2 THESSALONIANS CHAPTER TWO  


 

(NASB translation unless indicated otherwise)

In chapter one, Paul clarified the potential for the present persecution pressure to escalate into the final persecution that Jesus called the great tribulation, and that it would end for them by the revelation of Jesus from heaven to bring them relief. This was a very real possibility for them even though certain events had to occur before the actual second coming could happen.

Next, Paul exhorts the Thessalonians concerning this promised REVELATION of Jesus, that they not be shaken by false teaching claiming it has already occurred. He then explains to them that it will not occur until some time after the revealing of the man of lawlessness. He also clarifies that there will be a time of apostasy in association with this revealing, just as Jesus taught (Matthew 24:9-12), and that the REVELATION of Jesus will not occur until that apostasy takes place.

Verse 1

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the COMING (parousia)
of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him,

Notice how Paul smoothly moves into the identification of the REVELATION of Jesus mentioned at verses 1:7 and 10, as "the COMING (or PRESENCE - parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ," and how he identifies the RELIEF mentioned at verse 1:7 with "our GATHERING together to Him." And then at verse 2:2, he clearly connects it all together with the term, "the day of the Lord."

By this correlation, Paul indicates that these three events are actually all referring to the same moment in time. That is, the very moment of time that the Lord arrives in the clouds of the sky, and gathers his saints, IS the inception of the day of the Lord.

Accordingly, in the same way that we are exhorted to be watching for the coming of the Lord, so also are we to be watching for the arrival of the Day of the Lord (the day of God at 2 Peter 3:12). It is not reasonable to me that we would be instructed to watch for an event that would not begin until AFTER we are gone. It seems more reasonable that the very moment of Christ's arrival and the removal of the church from the earth, will be the time that the Day of the Lord begins.

There is another important correlation here. The mention of these three UNIFIED events point back to the very same second coming that Paul mentioned at 2 Thessalonians 1:7, when he comforts the persecuted believers with the POTENTIAL of deliverance, "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire."

This is also mentioned at verse 10, "When He comes to be glorified in His holy ones (the angels of verse 7) on that day and to be marveled at among all those who have believed (believers)." This indicates that the return of the Lord to rapture the church is a visible and glorious manifestation, and not any kind of secret or invisible return. It is the same event as is recorded at Matthew 24:31, when the Lord will come "in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory." It is also the same event that is identified as "the blessed (happy) hope" of Titus 2:13, which is described as "the appearing of the GLORY of the great God, and of our Savior, Christ Jesus."

 

Verse 2
that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be
disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us,
to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

1. The possibility of deception from false teachers through three means is stated in a warning format. The Thessalonians needed to understand that no matter what the source of the teaching; supernatural revelation (spirit), verbal (message), or a letter (written) - even if it is claimed that such a letter is actually from the apostles - they ALREADY had the information they needed, and nothing needed to be added. But Paul is going to repeat it in this letter to confirm for them what they had already been taught (verse 5) because they had since then, received false and convincing information that was different.

They have received some false teaching that claims that the day of the Lord - ie, the presence of Jesus, and the gathering of the saints - has already occurred. Paul wants to assure them that (1) that is not the case, and (2) they will clearly know when the season is for Christ's returns.

Jesus taught the disciples about this same potential for deception and basically said the same thing. That is, that the second coming would not occur until the tribulation begins as would be evidenced by the abomination of desolation being placed in the temple (Mat. 24:15).

2. that the day of the Lord has come: The day of the Lord is the time when Jesus visibly and physically COMES back, is PRESENT in the clouds of the sky so that He is REVEALED in glory, brings relief to His believers by gathering them together to Him through rapture and resurrection, and begins to afflict the remaining unbelievers and the oppressive man of lawlessness with judgment.

The verb, has come, is erchomai and occurs as a perfect active indicative, which communicates the idea of an established presence and NOT JUST an arrival. The perfect tense expresses the idea that some action has occurred ALREADY (in the past) and the results of that action are presently a reality. In this case, the day has arrived at some point in the past, with the results that the action of that arrival is a present reality, so that the day IS right now, present. Thus, another translation is, "that the day of the Lord IS PRESENT."

The concern of these believers is IN REFERENCE to the coming of the Lord AND our gathering together to Him. If the day of the Lord were now present, then that would mean that both the coming of the Lord and the gathering of the saints had occurred, and there were a lot of believers left behind. Paul quickly assures them that the day of the Lord was not present, because it would not arrive until after the apostasy and the revealing of the man of lawlessness, AND those two things had not yet occurred.

 

THE COMING OF THE LORD

The word used at verse one for the coming of the Lord is, parousia, which occurs 12 times in the epistles and always in reference to the PRESENCE of Jesus at His second coming to the church. (1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8; James 5:7-8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4; 1 John 2:28; 2 Peter 3:12).

For a more detailed analysis of these passages, see the article:
The Second Coming From the Viewpoint of the Apostles.
 

At 2 Peter 3:12, it is called, the coming of the Day of God, but it still refers to the coming of Jesus which initiates the day of God, which is the same event or time period called the day of the Lord at 2 Peter 3:10.

Parousia is used four times by Jesus at Matthew 24 (verses 3, 27, 37, 39) to refer to this very same presence or COMING of the Son of Man, at which time He will gather His elect out from the earth (verse 31).

At 2 Thessalonians 2:8, this is called "the appearance (epiphaneia) of His presence (parousia)."

At Titus 2:13, it is called, "the appearance of the GLORY of the great God and of our Savior Christ Jesus."

The word epiphaneia is used five other times and always in reference to the coming of Jesus to His church (1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 1:10; 4:1, 8; Titus 2:13).

Verse 3

The exhortation not to be deceived is an aorist active subjunctive plus the negative, of exapatao. The 3rd person singular is the basis for "let no one deceive," and indicates that the threat of deception comes primarily from those who are teaching things contrary to what has been previously taught to them by the apostles. Jesus said specifically, that there would be deceivers both BEFORE (Matthew 24:4) and DURING the tribulation (Matthew 24:11, "many false prophets will arise and will mislead many"). Because of this, "many will fall away, (Matthew 24:10), and "the love (for God) of many will grow cold," (Matthew 24:12) and Paul wrote that, "in the latter times, some will fall away from THE faith," (1 Timothy 4:1). Accordingly, the warning to be on your guard is urgent in order to avoid a very real and potential danger.

Paul had to address this same false teaching later (c. 68 AD) when he wrote to Timothy about those "who have gone astray from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place," (2 Timothy 2:18).

But the day of the Lord, at which time the resurrection will occur through the translation of the saints, will not take place until after THE apostasy comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed. There will be many attempts at deception as with Hymenaeus and Philetus above, but the informed believer will not heed such strange doctrines, knowing that certain things must take place first just as they had been taught as per verse 5, "Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?"

