The Falling Away, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2

“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2.

These verses are speaking of two different events; the rapture, the removal of all Christians from the earth, “…the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him”.

The rapture comes before, “the day of the Lord”, which is the tribulation period, “…as though the day of Christ had come.”

“The day of Christ”, and “the day of the Lord” seen in other passages (see Joel 2:31, 3:14, Acts 2:20 for example) mean the same thing.

Paul also includes himself in the rapture by saying, “…our gathering together to Him”, it is not possible for the apostle to miss the rapture, so if he is there they have not missed it.

God, for many hundreds of years relied on the twelve tribes of Israel to teach the world of the one and true God of all creation, turning men from their darkness and idolatrous ways.

There is no question that there were many Israelites within Israel and many who went throughout the known world evangelizing more lost souls than we will know until we get to heaven.

“God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds…” Hebrews 1:1-2.

Unfortunately, the children of Israel, by the time of Christ, had failed their calling and had fallen into such arrogant, legalistic self-righteousness that they rejected and murdered their Messiah; a Messiah who was clearly described in their Scriptures and should have been easily recognizable.

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you [Moses] shall speak to the children of Israel.” Exodus 19:5-6.

When the Jews rejected their God, their God rejected them, but this rejection was only to last until the Jews had come to a point when they would recognize and accept Jesus Christ as Messiah.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Luke 13:34-35.

At the end of the tribulation when all the remnant of Israel is faced with absolute annihilation, they will look up and see Jesus coming to rescue them as it was promised in the Old Testament; then they as a nation will believe.

“It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” Zechariah 12:9-10.

Before this happens and at the beginning of the tribulation there will be one hundred and forty-four thousand Israelites called out to preach throughout the world the gospel of Jesus Christ, see Revelation 7:1-17.

The gospel will be suppressed when the Christians are removed at the rapture. The rest of Israel will remain in unbelief for the most part until the end of the seven years.

When God rejected the nation of Israel as His representative on earth He raised up a new group to represent Him, the church, also known as the body of Christ on earth.

The church has done a good job of evangelizing the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, again, the church like the Israelites has begun to fail miserably at its job of living godly lives and spreading the word of God throughout their nations and the world.

When the church becomes almost completely useless all of the Christians will be raptured out of this world and the children of Israel will return to finish the task that they should have done right the first time.

“For if God did not spare the natural branches [the Jews], He may not spare you either [the church]. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity [Jews]; but toward you [the church, mostly Gentiles], goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more will those, who are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness [a full number or complete number] of the Gentiles has come in.” Romans 11:21-25.

When the church ceases to walk in the goodness of God, and the last person is added to the bride of Christ, it will be removed. When the Israelites cease in their unbelief they will return to God and serve Him without wavering.

There are many conservatives and liberals who say that God has rejected the children of Israel and replaced them with the church. It is to these people that the Apostle Paul wrote the passage in Romans 11 above and stated the following.

“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion…” Romans 11:25a.

The possible reason then for the apostle to teach the Thessalonians so much about the rapture and future events is to make them and the whole body of Christ, aware that there is an end to the church period.

All of us long desperately for the rapture to take us out of this world of misery and uncertainness, but we must not forget our mission while here is to grow spiritually, evangelize and to teach. Here are Jesus’ last instructions in the book of Matthew.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” Matthew 28:19-20.

This is not just a job for your minister or theologians, it is for all of us; we can teach our children, teach others around us, live an example, show kindness in the name of Christ, reach out to those in need.

In short live out the rest of our time here as Christians, not as those who have no hope in the world.

The Thessalonians were worried that they had somehow missed the rapture and were about to be plunged into the tribulation period.

Paul reassures them here by telling them not to be shaken, in this case violently shaken, in mind, and they were not to be troubled if someone had said these things supposedly by spirit or through a teaching from Scripture, or through a forged letter as from the apostles.

I have a Bible called, “The Spirit Filled Life Bible”, which is also a New King James Version, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers; it is a charismatic commentary on the Scriptures. If you are charismatic, you may find it helpful, as I do on occasion.

