MP3: The Tribulation Road Thru 2 Thessalonians 3
Hosts: Nathan Jones & Vic Batista
Welcome to The Truth Will Set You Free podcast teaching series titled “The Tribulation Road!” Nathan Jones and Vic Batista have been your guides since the very first installment, going verse by verse through the Bible’s prophetic book of 2 Thessalonians. We are now ready to move into chapter 3.
Before the Tribulation
Vic Batista: In previous segments, we found 2 Thessalonians 2 to be a very exciting yet controversial passage. Before diving into chapter 3, let’s take a minute to recap chapter 2.
Nathan Jones: The Apostle Paul and his evangelism team had planted a new church in the city of Thessalonica. They were there only a few weeks before the townspeople who objected to the Gospel forced Paul out, so he didn’t personally get to help his congregation grow very much. Paul had to pastor the church by letter, known in the Bible as an epistle. Second Thessalonians is the second letter that we know of that Paul had sent to this young church.
Paul sent this second letter to address a particular problem the church had been experiencing. The little church was in a panic thinking that because of the continued persecution they were suffering under that they must be living in the seven-year time period when God will pour out His wrath upon the world known as the Tribulation. Even today there are Christians who in their suffering assume that the Church must now be living in the Tribulation. Paul’s response is like, “No, no, no, that’s not the case at all.”
Paul points out that two things which must happen first before the Tribulation can begin. One, a great apostasy, meaning a great falling away from the faith, would come upon the world. And, two, the Antichrist would, at last, be revealed.
Daniel 9 tells us the Antichrist will be revealed when he creates a peace covenant with Israel, one that is meant to last for seven years. That signing of the treaty marks the beginning of the Tribulation time period. Daniel goes on to explain that the Antichrist will at the mid-point of the Tribulation desecrate the Third Temple and demand that the whole world worship him.
Paul back in 1 Thessalonians had already told the church in Thessalonica not to worry about that, for the Church universal was never destined to have to live through the Tribulation. Believers in Christ would be raptured before the Tribulation begins. First Thessalonians 4 assures us that Christians will be taken off this earth to meet Jesus in the clouds and continue on up to Heaven so that we will live with the Lord forever. Paul claimed that this rapture of the Church was meant to provide us comfort in our present sufferings. Now, in Paul’s second letter, he assures the church in Thessalonica that, yes, Christians in this life will always suffer because we follow Jesus Christ, but we are never meant to endure the wrath of God in the Tribulation.Nathan Jones: #Christians in this life will always suffer because we follow #JesusChrist, but we are never meant to endure the wrath of #God in the #Tribulation. Click To Tweet
Vic Batista: Paul also addressed the great foe who will persecute new post-Rapture believers during the Tribulation — the Evil One, the Lawless One, known more widely as the Antichrist — who Revelation 13 tells us will be possessed by Satan himself. That’s a poignant reminder that we Christians need to remember, for we are engaged in a spiritual battle. We don’t wrestle merely against flesh and blood, but Satan’s spiritual forces behind the scenes. We learn in 2 Thessalonians that this battle is a reality.
Pray For Us
Nathan Jones: Let’s continue on with 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2.
“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.”
Vic Batista: What a great opening to chapter 3 where Paul asks, “Finally, brethren, pray for us.” There’s nothing wrong with asking people to personally pray for us. We are all in need of a little prayer.
Nathan Jones: Paul even gives some specifics about what they should pray for, “that the word of the Lord may run swiftly” and that God may “be glorified” through their efforts in ministry. In other words, Paul asked them to pray diligently that the Gospel would spread to the entire world, and we know from Church history that the Lord abundantly answered that prayer.
Vic Batista: That prayer request reminds me of what Paul had also asked of the Ephesians when he asked for them to pray that God would “open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 6:18-20). It’s good when we pray specific, and not just general, prayers. If you have a need and so need prayer, then tell a Christian what your specific needs are so that they can pray for you. And, always pray for the furtherance of the Gospel and that the Lord’s will shall be done.
