1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
As Paul has finished his opening praises, he begins with the meat and reason of his letter. As I mentioned before, this second letter was to clarify some things from his first letter that seem to have been misconstrued.
Verse 1 is plain and simple; Paul is referring to the second coming of Christ and the rapture. As verse 2 opens, he wants to reassure them that they shouldn’t be bothered by some of the things they have heard. According to the footnotes in my bible, it mentions that Paul had learned there were some false teachings in Thessalonica that had convinced them the “end of days” that Paul referenced in his previous letter was upon them. Certainly, we know now that wasn’t true. The bible warns in many places to be wary of false teachings and false prophets. It wouldn’t surprise me if the majority of those warnings come from the Apostle Paul. Regardless of who they come through, we should understand that the warning comes from God.
The next part of verse 2 articulates the ways in which they had been deceived. A spirit refers to some sort of prophetic utterance. A message refers plainly to something someone said. Aletter as if from us refers to a forged letter that claimed to be from Paul. I’m sure when Paul learned about this he was convinced he must write again. How often do these things happen today? Let’s look at 3 examples:
Y2K: some believed that the electronic reset would cause chaos on earth and either blink us out of existence or begin the end of the world as we knew it. Maybe nuclear warheads would launch themselves or in the utter darkness, the world without light would unravel.
The Mayan Calendar and 2012: there has been much debate over the past year or two about why the Mayan calendar records a “significant event” in 2012. Certainly, conspiracy theorists see this as a prophetic sign that the world will end or begin to end at that time.
Harold Camping: predicted incorrectly (more than once) the return of Christ. Certainly now, not many will believe him again, but before he failed in his prediction, many thought he was telling the Truth.
What do these fallacies have in common? They all contradict what the bible says, that we will not know the day or time of day. If we have faith in God and His Word, we need not worry because He tells us we will be taken care of. This is why Paul reassures the Thessalonians in the opening of his letter. Certainly belief and faith can be a scary thing since you don’t “truly know” according to this world’s standards. Luckily, our God is out of this world.
What truths can you cling to in His Word that help rebuke false teachings and prophecies?