Jesus Himself taught that the coming of the Son of Man would not occur until after the tribulation, which would begin with the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place (Matthew 24:15-31); the same thing taught here by Paul about the "man of lawlessness" who "takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God."

The words, "it will not come," is a negative conditional clause to indicate what must occur BEFORE the day of the Lord can arrive.

Literally, the conditional clause reads, "unless comes first the apostasy," and it does not mean that the apostasy is the FIRST thing that occurs, but that first, that is, BEFORE, the day arrives, the apostasy must occur.

The construction assumes an understanding that the event just mentioned is in view and thus means that this three-pronged event mentioned in verses 1-2 will not occur until there is a time of apostasy and the man of lawlessness is on the scene.

According to what the bible teaches about this, the apostasy occurs in connection with the great persecution from the man of lawlessness (the beast), and not before. So the intent of this passage is not to place an ORDER to the apostasy and the revealing of the man. I suggest that the two ideas are equated into one, and that this ONE situation of human history will occur BEFORE the coming of the Lord, the gathering of the saints, and the Day of the Lord. Actually, the man of lawlessness will be revealed at the inception of the tribulation BEFORE the apostasy that Jesus taught about will occur, because He said that the apostasy will occur within the time frame of the tribulation (Matthew 24:9ff).

The man of lawlessness is revealed when he breaks the covenant of Daniel 9:24, that was made for a designated period of seven years.

"And he will cut a covenant with the many for one week (7 years)."

His true nature and intentions are not revealed at this time, and in fact, may not even be present until Satan empowers him later. He can thus be viewed as a benevolent world ruler who is able to convince the respective parties involved in the Middle East crisis to come to terms of peace and tolerance and agree to a specific 7-year Covenant Experiment.

It appears that the Covenant Experiment will allow the Jews to worship through animal sacrifices in a restored temple, or at least a sanctuary. This will require an agreement of religious toleration with the Muslims, as well as an arrangement for political peace. I like to designate it as M.E.P.T.A. - The Middle east and European Peace and Tolerance Accord.

But 3 1/2 years into the covenant, the man of lawlessness will become more powerful in world politics, and will begin to implement his own religious and political agenda through the influence of Satan. As such, he is designated as the beast out of the SEA at Revelation 13:1-8.

Several things will take place at this time.

1. He will appoint a Jew as dictator over Palestine and will make him a prophet to carry out his religious program.

A. The beast out of the LAND: Revelation 13:11-17
B. Dan the serpent: Genesis 49:16-17
C. The worthless shepherd: Zechariah 11:15-17
D. The false prophet: Revelation 19:20; 20:10; 16:13
E. From Revelation 13:11f we see that he looks like a lamb and speaks
like a dragon, which communicates the idea of a false benevolence.

2. He will proclaim himself to be God: 2 Thessalonians 2:4

3. Through the false prophet he will institute beast worship.
2 Thes. 2:4; Rev. 13:14-15; Dan. 9:27; 8:23-26; Rev. 11.1-2

4. This then will begin the attack on Israel (Rev. 12:10) which will officially initiate the great tribulation. (Mt. 24:15, 21)

It is also at this time, when M.E.P.T.A. is broken, that the beast will mount his massive persecution against the church, resulting in "the apostasy" or falling away which Jesus describes at Matthew 24:10-12 and is mentioned at 2 Thessalonians 2:3 as needing to occur before the Day of the Lord can come.

 

THE APOSTASY

This is referring to something that is specific rather than general (THE apostasy). It is certainly something that the recipients of the letter knew about (verse 2:5), and would be known by the church in general as well, by understanding what had been taught orally and in writing (verse 2:15).

The apostles teach of a general decline in moral and spiritual standards that would occur in the latter days, but they are quick to point out that it is already taking place at the time of writing. Furthermore, it is not referring to a general "condition" of spiritual apathy in the world, but the actual falling away from an established standard. It speaks of Christians turning away from true Christianity.

Jesus taught that during a specific time of tribulation (Mat. 24:9), there would be a great falling away from the truths of Christianity because of an intensity of hatred and persecution unparalleled in history (Mat. 24:9-12).

"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and will kill you
and you will be hated by all the nations because of My name.
And then many will be caused to stumble (fall away)
and will deliver up one another and hate one another.
And many false prophets will arise and will deceive many.
And because the lawlessness (via the man of lawlessness)
is increased, the love of many will grow cold."

According to verse 9, this will occur after the abomination of desolation is set up in the Jewish Holy Place by the man of lawlessness. This "beast" will mount a massive attack on Christians as described at Revelation 12:17 and 13:7. Furthermore, based on Matthew 24:10, many Christians will reject their claim to Christianity and actually betray others into the hands of the beast (Mat. 24:23-26).

It is this apostasy that Paul has in mind at 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

The word in the Greek is "apostasia," and means basically the act and/or the condition of standing away from something; a departure from or rejection of something. Paul even suggests for us what this apostasy is at verse 3, by exhorting the believers to "stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether orally or by letter from us (2 Thes. 2:15).

The extent of this apostasy is such that Jesus suggests there will be very little practice of true Christianity on the earth when He comes back to take the elect to Himself (Luke 18:7-8).

"I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily.
However, when the Son of Man comes,
will He find the faith on the earth?"

Here, He applies the promise of justice according to divine wisdom and timing to His elect who are afflicted on the earth.

The promise of justice will be kept when Jesus returns at the Day of the Lord which Paul applies to his generation at 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7.

"For after all, it is only just for God to repay with affliction
those who afflict you, and to give relief to you, and to us as well,
at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of
His power in flaming fire."

Thus, "those who endure to the end will be delivered (Mat. 10:22 and 24:13). That is, those who are able to endure the persecution pressure and remain alive throughout it, will be physically delivered when Jesus comes back.

But He observes by way of a rhetorical question, "will He find THE faith on the earth?" Faith refers to the function of faith by believers who are relaxed and confident through trusting in the character and plan of God and adhering to the standards of the faith. The issue is not the presence of believers ON the earth, but the presence of believers functioning "in fellowship" with God ("abiding in Him," 1 John 2:28).

This is also what Paul had in mind at 1 Timothy 4:1, where he uses the verb form of apostasy to indicate a departure from those spiritual standards which characterize true Christianity ("some will fall away from the faith"). Those who fall away will be "professing" Christians and not true believers.

Now, having written all of this, I think that in actuality, THE apostasy refers to BOTH Jews and professing Christians who apostasize from the truth and accept beast worship.
It is the acceptance of beast worship that defines THE apostasy.