My point is that this version also says that it is possible for someone in a Pentecostal or charismatic church to stand up and give a word, supposedly from the Holy Spirit, and actually have it come from a deceiving spirit; thus introducing error into the church. This may have been the case in Thessalonica.

Paul had also warned the Thessalonians about testing prophecies in his first letter.

“Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21.

In this case, if a spirit had told them that the rapture was past, it would have been good if they had checked that prophetic utterance against what the apostles had taught them when they were with them.

In our case since the Scriptures are complete, it would merely be a case of checking the prophet’s words against the Bible. If they did not match, the prophet is a liar.

When checking a prophet’s words against the Bible, beware, do not base your answer on just one passage, but study a number of passages to avoid any misunderstandings.

Often error has been introduced through the misinterpretation of a fragment of Scripture.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1.

Error can also be introduced through Bible teaching; the Jehovah’s Witnesses began as a legitimate Bible study, apparently led by a false Christian.

In time they decided that Jesus was not the Creator God but a god, that only 144 thousand would go to heaven that hell was annihilation that faith in Christ was not enough, and should be augmented by works.

Even then, when you die you return to dust and God creates another person in your image to reap the benefits of your hard work. What is the point of all that hard work?

“If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’ Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’ Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” 1 Corinthians 15:32-34.

Sometimes the evil company that corrupts good morals, or habits, will be a person in your own Bible study or church who has a new interpretation of Scripture.

Stay away from such as these, or if you are knowledgeable in the Scriptures, refute their heresy; certainly, the pastor of your church should, or he should ask them to leave before they corrupt others.

“Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.” Romans 16:17-18.

“The simple believes every word, but the prudent man considers well his steps.” Proverbs 14:15.

“When the scoffer is punished, the simple is made wise; but when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge.” Proverbs 21:11.

There is nothing wrong with being simple or naïve, in fact it can be somewhat endearing, but they must never be left that way. The simple, along with all new Christians must be taught the word of God, and encouraged to read it for themselves.

This has been said before but it bears repeating; not everyone can or likes to read. Some are dyslexic, or need glasses, others have never learned, while others are too antsy to sit down for any length of time.

The church could help them obtain glasses, or reading lessons, while the others could be helped by listening to audio books of the Bible, again this could be supplied by the church if need be.

Some cable programs also offer Bible readings on the television or the computer. There is no excuse for anyone to go through life without having heard or read at minimum the entire New Testament.

“The entrance of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130.

“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2.

It is not really common knowledge but this incident is not alone in Satan’s attempts to use letters, or books, to twist and destroy the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The so-called Gospel of Judas which was in the news recently was actually written about 130-180 A.D. and is filled with Gnostic heresy.

Among other things it says that Jesus plotted with Judas to have Himself betrayed so He could shed His earthly body (Gnostic in origin), that Judas also would be blessed for his betrayal, and that he was Christ’s preferred disciple. All of this is contrary to Christian doctrine and the plain teaching of Scripture.

The Gospel of Mary, believed by many to be Mary Magdalene, written circa 120-180 A.D. is also filled with heresy and Gnostic dogma.

The Gospel of Thomas, circa 100-110 A.D. is also filled with Gnostic philosophy.

The Secret Book of John, written before 180 A.D. is also rife with Gnostic doctrine. Supposedly things told to the Apostle John by the risen, glorified Christ who returned to comfort John who was mourning Christ’s death. Some of the ridiculous things written therein sound more like mythology than anything Christ ever taught on earth.

The not surprising irony of all this is that the Gospel of John and the three epistles of John written around 85-90 A.D. by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit were intended partially to refute Gnostic dogma which was making headway in the church even in the day of the apostle.

The Christian theologian Irenaeus (130-202 A.D.) wrote that there were an, “Indescribable number of secret and illegitimate writings.”

These writings though mostly lost today had an influence on the early church and many of their heretical teachings are in one form or another part of liberal theology today.

So, yes, we are, “…not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us…”

Every word, every doctrine, must be compared to the word of God, and it must hold up under the light of God’s word. If even part of it does not hold up under scrutiny against the Bible it is to be rejected!

The Falling Away, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 taken from posted on 10-12-13, updated on 2-10-21.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *