2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2
Now we beseech you, brothers, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together to him,
I. THE MISTAKE OF THE THESSALONIANS.
1. In itself. The day of the Lord is present; it is already dawning; it is close upon us. This thought had taken possession of their souls; it filled their hearts; it left no room for ordinary commonplace duties. They were neglecting these in their strong excitement, in their eager anticipation of the approach of the great day. What was the use of attention to business, of daily labour, of the quiet performance of their accustomed tasks, when the Lord was to be expected at once, when they were to be caught up, away from earth and its employments, to meet the Lord in the air. "We which are alive and remain shall be caught up," St. Paul had said in his First Epistle. They misunderstood his words; they supposed that it must be during their own lifetime; that it might be, that it would be, immediate.
2. Its origin. Spirit, word, or letter. "Believe not every spirit" (St. John said); "try the spirits whether they are of God." There were utterances which claimed to be inspired and were not so. The discerning of spirits was one of the manifold gifts of the Holy Ghost. It was their duty not to despise prophesying, but yet to prove all things. There were also words quoted as if spoken by St. Paul; letters, too, purporting to come from him. Men misrepresented him; they attributed the sayings of others, their own, perhaps, to the holy apostle; even letters, it seems, were current, said to be the apostle's, but not really his. People are perplexed often nowadays by the many differences of opinion which exist among Christians. The fact of this diversity is to some an excuse for unbelief or for sloth in spiritual things; to others, a real temptation, a great trial of faith. But we see it has been so from the beginning. There were errors of belief in this infant Church of Thessalonica while the apostle, who had founded it, was still near at hand - at Corinth. Even in these early days things which he had said were misunderstood; his authority was claimed for words which he had never spoken; and, strangest of all, there were written letters bearing his name which were falsely ascribed to him. We have our trials now. We are troubled, some of us, by the difficulties which arise from various readings or interpretations, by the doubts thrown by modern writers on this or that book of Holy Scripture, by the conflict of opinions in the Church. It is some comfort to think that we of this age are not alone in our temptations; our position is not one of such singular perplexity as some of us are apt to think. If we persevere in prayer, if we try to live by faith looking to the Lord Jesus Christ, the doubts which vex us will soon be cleared away.
II. ST. PAUL'S WAY OF DEALING WITH THAT MISTAKE.
1. He beseeches them. He is very gentle with his converts, very earnest too, and affectionate; full of deep anxiety for their spiritual welfare. And it was a matter of great importance. St. Paul had dwelt much upon the coming of the Lord. The Parousia was a subject of much excited talk, much stirring of heart among the Thessalonians. St. Paul had spoken in his First Epistle of "our gathering together unto him;" how "we that are alive and remain shall be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air." It was a prospect very blessed, very awful too; it had been opened out in strong, startling words. They inferred from his way of expressing himself that it was very close at hand, to be looked for immediately; their excitement was intense. He beseeches them to listen.
2. They rest be calm. Religion lies in a calm, quiet walk with God. It has its emotions, they are at times deep and strong; it has its enthusiasm, but it is ordered and grave. They must not allow themselves to be shaken from their settled judgment; they must not give way to this trembling, uneasy excitement. They must return to the quiet, steady discharge of the common duties of life; their best strength was in quietness and confidence. This was the best preparation for the coming of Christ. That coming was not immediate; much was to happen first.
1. Learn to be sober, thoughtful, to distrust excitement, to live in patient continuance of well doing.
2. There will be difficulties, perplexities; they are trials of faith; they must be endured in patience and overcome by faith.
3. Prepare for the coming of Christ. The best preparation is to perform each duty as it comes in faith and prayer as unto the Lord. - B.C.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,