Rethinking 2 Thessalonians 2
I was trying to remember, this week, what got me started on this journey of discovery in the bible’s End Times prophecies. Since I was a child I had a curiosity in End Times prophecies, but something triggered a deeper search than merely accepting the system I grew up with. Something in the Word of God changed my thinking.
Many charge that pre-Trib rapturists believe in a pre-Trib rapture because they don’t want to be here for the Tribulation. The truth is we should not want to be here for the Tribulation;
Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light. Amos 5:18
No, we should not want to be here for the Tribulation, but that is not why I believe in a pre-Tribulation rapture.
My journey started with a literal reading of a foundational passage in 2 Thessalonians 2;
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
I grew up in Dispensationalist circles, who emphasize verses 7-8. These verses say that something first, the taking away of “him who letteth (hinders)”, must occur before the Antichrist is revealed. Dispensationalists say that the “he” of this passage is the Holy Spirit. I agree.
The Holy Spirit was always here on the earth during the Old Testament times. You can read about how He came upon David, or Moses, or any of the Old Testament prophets. Something changed at Pentecost, after the Lord’s ascension, and the way the Holy Spirit interacts with humanity changed that day. It is this interaction which will change. The World will actually go back to the Old Testament times, at the rapture. The Holy Spirit will revert to dealing with the world through Israel, instead of the Church, but Israel will not be permanently indwelt as the Church is. (The possible exceptions are the 144,000, and the two witnesses)
I have heard prophecy teachers, and pastors, say that “I am not looking for the Antichrist, I am looking for the return of Jesus Christ”, to which I say “amen”. What they are ignoring, however, is that Paul is telling us, in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, that the revelation of the Antichrist is a sign of Jesus’ coming for His Church! That’s right! The Antichrist himself is a sign of the rapture! The rapture will not be imminent until the Antichrist is revealed!
I don’t have an argument with Dispensationalists about their interpretation of verses 7 and 8, but I do have an issue with their ignoring verses 1-3. They seem to view these verses as part of a preamble, and not really important to the text, but the truth is that this section is equally important as verses 7-8.
In order to understand Scripture we need to learn to harmonize all of it, with the help of the Holy Spirit. If we leave relevant passages out, we will get a distorted view of prophecy! A prime example of this is Amillennialism, invented by Augustine of Hippo. This view of prophecy, along with the related views of Preterism and Post-Millennialism, are so twisted that they will actually lead professing “Christians” to embrace the Antichrist!
Pre-wrath, and Post-Tribulation rapturists focus on verses 1-3, and say that the Church will be here when the Antichrist is revealed. They are correct in this, but then they usually go on to state that the Church will be here for either the first half of the Tribulation period, or for the whole thing. In this they are wrong!
The passage only says that the believers will be here when the Antichrist is revealed, it does not say we will be here for the Tribulation itself!
But, here is the thing; both camps somehow seem reluctant to address the passages the other camp focuses on, however both are in the same chapter, and both were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
So, Paul is essentially saying that the Antichrist will be revealed before the rapture (vs 1-3), and he is also saying that the Antichrist will be revealed after the rapture (vs. 7-8)!
At first blush this seems like a contradiction in the bible; How can the Antichrist be revealed before, and after, the rapture?
Well, the answer is rather simple. Here is a clue;
Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. Amos 3:7
You see this is a dual revealing. There are two groups of people in view in these passages; The Antichrist is revealed to one group before the rapture, and then he is revealed to another group after the rapture.
The first group are those who are in the place of the prophets today. They will be raptured.
No doubt many groups, and individuals, would claim that honour, but the truth is that today the heirs of the prophets are not the big names, but just humble members of the Lord’s Church; People who study Scripture, and who listen to the Holy Spirit as He speaks through His Word.
These people will understand who the Antichrist is, long before anyone else, and as faithful members of the Lord’s Church they will endeavour to warn their society of the danger. The problem is that the lost have no spiritual discernment, and the signs of the Antichrist will be mistaken as positive signs of a “man of God”, even by many in the “Church”! Why? Because most of the Church has accepted tradition as an authority over the plain teaching of the Scriptures!
