“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
Judging from the passage quoted above, it appears that some members of the Thessalonian congregation had been mistakenly led to believe that the “The Day of The Lord” had arrived within their lifetimes. Paul the Apostle will now go on to correct that misunderstanding beginning here in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.
In one sense, it’s easy to understand how the church at Thessalonica might have made this connection. For instance, the Scriptures often associate “The Day of The Lord” with God’s wrath (Isaiah 13:9), a period of destruction (Joel 1:15), and a day of trouble and distress (Zephaniah 1:14-18). In light of the intense persecution they had experienced as a result of their commitment to Christ, this impressionable young church may have been susceptible to this erroneous message from others or someone claiming to be Paul himself.
One source offers some additional perspective on this idea…
“In the Bible, ‘the day of the Lord’ is used in two ways: It can mean the end times (beginning with Christ’s birth and continuing until today), and it can mean the final judgment day (in the future). Because some false teachers were saying that judgment day had come, many believers were waiting expectantly for their vindication and for relief from suffering. But judgment day had not yet come; other events would have to happen first.” (1)
Thus, this passage offers an important reminder for 21st century readers. For example, it is one thing to recognize that current events seem to indicate that “the day of Christ“ is drawing near or that Jesus is likely to return soon. In fact, Jesus consistently warns us to be watchful in regard to His return. But as another commentator adds, “False starts have been a common phenomenon among movements predicting the imminent end of the age as people’s expectations exceed their patience.” (2)
Therefore, we would be wise to live in expectation of Christ’s return while keeping the following Scriptures in mind…
“Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are evil days” (Ephesians 5:16 GNT).
“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5 NLT).
“…you are living with evil people all around you, who have lost their sense of what is right. Among those people you shine like lights in a dark world, and you offer them the teaching that gives life…” (Philippians 2:15-16 ERV).
(1) Life Application Study Bible Copyright © 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996, 2004 by Tyndale House Publishers Inc., all rights reserved. [2 Thessalonians 2:1-2]
(2) Charles A. Wanamaker, The Epistles to the Thessalonians, p. 238. Quoted in Notes on 2 Thessalonians 2020 Edition, Dr. Thomas L. Constable https://www.planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/html/nt/2thessalonians/2thessalonians.htm