Reading for Thursday, Dec 20: 2 Thess. 2
Biblical interpreters have long struggled to identify the “man of lawlessness” Paul describes in this chapter. And many will seek contemporary application of this prophetic passage. If you’re interested in all the different views on this subject, I invite you to follow a more technical commentary. But we can say that Paul is writing to correct mistaken end-times expectations. I can’t help but note the irony that I’m writing this on Dec. 21, 2012 — the date the ancient Mayans predicted the world would come to an end. It seems some things never change.
But the real reason for Paul’s writing is found in 2:13 and following. Paul wants the Thessalonians (and present readers, too) to be reminded of their eternal position: “…God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth,” (v13). We should not be tossed to and fro by the latest wind of cultural hysteria. Instead, Paul sees the Christian hope as a grounding hope, the basis for our standing firm and holding fast (v15).
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” (v16-17)