The verb, aphistāmi translated as "fall away," means to take a stand away from something. It can refer to a physical departure from a location or a person; or it can refer to an ideological departure from political or religious viewpoint. In fact, the primary use of the verb is to indicate a "physical" removal from something. It is for this reason that sometimes the argument is made that "apostasy" at 2 Thessalonians 2:3, means "departure" and has in view a physical departure of the saints from the earth via the rapture. However, the meaning and use of a verb is not always the determinative factor for establishing the meaning of a noun that derives from it. Many times a noun develops a specialized meaning based on usage. It seems that just such a case has occurred concerning the noun, apostasia, which occurs only at 1 Thessalonians 2:3 and Acts 21:21 in the New Testament.

Every time the noun is used in the LXX, it carries the meaning of ideological departure (Josh. 22:22; 2 Chron. 29:19; 33:19; Ezra 4:19; Jer. 2:19). Its only other use in the New Testament (Acts 21:21) indicates an ideological departure. It is therefore, determined by this writer, that the contemporary use of the noun in connection with an immediate context, that certainly recognizes the dangers of "apostasy" for believers (verse 15), that the word, apostasia, was used by Paul to speak of that specific "end times" apostasy which will occur in connection with the revealing of the man of lawlessness and the placement of his image (abomination of desolation) in the Holy Place at the beginning of the tribulation (midpoint of the 70th week) just as Jesus taught at Matthew 24:9-26.

Furthermore, as already mentioned, 10 years later, Paul used the verb aphistemi at 1 Timothy 4:1 to refer to the very same apostasy of the tribulation that he referenced in 2 Thessalonians and that Jesus taught about at Matthew 24.

There are some who believe that the apostasy refers to the Jews' acceptance of the Covenant Experiment at the start of the 70th week,
POINT of logic:
The Covenant Experiment is not apostasy. Why shouldn't the Jews accept a peace treaty that allows them to worship the way they want? It would not become apostasy UNTIL the beast shuts down their temple and demands worship for himself. It would not become a "wrong thing" until it requests them to turn away from the true God.

It has been claimed that the "covenant with death" at Isaiah 28:15 and 18 refers to this acceptance of the Covenant Experiment at the beginning of the week.
However,
the covenant with death refers specifically to the Jews making a deal with Egypt for protection from Assyria. Is. 30.1-5
At verse 15, the prophet uses sarcasm. "Because you have said, 'we have made a covenant with death.'"
And at verse 18, some "reverse" sarcasm, "your covenant with death will be canceled."
In other words, Egypt will not help because Assyria will defeat Egypt first. Is. 31:1-3

The whole context (chapters 28-33 - the book of woes) is the historical invasion of Assyria except for the Messianic promise at v.16, and until 33:13ff, which does in fact look forward to the day of the Lord.

THE APOSTASIA/RAPTURE THEORY

Dr. John Feinberg, while being a pretrib rapture advocate presents a very good argument against interpreting the noun apostasia at 2Thes. 2:3, as a reference to the rapture. He presents this interpretation in the appendix of his article in the Pre-Trib Study Group, in 1992, entitled, Arguing About the Rapture: Who Must Prove What and How
Appendix

While the majority of commentators on 2 Thessalonians 2:3 take apostasla to refer to apostasy or religious defection, some argue that it is reference to the rapture. [19] If this claim is defensible, then Paul does use his teaching about a pretribulational rapture to instruct the Thessalonian believers about the Day of the Lord. The accuracy and defensibility of this claim rests on the etymology and usage of the Greek verb aphistemi and its cognate nouns.

Aphistemi and its cognates are found widely in Greek literature. The verb is first thought to have been found in the writings of Thucydides (Thuc., 1, 122). Inthe period from second century B.C. to first century A.D. there are at least355 occurrences of this word group,[20]making these rather common words in the Greek language. Aphistmi is a compound verb from apo (from) and histmi (to stand). It is both a transitive verb, meaning "to cause to revolt, mislead," and an intransitive verb, meaning "to go away, withdraw, depart, fall away." From this verb are derived two nouns, apostasion and apostasla. Apostasion comes to have a fixed meaning, "a bill of divorce," while apostasy (a means "rebellion, abandonment, state of apostasy" or "defection." It is the latter noun that is found in our text.

The question that we are now ready to answer is whether the noun apostasia ever refers to a physical departure, allowing Paul to make a reference to the rapture of the church by using this word. Let us take how the words are used in the biblical Greek (the LXX and the New Testament) as the context for establishing how these words are used. These would be the primary contexts for setting the usage of any biblical term, although at least in this case what is true in biblical Greek is true more generally. The first thing that we can say is that the verb aphistemi is clearly used of physical departure in both testaments. In the Old Testament (the LXX) the verb is used in Genesis 12:8 of Abram's departure from Shechem toward the hills east of Bethel. It is used of the physical separation of persons as in 1 Samuel 18:13, where it is used of David's departure from Saul, and in Psalm 6:8, of the physical separation of the wicked from God's presence. In New Testament Greek there are clear examples of the use of the verb to express physical departure or separation. Forms of this verb appear 15 times. Luke uses this word 10 times (Luke 2:37; 4:13; 8:13;13:27; Acts 5:37-38; 12:10; 15:38; 19:9; 22:29). It is found four times in Paul (2 Cor. 12:8; 1 Tim. 4:1; 6:5; 2 Tim. 2:19). It is used once by the writer of Hebrews (Heb. 3:12). All but Acts 5:37 are intransitive uses. The idea of physical departure is prominent in many of the occurrences. In Luke 2:37 Annais said to have never left the temple. In Acts 19:9 Paul was teaching in the synagogue in Ephesus for three months, but he left or departed when some obstinate hearers refused to believe. Thus, there are clear examples where the verb means to physically depart or leave in both the Greek Old Testament and New Testament.

There are fewer uses of the two related nouns in biblical literature, but again both are found in the Greek Old Testament and New Testament. Apostasion is found with a fixed meaning in both testaments. It is related to the breaking of the marriage covenant (Mal. 2:14). And it means "a certificate of divorce" (Deut. 24:1,3; Isa. 50:1; Jer. 3:8; Matt. 5:31; 19:7; Mark 10:4).

This leads us to the noun in 2Thessalonians 2:3, apostasia. It is found in the Greek Old Testament and has the idea of rebellion (Joshua 22:22), wickedness (Jeremiah2:19), and unfaithfulness (2 Chr. 28:19; 29:19; 33:19). Apostasta is found twice in the New Testament, in our text and in Acts 21:21. In Acts, the noun is used in Paul's teaching that the Jews who lived among the Gentiles that forsake the teaching of Moses about circumcision. None of the uses of the noun in either testament indicate a physical departure of any sort. The point can be made even more strongly. If one searches for the uses of the noun "apostasy" in the 355 occurrences over the 300-year period between the second century B.C. and the first century A.D., one will not find a single instance where this word refers to a physical departure. The uses outside biblical Greek are exactly parallel to those in it.

