Ever since the 1st century when Nero was around Christians have labeled leaders and individuals as the “son of destruction” or the lawless one. Another term that people have used over time, and Scripture uses this term as well, is the anti-Christ. Inevitably, it is applied to people who are in power because that is to what Scripture alludes. But as Paul said from the very beginning, we don’t know when Jesus is coming back and we can never attribute this title of anti-Christ to any individual. There have been many leaders who have worked against the kingdom of God either by attempting genocide or instituting policies and protocols which make the poor poorer and overlooks the most vulnerable in society.
That would be my translation and a 21st century interpretation of what Paul is saying. But a first century interpretation would refer specifically to Nero, the one who is causing all of the pain and suffering to the first century church in Thessalonica. Paul tells the people of that church that they just have to hang on because Jesus is going to come back again. It seems that there are some who are saying that Jesus has already come back again and this is as good as it is going to get. But Paul says no, that is not true. Jesus has not come back again for when he does come back again all things will be different.
Take a look at vs.11 and you will see that it was God who sent people a powerful delusion which led them to believe in that which is false. We see similar instances where God hardens the heart of Pharaoh. There are times in history where people are blinded (remember the Pharisees) and as a result God’s purposes and God’s will is able to be seen more clearly.
Paul switches gears once again to become the encourager. He tells the people of Thessalonica that they were chosen as first fruits. But then look at vs. 15 where Paul tells the church that they are to hold fast to the traditions which they were taught by him. Notice he says the traditions. What are some of the traditions that we pass on from generation to generation in our church? What are some of the teachings that we want to be sure that our children learn as they grow up. He isn’t talking about a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. That is almost a given and an understood aspect of what will be passed on. But what are the traditions that Paul is talking about? I’ll leave you to chew on that…