2Thessalonians 2 - Outline of 2Thessalonians (Book Notes menu page)
In this chapter, Paul focuses on the primary subject of this epistle:
the correction of false teaching concerning the Day of the Lord.
1. Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and [by] our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled,
neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us,
as that the day of Christ is at hand.
...we beseech you, brethren...
Here, the word used for 'beseech' means 'to ask' or 'to request.' These believers were troubled because they had heard and accepted false teaching. Paul asks them to weigh what they had erroneously received against the truth of God's Word.
...by the coming {GK=parousia} of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him...
In ch.1, Paul had assured these believers that Christ's coming, to judge the world, was still in the future (eg., 2The 1:7,10). Here, he reminds them again, that they had not missed the Rapture of the saints, for which they watched. They would be included, along with Paul and his co-workers, when Christ comes to gather the true church to Himself (1The 4:13-18).
...that ye be not soon shaken... troubled... as that the day of Christ is at hand {GK=enistemi, standing, present}...
The sense is somewhat obscured by the KJV text. All believers should live in joyful anticipation of 'the Day of Christ,' which is 'at hand' in the sense that it is imminent, and could occur at any moment. This is the believer's hope, not a troubling thought. However, the GK text indicates that they thought that the 'Day' was already 'present.'
     Some MSS read 'the Day of the Lord' rather than 'the Day of Christ.' It is probable that these believers were shaken and troubled, because they thought that their severe persecution was evidence that they were living under the wrath of God, in 'the Day of the Lord.' They would have been no less shaken, to think that 'the Day of Christ' was already present. For if the Rapture had already occurred, they would no longer be suffering, unless they had been left behind, and were living in the period of God's wrath, which follows Christ's coming for His own (ie., during the Tribulation, in the Day of the Lord, Rev 6:17).
...neither by spirit, nor letter, not by word as from us...
Apparently, this false teaching had been falsely presented in Paul's name.
3. Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come],
except there come a falling away first,
and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself
above all that is called God, or that is worshipped;
so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
...that day shall not come, except there come...-
While the Day of Christ (the Rapture) is imminent, and will come without warning signs, there will be signs that precede and identify the Day of the Lord. (Therefore, believers who are watching and perceptive of the 'signs of the times,' will be aware that the time of Christ's coming is drawing near.)
Paul gives Two Pre-requisites of the Day of the Lord...
  1. ...a {lit., the} falling away, first...-
    The phrase 'the falling away' {GK=apostasia} means 'the departure' or 'the removal from...'
    This may refer to either, or both, of the following...
    1. the Apostasy -
      The only other NT occurrence of this word (Acts 21:21) refers to the accusation that Paul taught Jews to 'forsake' the teachings of Moses.
         Here, in a similar sense, the word refers to the departure of Christendom from 'the faith' (the Gospel of Christ as set forth in God's Word). The definite article indicates that 'the Apostasy' is intense and final.
         Jesus taught that 'the faith' (the body of truth) would be abandoned prior to His return (Luk 18:8).
         During the Tribulation, the false church will be a 'harlot' which promotes spiritual adultery (in the worship of a false christ) and persecutes those who hold the Truth (Rev ch.17).
    2. the Rapture - ie., the departure of the true Church of Christ, from the earth.
      The Rapture precedes and introduces the Day of the Lord (cp. the order set forth in 1The 4:13- 5:5). Because the context (surrounding v.3) does not contain a general discussion of doctrine (to address errors of apostasy), some scholars think that the Rapture (rather than the Apostasy) is primarily in view, here.
  2. ...the man of sin {ie., lawlessness} be revealed {GK=apokaluptu, unveiled, uncovered}...
    This is the Antichrist, whose coming is foretold in numerous passages, with numerous names, and vivid descriptions of his character and activities. He is 'lawless' in that he is a law unto himself, recognizing no higher authority, neither of man nor God. To get a picture of this individual, see...
    • the little horn, Dan 7:7-8,23-25
    • the king of fierce countenance, Dan 8:23-25 (he will fight against 'the Prince of princes,' Christ, at His return in judgment.)
    • the prince that shall come, Dan 9:24-27 ('Messiah the prince' is Christ, the rejected King. The 'prince that shall come' is the Antichrist, who will initially appear to be a friend of Israel, but who will be 'revealed' as the epitome of idolatry and the cause of desolation {ruin}.)
    • the willful king, Dan 11:36,37
    • the beast and his false prophet, Rev 13:1-18
    • the son of perdition {GK=apoleia, destruction, ruin} (v.3b)
      This title is shared with Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. Joh 17:12
    ...who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God... so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God...- cp. Dan 9:27.
    Jesus referred to this deification of man, as 'the abomination of desolation... in the holy place' (Mat 24:15). The word for Temple {GK=naos}, in v.4, also refers to the inner sanctuary.
    It is this blasphemy which will reduce the world to ruin under the wrath of God.
Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
Paul was with the new believers, in Thessalonica, for three brief weeks. Apparently, he considered biblical prophecy, concerning these future events, to be of great importance. Yet, today, it is a subject that is sadly neglected in most churches.
How can believers fulfill their responsibility to 'watch,' when they are ignorant of the Word?
     In the case of the Thessalonian church, they had been taught well. But they had become confused and troubled by false teaching, because they had neglected to 'test all things' against the Word (1The 5:19-24).
6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work:
only he who now letteth [will let], until he be taken out of the way.
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed,
whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth,
and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
...ye know what withholdeth {GK=katecho, holds back, restrains, hinders}...
The same GK word is translated 'letteth' and 'let' in v.7.
...that he {ie., the man of sin} might be revealed in his time {ie., appointed time}...
...for the mystery of iniquity {ie., 'lawlessness'} doth already work...
The spirit which empowers the man of lawlessness, the Antichrist, is already active in the world (1Joh 2:18,22). The identity of that spirit would be unknown, except that the Lord, in His Word, has uncovered the mystery. Satan is the enemy who opposes the work of God, and who sows corruption within the professed church (eg., Mat 13:24-30,36-43). Given free reign, the wicked one will indwell the Antichrist and fill the world with evil (Rev 13:4, where Satan is the Dragon, and the Antichrist is the Beast). But he will not have that freedom, until the appointed time (as pre-determined by God).
...ye know what hinders... he who hinders will hinder... until he be taken out of the way.
This hinderer is identified, by the personal pronoun 'he,' as a person (v.7).
Who, but the Holy Spirit of God, can stand against the spirit of wickedness? cp. Gen 6:3; Jude 1:9
Yet, God's Spirit works within and through His people, who are like 'salt and light' inhibiting the corrupting influences within the world (Mat 5:13-16).
...until he 'be taken' {'becomes'} 'out of the way' {ie., out from among, out of the midst}...
The Holy Spirit indwells the church of true believers, who are in the world, but not of the world. When the true church is taken out of the midst of the world of men (at the Rapture), the Holy Spirit's hindering influence will be removed. It is evident that the Holy Spirit will continue to convict individuals of sin, righteousness and judgment, because many people will turn to Christ for salvation during the Tribulation period (Joh 16:7-11; Rev 7:13,14). However, the spirit of wickedness will be allowed to prevail in the corrupt world, for a short time.
     Some scholars protest that the hinderer (in v.6) cannot be the Holy Spirit, because the phrase "what withholdeth" is in the neuter gender, implying an impersonal factor. However, in 1Cor 12:13, 'one Spirit' and 'one Body' (referring to the Holy Spirit and the true church of Christ) are both in the neuter gender. Thus, the Body indwelt by the Spirit is the 'what' of v.6, while the power who hinders evil is the Person of the Holy Spirit (v.7).
...then shall that Wicked {GK=anomos, the Lawless One} be revealed {GK=apokaluptu}... (v.3, v.8)
...whom the Lord...
  • ...shall consume with the spirit of His mouth...
    The Word of God (Christ) will speak the Word to end the reign of wickedness (Rev 19:11-15,20-21; cp. Isa 11:4; Rev 1:16).
  • ...shall destroy with the brightness {GK=epiphaneia, shining forth} of His coming {GK=parousia}.
    At Christ's first coming, the grace of God appeared {ie., shined forth} for those who would believe. Titus 2:11
    At His second coming to the earth, His power and glory will shine forth to His enemies (Mat 24:30; 2The 1:8,9; Rev 1:7), for the destruction of wickedness and the Wicked One...
9 [Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan
with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish;
because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion,
that they should believe a
{lit., the} lie:
12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth,
but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
[the Lawless One], whose coming {GK=parousia} is after the working {GK=energeia, energizing} of Satan...
Note the close proximity of the 'parousia' of Christ (v.8) and the 'parousia' of the Antichrist (v.9).
The man of sin will present himself, as the (counterfeit) savior of the world.
His forceful persona will be empowered by Satan (Dan 8:24; Rev 13:2-8).
  • ...with all power {GK=dunamis} and signs {tokens, evidences} and lying wonders {strange and intentionally deceptive occurrences}...
    By demonic supernatural power, the Antichrist (and his false prophet) will convincingly appeal to human minds and imaginations, with scientific, political and religious phenomena. Rev 13:11-13
  • ...with all deceivableness of unrighteousness...- This phrase "signifies all manner
          of unscrupulous words and deeds designed to 'deceive'" [Vine]. Dan 8:25; Rev 13:14,15
    ...in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.-
    Them that perish are the unsaved (cf. Joh 3:16; 8:24,45-47).
    Having heard the truth, they did not accept it as truth.
       They did not 'love' {GK=agape, the love that willingly pays a price for the object of love} the truth. They did not consider it worthwhile to cling to God's Word, in opposition to the popular falsehood. cp. Rev 13:15b-17
       Having willfully refused the Truth of God's Word, they will gladly receive 'the lie' as their truth (cp. Joh 5:39-43).
