Deception may be at work in our world. We may be lied to by culture, religion, and political powers. But ultimately Jesus will overcome all evil and bring justice. He will reveal truth and make all things right. Paul focuses on this point when writing to the Christians at Thessalonica.
Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 2:7b–8:
“Only he who now restrains [the mystery of lawlessness] will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming” (ESV).
In this passage, Paul continues his discussion of the “mystery of lawlessness” and the “man of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:3–7). However, Paul is unclear about who or what is restraining the “mystery of lawlessness” and the “man of lawlessness.” (There are many explanations and each is speculative.) At some point this unnamed force will stop restraining the “mystery of lawlessness.” Paul is equally unclear about what this means. What is clear is Paul’s main point: Jesus has certainly not returned yet because the events that must take place first have not occurred. And when Jesus returns, the evil “man of lawlessness” and his ways (the “mystery of lawlessness”) will be destroyed.
A great deal of energy in popular western culture has been devoted to theories about this “man of lawlessness”—whom some equate with the antichrist figure. But Paul seems to imply here that the “man of lawlessness” will not be revealed for who he is until just prior to Jesus’ return. Furthermore, Paul’s overall language could be typological or symbolic. He could be generally labeling forces that oppose God and his ways—suggesting that the truth behind these deceptions won’t be fully understood and seen until just prior to Jesus’ return.
In the midst of Paul’s apocalyptic language, there is one point that is abundantly clear: Jesus will triumph over evil! Jesus’ very breath and appearance is enough to melt away evil.
In the meantime, we must hold onto the hope of Christ. We must look to Jesus for answers because in his presence is ultimate love, justice, and power. We must remember that Jesus will return to make all things right and new. And we must trust in him for answers here and now.
Do you think there are some ways you are being deceived—how can the process of self-examination and prayer help you identify these ways? In what ways does Jesus’ forthcoming return inspire you as a Christian? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.
Get our free Daily Devotional and updates: Subscribe now.