Antichrist Among Us - The Rest of the Rest of the Story

Antichrist Among Us - The Rest of the Rest of the Story

Last time we concluded by talking about how we can use The Acts of the Apostles as a guide book for better understanding all the Letters (Epistles) which follow it. We proposed to do exactly that regarding Paul’s Epistles to the Thessalonians and what that had to do with Antichrist. So, let us begin.
First, I want to point out something that Luke, the writer of the book we refer to simply as ACTS, had to say in The Gospel of Luke:
Luke 1: 3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
Did you notice what Luke said in verse 3, “having had perfect understanding from the very first”? Now, you can Greek language it, Lexicon it, thesaurus it, check another translation or break it down anyway you wish. Please let me encourage you to be a Berean and do exactly that. However, if correctly rendered it should not change what Luke is saying. He is telling us that His Gospel account is an ideal, model or without fault guide for interpreting what Jesus did. This in no way takes away from the other accepted Gospel accounts. All four Gospels agree as one, their wings are joined one to another, they everyone go straight forward; wherever the Spirit leads them, they go and they turn not. Yes, that last sentence is a paraphrase of what Ezekiel said and saw in his vision of the Holiness of the Lord. All four Gospels together make up a mighty rushing wind, the voice of the Almighty, to this agrees all the Law and Prophets. In concert the Old and the New Testament, are a Wheel within the middle of a Wheel, which both Old and New Testament make up the voice of the Almighty and point to Jesus. Luke is testifying the truth, he is instructing Theophilus in all things Christ. We recapped all that to point out that Luke’s Acts of the Apostles is a continuation of the same story. Notice what he says in his ACTS introduction:
Acts 1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
As you can see, the Acts of the Apostles is Luke’s “Rest of the Rest of the Story” concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a history of the accounts of what Jesus’ Apostles accomplished after His Resurrection. In essence, it is Luke’s recording of the effects of the Gospel (Truth) when preached in the power of the Holy Spirit. No doubt it is a perfect orderly account which if followed accordingly we can also, “know the certainty of those things, wherein thou has been instructed’ (Luke 1:4 partial quote).

So, what light does Luke shed upon what is going on in Thessalonica? For that matter, what illumination has Luke given us regarding the spreading of the Gospel all together, up until Paul’s visit to Thessalonica which he records in Acts 17? Let me sum up a huge part of it in one word.
PERSECUTION

After Pentecost, the Gospel message, including the Christians preaching that message, is being persecuted nearly everyplace they go. Here is a summary for some of the persecutions they suffer up until Paul arrives at Thessalonica:
Acts Chapters 3 & 4, Peter and John are rebuked and threatened by High Priest for preaching Christ at Jerusalem.
Acts 5 All the apostles are thrown in prison for healing in Jesus name because the Sadducees protest.
Acts 5 After a miraculous release from prison, they are threatened and beaten for preaching Jesus Christ.
Acts 6,7 & 8 Stephan is accused, tried and stoned to death and Saul/Paul approved his stoning.
Acts 12 Records the government (Herod the King of Judea), persecuting the Christian Church.
James the brother of John is killed with a sword for preaching Christ.
Peter is cast in prison by Herod for preaching Christ and scheduled to be killed also (he miraculously escapes).
Acts 13 Paul and Barnabas are persecuted and expelled from Antioch for preaching Christ.
Acts 14 Paul and Barnabas persecuted at Iconium by Gentiles at urging of local Jews.
Paul stoned and left for dead at Lystra for preaching Christ by Jews who came from Antioch and Iconium. (Want to be blessed? Read Acts 14: 19-28.)
Acts 16 Paul and Barnabas falsely accused at Philippi, beaten by local government and thrown in prison.
The above summary background sets the stage for Paul’s arrival at Thessalonica.
At Thessalonica, Paul once again begins to preach that Jesus is the Christ, who Resurrected from the dead. Don't forget the resurrection is the seminal point of the Gospel message. The resurrection is the hinge on which the door rests. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:17 "if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain". Despite all the opposition, all the persecution and yes, all the tribulation (see acts 14:22), the children of God press on. The Antichrist spirit is alive and well there at Thessalonica and the persecution continues. Yet, here as elsewhere, the Spirit that dwells in all believers is greater than the spirit of Antichrist and a few Jews and many Greeks especially the chief women believe.
Note: Thessalonica as many cities in the region of Macedonia is a Roman city, were women are allowed much more freedom then the Jews of that day allowed women to have. Notice also that a majority of the Thessalonian converts are Roman gentiles of Greek heritage, not Jews with Roman citizenship like Paul. Realizing this is extremely important to a proper understanding regarding their confusion about Antichrist and Resurrection. Also notice, in Luke’s account of the events at Thessalonica that not only are Paul and Barnabas persecuted, but the new Thessalonian converts are persecuted along with them. Now here is the kicker, Pauls’ followers (the brethren, Acts 17:10), which denotes his close traveling companions, and not recent converts, scurry Paul off to Berea, before he can complete his teaching. This leaves the Thessalonian Gentile Christians without a large base of knowledgeable Jewish Christians to help them understand, "rightly divide", the Old Testament scriptures and what they prophesied about Jesus. Let me clarify further by breaking it down to the nitty gritty. The few Jewish, so called believers at Thessalonica, were evidently too lazy, too fearful and too selfish to help the Gentile believers fully comprehend the full glorious hope of the Resurrection. So much so, that I suspect they were wolves in sheep clothing as opposed to true believers.

Now, contrast this with what happens at Berea, which has a group of noble Jewish believers, who studied the Old Testament scriptures in light of what Paul taught. These Berean "Jewish Christians" could then expound upon all that was prophesied and pass on their knowledge of what the Old Testament taught, thus helping to clear up any confusion the Gentile converts might have.

The Antichrist spirit has so much infected some Jews at Thessalonica, that when they hear Paul is preaching with great success to Jews at Berea they leave their synagogue and travel to Berea to stir up people. Paul even has to leave Berea because of these zealot Jews, but this time Silas and Timothy stay behind to help the Noble Jewish believers instruct the Gentile believers.
1 John 3:13-17 KJV
[13] Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. [14] We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. [15] Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. [16] Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. [17] But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
If you consider the big picture of what was going on with all the Apostles and Disciples as detailed by Luke in Acts, it sheds new light on what all the New Testament writers chorused.
1 John 2:18 KJV
[18] Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

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