Satan’s Work in the Second Epistles
R Woodhouse Beales, Ipswich
First of all we must notice that all the second Epistles have to do with the work of Satan. Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians all the way through has in view the sins of the flesh, with the exception of chapter 15 which deals with the resurrection, yet even here apostate ideas had crept in regarding this most important subject. But the second Epistles all have to do with departure from the faith and especially the workings of Satan. Not only so, butthese deal with subjects elaborated in the Book of Revelation, which as far as we know and most believe was not written until some 30 or more years after Paul's Epistles, so that we have little information about the very last days in most of the Epistles, and we believe that is why these second Epistles were written which deal with these very subjects. For instance, as we shall see, 2 Corinthians deals with the subtle powers of Satan in many ways which we shall point out, while the other second Epistles deal with the coming apostasy in much detail.
Thus in the first Epistles we have sin underlined, both in the believer and in the world, but in the second Epistles Satan and his works. Let us briefly look at this, hoping that the reader will have sufficient interest to amplify these ideas.
In 2 Corinthians 1. 8, we have the unique dangers besetting Paul himself. Then in 2. 11 Paul speaks of Satan getting an advantage over the Christian, especially with regard to the disciplined one (the subject of 1 Cor.}. In 3. 14, the purpose of the evil one is to draw a veil (as he undoubtedly did) over the heart of Israel, lest the light of the glory of the Gospel of Christ should shine into them. The blinding of the minds of the believers to cause them unbelief is next alluded to in 4. 4. The manner in which the serpent beguiled Eve in the garden is next brought before us in 11.3, bringing down the whole of creation into turmoil and estrangement from God. False apostles are alluded to, in 11. 13-14, Satan coming to such as an angel of light as indeed he had done in the case of Eve at the fall, and lastly Satan is seen as a messenger to buffet Paul in many ways, sothat he found opposition wherever he went whether to Jew or Gentile.
We invite the reader to follow these thoughts up throughout this Epistle, and he will find much to guard against, especially those in the forefront of the battle.
Next we have the second Epistle to the Thessalonians, and in chapter 2 there is a full unfolding of the attacks of Satan through the antichrist. (We will here remind ourselves that this creature and his work are only unfolded completely in the Book of Revelation). The world is not going to be converted by the Christian Gospel; rather in the first Epistle we have brought out fully the great hope of the Christian, the coming of the Lord for His people and their coming translation. This is to be followed by the revelation of the man of sin which is" the subject of Revelation 13, where this great world ruler is referred to as the beast. (We will not here go into the question of the fact that he is preceded by the world domination of the "whore", the false church or Christendom, nor that the beast has a kind of "lieutenant" so that there are two beasts, who together with Satan form an ungodly trinity).
This false "christ" sits in the rebuilt temple of God showing himself that "he is God", and the whole world worships him under pain of martyrdom. We have no doubt that there will be many who in that day will be enlightened and will turn to God, having to flee for their lives. God Himself shall send them a strong delusion that they may believe "the lie" (as opposed to Him who is the truth).
In order that this may be brought about, we must turn to 2 Timothy, where we shall find false teachers, 2 Tim. 2. 16-18, who will turn away men's ears from the truth and shall turn them to fables that they may be thus deceived. This is to be seen also in 4. 3-4. These are the perilous times to which he refers in 3. 1.
Paul says he is about to be offered, which shows us the days to which he refers. He is looking to the time when the believer will have no human help such as an apostle can give; Peter also speaks of the period "after my decease", 2 Pet. 1, 15, and of the apostasy in 2. 1, 19, where there will be apostasy from the truth by the false teachers, and he illustrates this by referring to the "old world" and also Sodom, which city was done away with (as this world will ultimately be). Some will be asking, "Where is the promise of his coming?", and that is of course a reference to His coming in power and glory to put down all enemies, and then to reign. Not only so, but the flood is also alluded to as. An illustration of the coming judgment in which only few souls were saved. But Peter carries us still further (and here is the likeness to Revelation); he speaks of the dissolution of all things in that day of the Lord, when even the elements will melt with fervent heat, and he looks forward to the subsequent new heavens and new earth. Thus we have that part of the Book of Revelation anticipated which deals with those things which usher in eternity, wherein everything will be "new", and wherein righteousness will dwell.