Good morning, Bereans. We are looking at 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. So far, we have seen that the Thessalonians were troubled because they had received a letter supposedly from Paul telling them that the Day of the Lord had already come. Which tells us that they must not have seen it as an end-of-time event that destroys the whole world.
So, Paul reminds them of what he had already told them that the Day of the Lord would not come until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed. I see the rebellion that he talks about as the first-century event of the Jewish zealots rebelling against Rome. The man of lawlessness is in my view John Levi of Gischala. And the restrainer of the man of lawlessness was the legitimate priesthood of Israel. There is a lot of disagreement as to who the actual players are, but the main thing to see is that this was a first-century event. The zealots rebelled against Rome, causing Rome to launch a three-and-a-half-year siege that ended in the total destruction of Jerusalem.
Most contemporary writers see this as a future-to-us event that takes place at the end of time. G.K. Beal writes: "While the antichrist's deception in this age is partial and incognito (through false teachers), his deceit at the end of history will be more universal than ever." This view destroys audience relevance saying that this teaching had no value or concern to the Thessalonians to whom Paul was writing.
For our study this morning, we are going to be looking at verses 9-12. We saw in verse 8 that Yeshua was going to kill and bring to nothing the man of lawlessness at his Second Coming.
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
This happened in AD 70 when he came in judgment on Jerusalem and the Temple, destroying it and Judaism for all time. This ended the Old Covenant and consummated the New Covenant.
Paul now circles back and gives us more detail about the man of lawlessness and the power behind him.
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 2 Thessalonians 2:9 ESV
"The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan"—the word "coming" here is Parousia. The previous verse talked about Christ's Parousia and what it would accomplish, and now he talks about the man-of-lawlessness's parousia and what it would accomplish.
His coming is by the activity of Satan. The word "activity" here is energeia which Thayer defines as: "working, efficiency, in the NT used only of superhuman power, whether of God or of the Devil." This man of lawlessness is operating with superhuman power which comes from Satan.
We need to pause here and talk about Satan. Who is Satan? There are some within the preterist community that don't believe that Satan is a real spiritual being but simply a human adversary because the Hebrew word "satan" means adversary. So, some will say that he is just a human adversary of some kind. Let's look at the Scriptures and see what we can find out about Satan. Where would you find the first use of Satan in the Scriptures?
So, Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. But God's anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. Numbers 22:21-22 ESV
The word "adversary" here is the Hebrew word Satan. Who is called Satan here? The angel of Yahweh. So, the very first use of Satan in the Bible refers to Yahweh. Does that surprise you? The Hebrew word "Satan" is not a proper noun in the Tanakh. As such, the term was not used to refer to a cosmic archenemy of Yahweh. "Satan" isn't a proper name but is actually a function or office with the primary meaning of: "adversary or "challenger." The term "Satan" describes a particular action or role, often in the context of opposition or judgment.
Again, there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. And the LORD said to Satan, "From where have you come?" Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it." Job 2:1-2 ESV
The vast majority of Old Testament scholars who are experts in the field of ANE (Ancient Near Eastern) literature conclude that what we see here in Job is that Satan is "one of members of the divine council of Yahweh." What we see here is not Yahweh's archenemy, but rather a member of the divine council who had some sort of role as a heavenly court prosecutor.
There are no passages in the Tanakh where the word "Satan" refers to Yahweh's divine archenemy. None! If you look up all of the uses of Satan in the Tanakh, it will blow away the assumption that the technical term "Satan" always applies to the same supernatural being—a single Satan. The term "Satan" is attached to several different beings.
So, the technical term "satan" does not always apply to the same supernatural being, a single Satan in the Tanakh, nor does it refer to a cosmic archenemy of Yahweh. But when you come to the intertestamental literature, or "Second Temple Literature," (i.e., the books written by Jews between Malachi and the time of Yeshua), this picture changes. In this literature, Satan begins to take on an evil persona, and we also see that there are many Satans.
This Intertestamental Literature (Apocrypha, Dead Sea Scrolls, and Pseude-pigrapha) says considerably more about Satan than the Tanakh does. Ancient conceptions of Satan and demons developed during the Second Temple period. Works from this period like 1 Enoch, Jubilees, and the Life of Adam and Eve increasingly focused on the character of Satan as the celestial archenemy of God. These works also retold the stories of Israel's history and recounted Satan's influence in certain events.
So, we see quite a change in the view of Satan in the intertestamental period. This is how the Jews viewed Satan and demons. And that brings us to what the New Testament has to say about Satan.