Let me summarize my findings: 1) aphistemi and its cognates are found widely in Greek literature; 2) the verb aphistemi has many and clear uses where a physical departure can only be meant; 3) the noun apostasion has a clear and fixed meaning that relates it to the marriage covenant, and it is the common way of expressing the giving of a certificate of divorce; 4) the other noun, apostasia, has a variety of meanings, but none of them relate to a physical departure. It seems that any fair assessment of the data leads to the conclusion that Paul does not refer to the rapture in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

Before I conclude this appendix, let me state and respond to two possible objections to the conclusions that I have argued for above. It might be argued that though the derivative noun may never be used of a physical departure, the idea is nonetheless justified because of the underlying verb which has that etymology and usage. In other words, one rests the rapture interpretation of this text not on apostasia but on the verb aphistmi. This simply cannot be done. In most cases the meaning of the underlying verb carries over to its derivative noun. But there are instances where this is not the case, and to do so leads to false conclusions. This is even true where the word is a compound. Anaginsko is a word in the New Testament. It is a compound from the preposition ana which means "up, upwards" and ginosko which means "to know." To base the meaning of the compound on the meaning of its parts leaves one with a meaning for anaginosko of "to know up" or "to know upwards, "when in fact the word means "to know certainly, recognize" or "to read."[21]There is at least another clear example of the difference between a verb and its cognate noun. There is a verb eperotao which is found a number of times in the New Testament, 53 times in the Gospels, and five times in the epistles(e.g., Mart. 12:10; Luke 3:10; Rom. 10:20). The meaning of the verb, invariably, is "to ask" or "consult." A derivative noun occurs once in the New Testament, in 1 Pet. 3:21. The noun is eperotema. The idea here is of a pledge, quite different from its cognate verb meaning.[22]That is, water baptism is "a pledge of a good conscience toward God. "Thus, the meaning of derivative nouns must be established through their usage.

A second objection to what has been argued is that, in the history of the interpretation of this text, there are some interpreters, important ones too, who have suggested that a physical departure is at least a part of the meaning of this word. That may be, but that does not settle the matter. If they came to their conclusions on the basis of the etymology and usage of aphistemi, they were wrong, at least in my judgment. If, on the other hand, they reached their conclusions for some other reason, then we would have to know what those reasons were, so that they could be evaluated. However, it does seem that given what we presently know, there is no reason to understand Paul's use of apostasia as a reference to the rapture.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Something else to consider in refuting the "departure" theory, is the fact that the rapture is NOT a departure. It is a GATHERING to the Lord.
The emphasis is on a gathering to Him rather than a departure.
The word "taken" at Mat. 24:40-41 and John 14, paralambano, means "to be taken to the side of."
"I will TAKE YOU TO MYSELF that where I am there you may be also."
Or, "I will RECEIVE you to myself . . ."
"One will be TAKEN and one will be left."

And that describes what Jesus said at Mat. 24:31, the angels will "gather His elect from the 4 winds."
At Mark 13:27, the Son of Man, "He will gather together His elect."
(episunago is the verb).

Now, how about 1 Thes. 4:17,
"Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds (to meet the Lord in the air - this is not correct) FOR A MEETING WITH THE LORD in the air."
It is a noun - apantesis - with the noun eis = FOR A MEETING.
There is no verb here and it should not be translated as an infinitive "to meet".
The emphasis is on the MEETING not on the catching out.

At 2 Thes. 2:1, "our gathering together to Him," uses the noun episunagoge.
Again the emphasis is on a gathering to him and not a departure.

So . . .
At verse 3, IF Paul wants to reference the rapture, he would use the noun that properly focuses on the right emphasis - the GATHERING.
He would say, "unless the MEETING comes first."
And he would use the noun he used at 1 Thes. 4, apantesis.
Or he would use a noun like at verse 1, "unless the GATHERING TOGETHER comes first."
But of course, there is no logic to this idea in the context. The COMING of the Lord, and the GATHERING, and the DAY of the Lord are all THE SAME EVENT.

In such a case, the result would be something like, "The coming of the Lord, the gathering, the Day of the Lord - will not occur until the gathering comes first . . ." That is, "the gathering will not occur until the gathering occurs first."

When the day of the Lord arrives, that is when the rapture will occur.
That is when the GATHERING will occur.
It is not so much a departure as it is a gathering.
By the way, there are reputable translations that recognize the truth of this and translate verse 3 as "unless the apostasy comes first," NASB.
 

THE DEIFICATION OF THE MAN OF LAWLESSNESS
Verse 4

Although the great tribulation is a "worldwide" oppression (Rev. 13:7), it centers in Jerusalem from where the beast will first initiate his system of worship. As he promotes himself as being God he will take his seat in the Jewish temple "of God" and display himself from that arena to actually be God.

"who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God."

Jesus describes this at Matthew 24:15,

"Therefore (picks up from verses 9-14) when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)."

It is then, this specific act of desecration of the temple in Jerusalem which evidences the "breaking of the covenant" that was established for "one week" (7 years). In order to promote his own deification and system of worship he will certainly need to "do away with" the worship system of Israel.

"And in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice
and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations, causing horror -
even until a completion, and (until) what is decreed is poured out
on the one who causes horror" (Dan. 9:27, BFT).

Daniel gives us more information about this person and his activities after he breaks the 7-year covenant.

"And the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god, and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; . . . And he will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women, nor will he show regard for any {other} god; for he will magnify himself above {them} all" (Dan. 11:36-38).

Jesus told us that this act of "abomination" would signal the beginning of the great tribulation,

"for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not
occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall"
(Matthew 24:21).

And since the great oppression by the beast will focus on the destruction of the Jewish people who oppose him, it is designated as the "time of Jacob's distress" at Jeremiah 30:5-7,

"For thus says the LORD, I have heard a sound of terror, Of dread,
and there is no peace. Ask now, and see, If a male can give birth.
Why do I see every man {With} his hands on his loins, as a woman in
childbirth? And {why} have all faces turned pale? Alas! for that
day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob's
distress, but he will be saved from it."

And yet it is identified elsewhere as a time of distress that comes upon the whole world. Revelation 3:10 is addressed to the church in Philadelphia and offers promise of "protection" during the time of "testing" that will come on the whole world. The basis for this protection is their faithful endurance throughout their Christian life, but the point of the passage is to note the mention of this time of testing which probably best describes the great tribulation. There seems to be no other period of time that this language could refer to, but of course, each reader needs to evaluate all the information on his own and become "fully convinced in his own mind."