I will leave it here, for now, and discuss some of the relevant signs next week.
Was wondering if you did read ,”Beyond the Veil” at theopenscroll.com?
Rev.6:12-13, sixth seal… seem possible to you regarding Mar.20….April 4 this year??
Could this be year 4 of the 70th week?
I have not read that article. There are simply too many articles out there to be able to read them all, however I am familiar with those who say we are in the Tribulation right now. I disagree with them for many reasons. Please read my article about the Rules of Scripture Interpretation
Since ALL of Israel must return before the Tribulation begins, and since a large part of Israel is still scattered throughout the nations, we are not anywhere near the beginning of the Tribulation. (When I say “not near” I mean it could be within 20 years or so, but not this year) We will see Psalm 83, and Ezekiel 38-39, before Israel completely returns, so the Tribulation will not begin until AFTER those wars.
Satan’s plan is to make humanity so weary of war, that when the Antichrist shows up they will cling to him as if he could stop war, like a messiah, as he promises.
We could very well be on the verge of the Psalm 83 war, but we are not near any of the trumpet or bowl judgments of Revelation. The rapture will occur before those events.
I do believe I understand rules of interpretation, and, for the laity, understanding context and etymology are usually sufficient… and yes I agree, there are far too many articles and so called prophecy experts sites for those with eyes to see that are unprofitable to peruse. I dismiss them.
Haven’t you imagined however that the Psalm 83 war ‘precipitates’ the gathering of Israel? If the Son of Perdition comes to power promising peace, couldn’t he and his minions delude people to think that Armageddon (which loosely resembles the other two major wars including Psalm 83) has occurred?…that the “rapture” has occurred.. triggering a great falling away? Wouldn’t such an interpretation of events by “him” delude or blind nominal/cultural non-Berean Christians?
How can Israel be regathered unless they feel it’s safe, or believe it’s time to do so?
Haven’t you considered that the role of the 144,000 is to gather Israel as they’ll be forced finally to accept/reject the Man of Sin who has stepped forward.. triggering their dilemma? The revelation of the lawless one is the sign we’re told to wait for (2Thess.2) isn’t it? It will confirm for bride candidates that the “bride theft” is about to occur.
Since there are three feast seasons in the old covenant observances, the wise understand that this alludes to three harvests of souls.
The firstfruit or barley harvest (bride harvest ) is the spring harvest. The wheat or fall harvest is for those who didn’t wash their robes…come out of her…have oil in their lamps. Their “trial by fire” (again note that analogy has three parts) corresponds with Rev.7…this group is the ‘body’ from which the bride was taken..the spiritual body of the second Adam.
Therefore I agree with you that the rapture/resurrection will occur before these wars, but certainly not for the majority. The bride theft activates the 144,000 more or less, creating a jealousy in Israel… and the ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’ refers to the soon coming tribulation for the ‘body’ members who are asleep now.
I’m not telling you what to believe, I just wanted you to consider all the prophetic patterns so that you and your readers don’t miss any relevant thematic revelations that may apply to you.
Yes, I believe that I have stated several times that both the Psalm 83 war and the Gog/Magog wars are the cause of many Israelites returning to Israel.
Many of them will return after the Psalm 83 war, perhaps even many of the Pathan tribes, but Ezekiel 39:25 indicates that the last stragglers will return after Gog/Magog. In the light of Zephaniah 2:1-2, If Israel is still returning after Gog/Magog, then the Tribulation must start after that point.
Search this site for Gog/Magog, Psalm 83 and the Rapture. You will find that I am essentially on the same page as you.
I see several “raptures” in Scripture, but the next one will be the rapture of the true believers, those left behind may participate in the first resurrection, but if they miss that rapture they don’t have the Holy Spirit, and will never be a part of the Church, though they may actually be saved some day.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is a “limited time offer” by God!
It is the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit that differentiates the Church-Age believer from the OT believers, and from the Tribulation and Millennial believers as well.