I and II Thessalonians
These are two of the earliest letters Paul wrote. He wrote them to a group of people who according to Acts 17 were less noble than those at Bereoa (Acts 17: 11) because the Thessalonicans had started a riot over Paul's teaching and his very being there. Perhaps the best treatment that the Thessalonians had given Paul was a backhanded compliment: "These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also."
His teaching had some beneficial effect because as of the time of his writing in AD 49 to 51, there was a church there (I Thess. 1: 1). Paul's principal concern was that of correcting a false teaching that Christ had already come and the resurrection had already past (4: 13- 5: 11). The coming of Christ will not be any hole-in-the-corner business. From the 4: 13-5: 11 passage it can be shown that the coming of the Lord will be with a total collapse of the physical universe as it is now known. The dead in Christ shall rise first and be joined to the righteous; all the saved will meet the Lord in the air (4: 17). Many of Paul's other remarks were designed to encourage the Thessalonians to continue in the good works that they were already doing and to not grow weary (4: 1; 4: 10, 11; II Thessalonians 3: 10).
Where a people do not believe that accountability is near, their moral standards can become lax; Paul warns them of this in I Thessalonians 4: 1-8. "Short-timer's disease" can be spiritually deadly.
In I Thessalonians it gives the appearance that Paul was having to write to people who sometimes paid more attention to form than to substance. Most of the first three chaptes of the first letter are taken up in describing the manner or style that Paul and Silas communicated in during their ministry. Paul stresses their honesty, their hard work, and integrity with them. But his introduction to II Thessalonians would be much more direct:
See II Thessalonians 1: 6-10.
What is the composite picture of the second coming of the Lord? It will be so sudden that not even Jesus or the angels in heaven will know about it beforetime (Matthew 24: 36). The need to be sober and be watchful is repeated again and again in passages such as the entire 25th chapter of Matthew, Mark 13: 32-37, and Luke 12: 35-48. The depiction of Christ's second coming in the first chapter of the book of Acts resembles the Thessalonian account (Acts 1: 9-11) in that there is no indication that Jesus will ever set foot on earth again, but that the saved will meet Him in the clouds. The Revelation in 1: 7 triangulates this testimony. Such teaching make a doctrine of a second chance or that of a literal thousand-year reign on earth untenable.
Before the coming of Christ, evil will be multiplied on the earth, and it may appear to those who are not faithful that evil has won. Revelation 13: 11-18. Paul spoke of those who would heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, that would tell them what they wanted to hear (II Timothy 4: 1-5). He foresaw a world that would go from bad to worse before the end (II Timothy 3: 12, 13). No one, not even the Son, knows what the Father's tolerance will be before He finally decides that there is not enough good in the world to continue. The example of Sodom (Genesis 18, 19) indicates that He will go a very long way if there are even a very few good people in the world. But the final destruction will be total (II Peter 3: 8-13).
The judgement scene will be the centerpiece of the end. Most will wish to hide themselves from the presence of God because they have not known Him and will not have any idea of what to do in that circumstance (Revelation 6: 12-17). All who have ever lived will be brought before the judgement throne of God, and books will be opened (Revelation 20: 11-15). One set of books will contain what men have done (Rev. 20: 12), while the other book is the book of Life. The saved will be those who have their names written in the Book of Life. Those who do not have their names written there will be cast into the lake of fire (20: 15).
There is no mention of a rapture, or a catching away, of the saints. Rather, the ascending of the saints with Jesus to Heaven will be something that can be seen all over the world, and at the same time (Mark 13: 24-27; Matthew 24: 27). It will be preceded by a short period of time when Satan will be unbound (Revelation 20: 7), but in our technological age, the nuclear powers of the earth could do each other in in less than an hour's time. During this brief time when Satan is unbound, there may be miracles (Matthew 24: 24, 25; Mark 13: 22, 23), but the faithful should not believe those; rather, they should believe in the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
It is the role of the Christian, then, to live soberly, righteously, and Godly in this present world (Titus 2: 12), knowing that the end is coming and could be here during our lifetimes.
We hope that by visiting this web page that you have been blessed.
Sid Womack, webmaster
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