Good morning, Bereans. We are continuing our study of 2 Thessalonians 2 this morning. Because the first 12 verses of chapter 2 contain truth about eschatology that is revealed nowhere else in Scripture, interpretation is more difficult and is the reason there is a myriad of interpretations for them. Some things we may never know with certainty, but we can know that the Thessalonians thought that the day of the Lord had come, clear evidence that they did not see it as a destruction of the earth.
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Yeshua Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 ESV
In these two verses, we see the big three of eschatology: the Parousia, the Resurrection and the Judgment. These are synchronous events. If the Day of the Lord had come, so had the Resurrection and the Judgment. The fact that they thought it had come tells us that their view of the second coming of Christ did not include a removal of Christians from the earth and a burning up of the earth by fire. We can conclude, then, that their concept of the coming of Christ and the Day of the Lord was far different from what most of the church believes today.
John MacArthur expresses the predominant view of our day when he writes, "The Day of the Lord is a technical term for the time of final judgment on the ungodly." By this he means a total destruction of the earth at the end of time. But that is not a biblical idea of the Day of the Lord.
The various references to "the day of the Lord" in the Tanakh refer to various nations that Yahweh was judging, but all of the references in the New Testament are to that "day of the Lord" which came in AD 70 when the nation Israel was destroyed. The phrase, "The day of the Lord," therefore, refers to God's judgment of the apostate Jewish nation at the end of the age when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman armies. This was the end of the Old Covenant and the consummation of the New Covenant.
In verse 3, Paul tells them not to be deceived because the Day of the Lord will not come until several other events take place.
Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 2 Thessalonians 2:3 ESV
So, before the Day of the Lord, the Second Coming, and the Resurrection took place, there had to be a rebellion and the man of lawlessness had to be revealed. Since this had not happened at the time of the writing, then the big three of eschatology had not yet taken place.
In our last study, I said that it is my opinion that the rebellion was not believers forsaking the faith but involved the Jewish revolt against Rome. We know from the Jewish historian Josephus and other sources that in AD 68 a large-scale rebellion rose up in Israel through the efforts of the Zealots, and this led to Rome's declaring war on Israel. I think that what Paul is saying here is that Christ's coming in judgment against Israel would not take place before the great rebellion led by the Zealots had already begun. It was the Jewish rebellion that caused Rome to attack and destroy Jerusalem and bring the judgment of Yahweh.
We saw last time that there are many different ideas on who the man of lawlessness was. Some say he was Nero Caesar, the Beast of Revelation 13. Some say he was the high priest of Israel. These views at least see him as a first-century individual. The Reformers said he was the Pope, but most see him as a future-to-us antichrist.
Bob Russell submitted an article on June 18, 2023 (Eight Signs the "Man of Lawlessness" Is Near) in which he stated: "The second chapter of 2 Thessalonians warns that after the church is gathered to Christ, a 'man of lawlessness' will be catapulted into worldwide influence and deceive a frightened world into following him. Daniel 9 refers to him as "the ruler who is to come," 1 John 2 calls him "the antichrist," and Revelation 13 describes him as "the beast coming out of the sea."
This is the opposite of what the text in Thessalonians says. The text says that "our being gathered together to him" won't happen until "the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed." Russell reverses the order of the text.
The fourth sign he gives that tells us that the "Man of Lawlessness" is near concerns the increasing concern about UFOs. This man was the pastor of the largest church in America!
In "Christianity and Politics, Truth and Truthfulness," Dr. David Gushee writes,
"In this passage in 2 Thessalonians, the author is spinning out an eschatological scenario about the events before Christ returns. But that does not mean the passage has no value in any other context. We do not know how soon Christ will return. But we ought to be able to see we have had at the forefront of our national life for the last decade a man of lawlessness whom this passage aptly describes." He is talking about Trump.
Believers, the "man of lawlessness" is not a future beast or anti-Christ. He was a first-century zealot in Jerusalem and the Temple itself which existed when Paul wrote those words. My opinion is that the best candidate is John Levi of Gischala. Others think it was Eleazar ben Simon and still others think it was Eleazar b. Ananias.
I don't think we can be dogmatic here because we cannot know with certainty who this zealot was. And frankly I don't care. He was a first-century figure. That is what matters. Knowing for certain who he was won't change my life in any way. It's fun to speculate, but let's not be dogmatic.
