“Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?” (2 Thessalonians 2:5).
It’s interesting to note Paul the Apostle’s brief aside here in verse five: “Don’t you remember? I told you all this while I was with you” (GNT). This statement is important because it verifies the Biblical book we know today as 1 Thessalonians as a genuine letter from Paul himself. You see, Paul and the members of the Thessalonian church were the only two parties who held the ability to confirm the truth of that statement. This enabled the Thessalonians to verify the genuine nature of this message and establish that it was not a forgery.
Beyond this, it appears that the Thessalonian congregation had forgotten some key aspects of Paul’s teaching regarding the subject of Jesus’ return. In fact, Jesus once had a similar experience in speaking with His disciples: “‘Take care,’ Jesus warned them, ‘and be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod'” (GNB).
The “yeast of the Pharisees” represented false spirituality or religious hypocrisy (Luke 12:1). “The yeast of Herod” involved a secular mindset and the appeal of power (Acts 12:21-23). Much like the subtle, pervasive effect of yeast upon a piece of dough, these attitudes can produce a damaging effect if they are allowed to permeate our lives.
The problem is that the disciples completely misinterpreted the meaning of Jesus’ message: “The disciples talked this over and said to each other, ‘He must be saying this because we don’t have any bread'” (Mark 8:16 CEV). That prompted Jesus to make the following response: “‘…Don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets did you fill with leftover pieces?’ They told him, ‘Twelve.’ ‘When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many large baskets did you fill with leftover pieces?’ They answered him, ‘Seven.’ He asked them, ‘Don’t you catch on yet?'” (Mark 8:18-21 GW).
While the disciples had surely remembered their previous experiences with Jesus, they had forgotten to apply them in the context of His warning. In a similar manner, the Thessalonian church had forgotten what Paul taught them- and that led them to respond in fear and anxiety when presented with an aberrant teaching on the subject of Jesus’ return. We can avoid a similar fate by reading the Scriptures daily to bring their teachings to our remembrance and help ensure that we do not forget what we’ve already learned.