Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us – whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter – asserting that the day of the Lord has already come.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 (NIV)
Read: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17
Consider: Having spent time with the Thessalonians teaching them about their faith, Paul found it necessary to write to them about some false teaching that was circulating around the church and which some purported had come from him. The error he sought to counter in his second letter to the Thessalonians was that Jesus had already returned to earth to gather his people to himself. If so, then they would obviously have ‘missed the boat’.
Paul is clear in his teaching. He does not want them to become ‘unsettled or alarmed’ (2 Thessalonians 2:2), nor does he want them to be ‘deceived’ (2:3). He sets out the facts of Jesus’ return, reinforcing what he had taught them in person (2:5). This was that Jesus would only return after certain events had taken place (2:3-10). His reasoning was that as these events had not taken place, Jesus could not have returned.
Why did it matter to Paul that the Thessalonians could have thought that Jesus had already returned? Firstly, it was contrary to the sound teaching they had already received from him. Secondly, it revealed how immature they were in their faith. In Ephesians 4:13, 15 Paul speaks of his desire for the believers to be mature. This would have been equally true of the Thessalonians. To Paul, maturity would bring with it stability and confidence in what they believe. In Ephesians 4:14-15 he puts it this way: Then we will no longer be infants, tossed to and fro by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians is this: So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
God’s desire for all of us is that we may be mature in our faith and not easily influenced and swayed by the latest teaching or new ideas. Everything we are taught should be tested against the authority of the Bible, not against the the latest fashions or thoughts in society.
Pray: Father, may we be stable and sure in our beliefs, not easily swayed by new ideas and thoughts. Keep your church from being influenced adversely by the values and norms adopted in society. May the Bible be our guide to how you want us to live. Amen