Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. — 2 Thessalonians 2:15
We have a tradition in our family of making sure all the children wait upstairs early on holiday mornings, like Christmas and Easter. They must wait until all of them are awake, which is usually hastened by the older ones yelling out, “Is it time yet?” or “Can we come down now?” These moments of waiting add to their excitement and anticipation, while also allowing us parents to have a few sips of coffee, get the cameras ready, and make sure everything is just as we want it before the impending stampede. We always snap the first pictures as they are bounding down the stairs, which has preserved for us a chronology of photos of little eager faces first sitting on the stairs, then peeking through the slats, and later peering over the handrail.
Paul wrote to the believers at Thessalonica, instructing them to stand firm and hold the traditions they had been taught. He was not speaking about personal family traditions, but about maintaining the whole of the teachings and doctrines which he had earnestly been trying to teach these early believers.
The word tradition means “precepts” or “ordinances” that have been handed down from one person to another. The Apostles heard the Gospel from Jesus Christ himself. They told the news to others, and it was handed down. The Apostle Paul personally received a revelation of the Gospel. He preached and taught it to the people in Thessalonica, handing it down. He was reminding these people to hold to what they had been taught, whether by preaching or by written documents.
How important it is today to take note of his message. We are poised right at the brink of the Day of the Lord. In these last days, it is imperative that we not be swayed by some other kind of doctrine. Various doctrines and religious persuasions abound. We must keep a firm grip on the essentials of the Gospel: salvation from sin, living a holy and pure life, and being filled with the Spirit. Let us hold fast to the traditions which we have been taught.
The believers in Thessalonica had begun to listen to other doctrines, and were becoming confused. Paul wrote this second epistle to help them understand and hold to the truths of the Gospel that he had taught them. In their quandary, they had begun to believe that they had missed the Day of the Lord. (The “Day of the Lord” refers to the Second Coming of Jesus. It encompasses two separate events: the Rapture of the Church, and the Revelation of Christ, when He returns with His saints to execute judgment upon the ungodly and to set up His millennial kingdom on earth.)
Paul emphatically informed the Thessalonians that they had not missed the Day of the Lord, but that it was in the future. He reiterated that that Day (speaking of the Revelation of Christ) cannot come until a number of signs occur: there will be a falling away (believers will doubt and turn away from being Christians), the man of sin (the Antichrist) will be revealed as he sits in the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, and the restraining work of the Holy Spirit and effectual prayers of the saints will be removed. Since none of these events had occurred, he told them the Day of the Lord had not yet come and they had not missed the Lord’s return. He encouraged these believers to keep steadfast, even though they were suffering persecution, and assured them that God would comfort and console them in their trials.
After speaking about future events, in verses 13 and 14, Paul reminded these people that God had chosen them. Salvation originated with and comes from God. The believers in Thessalonica had chosen to answer God’s call, but they only had that opportunity because God chose first to call them to salvation. “From the beginning” indicates that these people were among the first converts. Paul referenced this to show a connection between those God chose as His people in the Old Testament (Israel) and those who were His in the New Testament dispensation (believers in Christ).
By his exhortation in verse 15 to “stand fast” and “hold,” Paul showed his awareness that the believers would need to make serious effort to guard the truths God had given them. He knew they would encounter false doctrine and persecution. He wanted them to be established “in every good word and work” (verse 17), consistently doing God’s will and living His truths. Paul knew that such daily application of the Gospel would strengthen and establish these people.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. Instructions concerning the Day of the Lord (2:1-17)
A. The Day of the Lord: the present error (2:1-2)
B. The Day of the Lord: the preceding events (2:3-12)
1. The apostasy (2:3)
2. The revelation of the man of sin (2:4-12)
a. His character (2:4-5)
b. His restraint (2:6-7)
c. His doom (2:8)
d. His power and followers (2:9-12)
C. The Day of the Lord: not our portion (2:13-17)
1. The reason for assurance (2:13-14)
a. God’s selection (2:13)
b. God’s calling (2:14)
2. The enjoyment of assurance (2:15)
3. The prayer for assurance (2:16-17)
Be ready for the Day of the Lord by living a holy and godly life each day. Let us ask God to help us treasure and keep an unwavering faith in the Gospel truths that we have been taught.