"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces." Psalms 122: 6,7
Note the language! It is not the Second Coming that is referred to, because at the Second Coming, Christ does not gather the Christians together unto himself. The difference is "Come to" in the Second Coming, and "Gather unto" in the Rapture.
The Thessalonian believers apparently thought they had missed the rapture, and that the Tribulation had already begun. So Paul writes this letter to calm their fears.
2:2 "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."
First, the "day of the Lord", the "day of Jehovah", "the day of God" all signify the Tribulation when God’s judgment comes upon the earth for 7 years. Paul says, "the day of Christ" is at hand. It has happened, in other words.
2:3 "“Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, (the Church being raptured) and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"
"Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day…" (the coming in of the Tribulation, the day of God), "shall not come, except there come…" Mr. Feldick explains, "Now most translations have got it ‘a falling away’. I think it’s so unfortunate, and I changed the teaching of it when the Amplified New Testament came out. I don’t remember when that was, but the Amplified New Testament came out in about the middle 70s. The Amplified, for those of you who are not acquainted with it, is a good study Bible. They have simply taken the Greek of the New Testament, and it may take four or five English words to enlarge on a Greek word. Now it doesn’t make nice reading. It’s just word after word after word, all describing the original. But if you take the time, and understand that sometimes it does take four or five English words to understand one Greek word, then you’ll get the picture. Here is one of them where in their footnote they use ‘the departure’ for the word ‘apostasia’ instead of “a falling away”. Now read it in that light. "For that day shall not come…" In other words, the introduction of the Anti-christ, that day shall not come, except there come a departure first. Interestingly, in all the early translations of the Bible, beginning with Tyndale, and all the way up through the 1500s, almost every translation, including the Tyndale and the Geneva, and several others, all translated that word, ‘the departure’."
Paul continues…"And that man of sin" (the Anti-christ). "…and except there come a falling away (departure) and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." Who was the other person in Scripture who was called the "son of perdition?" Judas Iscariot. I hate to use the word ‘incarnate’, however did anyone ever think of the Antichrist as being a reincarnated Judas? The Bible states that Judas went to "his own place", and in Revelation it speaks of the Antichrist "coming from his own place". Just a thought! Possibly, the Anti-christ could be an apostate Jew, rather than an apostate from Christianity. But whatever he is, he will be DEMONIC indeed. He won’t come in like that. He’ll come in with charisma and flatteries. He’ll be able to change opinions. He’ll lie and get away with it. He’ll promise peace and prosperity. They will believe his every word and they‘ll fling themselves at his feet thinking he is just what they need.
Like a famous WWII Belgian General, Paul Henry Spock said in 1957:
"We need no commission, we have already too many. What we need is a man who is great enough to be able to keep all the people in subjection to himself and to lift us out of the economic bog into which we threaten to sink. Send us such a man. Be he a god or a devil, we will accept him."
And today, sadly, the world is indeed ready for such a man.
2:4 "Who opposeth and exalteth himself.."(isn’t this exactly what Daniel said: he’s going to worship the god of forces, he’s going to exalt himself as God?) "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."
Now the temple is going to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. Daniel shows how the Temple is going to be rebuilt. It has to be! Because until the mid-point of the Tribulation, the Jew will be using the Temple for worship. But when the Antichrist goes into it (mid-Trib), he defiles it by doing something abominable—maybe by offering a hog upon the altar as Antiochus the Great did, or something equally bad.
2:5 "Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?"
2:6 "And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time."
So Paul assures the Thessalonians that, no, they didn’t miss the Rapture, and that the Tribulation CANNOT come in until "the departure" takes place.
2:7,8 "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: (this goes back to the tower of Babel) only he who now letteth (hindereth) will let, (continue to hinder) until he be taken out of the way."
The Holy Spirit is the hindering force in the person of the believer, until the departure, the Rapture, which takes place in verse 3.
And then (when the Church is gone, and the Holy Spirit in His role as indweller of the believer has ended, he will be back on the earth as the Omnipresence of God)"shall that Wicked (one) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth"(at the end of the 7 years) "and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming;"
2:9,10 "Even him (Antichrist), whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish (unbelievers); because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
So this is talking about those who are ready to accept the coming of the Antichrist, who have had the opportunity to hear the Gospel, the truth of the Word of God, but they loved their unrighteousness and they spurned God’s offer of salvation.
Now as the Tribulation begins, so also begins God dealing in the supernatural.
2:11 "And for this cause…" (this group of people who have heard the word of God and rejected it) "God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a..." (perhaps 'the' would be a better word?) "lie."
The one lie all through Scripture, "the lie", is Satan telling us, "You can be God". And the people who believed him, the unbelievers who were left, will be the very first to proclaim the Antichrist as the god of this world, and the one they have been looking for. But those who never heard the True Gospel, will have a chance through the preaching of the 144,000.
2:12 "That they all might be damned (or condemned) who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
To see what the Apostle Paul was talking about, Ephesians 1:13 tells what the unrighteousness who were left behind should believe:
Ephesians 1:13 "In whom ye also trusted, after ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise."
Now go to I Corinthians 15 for a look at the awful things that are about to come upon the earth. Fear should not be used as a prompt to come to Jesus Christ, however, when all else fails…….. isn’t it our last shot? When it's all that stands between Salvation and the terrible days ahead?
15:14 "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand (positionally); By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain."
This is our Gospel:
"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received (from our ascended Lord), how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"
AND THAT IS THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL
You cannot be saved by works, "lest any man should boast"! Your money is no good, nor your possessions, nor your position!
Believe God, as Abraham did, and God shall count it unto you as
Believe that Jesus is the Only True Son of God!
Believe that Jesus died for YOUR sins, and rose again on the third day--ALIVE!
Believe that Salvation is a Free Gift for the Righteous!
Believe that FAITH + NOTHING = SALVATION!!!
And then believe that soon Jesus is coming for you, and will gather you unto himself, and keep you, and Love you— forever and ever!