The revealing of the man of lawlessness is then the subject of the next nine verses, and culminates with the statement that he will be destroyed by the appearance of the Lord's coming. This does not mean that AT THE VERY INSTANT of the Lord's coming, but rather BY MEANS OF. That is, it is through and because of the Lord's return at the Day of the Lord, that the man of lawlessness will be destroyed several months later when Jesus descends physically to the earth at Armageddon.

Paul's writing about the second coming of Jesus is perfectly consistent with what Jesus taught when He said that "immediately after the tribulation of those days . . . they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory," (Matthew 24:29-30).

And this of course, is consistent with what Paul just wrote a few verse earlier that God would "repay with affliction those who afflict you . . . when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire," (2 Thessalonians 1:6-7).

It should be clear that Paul understood that the church would be present on the earth during the time of tribulation and be delivered out from the earth through the glorious return of Jesus in the clouds of the sky.

In fact according to this letter, and according to 2 Peter 3, the apostles believed that it was possible for the Lord to return within their lifetime.

Verse 5
Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?

As already mentioned, Paul has previously taught them about the second coming of Christ and the gathering of believers and the day of the Lord.

This letter serves as a reminder and a protection from the false teaching they were receiving.

Verses 6-7
"And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed.
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains
will do so until he is taken out of the way."

The key in this passage is to recognize that the information regarding the man of lawlessness is viewed from a context concerning ISRAEL and the temple of God in Jerusalem.

There are two places where we must add some "helping" words in order to smooth out what the Greek says.

1. In the first clause: And now you know -

A. What do they know? The Greek just says, "the (thing) restraining".

1. This is because we have a present active participle plus a NEUTER definite article, so that it must be either as above or as, "the restraining."

2. Is Paul suggesting that they actually KNOW the restrainer?
The Greek seems to indicate that, as well as the NASB translation, "what restrains him now."

3. What they know is based on verse 5 where Paul reminds them that he was telling them about these things while he was present with them.

4. The point is, that they know of the reality of this restraining activity if not the actual identity of the restrainer.

5. The word, "now" goes with the restraining. There is nothing in the context that suggests their knowledge is something that is "now" acquired, but rather knowledge about something that is NOW or presently going on. Thus, it refers to what is restraining at the present time. This is further confirmed by the contrast with the next clause, "that he may be revealed IN HIS TIME." The idea of NOW is contrasted with a FUTURE, "in his time."

B. Let me suggest the addition of either: "there is," or even "that there is," or as the NASB renders it, "what." Thus, "And (what is, or, that there is) now the restraining, you know."

C. The neuter suggests that the focus is on the "function" of restraining rather than the one who actually does it. Especially since the next time the "idea" of restraint is mentioned (v. 7), the masculine form is used. This sets up a contrast to indicate an amplification beyond the "activity" of restraining to the "agent" of restraint. Thus, the translation at verse 6, "the restraining," is best.

D. The translation continues, "so that he can be revealed in his time." This is the preposition EIS (unto) plus the infinitive (to be revealed) to indicate the RESULT when the restrainer "becomes out of the midst" (verse 7). Thus, we have the cessation of the restrainer's activity, and THEN the man of lawlessness is revealed. What reveals him is his act of breaking the covenant, taking his seat in the temple, and the start of operation beast worship. Prior to that time, the man who will become the beast, may or may not be specifically known even though the effects of his diplomacy will be clearly understood when the covenant is established. Of course, IF the signing of the covenant can be ascribed to one particular man, then "those who have wisdom among the people" (oriented Christians) will know that he is the beast.

2. The last clause also requires an addition of words.

A. What seems to fit best is "there is."

B. But this time we have a present active participle, Masculine singular WITH the masculine singular definite article (the) which requires it to be translated as "the one restraining" or "the restrainer," as long as we make it a "person" and a "he" at that.

C. That is why the pronoun in the verb must be rendered as "he" - because it corresponds with the masculine form of the restrainer.

D. This then goes beyond the "function" of restraining in verse 6 and speaks of the actual "person" who is doing the restraining.

E. The idea that the pronoun of the verb, "becomes (or comes)," refers to a different subject than "restrainer," does not agree with the context.

1. First, the nearest subject is what is in view UNLESS the context indicates CLEARLY otherwise.

2. But the whole idea of "restraint" is EXPLAINED by the clause, "comes out of the middle." It is that "coming out" that constitutes the removal of the restraint and allows the revealing of the man of lawlessness.

3. Notice the parallels:

a. Verse 6, restrains and revealed
b. Verses 7-8, restrains, comes out, and revealed.

3. Until he is taken out of the way:

This phrase is very misleading, for it implies an act of removal by another person. However, the Greek literally says, "until he becomes out of the middle." The restrainer is the subject and he is the one ACTING with the result that a condition comes into existence that was not previously in existence; a presence OUT FROM the midst of the mystery of lawlessness.

Just prior to the midpoint of the week, there will be a major confrontation in heaven between the angels of God under the leadership of Michael, and Satan's angels (Rev. 12:7-9).

 

THE BOOK OF REVELATION

The progress of the 70th week of Daniel as recorded in the book of The Revelation is chronological from chapters 6 through 11 and embraces -

1. The beginning of the week (seal #1)
2. The tribulation period (seals #2-5)
3. The arrival of the Day of The LORD (seal #6)
4. And the administration of God's wrath via the 7 trumpets.

5. Chapter 11 brings us to the end of the 70th week and the sounding of the 7th trumpet. It is at this point that the book backs up in its focus and gives information dealing with the midpoint of the week forward.

Chapter 12 gives us a summary of the beast's oppression of the saints and national Israel.

Chapter 13 gives information concerning the "revealing" of the man of lawlessness (the beast) and the length of his "reign."

Chapter 14 Summarizes the Day of the LORD activity from the rapture until the final battle at Armageddon.

Chapter 15-16 picks up from 11:19 and relates the "final" outpouring of God's wrath via the 7 bowls during the 30 day period after the 70th week ends.

Chapter 17-18 is parenthetical to deal with the history and final disposition of Babylonian evil.

Chapter 19 picks up from 16:21 and presents the final bowl of God's wrath which is the final "physical" battle of the Armageddon campaign which began at bowl #6.

Chapter 20 begins and completes the 1000 year reign of the Messiah and presents the Last Judgment at the end of that reign.

Chapter 21-22 describes life in the New Jerusalem both during the 1000 year reign of Messiah and also afterwards throughout eternity when there will exist a new heaven and earth.

 

WAR IN HEAVEN

Revelation 12:7-9

And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels
waging war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels
waged war, and they were not strong enough,
and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.
And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old
who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world;
he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Michael prevails and kicks Satan and his angels physically out of heaven and down to the earth. This initiates the events that will bring about the Day of the LORD and the establishment of the Messianic kingdom on the earth.