Then Yeshua was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1 ESV
As soon as the New Testament starts, we see "the devil" and "Satan" as adversaries of Yeshua and God's people. Most of the New Testament references to demon possession appear in the Gospels and represent the outburst of satanic opposition to Yahweh's work in Christ. Demon possession seems to be something that happened only during the time of Christ and the apostles for the purpose of manifesting the power of Christ over the demonic world.
The New Testament shows a developing picture of Satan as an archenemy of God. Extra-biblical works written prior to and contemporary with the New Testament documents parallel this development. In the New Testament, the word "devil" is used 32 times, Satan is used 33 times, Belial once (2 Cor 6:15), and Beelzebul is used 7 times.
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Revelation 12:7-9 ESV
Here we see that Satan is the ancient serpent of Genesis 3.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" Genesis 3:1 ESV
We just saw in Revelation 12:9 that the serpent was Satan. I believe that this "serpent" was a divine being of the divine council and not a member of the animal kingdom. This watcher chose to oppose Yahweh's plan for humanity by prompting humans to disobey Yahweh so that they would either be killed or removed from Eden and thus from Yahweh's council and family.
"Serpent" here is from the Hebrew word nachash, which, according to Hebrew scholar Michael Heiser, is most likely a triple entendre (a word or phrase that has three different meanings at once). The root of nachash comes from the Hebrew letters noon, het and sheen. A root is the basis for a noun, a verb, and an adjective in Hebrew. If you take nachash as pointing to the noun, the word here would mean "serpent." This is a valid translation, but you must keep in mind that "serpent" is not a member of the animal kingdom. If you were to take it as a verb, it would mean "to deceive" or "to divine." So nachash could imply a "deceiver." This option also fits the story. As an adjective it would mean "bronze," or "the shining one." In our text it is "ha nachash" (the Shining one). Luminosity is a characteristic of a divine being in the Hebrew Bible and in the ANE texts, luminosity is not the characteristic of an animal or a man. This is a divine being and not an animal or a man. Would Eve carry on a conversation with a snake? I don't think so. But she would talk to a divine being. Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of God; they were very familiar with these divine beings.
Back to our text in Revelation. Where is this war taking place? In Heaven. In this text Michael is depicted as warring on behalf of Israel (12:7). He is called "Israel's protector" in Daniel 12:1. Michael is the patron angel of Israel. So "Israel's protector" is fighting Rome's prince, Satan. It seems as though Satan has moved from adversary in the Divine Council to the spiritual power behind Rome. Most scholars of Revelation teach that the Beast represents Rome and the Dragon that gives power to the Beast is Satan.
It seems as if this watcher, now known as Satan, has turned against Yahweh and is ruling over Rome and trying to destroy Yeshua and God's people. Paul tells the Ephesians:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 ESV
First of all, notice that Paul says that this struggle is "NOT against flesh and blood." In the Greek this is literally "blood and flesh." Is Paul saying this is not a physical battle but a philosophical one? That is the view of those who hold to Satan's being a human adversary. But if you look at the four other uses of this phrase in the New Testament, you find that it is referring to humanity versus the spiritual.
Therefore, I believe that Paul is teaching in Ephesians 6 that their struggle is not with humanity, not with mere human power. What, then, is the struggle with? It is with "rulers and authorities," titles used of human and spiritual powers. But notice the other words used: "cosmic powers and spiritual forces of evil." "Cosmic powers" comes from the Greek kosmokrator, which, according to Strong's Concordance means "a world ruler, an epithet of Satan." Thayer's says it means "Lord of the world, prince of this age, the devil and his demons." This is its only use in the New Testament, but it is used in the Testament of Solomon of spiritual beings. In the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, kosmokrator means "lord of the world, world ruler," and it occurs in pagan literature as an epithet for gods, rulers, and heavenly bodies. Why would Paul use this word that is used only here in the Bible, but was used in other literature for spirit beings if he did not mean spirit beings?
Paul goes on to say, "against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places "—these forces are "spiritual," they are not human, and they are in "heavenly places," which denotes the spiritual realm, the place where Yahweh dwells.
Those who hold to the view that Satan is not a real spiritual being but is instead merely a personification of sinfulness in the human heart or of wicked human beings would say that Satan is simply our own internal sinful human nature or inclination to sin. How would that view fit with Scripture?
Then Yeshua was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1 ESV
Was Yeshua being tempted by His own sinful nature? To go there is an attack on the deity of Christ.