Nathan Jones: I fall into a pattern sometimes where I find myself spending more time praying about what I think my needs or another’s needs are and what they want, rather than what God wants. Paul sets a good example here because he is praying, not for what he thinks he wants, but for what God wishes to accomplish through Paul’s life. Paul’s prayers coincide with God’s desire — that the Gospel will spread quickly. Paul’s not focused on praying for himself or others like Timothy who are helping him, but rather for God’s will to be done through our lives.
Have you noticed that we as Christians can get really bogged down in praying for the minutia in our lives? Rather, we ought to be praying for God’s will to be done in our lives. When we pray that way, God will cover everything we need. That covers food, provisions, jobs, and our relationships. If we pray for God’s will to be achieved in our lives, then we, in turn, will be blessed, for God has got all of life’s needs covered.Nathan Jones: If we #pray for God's will to be achieved in our lives, then we, in turn, will be blessed, for #God has got all of life's needs covered. Click To Tweet
Vic Batista: I really love that God does indeed have a plan and purpose for every one of our lives, and so He will supply us with the gifts and talents needed in order to fulfill our calling.
Nathan Jones: God has equipped every single person with natural gifts, talents, and abilities. And, once you become saved, the Holy Spirit with then grant you different spiritual gifts. He augments certain areas of your giftedness in order to better serve Him.
My wife and I have taught a number of different classes on how a Christian can discover their direction in God’s plan and about spiritual giftedness. We enjoy teaching those classes because they help people understand how God has equipped them to serve in Christ’s kingdom.
Let’s then pray that the Lord will take our natural and spiritual gifts and shows us where we can use those best to serve the cause of Christ and to further the spreading of the Word of God.
Delivered from Wicked Men
Vic Batista: Paul in verse 2 also asked the Thessalonians to pray that he and his team “may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men.” We’re all going to face unreasonable and wicked people throughout our lives.
Nathan Jones: How interesting that Paul notes that not only will we face wicked men, but he also uses the adjective “unreasonable” men. This second part of Paul’s prayer request piggybacks on the first half of his prayer that the Gospel may spread. Paul knows that the dissemination of the Gospel will be hampered by “unreasonable and wicked men” because they have no faith in God. These are the very type of faithless people from Thessalonica who had driven Paul and company out of town. We who bear the name of Christ will always face off against wicked people. We will suffer at the hands of man and Satan for our faith in Jesus Christ.
In using the term “unreasonable,” doesn’t it seem that Paul’s implying that you cannot hold a normal conversation with these people? You lay out the Gospel, you show them biblical facts, you bring up archaeological proofs, you provide all of the Apologetic details, but they just reply back with a bunch of unreasonable answers.
For example, my wife and I were walking our dog around the neighborhood. Two young Mormon guys stopped us. Even though they appeared fresh out of high school, their badges read “Elder.” They had to be like 19! They politely stopped us and tried to witness to us from the Book of Mormon, then invited us to come to visit their Mormon church. We spent half an hour witnessing back to them. We laid out the facts about the inspiration and authenticity of the Bible and who the biblical Jesus is. We even referred to the Dead Sea Scrolls as the counter to their claim that the Bible had been corrupted. Their faces remained blank.
These Mormon young men ended their argument with, “I just feel in my heart that Joseph Smith was right.” Can you believe a feeling is what they based the eternal destiny of their souls upon? Totally unreasonable! Sadly, because of their unreasonableness, they deny the truth, and that makes them in Paul’s mind wicked. They haven’t placed their faith in the real Jesus as the Bible portrays, and so remain under God’s wrath (Jn. 3:36). How truly sad.
In the tenth part of our travels along the Tribulation Road and our verse-by-verse study of 2 Thessalonians, Paul will leave a command about how to deal with idle Christians who are not busy doing the Lord’s work.