25 January 2023

Stand Fast


Believers prepare for the Apostasy and the coming Man of Lawlessness by standing firm in the apostolic tradition

Having explained the coming “Apostasy” and “Man of Lawlessness,” Paul instructs believers on how they may avoid the coming deception and find themselves standing “blameless” before Jesus when he “arrives.” They must stand fast” by adhering to the teachings and traditions” of the apostles.

The conclusion to his discussion on the “Man of Lawlessness” includes verbal links to his first letter to the Thessalonians. The second letter was written within a few weeks or months of the first one.

And in the second letter, Paul addresses further questions about the future, especially concerning the “Day of the Lord.” This was necessitated by false information that was being propagated in Thessalonica about that event.

  • (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17) - “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, for that God chose you from the beginning for salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth to which he called you through our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, stand fast and hold the traditions that you were taught, whether by word or by letter of ours. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father who loved us and gave us everlasting comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

KEEP THE TRADITION!


Paul writes that “God chose you…for the acquisition (peripoiésis) of the glory of our Lord Jesus.”

This clause echoes statements in the first letter about how “God appointed us not for wrath, but for the acquisition (peripoiésis) of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Both statements use the same Greek noun for “acquisition” or peripoiésis (Strong’s – G4047) - (1 Thessalonians 1:3-5, 5:9).

In his first epistle, after referring to the “times and season,” the stress falls on right conduct and belief, not on knowing “signs” and prophetic timetables.

Disciples who remain watchful and live as “sons of the light” will not be overtaken by the sudden arrival of the “Day of the Lord.” And in 2 Thessalonians, Paul instructs believers on how to avoid the coming deception by “standing firm” in the apostolic teachings.

The Thessalonians must “stand fast and hold the traditions” to persevere through the coming onslaught and avoid the “Apostasy.” The term “stand fast” translates the Greek verb for “remaining stationary,” and thus, “to persevere.” Paul uses this same verb in his first letter in a similar context.

  • But when Timothy came even now from you and brought us glad tidings of your faith and lovefor this cause, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our distress and tribulation through your faith: for now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord - (1 Thessalonians 3:6-8).

VERBAL LINKS


When he states, “whether by word or by epistle of ours,” Paul reiterates his warning from the start of this section. The believer must not be “shaken from his mind, nor be troubled, either by spirit or by discourse or by epistle as from us.” Apparently, some of the rumors disseminated about the “Day of the Lord” were attributed falsely to Paul.

But the words to which he now refers, the apostolic “tradition,” were received from Paul in person AND by letter (“of ours”), unlike the false information being spread by word and letter “as if from us.” The genuine words of the apostles are trustworthy.

The clause “comfort your hearts” parallels the two admonishments given at the close of Paul’s discussions in his first letter on the “dead in Christ,” and on knowing the “signs and seasons.” At the end of both exhortations, the Thessalonians were told to “comfort one another with these words.”

And establish them in every good work and word.” His wish for the Thessalonians parallels the one Paul gave at the close of the first half of First Thessalonians:

  • And the Lord make you increase and abound in love, one toward another, and toward all men, even as we also do toward you; to the end, he may establish your hearts blameless in sanctification before our God and Father, at the arrival of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” – (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13).

Paul will make practical applications of his exhortations in the closing verses of the letter, instructions that are not unrelated to his comments about the “apostasy” and the “man of lawlessness.”

RIGHT CONDUCT


Thus, for example, the Thessalonians are admonished to “withdraw from every brother that walks disorderly, and not after the tradition which they received of us” – (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15).

And again, Paul stresses the need for believers to follow the teachings of the apostolic tradition. What marks an individual as “disorderly” is his refusal to follow the teachings of Paul and his coworkers.

Not only so, but the Thessalonians are called to “imitate” the Apostle and his companions who certainly do not behave in a disorderly fashion:

  • We ate not bread at any man's hand, but in labor and travail, working night and day, that we might not burden any of you; not because we have not the right, but to make ourselves an example to you, that ye should imitate us” – (2 Thessalonians 3:8-9).

Paul is referring to his practice of working as a tentmaker. While it is appropriate for his converts to support him financially, to provide an example for them, he often works with his own hands.

It seems that, in Thessalonica, certain members of the church were refusing to work, which is certainly an example of what it means to “walk disorderly” - (“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you: If any will not work, neither let him eat”). Paul deals with the same problem in his first letter to the church. Considering their heightened apocalyptic expectations, some members were choosing not to work.

And whether it came by “discourse” or “letter,” if anyone “obeys not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, to the end that he may be ashamed.” The purpose of shunning is not rejection, but to shame someone until they engage in right conduct (“count him not as an enemy but admonish him as a brother”).

Even with their hope in the coming of Jesus, his disciples must not become “weary in well-doing” between now and the day of his “arrival.” Whether he comes today or centuries from now, the believer must “stand fast” in the apostolic tradition and conduct his daily life in an orderly fashion. Otherwise, he will be overtaken by the “mystery of lawlessness” that even now is at work in the world.


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