These folks would say that Christ's adversaries were the Jews. Could Satan here represent the Jews?
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Then Yeshua said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" Matthew 4:8-10 ESV
Would the Jews ask Christ to worship them? No! Is Christ carrying on a conversation here with Himself? Throughout the context, "the tempter" or "the devil" is given personal attributes and clearly distinguished from Yeshua as being another person. Nowhere in this context do we get the idea that the devil is merely referring to a sinful human nature of Christ. It's kind of ridiculous to think that a sinful nature within Christ demanded Christ to worship Christ, and if He did, Christ would give Christ the nations. Satan's offering Christ the nations is not an empty promise. Satan was ruling the nations. Sinful human beings could not make this offer to Christ.
Those who deny the existence of Satan or demons want to make everything the result of natural occurrences.
And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them. Mark 6:13 ESV
Here we see a contrast between demons and sickness. They were not casting out mental illness.
I think that this view of satan's being just a human adversary is unbiblical. I think that modern science has caused many believers to question or down right deny the spiritual. To those of the Ancient Near East, everything was spiritual. To us today, it seems, nothing is. If someone believes in God and angels, why is it so hard to believe in Satan and demons?
I think that our text in Thessalonians further refutes this view of Satan's being a human adversary.
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 2 Thessalonians 2:9 ESV
The term "activity" here is from the Greek energeia, which means "working, operation, action." In the New Testament, it is typically used of that which is supernatural, either of the enabling power of God or of satanic operations (Ephesians 1:19; 3:7; 4:16; Philippians 3:21; Colossians 1:29; 2:12).
"With all power and false signs and wonders"—the term "power" is the Greek word dunamis, which means "power, might, strength, force, miracle." It speaks of inherent ability that carries the potential to perform or accomplish a task. "Signs"—is from the Greek word semeion. Its focus is upon the deeper meaning of the miracle. A sign is a miracle that conveys a truth. "Wonders"—which is from the Greek word teras, underscores its effect on those who are witnesses.
These are the exact same terms that are used to describe the works of Christ.
"Men of Israel, hear these words: Yeshua of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— Acts 2:22 ESV
These are supernatural acts of God. Those are the same terms that are used to describe the apostles.
while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. Hebrews 2:4 ESV
The combination of miracles, signs, and wonders appears in various New Testament texts, but only here do they refer to satanic activity. These are the very things God used to authenticate the message and lay the foundation for the church. They were supernatural.
This ties in perfectly with Yeshua's words in the Olivet Discourse.
For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Matthew 24:24 ESV
We learn from Josephus that many such impostors did arise about that time and promised deliverance from God. According to Josephus, there "was a great number of false prophets" who implored the people to "wait on deliverance from God" in order "to keep them from deserting" the city" (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 6:5:2).
The combination of these terms is used to point to a supernatural component, one with very definite and important religious implications, especially since the performance of such miracles implies divine power. In the life of the Lord and in the early church, they were used to authenticate the messenger and so his message.
Paul states that these false christs and prophets perform "false signs and wonders." False" is pseudos ("a falsehood, a lie"). It may refer just to the signs or may involve all three nouns—power, signs, and wonders. It shows the effect of the miracles and not the nature of them. They are real miracles that are designed to deceive. Note that Pseudos is the word Yeshua used of Satan in John 8:44.
If Satan, then, is a mere human, how is he empowering the man of lawlessness with these supernatural abilities?
and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 2 Thessalonians 2:10 ESV
Who are the ones who are deceived here? "With all wicked deception for those who are perishing." The elect are not deceived. Yeshua said that it is those who are perishing that are deceived. The man of lawlessness is empowered by Satan himself to promote widespread deception, lawlessness, and rebellion against Yeshua.
"Because they refused to love the truth and so be saved"—this is not in the abstract sense but is a reference to the person and work of Yeshua, who is the truth (John 14:6). I see a dule meaning here of "be saved." In the Tanakh, this term meant physical deliverance. In the New Testament, however, it takes on spiritual significance. Because they refused the truth, they would not be saved from the fiery judgment of Jerusalem or from eternal damnation.
Therefore, God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 2 Thessalonians 2:11 ESV
"Therefore, God sends them a strong delusion"—this is a present active indicative used as a future. Notice that it is God who sends the strong delusion. This is a judicial act. "Strong" describes some kind of supernatural and powerful action. This "power" produces in them a great delusion.
This reminds me of the divine council passage in 1 Kings.