Revelation 12:10-12

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, Now the salvation,
and the power, and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of His Christ have come,

 

This victory was actually anticipated by Jesus when He commented on the success of the 70 disciples over all the power of the enemy, "I saw Satan falling from heaven ..." (Luke 10:18). In other words, the success of the disciples over the power of Satan, portends the final defeat of Satan, which will begin with the war in heaven.

It also fulfills the prophecy of Ezekiel 28:17b where a physical fall from heaven is mentioned concerning Satan (symbolized by the king of Tyre), when he is displayed before the kings of the earth.

It is important to recognize that this physical removal of Satan from heaven is only the BEGINNING of God's functional victory over the forces of darkness.

The "salvation" has not yet come, for it will not be fully completed until the resurrection of all God's people. The power of God is not even demonstrated at this time, for that will not occur until the actual return of Jesus several months later, when He comes "on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory" (Mat. 24:30). And the kingdom of God, the reign of Christ upon the earth, will not actually occur until after the physical defeat of the world's armies at Armageddon, although he will be reigning through judgment prior to that. This language simply anticipates the ultimate fulfillment of these three factors because it is this initial physical victory over Satan that begins the final events leading up to final victory.

Similar language is found at Revelation 11:15, "the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ."

This passage deals with events that chronologically occur after Michael's defeat of Satan at the midpoint of the week. It is proclaimed based on the "in-your-face" maneuver against the beast after the two witnesses are raised up. The completion of their ministry brings to a close the 70th week of Daniel and marks the official end of the 42-month reign of the beast. The Lord begins his reign through judgment on his enemies by the outpouring of the 7 bowls of final wrath, but does not actually sit on His throne until the 45 days of evaluation that follows the Armageddon victory (Mat. 25:31-46; Dan. 12:12; Rev. 20:1-6).

The statement in verse 17, "because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign," indicates that even though the beast is still alive, the final stage of his demise and of Satan's defeat, is now under way.

 

SATAN'S SEVEN STAGE PLAN

At this time Satan begins stage 5 of his plan to discredit God and destroy God's plan for the promotion of the Messiah and the people of Israel.

Stage 1 is Satan's attack on man in the garden.
Stage 2 is Satan's attack on the line of the Messiah between Adam and Jacob.
Stage 3 includes all Satan's attacks on the Messianic promise and the line of Messiah as it was narrowed down to the nation of Israel (represented at Rev. 12:2).

Stage 4 includes all Satan's attacks on the Messiah at the 1st advent and is represented at Rev. 12:4-5.
Stage 5 includes Satan's attacks on the church from AD 30 until he is kicked out of heaven (1 Pet. 5:8). This includes the accusations he makes before God as is indicated at Revelation 12:10.

"for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down,
who accuses them before our God day and night."
(This is viewed as his present activity)

Stage 6 includes Satan's attacks during the great tribulation and will end with the Day of the LORD judgments which culminate in Satan being chained in the abyss for 1000 years (Rev.20:1-3). Revelation 12:12-13

Stage 7 is carried out when Satan is released from the abyss at the end of Messiah's 1000 year kingdom (Revelation 20:7-10), at which time he will be thrown into the lake of fire for all eternity.

So when Satan is defeated by Michael, and physically denied any heavenly access, his primary concern is to attack the Messianic people whom God has chosen to inherit the earthly kingdom.

Revelation 12:13

And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth,
he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the child.

Prior to this, the "mystery of lawlessness" which is "already at work" in the world (2 Thes. 2:7), had been restrained from such intensity of oppressive action against Israel, by Michael, the guardian angel of Israel. That gives us a hint as to the degree of oppression against the Jews, for it is hard to imagine anything greater than the holocaust, and yet that was not restrained. But once this battle takes place and Satan is kicked down to the earth, Michael stands aside and now allows him to carry out his own agenda as a final "last ditch" attempt to defeat the plan and character of God.

Rev. 12:12

"knowing that he has only a short time."

 

THE RESTRAINER

Once we establish that the restrainer IS indeed a "person" we then need to determine "WHO" exactly he is and from what "middle" he comes. Our choices are God (in general), The Spirit (specifically), the church as an organization, Michael the archangel, and anyone else who might "fit the bill."

The use of the masculine for restrainer, rules out the idea that it refers to the church for the church is never spoken of as a "he."

 

OUT OF THE MIDDLE

Literally: "Until HE (necessary now, because we have the masculine) becomes (or comes) out from the middle." The middle of what?

1. The middle of the activity which is described as "the mystery of lawlessness" presently working in the world. This mystery of lawlessness is Satan's plan to discredit and usurp God's character and plan.

2. In other words, the restrainer is in the middle of the advance of lawlessness, placing a restraint on the activities of Satan who is seeking to destroy God's chosen people, Israel, and Christ's ambassadors, the church. So far, Satan has been "limited" in that endeavor, although both groups have been severely oppressed since 30 AD.

3. But there will come a time in the plan of God when the restraint will be removed, and the restrained one, knowing that his time is short will endeavor to "pull no punches" as he tries to establish himself as God and claims fulfillment of the Messianic promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And anyone who tries to get in his way or to resist him, will be killed.

4. In the meantime then, there is a very real and powerful restraint and restrainer preventing Satan from empowering the man of lawlessness to begin his oppressive reign, which starts as an attack against God's chosen nation of Israel and extends worldwide as this man seeks to establish his own Messianic kingdom separate and independent from God.

It makes perfect sense that the restrainer comes out of the middle of the advance of lawlessness in the world. Not because he is a "part" of that lawlessness, but because he is actively engaged in "holding it in check" until the perfect timing within the plan of God.

God is not the restrainer, directly, for he is not going to come out of the progress of those "lawless" events here on the earth.

And the Spirit is not coming out of those events nor out of the world.

Who of all that we find in scripture is actively involved in the spiritual conflict between God and Satan who is shown to have a direct bearing on "when" this oppression by the man of lawlessness begins?

There must be a reason why John tells us about the war in heaven and the fact that Michael kicks Satan to the earth, which is what actually precipitates the "revealing" of the man of lawlessness (Rev. 12:7-17 and 13:1-5). Furthermore the "frame of reference" of these people would know about Daniel 12. It would be included in what Paul taught (2 Thes. 2:5, "I was telling you these things").

At Daniel 12:1 we read,

"And at that time (the time of the end) Michael, the great prince (guardian angel of Israel) who stands over (present function) the sons of your people, will stand up (and away - implied, because of what happens). And there will be a time of distress (the oppression by the man of lawlessness) . . ."

This "standing up" perfectly corresponds with what Michael does at Revelation 12 when he kicks Satan out to the earth at the mid point of

the week. It is at this time and for this reason that Satan becomes aware that "his time is short." Not only does Michael kick Satan out, but he also refrains from any preventative actions toward his intensified attacks on God's people. This is clearly the removal of restraint.

