The message of the return of Jesus is a message of hope and blessing to those who love the Lord. Some of the first recipients of this letter had been shaken by false reports about the return and were greatly unsettled and filled with uncertainties. Paul wanted to assure them that Jesus return would be accompanied by some unmistakable signs. First there would be an apostasy. Some believe that this means that churches will be empty. I personally do not think that is necessary. All that is required to fulfill the prophecy of apostasy is for churches to abandon the clear message of Jesus and the truth of Scripture. We could get to that point in a relatively short period of time given the often deplorable state of biblical content in many of today’s churches. The most vibrant churches today are not in the Western world. They are in Asia and Africa. We would be hard pressed to disprove that apostasy has not already occurred in much of Europe and parts of North America.
The man of lawlessness would precede the return of Jesus. This is a man who seemingly is the embodiment of evil. He is the antichrist that John the apostle alluded to. This man demands to be worshipped. The prophecy has long been believed by many to indicate that he will enter a reconstructed Temple in Jerusalem. There is no Temple now, but there are constant reports of plans to build one. Personally, this interpretation makes sense to me, but I would caution against using this possibility to argue against the immediate return of Christ. Our interpretations are always subject to God’s correction. Clearly there will be elements of miraculous power associated with the career of the man of sin. These powers will likely be from the evil one. The prophecy is that only those who are lost will be deceived by these signs. God actually acts in judgement by allowing these deceptions to come. He is not passive but active in the condemnation of those who love unrighteousness.
This section closes with Paul’s expressions of thankfulness for his readers and his encouragement to them about future. He urges them to stand firm and walk in the truth. Jesus always punctuated His teachings about his return by urging His disciples to be busy about His work. Paul also wants to encourage the Thessalonians so that they may serve vigorously and share boldly. When Jesus comes, let us be found seeking to make a difference in this world in His name.