And Micaiah said, "Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; and the LORD said, 'Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?' And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, 'I will entice him.' And the LORD said to him, 'By what means?' And he said, 'I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' And he said, 'You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.' 1 Kings 22:19-22 ESV
In order to judge Ahab, God put a lying spirit in the mouth off the prophets. God did the same thing to the unbelieving Jews in the first century in order to get them to fight against Rome.
"So that they may believe what is false"—this is literally "the lie." Why would God send them a delusion so they would believe what is false?
in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:12 ESV
"In order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth"—the nature of that condemnation has already been described in the most graphic apocalyptic terms in 2 Thessalonians 1:8.
in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Yeshua.
God is using the man of lawlessness, empowered by Satan, as the means of His judgment. He is using them to punish the perishing who refuse to love His Son.
Why were they condemned? They "did not believe the truth." Do you have to believe the truth in order to be saved? Yes! Notice what John wrote.
Now Yeshua did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Yeshua is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31 ESV
What does John say we must do to receive eternal life? We have to believe. "And that by believing"—in the Greek this is, kai hina pisteuo, which is a hina purpose clause (i.e., "IN ORDER THAT by believing you may have life"). The goal of Lazarus' writing these truths about Yeshua is so that we may personally believe in Him unto eternal life. If we miss that, we miss everything! We must believe.
Why am I stressing this? I'm stressing the necessity of faith because there are those under the umbrella of Preterism who say we don't need faith. They are Universalist. Universalism is the teaching that God, through the atonement of Yeshua, will ultimately bring reconciliation between Himself and all people throughout history. This reconciliation will occur regardless of whether they have trusted in or rejected Yeshua as Savior during their lifetime. They teach that everyone will be saved, whether they believe or not. This is another gospel, a false gospel, that doesn't require the faith that the Bible demands.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV
It is only those who believe in Him that do not perish. All who do not believe in Him perish.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John 3:18 ESV
Under the wrath of God against sin, the unbeliever is condemned. Our text in Thessalonians says, "all may be condemned who did not believe the truth."
I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." John 8:24 ESV
There's only one thing that prevents you from dying in your sin and being damned forever and that is belief that Yeshua is Yahweh. Belief of the truth, nothing more and nothing less, is what separates the saved from the damned.
Now understanding that this is what the Bible teaches, listen to what Cindye Coates, a professed preterist (from the ministry, The Porch) has to say (See Video clip).
She is teaching that she was born saved. But the Bible teaches that we are all born in sin, separated from a holy God. How could she have been saved two thousand years ago when you cannot be saved until you believe.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV
It is clear that we are saved by grace through faith. When Paul says "though faith," he's talking about the instrumentality of our salvation. The biblical Ordo salutis (order of salvation) is that Yahweh, in His grace, gives us life, then we hear and respond to the Gospel by faith and are then saved. We believe. That is our response. God doesn't believe. We believe. But that response is something created in us by God. "By grace are ye saved" through the instrumentality of faith. Faith is understanding and assenting to the propositions of the Gospel. Let me just add here that a person must hear the Gospel before he can understand and assent to it. One cannot believe what he does not know. Faith is belief or trust in Christ and in Christ alone for our salvation. Notice what Peter preached:
To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." Acts 10:43 ESV
The only people that are forgiven are those who believe. The whole world is not saved.
Cindye goes on to say (Video clip).
"So, this stripper doesn't have to believe, she doesn't need to see herself as a sinner, she is already righteous, everybody is righteous. Therefore, there is no need to share the Gospel."
Has God reconciled the whole world to Himself? According to Cindye Coates, "The world" has been reconciled to God. She contends that the "world" here refers to every human being. She is saying that all people are righteous; we just need to let them know that. She says that people sin because they have bad habits and not because they're sinners.
Let's look at the text that Cindye is using to justify her Universalism.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
Who is the new creation? It is those "in Christ." Not everyone in "in Christ." "In Christ" is one of Paul's favorite metaphors to describe the Christian. It speaks of our position in Christ.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 ESV
It says that God through Christ "reconciled us to Himself." Who is the "us" here? It is those in Christ; it is believers. Only believers are reconciled to God. Yeshua became the believers' reconciliation. As a result, they now must become the means of sharing the Gospel of reconciliation with others.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV
He doesn't say go tell everybody they are all reconciled. No! He says, go and beg people to "Be reconciled to God." This is a present passive imperative. The passive voice could be translated "let God reconcile you to Himself" or "allow yourselves to be reconciled." God only reconciles those who believe. Not all people believe, and those who don't believe perish.