...and for this cause God shall send them strong delusion...- (v.10-12)
Because they did not desire His Truth (v.10), God will judicially harden their hearts to follow their chosen way, to fulfill His judicial purpose...
  • ...that they should believe the lie...
    • concerning the identity of the man of sin, who claims to be God and Savior (v.4,8,9).
    • concerning their assumed identity 'as gods' (cp. Gen 3:4,5).
      Denying the Creator and Lord of all, men consider themselves to be the epitome of evolution, the masters of their own destinies, and the physicians who can cure earth's ills (including disease, climate, war, etc.).
  • ...that they all might be damned {GK=krino, sentenced by the Judge}...
    • who believed not the truth (Joh 8:42-47,58; 14:6).
    • but had pleasure in {GK=eudokeo, think well of, approve of} unrighteousness. cp. Rom 1:32
13. But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you,
brethren beloved of the Lord,
because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation
through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel,
to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But we are bound {ie., obligated} to give thanks alway to God for you... - cp. 2The 1:3
In stark contrast to those, who refuse to receive the Truth and prefer to believe a lie, the Thessalonian believers were...
...brethren beloved of the Lord...
How could Paul say this of them?
...because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation...- cp. Eph 1:4,5; 1The 1:4
Here, 'chosen' {GK=haireo} is a different GK word than used in the two references above. In either case, those chosen are set apart from those not chosen. However, this word connotes that the chooser has 'taken for Himself' those that He chose. As in Deu 7:6-8, His choice was not based upon any inherent value or merit in the chosen ones, but rather upon His love for those chosen and upon His faithfulness to His Word.
Salvation {GK=soteria, health, safety} of the chosen ones is 'through' {GK=en, in, by}...
whereunto He called {GK=kaleo, bid, invited} you by our gospel, to the obtaining of... glory...
Having responded to the invitation by placing their faith in Christ, believers are set apart as God's possessions, and as such, their position is secure as partakers in Christ's glory, at His coming. 2The 1:7; 1Pet 1:4,5; 5:10
15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions
which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
therefore, brethren...-
ie., in consideration of a correct understanding of the future 'comings' of the Lord (v.1-12),
and in consideration of your secure position in Christ (v.13,14)...
  • stand fast...- Paul's great desire for these believers was that they would have an unshakeable faith in the Lord and His Word (1The 3:8).
    He was endeavoring to ensure that their faith would not, again, be easily shaken by false teaching (v.2).
  • hold fast the traditions which you have been taught...
    The word 'traditions' means 'things handed down' or 'teachings delivered.' In the NT, this word is frequently used of the mistaken 'traditions' of men (eg., Col 2:8; 1Pet 1:18). Here, the 'traditions,' which Paul had in mind, consisted of the body of Truth, which he had delivered to these new Christians "whether by word {GK=logos, the spoken word} or our epistle {ie., by letter from us}" (cp. 2Tim 2:2).
       They were to 'hold fast' that which was true. This would require that they test every new teaching against the Word which they had previously received (as Paul had instructed them, in 1The 5:19-22). Likewise, in His letters to the seven churches, the Lord Jesus Christ warns believers to separate from error and 'hold fast' to the truth (eg., Rev 2:24,25; 3:9-11).
Paul closes this chapter with a brief prayer, that God would make v.15 a reality in their lives.
16. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us,
and hath given [us] everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
The 'traditions' which Paul had, delivered to these new believers, did not originate with him. He had received the truth from the Lord Himself. Because God loved us and dealt with us in grace (rather than according to what we deserve), He "hath given us..."
  • everlasting consolation {unending comfort and encouragement}...
    The GK word for 'consolation' is translated as 'exhortation,' in 1The 2:3,4, where it refers to the Gospel message. Those who trust in Christ have "everlasting consolation," whereas unbelievers "shall be punished with everlasting destruction" (2The 1:9).
  • and good hope {a good expectation} (cp. Titus 1:2; 2:13)
    Both of these gifts belong to those who believe God's Word (Heb 6:18).
Paul prays that the One who has provided these gifts, in His sure Word, would...
  • ...comfort your hearts...-
    The words 'consolation' {GK=paraklesis} and 'comfort' {GK=parakaleo} are the noun and verb forms of the same word. It is the Lord, who by His Spirit (the 'comforter' {GK=parakletos} Joh 15:26), assures the believer of the unshakeable certainty of His Word.
  • ...and stablish {GK=sterizo, turn resolutely, steadfastly set, strengthen} you in every good word and work.
    As the Lord solidifies the Word to the believer's heart, the believer is prepared to speak that 'good word' to others, and to labor in love for the Master and in joyful anticipation of His coming (1The 1:3,9-10; 1Cor 15:58).

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