At the end of verse 3, the man of lawlessness is called, "the son of destruction." The expression "son of" was a common Hebraic idiom that indicated that which was characteristic of a person. This is the very title that Judas received in John 17.
While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. John 17:12 ESV
With the exception of the one who was destined to be lost, Yeshua guarded and protected His disciples. The literal translation is "except the son of perishing." This Semitic expression, in the literal Greek text, is a play on the word "to perish." Not one has perished except the son of perishing. This is a reference to Judas. And the same can be said about the man of lawlessness.
In a soon to be published article entitled "Unraveling the Mystery of the Lawless One," Bob Cruickshank Jr. writes, "Like Judas, the lawless one's actions are 'in accord with the activity of Satan' (2 Thes. 2:9). Satan would use the lawless one just as he had used Judas. Judas set the events of the crucifixion in motion. Once God allowed Satan to be released to jump start the war, the zealots would likewise become his tool to set that in motion as well."
Let's move on.
who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 ESV
"Who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship"—this man does not simply exalt himself over the God of the Jews. The expression "every so-called god" is echoed in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians where he speaks of the "so-called gods" (8:5). The man of lawlessness will oppose every object that is called divine.
The Zealots did oppose and exalt themselves above all that is "called" God. The Romans had many gods. The zealots stood firm and adamant against all of the powers of Rome and its gods and involved the armies that sought their overthrow. They exalted themselves above all that is called God by doing away with all that stood for God in the holy sanctuary.
Josephus tells us what went on in the city.
And indeed many there were of the Jews that deserted every day, and fled away from the zealots, although their flight was very difficult, since they had guarded every passage out of the city, and slew every one that was caught at them, as taking it for granted they were going over to the Romans; yet did he who gave them money get clear off, while he only that gave them none was voted a traitor. So the upshot was this, that the rich purchased their flight by money, while none but the poor were slain. Along all the roads also vast numbers of dead bodies lay in heaps, and even many of those that were so zealous in deserting at length chose rather to perish within the city; for the hopes of burial made death in their own city appear of the two less terrible to them. But these zealots came at last to that degree of barbarity, as not to bestow a burial either on those slain in the city, or on those that lay along the roads; but as if they had made an agreement to cancel both the laws of their country and the laws of nature, and, at the same time that they defiled men with their wicked actions, they would pollute the Divinity itself also, they left the dead bodies to putrefy under the sun; and the same punishment was allotted to such as buried any as to those that deserted, which was no other than death; while he that granted the favor of a grave to another would presently stand in need of a grave himself. To say all in a word, no other gentle passion was so entirely lost among them as mercy; for what were the greatest objects of pity did most of all irritate these wretches, and they transferred their rage from the living to those that had been slain, and from the dead to the living. Nay, the terror was so very great, that he who survived called them that were first dead happy, as being at rest already; as did those that were under torture in the prisons, declare, that, upon this comparison, those that lay unburied were the happiest. These men, therefore, trampled upon all the laws of men, and laughed at the laws of God; and for the oracles of the prophets, they ridiculed them as the tricks of jugglers; yet did these prophets foretell many things concerning [the rewards of] virtue, and [punishments of] vice, which when these zealots violated, they occasioned the fulfilling of those very prophecies belonging to their own country; for there was a certain ancient oracle of those men, that the city should then be taken and the sanctuary burnt, by right of war, when a sedition should invade the Jews, and their own hand should pollute the temple of God. Now while these zealots did not [quite] disbelieve these predictions, they made themselves the instruments of their accomplishment." (Josephus Book IV, Chapter VI, Section 3).
"He takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God"—the identification of the temple where the "man of lawlessness" sits has been the theme of no little discussion. The most common interpretation is that the reference to the temple of God is the Church. Paul uses temple this way in 1 Corinthians 3.
Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV
So, they imply that the church, God's true temple today, is the temple Paul was talking about. But when Paul wrote to the Thessalonians around AD 51-52, he had not yet written 1 Corinthian, and had not yet used the analogy of the church as God's temple. So, what would they have understood Paul to mean by someone sitting "in the temple of God," other than the only temple they knew anything about at that time? Paul had taught them all about the rebellion and the man of lawlessness when he was with them.
Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 2 Thessalonians 2:5 ESV
Meyer's Commentary says that this temple "is not…a figurative representation of the Christian church, but….cannot be otherwise understood than in its proper sense. But on account of the repetition of the article can only one definite temple of one definite true God that is, the temple of Jerusalem - be meant (Grotius, Clericus, Schottgen, Whitby, Kern, de Wette, Wieseler, v. Dollinger." (Meyer's Commentary, vol. 8, p. 598).
Many dispensationalists believe that it refers to the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which will be rebuilt in our future.
Bob Utley writes, "Some see this Temple as a rebuilt Jewish Temple, possibly along the lines of Ezekiel 40-48. Other interpreters believe that these revealed eschatological events were 'soon' to take place and, therefore, must refer to historical events of the first century." What? Some believed these things would take place soon. That's crazy.
Then he writes, "Others of us see these eschatological events as referring to both past first-century events and future events. The OT prophets often took the events of their day and projected them into a future "Day of the Lord" setting. In this way the NT has a message to its own day and every succeeding period of history. We must take seriously the historical setting of the original author, but also the surprising 2000-year delay of the Second Coming."
Delay? Wouldn't a delay of at least 2,000 years be a false prophecy? If Yeshua said he was coming "soon" but didn't come for over 2,000 years, isn't he a false prophet?
What New Testament texts talk about a Second Coming, judgment, or resurrection that is far off from the New Testament writer's perspective? Which ones? I'll wait. There are none! A few texts do not have a time statement, but most do, and it is always near, soon, this generation, etc. This double fulfillment idea is nonsense. Yeshua said,
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. Matthew 24:21 ESV
The tribulation happened in His generation, and nothing will ever equal it.
So, there is a lot of opinions as to what this text means, but again Josephus can help us understand it. Quoting the high priest Ananus, he writes, "They have seized upon the strongest place of the whole city; you may call it the temple, if you please, though it be like a citadel or fortress." (Josephus, p. 297). "The zealots were now seen drinking themselves drunk in the sanctuary" (Josephus, p. 305) JOHN TOOK POSSESSION OF THE TEMPLE AND THE ADJOINING PARTS. (Josephus, p. 380). He is referring here to John Levi of Gischala.
To be "seated in the temple" means he was "established" there in the place of control. The Greek word kathizo means "to set, to settle, to continue, to tarry."
"Proclaiming himself to be God"—proclaiming here is the Greek word apodeiknumi. Strong defines this as to show off, that is, exhibit; figuratively to demonstrate, that is, accredit: - (ap-) prove, set forth, shew. It's not that he is saying, I'm God, but he is acting as if he is God.
Fr. Stephen De Young writes: "In the ancient world, to sit when in someone's presence, rather than standing, was to treat that person as an equal or inferior. This is an idiomatic way of stating that he places himself as God's equal." (https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/wholecounsel/2020/07/17/the-antichrist-the-lawless-one/)
John Bray writes that
John showed himself that he was God. That is, he publicly expressed to all concerned that he was greater than anyone else, either among the Jews or the Romans. He was as God! It was he who had caused the daily sacrifices to cease. It was he who had melted down the vessels of the Temple. It was he who now taunted the powers of the Roman empire as he refused to listen to Titus the Roman general. This man had caused the deaths of thousands of people by destroying their store of corn and provisions. He had brought 'great tribulation' upon them all. There just isn't anyone else in history who more fulfilled all that was predicted of the "man of sin" than did John Levi of Gischala. [THE MAN OF SIN / OF II THESSALONIANS 2 By John L. Bray]
Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 2 Thessalonians 2:5 ESV
This is an imperfect tense signifying that these believers had repeatedly heard preaching or teaching about the rebellion and the man of lawlessness. They had information about this subject that we do not have. During his stay in the city, Paul had given them specific instruction about these matters.
The question implies that the church already had sufficient instruction to evaluate and reject the teaching that had so moved them and put them in turmoil. Over and over in these letters, the Thessalonians are called to remember what they already knew. (1 Thess. 2:9; 3:4; 4:1; 5:1–2; 2 Thess. 3:10).
And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 2 Thessalonians 2:6 ESV
It's clear that Paul told the Thessalonians what or who the restrainer was for he says, "And you know what is restraining him now." The "you" is the first-century Thessalonians. "Now" is nun. It is an adverb which may be understood in a temporal sense, (i.e., "now, at the present time". These believers knew whom Paul was referring to, but he does not tell us who it is in this or in any other of his letters.