Someone may say, but the text says that God was reconciling the world to Himself:
that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19 ESV
Yes, it does say that, but what does it mean? Who is the world? Does "world" mean every single individual, without exception, without distinction?
What does the Bible teach about the term "world"? The word "world" is from the Greek term "kosmos." If you look up all uses of kosmos, you will see that it is used in different senses. In our text, it is simply a term for humanity. In Christ, God was reconciling humanity to Himself. The word "world" or kosmos often has a relative rather than an absolute meaning. An example is found in John 12.
So, the Pharisees said to one another, "You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him." John 12:19 ESV
Was everyone in the world going after Yeshua? Was everybody equally, without distinction and without exception, going after Christ? No. Look who is speaking. It is the Pharisees. They didn't go after Him. So, it's obvious that the term "world" does not, in certain contexts, refer to everyone.
And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship." Acts 19:27 ESV
Did everyone in the world worship Diana? No! So, what does "world" mean in our text? In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul uses "world" to refer to Jews and Gentiles—all nationalities of men.
If God were going to reconcile every single person, it would mean that He loved every single person. If God loved everybody equally, without distinction, without exception, how can Yeshua say, with reference to His disciples:
I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. John 17:9 ESV
If God loved the whole world, why didn't Yeshua pray for the world? Now I realize that most people believe that God loves everybody. But the idea that God loves everybody is a modern belief. The writings of the church fathers, the Reformers, or the Puritans, will be searched in vain for any such concept. The fact is that the love of God is a truth for the saints only. With the exception of John 3:16, not once in the four Gospels do we read of the Lord Yeshua telling sinners that God loved them. In the book of Acts, which records the evangelistic labors and messages of the apostles, God's love is never referred to at all. Does that seem odd to you? But when we come to the Epistles, which are addressed to the saints, we have a full presentation of that truth.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." Hebrews 12:6 ESV
God's love is restricted to the members of His own family. If He loves all men, then the distinction and limitation here mentioned is quite meaningless. God only chastens whom He loves (i.e., believers, the elect).
John wrote this Gospel so that people would believe.
but these are written so that you may believe that Yeshua is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31 ESV
It is only by believing in Christ that anyone will have life. Apart from faith, men perish. We are all called to present the Gospel to a lost world. We are not to tell people that they are righteous. We are instructed to tell them that they are sinners in need of a Savior.
I see Universalism as an attack on the Gospel. Over and over, the Bible calls upon man to "believe on the Lord Yeshua the Christ" for salvation. But Universalism teaches that "You don't need to believe in Yeshua, all will be saved." The Philippian jailor asked, "What must I do to be saved?" And the answer of the apostles was, "Believe on the Lord Yeshua the Christ." But the Universalist would answer the jailor, "You don't have to do anything, all men will be saved."
Bereans, just because people hold to a preterist doctrine of eschatology and just because they believe that the Lord returned in AD 70, does not make them our brother or sister in Christ. Much more important than the Doctrine of Eschatology is the Doctrine of Soteriology (how a person is saved). Consider John's words.
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. 2 John 1:10-11 ESV
John instructs them that if someone comes along teaching something different than what Christ taught: "Do not receive him into your house." This is a present active imperative with the negative particle which often implies the stopping of an act in process.
John is saying that to show hospitality or even greet these false teachers is to
fellowship with them. It is to partake literally in their evil works. That's amazing! We are not even to give verbal encouragement to apostates.
Back to our text. Yahweh was using the man of lawlessness empowered by Satan to bring judgment on the first-century, Christ-rejecting Jews. This rebellion was the reason that Rome destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70. Christ came in the clouds—a reference to a judgment coming on disobedient Israel.
Contemporary writers destroy this text by removing it from its first-century context. Stephen J. Cole writes: "As in the Book of Revelation, some of the details of Paul's words here are debatable. But don't miss the overall picture, which is clear: Jesus is coming back bodily in power and glory and when He comes, He's going to win big time!"
If that was Paul's message to the Thessalonians, he greatly deceived them. It's been over two thousand years and the church is still waiting for Christ to return.
The real message in this text is that God is sovereign over all events in time. God is in control of the whole process. In His time, He allowed the man of lawlessness to come on the scene and deceive those (v. 10) who "did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved." He did this so that he could bring judgment upon them. God used the zealots to bring Rome against Jerusalem to fulfill his prophecy of Matthew 24.
Yeshua left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." Matthew 24:1-2 ESV
The "you" is his first-century disciples. This all happened in AD 70 just as Yeshua said it would.