 

THE RESTRAINER STEPS ASIDE

Daniel 12:1

1. "Now at that time . . ." That time refers to the general time of the end mentioned at Daniel 11:35, which is the 70th week of Daniel. It does not refer to the specific event mentioned in the previous verse but to the over-all general period of time introduced at verse 11:35 as the "end time."

2. "Michael, the great prince who stands (as guardian) over the sons of your people, will stand up (or ASIDE) . . ."

Michael is the guardian angel of Israel as demonstrated from Daniel 10:13 and 21 as well as the first part of Daniel 12:1. But the 2nd part of this verse indicates that something different takes place. The rendering in most translations for "stand aside" is stand up. The Hebrew word for stand (Amadh) occurs two times in this verse, but with a different focus the second time. The idea presented is that, Michael, who clearly "stands over" Israel in a protective capacity, will cease that protective activity so that the result will be a time of distress for Israel that is unparalleled in history. The best way to summarize the significance here is to quote from Marvin Rosenthal's, The PreWrath Rapture of the Church, page 258.

"But what does the Hebrew word for 'stand up' (Amadh) mean? Rashi, one of Israel's greatest scholars and one who had no concern regarding the issue of the timing of the rapture under discussion in this book, understood 'stand up' to literally mean 'stand still.' The meaning, according to one of Israel's greatest scholars, would be to 'stand aside' or 'be inactive.' Michael, the guardian of Israel, had earlier fought for her (Dan. 10:13,21), but now this one 'who standeth for the children of thy [Daniel's] people' would stand still or stand aside. He would not restrain; he would not hold down. The Midrash, commenting on this verse, says, "The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Michael, 'you are silent? You do not defend my children?'"

 

Continuing at Daniel 12:1,

3. "And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time . . ."

The cause of the time of distress is Satan, who "having great wrath," uses the man of lawlessness to oppress both Israel and the church.

Rev. 12:12

"Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you,
having great wrath . . ."

Notice at 2 Thessalonians 2, what results when this "restrainer" is removed.

Verse 4, "who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God."

Verses 9-10, "the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders and with all the deception of wickedness . . ."

And this is what happens at Matthew 24:15 and 21, "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the Holy Place . . . for then there will be a great tribulation. . ."

4. ". . and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued."

This rescue is in reference to faithful Israel who will be delivered from the oppressive reign of the beast through the return of Jesus at the Day of the LORD. The beast's oppression will be interrupted as his kingdom is judged through the trumpet and bowl judgments of Revelation 8-9 and 16. The final deliverance of the people of Israel will occur at the battle of Armageddon, and they will then undergo the final stage of God's purifying process to prepare them to inherit the physical kingdom over which Jesus will reign for 1000 years.

The church will also be delivered at the return of Jesus, but it will be immediate through removal from the earth by rapture. However, the deliverance of the church is not in view at Daniel 12:1. Only the nation of Israel can be viewed as "your (Daniel's) people." The church would not qualify under that designation. Some have tried to make an association with "the rest of her offspring" at Revelation 12:17, which refers to Christians of the church and include them in "your people," but that is clearly not the intent of the vision. The bible consistently makes a distinction between the church and Israel, as God has a specific plan for each of them.

Once Satan finds himself kicked out of the heavenly spheres and limited to the earth, he feels the time of his demise approaching fast upon his heels and must take major steps to escape his assigned destiny, the lake of fire (Mat. 25:32).

Rev. 12:12

"Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you,
having great wrath, knowing that he has a short time."

 

2Ths. 2:8, "And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming."

1. This is the immediate result of Satan's removal from the heavenly spheres. Thus we see at verse 9, that his presence (parousia) is according to the working of Satan. Revelation 13:4 tells us that the dragon (Satan) gives his authority to the beast.

2. the lawless one: this is the adjective, anomos, which as we have seen before indicates a total indifference and separation from God's established LAWS for the function of His creatures.

3. will be revealed: this is a future passive indicative of apokalupto.
The passive voice indicates that the lawless one RECEIVES a revealing through the actions of someone else, who is Satan.

4. Whom the Lord will slay (consume, KJV):

The next clause is parenthetical to establish the divine resolution to this Satanic attack. Verses 9-12 then continue with a development of this lawless one's satanic activity. The word slay is a wrong rendering of the verb, anaireo, which means to TAKE AWAY. We learn at Revelation 19:20 that this lawless one (the beast) is not SLAIN, but rather thrown alive into the lake of fire. The verb, anaireo, is consistent with this idea, which is further amplified by the word, "bring to an end." This removal of the lawless one will occur through the Day of the Lord judgments that Jesus will administer at His second coming. It will involve a process of ruin, that will culminate when the beast is defeated by the power of Christ at the battle of Armageddon and thrown alive into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:19-20). The Lord will return at some unknown day and hour after the revealing of the man of lawlessness and begin to judge that evil kingdom and its citizens through the trumpet and bowl judgments.

A. With the breath of His mouth: This usually refers to the power of God's word declaring things and then bring them about, rather than the idea of some kind of "blowing." In this case, it probably has in mind the fact that Jesus will judge the beast and then cast him in the lake. The noun is in the instrumental case, which indicates MECHANICS, and thus tells us HOW the beast will be removed.

B. And bring to an end: This "and" functions as a clarification of the judgment on the beast rather than an additional action. In other words, when the beast is taken away, he will be cast into the lake of fire where he will be brought to an end.

C. By the appearance of His coming: Again the noun is in the instrumental case and further clarifies the MECHANICS of HOW this will come about.

Many interpret this as referring to the physical descent of Jesus at the battle of Armageddon. However, every other reference in Paul to the second coming of Jesus refers to His arrival in the clouds of the sky, at which time He will remove the church from the earth, and will begin to administrate His judgment on the earth through the trumpets and bowls. The reason Paul says that it is the appearance of His coming that brings about the END of the beast, even though that end will not occur until many months later, is because it is, in fact, the coming of the Lord that initiates the judgments that will culminate in the beast's end.

 

Verse 9-11

Paul then summarizes the character and deeds of this man of lawlessness.

1. Whose coming: This is the word parousia, which is the same word used for the coming of Jesus. It primarily indicates a PRESENCE rather than a coming, but sometimes that ACT that brings about that presence is in view, as is usually the case with the return of Jesus.

2. is in accord: This is the preposition, kata, which is more simply rendered as, "according to."

3. the activity of Satan: The word activity, is energeia, and means WORKING or ACTION. The presence and the activity of the person will be according to the support of Satan who will use various supernatural phenomenon to influence the people of the world.

4. power: dunamis means power, or an evidence or demonstration of power.

