The Panoply of Unrighteousness (2 Thes 2)
“And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.” Satan will use all his well-honed skills of deception. He has had centuries of practice. He will stoop to anything to achieve his purpose, and to bring the world to the feet of his representatives. Lawlessness is his trademark.
The Plight of the Unredeemed (v10b)
“Them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
The passage is set in the day of the Lord. The gospel of the kingdom is being preached by the 144,000 of Revelation 7. Great evangelical blessing is experienced. Huge numbers are being saved and then martyred for their faith. The hardened souls of the perishing are taken in by the activities of the man of sin. They have made a willful and deliberate choice to take their chances with him, rather than receive the kingdom gospel message.
The Perpetration of the Ruse (v11)
As God did with Pharaoh of old, so He does here. Pharaoh hardened his heart on several occasions; then God stepped in and gave judicial sanction to Pharaoh’s determined position.
These people have rejected the truth. They have owned allegiance to the man of sin. God now judicially determines that, having shown no love of the truth, they will believe the lie that the man of sin is God. They have rejected the Man Who truly is God and the Truth, in favor of Satan’s man who trumpets the fact that he is God.
Paul writes concerning the Gentiles: “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Rom 1:25). “When he (Satan) speaketh a (the) lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44)
“Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son” (1John 2:22).
Satan is the father of the lie. His man is showing a family resemblance in his web of lies and deceit, and he is the lie! The devil and his puppet have sought by all means, fair and foul, to convince the world that he, the man of sin, is God. God now intervenes to ensure the decided are deluded. He, in His sovereignty, gives man what he wants to believe. He sets the seal irrevocably upon their decision. God has given these wilful reprobates the desire of their depraved hearts. They no longer retain the possibility of salvation. Their eternal doom is forever fixed.
The Perishing of the Rebels (v12)
The direct outcome of their believing the lie is, “that they all might be damned.” Two reasons are supplied: negatively, “who believed not the truth;” positively, “but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” These people positively rejected divine truth and voluntarily chose to take delight in all that offended against God’s righteous standards.
We know from Revelation 7 that 144,000 are going to evangelize this earth during the Tribulation with notable success.
The Day of the Lord and the Christian’s Encouragement (2 Thes 2:13-17)
The title of this article raised the question, Tribulation or translation? An objective assessment of this passage and its argument, leaves no doubt whatsoever that it is translation. The believers of this Church age are not destined for the Tribulation. We are waiting for His Son from heaven, “even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1Thes 1.10). “For God hath not appointed us to (the) wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Thes 5:9). Finally, John writing to the Philadelphian church records, “I also will keep thee from (out of) the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Rev 3:10.).
A threefold cord is not easily broken. On the strength of Holy Scripture and according to the grace of God, we are destined for rapture and glory. No wonder Paul concludes the chapter in the way that he does. He speaks of the saints as chosen by God, called by the gospel, and classified for glory. His comfort, as he concludes the chapter, would have been pathetic if the Thessalonians had been destined for the Tribulation. We have “everlasting consolation and good hope through grace.”