Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #326 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 2 Thessalonians 3 today and our focus is on Lazy People Shouldn’t Eat + Who is the Antichrist/Who is the Man of Lawlessness?? We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
The church should take care everybody, right? Generally speaking, the answer to that is yes, but we do find some qualifiers in the Bible, and today we arrive at one of those important qualifiers in 2nd Thessalonians 3:
6 Now we command you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from every brother or sister who is idle and does not live according to the tradition received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you should imitate us: We were not idle among you; 8 we did not eat anyone’s food free of charge; instead, we labored and toiled, working night and day, so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 It is not that we don’t have the right to support, but we did it to make ourselves an example to you so that you would imitate us. 10 In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.” 11 For we hear that there are some among you who are idle. They are not busy but busybodies. 12 Now we command and exhort such people by the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and provide for themselves. 13 But as for you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing good.
Idleness is such a serious thing, that Paul commands Christians to keep away from those who are idle. When I read a passage like this, I immediately become curious about the important words, which is, “idle,” in this case. What is the Greek word that is being translated as idle, and what does it mean? The Greek word is interesting, and simply means, disordered – or out of ranks, like a soldier. According to some ancient discussions of workers and contractual obligations, It can also have the meaning of sponging or freeloading when it is used in a similar context to what Paul is using here, and that appears to be what he is warning about. People who are not willing to work, but are seeking a handout. Thus Paul tells the church in general to not support or feed those who are idle/disorderly/freeloading. Instead, Paul commands such people to work quietly and provide for themselves. Everybody who wants to eat, should work. Systems and communities that favor those unwilling to contribute with free food and other benefits are not biblical. Everybody should work – this doesn’t mean necessarily a 9-5 job, or a professional kind of situation that is impressive, but it does mean that all should endeavor to work and not be idle, and the church should take care of those who are engaged in beneficial labor of some sort, but not quite able to make ends meet.
Let’s talk about the Man of Lawlessness, which is more of a spillover from yesterday’s chapter 2. Who in the world is this referring to? Many guesses have been made over the years as to who this individual is: Hitler, Napoleon, Nero, Nicolae Carpathia, and many others. Thus far, all of those guesses have been mostly wrong, but John does tell us that there will be many antichrists in 1st John 2:18, so they may not be THE Man of Lawlessness that 2nd Thessalonians 2 is referring to, but they may be A Man of Lawlessness/Antichrist. Let’s go to theologian Wayne Grudem for more on the Man of Lawlessness/Antichrist:
Many attempts have been made throughout history to identify the man of lawlessness (the “antichrist”) with historical figures who had great authority and brought havoc and devastation among people on the earth. The ancient Roman emperors Nero and Domitian, both of whom severely persecuted Christians, were thought by many to be the antichrist. (Many Roman emperors, including these two, claimed deity for themselves and demanded to be worshiped.) In more recent times Adolf Hitler was commonly thought to be the antichrist, as was Joseph Stalin. On the other hand, many Protestants since the Reformation, especially those who were persecuted by the Catholic Church, have thought that one or another of the popes was the antichrist.
But all of these identifications have proved false, and it is likely that a yet worse “man of lawlessness” will arise on the world scene and bring unparalleled suffering and persecution, only to be destroyed by Jesus when he comes again. But the evil perpetrated by many of these other rulers has been so great that, at least while they were in power, it would have been difficult to be certain that the “man of lawlessness” mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2 has not yet appeared.
Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 1103.
I agree with Grudem in linking the Man of Lawlessness with the Antichrist. There is a fair amount of debate about this whole topic, so I will attempt to steer a middle course, and avoid big claims here. Exactly WHO is the Man of Lawlessness/Antichrist? I don’t know. He will be powerful. He will be a man of guile and intelligence. He will have great power and an ability to deceive. It appears that He will be empowered by Satan, and have the ability to stand against the archangel Michael in terms of power. He will wage war on true followers of Jesus – the saints – and He will have great success, for a time, in that war. How can we save ourselves from this dire situation? And the humbling and scary answer is – WE CAN’T. We don’t have the power to stand up against the enemies of the last days. But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. For those who are in Christ – saved by grace through faith, having believed in their heart that Jesus is Lord and God raised Him from the dead, and CONFESSED/PROFESSED those things with their words – true Christians will be delivered and saved BY GOD and by the COMING OF CHRIST.
Ultimately deliverance comes from the Ancient of Days and His power. But – we are not without weapons of our warfare, which are mighty in God, says Paul, to the pulling down of strongholds. Among those weapons is the fact that true followers of Jesus are washed in His sacrifice, and thus the enemy has no hold on them, or no ability to eternally wound them. We also have the earth-shaking power of our testimony and proclamation of the Gospel:
10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
Look to Jesus and be saved, all the earth and rest in His salvation and His power and His soon return, in which all who have trusted in Him will not be put to shame, but will be delivered and redeemed forever!
Bible Memory passage for the month of November: John 14:6 “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
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