The word of the day is “truth.” In our reading of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, St. Paul cautions his congregation in Thessalonica about false prophecies of the Lord’s Second Coming. The Apostle advises them not to be “soon shaken in mind or troubled” when they hear that the Second Coming of Christ has already happened (vs. 2).
“The Man of Lawlessness”
Paul reminds his congregation of his teaching of certain signs of the imminent return of Christ. These signals of the end time will include a period of apostasy or faithlessness. Then a mysterious character, the “man of lawlessness,” will appear (vs. 3). The Greek word refers to one who sets himself against the law (Strong’s #458, 28). He is the epitome of iniquity and wickedness and elevates himself above God (vs. 4). But in the end when the Christ returns in glory, the Lord will annihilate him with the blazing fire of the breath of his mouth (vs. 8).
Paul reveals that “the mystery of lawlessness,” that is, the contradiction of God’s righteousness, is already at work (vs. 7). Yet this “Man of Sin” is now restrained somehow. He is being held back until he is revealed as the working of Satan (vs. 9). Then his coming with “with all power, signs, and lying wonders” will deceive those who “did not receive the love of the truth” (vs. 10).
The Orthodox Study Bible notes that “While we are warned against predicting the Day of the Lord (Matt. 24:36, Acts 1:7, 1 Thessalonians 5:1), there will be signs preceding His coming” (OSB fn. 1:11,12). Paul’s does not intend to publish a timeline of the events of the end time. Nor does he want to present a table of signs for predicting the Lord’s return. His point is to warn against the current deception that is shaking up his congregation.
The Antidote to Deception
We learn from the Apostle’s words the antidote to such deception. According to Paul’s thought, that remedy is not the truth itself (vs. 10). Truth claims are subject to dispute. Are they true or false? The answer must come from evaluating the evidence and assessing the warrants for what is alleged to be true. But who is to make these assessments? Paul’s response is, “Those who receive the love of the truth” (vs. 10).
The Deuterocanonical Book of Sirach counsels, “Strive even to death for the truth, and the Lord will fight for you (Sirach 4:28). The Greek word in the Septuagint suggests that one contends for the truth like an athlete fights in a contest (Strong’s 75,5). Those who “love the truth” seek it more ardently than the runner or wrestler seeks the prize of victory.
The lovers of truth attain salvation because they believe in Him who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). But God subjects to delusion those who abandon the “love of the truth” (vs. 11). Without concern for the truth, they are susceptible to whatever falsehood is attractive to them. Therefore, in the judgement they will be liable to condemnation because they did not “believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (v. 12).
The Book of Proverbs teaches, “ My son, do not be careless, but keep my counsel and thinking. That your soul may live, and grace may be around your neck. And there will be healing for your flesh and care for your bones. That you may live confidently in peace in all your ways and your foot may not stumble (Proverbs 3:23 OSB). The Greek word for “counsel” in the Septuagint refers to advice or guidance (Strong’s # 1012, 56). And the Greek word for “thinking” refers to moral understanding and thoughtfulness (Strong’s #1772, 89),
The moral advice that the writer of Proverbs recommends is founded on the central theme of the search for wisdom. But the pursuit of wisdom includes the “love of truth.” Thus, the writer of Proverbs states, “But love the truth and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding (Proverbs 23:23). The Greek word for “buy” in the Septuagint refers to purchasing, providing, or obtaining (Strong’s #2932, 146). The “love of truth” is thus of great worth. It is something that we must grasp and hang onto tightly. During the Nativity Fast, may we grow in the “love of truth” as well as the love of God and neighbor. May the Lord guide us in the way of truth as we wait with increasing eagerness for the coming of Christ.