There would have been absolutely no reason whatsoever for Paul to write this to the Thessalonian believers if he had been talking about something which was to occur two thousand years or so still future to them.
"What is restraining him now"—restraining is from the Greek katechō which means, "to hold back, hinder, check, restrain." The Thessalonian believers understood that there was something holding back this "man of lawlessness." If they knew what was restraining him, as Paul said they did, then this could not have been referring to something 2,000 years in their future.
"What is restraining him now…Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way"—Paul first identifies this agent as a force (v. 6—to katechon, neuter participle) and then as a personal figure (v. 7—ho katechōn, masculine participle). Because of this, maybe we should think in terms of both a person and his office.
Who or What is the Restrainer?
Just like we saw multiple ideas of who the man of lawlessness was, so we have many ideas on who the restrainer was. One thing we should understand by now though is that whoever it is, he was around in the first century. They knew who he was.
Some say that what restrains the man of lawlessness is the preaching of the gospel. Some say it is the Jewish state. Some say it is the binding of Satan. Some say it is the church. Some say it is human government. Some say it is a principle of law or a principle of morality. Others teach that it was the Roman Empire, and it was the single government that held back the coming of the man of lawlessness. And then others have suggested that it could be an angel, even specifically Michael, the archangel. Some say that the Holy Spirit is the restrainer.
Before we get into the weeds on historical details on who exactly this restrainer was, let me remind you that ALL events in the history of the world were ordained in eternity past and subject to God's providence.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, Ephesians 1:11 ESV
"According to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will"—did you get that? In eternity past Yahweh had a plan, and in time He is working His plan. Yahweh works "all things" according to the counsel of His own will.
The objectors try to argue that "all things" couldn't possibly mean "all things." If it did, it would rob us of our "free will" and it would make God the author of evil. Some say that catastrophes such as earthquakes and hurricanes are outside of the "all things" of Ephesians 1:11. They can't square these events with a loving God.
The Scriptures clearly teach that God's sovereign will involves everything that takes place in life. All events in time proceed from His plan, and absolutely nothing takes place by chance. Let me give you a couple of things that the Scriptures reveal about God's sovereign will.
1. God's sovereign will is certain.
He works all things after the counsel of His will. The things that happen in this life are simply the working out of what God has planned from eternity. So, God's sovereign will is certain. Daniel teaches this in Daniel 4.
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?" Daniel 4:35 ESV
God's sovereign will cannot be frustrated by men, angels, or anything else. The sinner who tries to defy God's plan may shake his fist to the heavens, but God has determined how many times he shakes it and whether that man will live to shake his fist tomorrow. God's will is certain.
2. God's sovereign will is exhaustive.
It includes the fly as well as the Pharaoh, the mosquito (malaria) as well as the monarch. God determines who lands on Park Place.
When you come to understand that a sovereign God is not only sovereign by supernatural intervention but that He is also sovereign by natural orchestration, you'll have confidence and contentment in the circumstances of life.
God usually works out His sovereign plan through ordinary circumstances. God uses means to accomplish His ends. In the book of Esther, we can see God's working out of his sovereign plan through the ordinary events of life.
With that in mind, who restrained the "man of lawlessness"? Ultimately it was Yahweh. So, if you picked the Holy Spirit, you would be right. But let's see if we can determine who Yahweh used in time to carry out his plan. Whom did Yahweh use as a restrainer of the man of lawlessness?
Josephus tells us that the legitimate priesthood in Israel was the restrainer of the zealot movement. Ananus, or Annas, whose true name was Haman the younger, was the high priest and last of the high-priestly sons of the "Annas" of the Gospels. Josephus writes this of him:
I should not mistake if I said that the death of Ananus was the beginning of the destruction of the city, and that from this very day may be dated the overthrow of her walls, and the ruin of her affairs, whereon they saw their high-priest, and the procurer of their preservation; slain in the midst of their city. He was on other accounts also a venerable, and a very just man; and besides the grandeur of that nobility, and dignity, and honor of which he was possessed, he had been a lover of a kind of parity, even with regard to the meanest of the people; he was a prodigious lover of liberty, and an admirer of a democracy in government; and did ever prefer the public welfare before his own advantage, and preferred peace above all things; for he was thoroughly sensible that the Romans were not to be conquered. He also foresaw that of necessity a war would follow, and that unless the Jews made up matters with them very dexteriously, they would be destroyed: to say all in a word, if Ananus had survived they had certainly compounded matters; for he was a shrewd man in speaking and persuading the people, and had already gotten the mastery of those that opposed his designs…and I cannot but think that it was because God had doomed this city to destruction, as a polluted city, and was resolved to purge his sanctuary by fire, that he cut off these great defenders and well-wishers: (Josephus, pp. 313-314).
