2 Thessalonians 2.1-17. The power of lawlessness (Advent 3)

Many look for signs of the return of Christ and the rise of the man of lawlessness. Many names throughout church history have been associated with the title: ‘Antichrist’. Paul gives us and the Thessalonian Christians practical guidance on how to recognise the man of lawlessness and unexpected instructions on how to deal with lawlessness as we prepare for the Advent of Christ. [Audio | Notes]

Michael Flynn


2 Thessalonians 2

2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 | The power of lawlessness

Lawlessness and restraint

We ask you not to become unsettled or alarmed (1-3)

– The rebellion and the man of lawlessness

For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work (4-8)

In accordance with how Satan works (9-12)

– Signs of the lawless ones

But God chose and called you (13-15)

May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father encourage your hearts (16-17)

For further thought

Q: We are well aware of the tension in ourselves and our societies between creative and destructive tendencies. To destroy or judge is always easier than to build or grow. How does the power of lawlessness simmer away in our lives and city? What holds this tendency back from sheer rebellion against the order that God has designed for our good?

Q: The quest for freedom can lead to anarchy and anarchy can lead to totalitarian rule (verse 9). From verses 4 to 9 what are the characteristics of the man of lawlessness? How is he a parody of the coming of Jesus? What are the characteristics of his followers?

Q: Does Romans 1:18-32 help explain Paul’s meaning in 2:10-12?

Q: Paul finishes on a positive not an apocalyptic note. In verses 13-15 Paul is confident that the Thessalonian Christians can stand firm against the apocalyptic storm he has just described. What reasons does Paul have for this confidence? What challenge is there for believers in Paul’s words here?

Q: In Paul’s prayer in 16-17 we have the work of God the trinity named. How are believers to live while we prepare for Christ’s Advent in uncertain and even hostile times?

Q: The man of lawlessness in this passage finds an analogy with the antichrist in 1 John 2:18f and the beast of the sea in Revelation 13:2. Yet, as Jesus said (Matthew 24) and John explained (1 John 2) the prophecy of Daniel (see especially Daniel 11) about the prototype anti-God leader continues to find fulfilment in minor and major leaders who promote rebellion against God. These lawless and destructive people prepare us to recognise the final man of lawlessness. What are some of their names?