating over the things that confuse.

I cannot tell how he will win the nations
How he will claim his earthly heritage
How satisfy the needs and aspirations
Of east and west, of sinner and of sage

But this I know, all flesh shall see his glory
And he will reap the harvest he has sown
And some glad day his sun shall shine in splendour
When he the Saviour, Saviour of the world is known

"So then” says Paul,  “... stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you… May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word" (2:15,16-17).

Living God, we praise you for your saving purposes towards a lost world revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ. We thank you that, through your word and by your Spirit, you have revealed your purposes to us and have made us part of your saving plan. Help us to be faithful to your calling upon our lives; to stand firm in the truths of the gospel and to bear witness to Christ, encouraged by the hope that is ours in him – a hope that is not ours alone, but which would embrace the whole world.

Peter Misselbrook