Josephus writes, "And now the multitude were going to rise against them already. For Ananus, the ancientest of the High-priests, persuaded them to it. He was a very prudent man, and had perhaps saved the city if he could but have escaped the hands of those that plotted against him." (Wars 4.1.7)
Let me remind you of what Gary DeMar says about the "man of lawlessness." He says: "The 'man of lawlessness' was the principal religious leader of Israel - the high priest who officiated over Jewish law and did not concern himself with using the law in a God-honoring way" (Matthew 26:57-69). (Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness, p. 344).
So, I'm saying that the High Priest was the restrainer and Gary says he was the man of lawlessness. I wrote to Gary this past week and asked him if he still held this view. He said that he did and sent me an article from Johann Christian Schoettgen's Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2. Schoettgen was a German New Testament scholar who lived from 1687-1751. Schoettgen writes, "If the text is rightly related to the circumstance, then the apostle speaks of such a matter as was at that time immediate, and which the Thessalonians believed was able to affect their own lives."
Speaking of the man of lawlessness, he writes, "Not one individual is meant by this term, but all the Pharisees, Rabbis, and experts in the law who are worthy of this title, since not only have they sinned but they have also caused other 'transgressors' to sin."
He goes on to say, "Sitting in the temple of God, these High Priests believed that they filled the place of God, and so persuaded the people of whatever seemed useful to themselves. They interpreted Scripture, not from the mind of God, but from their own, and so again abused their authority."
Speaking of the restrainer, Schoettgen writes, "Perhaps not unreasonably one could surmise that it refers to the Christians, who by their prayers had put off the matter for some time, until, warned by a divine oracle, they had quit Jerusalem and repaired to Pella."
This just shows you the difficulty of this text. But let's remember what Josephus said about Ananus. "He was on other accounts also a venerable, and a very just man." (Josephus, pp. 313-314).
So, it seems the zealots were completely unrestrained once Ananus was murdered. As long as Ananus was alive, his very presence and actions held John back from the full expression of lawlessness.
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 2 Thessalonians 2:7 ESV
Note the words "already" and "now." "Already" is ede, an adverb of time meaning "now, already." "Now" is the Greek arti, another adverb which may refer to the present time in general—"now, at the present time." The point is that the mystery of lawlessness was at work when Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. This points to a first-century fulfillment.
Gary DeMar writes: "The time texts, the present restraining, and the 'mystery of lawlessness already at work,' restricts the passage's time of fulfillment to the first century."
"For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work"—"mystery" is musterion, which in the New Testament is something that lies beyond man's natural reach and can only be known by divine revelation. It refers to God's secrets, His counsels, purposes, and other truths not naturally known to man apart from His special revelation in Scripture or by His prophets. The mystery of lawlessness that was already working included the rebellious plans of the Zealots toward Rome. From what I can tell, the Zealot movement began when Hezekiah the Zealot rose up in 47 BC. So, there was zealot activity at the time Paul wrote this, but it was being restrained.
"Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way"—this is a present active participle with an aorist middle (deponent) subjunctive, is still continuing to restrain, but sometime in the future this restraining influence will be removed.
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Yeshua will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 ESV
"And then the lawless one will be revealed"—once the High Priest, who was the restrainer, was killed, the lawless one was revealed.
John MacArthur writes: "Listen, you think the world is bad now, you haven't seen anything yet. Fortunately, if you know Christ you won't see it, but in the Day of the Lord when the restrainer is gone and all hell breaks loose, the world will see what happens when God does not restrain Satan in his plans."
This is the opposite of what the text in Thessalonians says. The text says that "our being gathered together to him" won't happen until "the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed." MacArthur reverses the order and has the gathering first then the man of lawlessness is revealed. He reverses the order of the text.
