ImmerseMessiah NLT - Page 131



IMMERSED IN 2 THESSALONIANS
E V E N T H O U G H PA U L had already written one letter to the new believers in Thessalonica (see “Immersed in 1 Thessalonians,” p. 111), they
still needed more guidance and encouragement. Someone claiming to
be Paul had apparently also written to them, telling them something
entirely different!
One of the Thessalonians’ main concerns had been about when
Jesus would return to earth to initiate God’s rule in its fullness. Paul
had ­explained in his earlier letter that the exact time of Jesus’ return
could not be predicted. He encouraged the believers to live in such
a way that Jesus would be honored by their lives no matter when
he came.
But the false letter they had received said that the “day of the Lord”—
understood to refer to God’s decisive victory over his enemies—had
already begun. These false teachers claimed to have received visions
and revelations confirming it. This was making the Thessalonians question what Paul had told them in person and in his first letter.
So Paul wrote again—and since letters were usually dictated to a scribe,
he now authenticated his letter with a personal signature at the end.
This letter, now known as 2 Thessalonians, addressed these new concerns and reasserted some of Paul’s earlier teachings.
Paul explains that Jesus will not return until a figure called the “man
of lawlessness” appears. This person will be the culmination of evil on
earth. He will deceive the world into worshiping him as God and violently suppress the worship of anyone else. His arrival will be the climax
of the struggle between good and evil, at which point Jesus will return
to defeat the “man of lawlessness” and establish God’s Kingdom.
Paul then confirms what he said before: exactly how and when this
will happen is unknown. The important thing is to live well for God
now, facing suffering and persecution with endurance and with hope
in Christ’s return.
Finally, Paul again observes that some in their community were still
refusing to work to earn a living. Apparently they had become even
bolder in this idle way of life, possibly in the wake of the visions and
the false letter claiming that the time of the Lord’s return had already
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