What does Paul teach about the Second Coming of Christ in 1 & 2 Thessalonians?
Within 1 and 2 Thessalonians we find an ample amount of teaching on the subject of the end times, God’s wrath, hid judgment, and the day of the Lord. Paul boldly claims of this church that they are a “crown of boasting in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming,” (2:19). Paul brings about the tone of the letter’s purpose early on, stating in the first chapter that after turning from their idolatry, the church awaits the return of “His Son in heaven… who rescues us from the coming wrath,” (1:10) Paul divides the subject of the second coming in two: The first major portion is an ‘exhortation of comfort,’ while the second is an ‘exhortation of Holy practice,’ (4:13-18; 5:1-11). In this first exhortation on the subject, Paul comforts the church in the knowledge that they need not worry about those believers who are ‘asleep’ (dead), for as “Jesus died and rose again,” so will they experience a bodily resurrection (4:13-14). The day Christ returns, those who are currently alive will be lifted up in the clouds (4:16-18). After this, Paul speaks of this ‘Day of the Lord,’ reminding them that although it will come “just like a thief in the night,” they need not worry for as believers they are “sons of light,” (5:2-5). Rather, they are to live their lives prepared for such a die, by equipping themselves with the “armor of faith,” and moral purity (5:6-11; 5:23). Paul also addressed this subject in 2 Thessalonians, where he opens in chapter one by discussing God’s judgment and glory as demonstrated in the revelation of Jesus Christ (1:1-7). Christ will return and “repay with affliction” those who afflict the church (1:7). He will come from heaven to ‘take vengeance’ on those who ‘don’t know God’ and who ‘don’t obey the gospel of our Lord,” (1:8). This vengeance includes a “penalty of everlasting destruction,” (1:9). After speaking of this judgment, Paul addresses the “man of lawlessness,’ who will give false teachings as a precursor of the “Day of the Lord” (2:1-4). After discussing this judgment, and their foreshadow, Paul concludes by instructing them further to stand firm in the faith, in prayer, and in moral purity (2:13-3:14).