"Whom the Lord Yeshua will kill"—"kill" is from the Greek anaireo, which means "to take away, remove, destroy." The word was mostly used of killing by violence, in battle, by execution, murder, or assassination. This Greek word is found 23 times in the New Testament, 20 of them by Luke. Except in two places, it is used of putting to death.
and when he was exposed, Pharaoh's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. Acts 7:21 ESV
"Adopted" here is anaireo.
then he added, "Behold, I have come to do your will." He does away with the first in order to establish the second. Hebrews 10:9 ESV
"Does away" here is anaireo. This word is only used by Paul once and that is in our text. In what sense he uses to as "to take away, remove, destroy," we can't be sure.
"With the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming"—"bring to nothing" is katargeō which means "to make inoperative" not "to eliminate" or "to destroy." The man of lawlessness was taken away and brought to nothing at the Parousia of Christ.
Josephus writes, "John was "consumed by the spirit of his mouth" by being "condemned to perpetual imprisonment" (Josephus, p. 471).
Philip Schaff writes, "The strongest and handsomest men were selected for the triumphal procession in Rome, among them the chief defenders and leaders of the revolt, Simon Bar-Giora, and John of Gischala…Simon Bar-Giora was thrown down from the Tarpeian Rock; John of Gischala was doomed to perpetual imprisonment" (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 1, pp. 400-401).
The Zealots were restrained by Ananus until he was killed and then the rebellion was full blown. The rebellion caused the Romans to attack and destroy Jerusalem. And the destruction of Jerusalem was a cloud-coming of Christ in judgment on the covenant- breaking Jews. Look at what Isaiah says about cloud comings.
An oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. Isaiah 19:1 ESV
We know from chapter 20 that God used the Assyrians as instruments of His wrath on Egypt, yet it says, "Yahweh is riding on a swift cloud…, Egypt will tremble at His presence." Yahweh came to Egypt. Did He come physically bodily to Egypt? No, how did He "come" to Egypt? He came in judgment. His presence was made known in judgment. But it was the Assyrians who were literally present. The same is true in AD 70 in Jerusalem. Christ didn't bodily come to Jerusalem; he came in judgment, using the Romans. Christ's coming spoken of in Revelation 1:7 is a judgment coming, which focuses upon first-century Israel.
Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. Revelation 1:7 ESV
He is coming upon "those who pierced Him." That refers to Israel. As a consequence of His coming in judgment, "all the tribes of the earth [or land] will wail on account of him." Earth is translated from the Greek word ghay, and it means "soil, country, earth, ground, land, world." "The tribes of the land" is a familiar designation for Israel. The Jews crucified Yeshua, and they were punished for it.
Josephus writes: "After it was all over, John was condemned to perpetual imprisonment: and now the Romans set fire to the extreme parts of the city, and burnt them down, and entirely demolished its walls" (Josephus, p. 471).
"With the breath of his mouth"—the background for this is.
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Isaiah 11:4 ESV
If you're familiar with Isaiah, you will recognize immediately that Isaiah 11 is the great chapter of the Messianic king, and how he's going to come and establish his kingdom. We see this idea again in Isaiah 30.
For a burning place has long been prepared; indeed, for the king it is made ready, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it. Isaiah 30:33 ESV
At Christ's coming in AD 70 the zealots were destroyed along with Jerusalem. This was all in the future of the Thessalonians, but it is ALL in our past. The Lord is here; the kingdom is here. We reign with Christ. We are not looking for a rebellion of believers leaving the faith and antichrist bringing destruction on the earth. The end times are over.
"The appearance of his coming"—appearing here is from the Greek epiphaneia which means, "an appearing, appearance, splendor, a manifestation, that is, (specifically) the advent of Christ" (past or future).
This word is used six times in the New Testament. One of them refers to Christ's first coming and the other five all refer to the Second Coming.
The word "coming" is Parousia which also means appearing. In its day, it referred to a royal visit. It even came to be used in Greek literature of the coming of a god. It is used of Yeshua in vv. 1 and 8.
These two words are often used as synonyms, but here I think they differ somewhat. His coming will be with splendor and those in Jerusalem will see his majesty manifest.
I see two very practical points that come out of this part of chapter 2 and especially verse 5. First, if we do not continue to study and stay occupied with the truth of Scripture, it can't protect us from false doctrine. The unsettled condition that occurred among the believers in Thessalonica was the result of failing to remember and reflect on what they had been taught.
Second, the fact that the apostle repeatedly taught on the subject of prophecy should show us this is an important theme of Scripture. Your eschatology matters.