In that sense, it is used for MIRACLES, and that is what is in view here. Satan will use various miracle type activity to convince the world that the authority he claims for himself and for the beast is valid.

There are only two specific examples of miracles ascribed to the beast, and both are found at Revelation 13.

5. signs: this word is sāmeion and refers to sign type activity that draws attention to a specific person or message, usually in connection with past prophecy. This is probably an attempt to demonstrate that the beast fulfills Old Testament Messianic prophecy, such as the signs of the kingdom that Jesus told John to consider (Luke 7:18-22; Isaiah 35:5).

6. and false wonders: the word wonders is teras, and refers to strange, awe-inspiring things.
The word, false, is mentioned to indicate that, even though there will be a dramatic and impressive display of miracle type activity, it will be in support of only what is false and deceptive. The word is not used to suggest that the signs and wonders and miracles are FAKE, but rather that they are simply in support of what is false.

Jesus tells of these things at Matthew 24:24.

"For false christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders,
so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect."

Revelation 13:3 gives one of these miracle acts as the healing of the man of lawlessness, and then at verse 15, the animation of the statue that the false prophet built for the beast.

7. and with every deception of wickedness: this indicates what was already suggested by the word, false. That is the fact that all of these things are designed to deceive the people into following and worshipping the beast. The word, wickedness, is adikia, and refers to anything that is contrary to the righteousness of God. The specific recipients of this deception are the unbelievers. The deception is permitted by God as "strong delusion" as an extension of his judgment upon them while they are on the earth. The deception steers them away from God's standards of morality as well as God's standards for right relationship with Him.

8. For those who are perishing: this is a present middle participle of the verb, apollumi, and indicates the present spiritual condition of these people based on the fact that they have not obeyed the gospel, that is, have not trusted in Christ as the Savior. Because of their unbelief, they are perceived as presently in the condition of spiritual death, which has as its ultimate end, eternity in the lake of fire.

The PRESENT focus for this idea of perishing is found in several other places (1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Cor. 2:15; 4:3).

9. Because: This introduces the only reason why someone perishes.

10. Did not receive the love of the truth: The word receive is dechomai as an aorist middle indicative. Dechomai does not just mean to receive something in a passive sense, but it is much more active as in taking or accepting something. It is used for accepting various people or teachings. At Luke 8:13 it is used for accepting the word of the gospel (of the kingdom), and at Luke 18:17, for accepting the kingdom of God LIKE a child. Both of these refer to claiming the truths of the gospel for oneself and thus entering into the benefits of the gospel, which is everlasting life.

A. The word, LOVE, is agape, which refers to the attitude of placing primary value upon something. The love of the truth refers to the attitude that recognizes the spiritual value in the gospel message.
To TAKE or ACCEPT that value, is to DO what the gospel instructs us to do, which is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). Since there is a COMMAND factor in the gospel, acceptance is often
described as OBEDIENCE to the gospel (Acts 5:32; 6:7; 14:2; Rom. 1:5; 6:17; 2 Thes. 1:8; Heb. 5:9; 1 Pet. 4:17; 2:8).

B. The aorist tense expresses a "point-of-time" idea. It is in one moment of time that one makes a decision to TAKE TO THEMSELVES the value system represented by the gospel. And at that very moment of time the person is given everlasting life and is removed from the condition of perishing. But those who do not take to themselves the gospel, remain in a condition of "judged already" (John 3:18) and having the wrath of God abiding upon them (John 3:36).

C. So as to be saved: this is the preposition EIS plus the aorist active infinitive of the verb, SODZO. The aorist tense further emphasizes the completeness of salvation that occurs at the very moment that a person trusts in Christ.

D. At verse 12, this same expression of faith in Christ is described as, "those who did not BELIEVE the truth."

 

Verse 11

1. And for this reason: that is, because they have rejected Christ as Savior.

2. God will send upon them: the verb is pempo as a present active indicative. The present tense is used where a future tense is implied in order to place great emphasis on the certainty of this activity by God during the reign of the man of lawlessness.

The deception is SENT by God through His permissive will and the perfect timing of His plan that commissions Michael to boot Satan down to the earth. Satan's miracle abilities are then put into full swing as he draws all people to the man of lawlessness to worship him.

3. a deluding influence: this term is made up of two nouns that literally reads "a working of delusion." The first noun is ENERGEIA which refers to some kind of exertion of energy. Thus, it is a working, or an influence. The second noun is planās, which means that which has wandered away from truth, and thus, delusion, deception and even error.

The NASB is right in rendering energeia as INFLUENCE, but planās is not an adjective. A better translation, then, is "an influence of delusion."

It refers to the effect of the miracle activity described in verse 10.

The man of lawlessness comes with the FALSE evidence of miracles, signs and wonders. All of this amounts to deception of unrighteousness, and as such, it will function as (have the influence of) deception on the unbelievers.

4. so that they might believe what is false: This is the preposition, EIS, to indicate the RESULT of the deluding influence. Since God is the active agent in this passage, by ALLOWING the influence, we must view eis as introducing a result and not being a purpose.

The PURPOSE for this, however, is introduced at verse 11, and that is to ultimately bring all the unbelievers into judgment.

The term, "what is false," is the noun, pseudās plus the definite article, and refers to a specific category of data that will be dominant during the reign of the beast. That specific LIE will be that the man of lawlessness (the beast out of the sea, Rev. 13:1-10) is God, and is to be worshipped as God.

 

Verse 12

1. in order that: this is a hina clause to indicate the overall purpose.
In this case, God's purpose is to ultimately judge all the unbelievers.

The deluding influence is allowed in order to perpetuate rejection of Christ by those who have resisted. Those who thus continue in their resistance will share the destiny of the man of lawlessness in the lake of fire.

2. they all may be judged: this is the verb, krino, as an aorist passive subjunctive to indicate God's plan for the unbelievers. They are of course under the present indictment of judgment from God as can be seen at John 3:18 (judged already), but this is talking about a specialized expression of divine justice, which will take place through the judgments described under the trumpets and bowls of Revelation 8-9 and 16, including Armageddon, and then ultimately, the lake of fire.

3. who did not believe the truth: this is the verb, pisteuo, as an aorist active participle with the negative, which focuses on a finalized spiritual condition of having rejected Christ as Savior. The point-of-time idea of the aorist tense plus the negative (not), indicates a status rather than a principle. The principle would be expressed by a present participle, as in "those who do not believe," but the aorist tense (those who DID NOT believe) indicates that the final decision has been made by these people. Now in a NORMAL church age context, this could not be used of anyone because there is hope right up until the very end of that person's life. However, in the context of the great tribulation, whenever a person takes the mark of the beast, that functions as a "lock-down" decision that cannot be undone (Rev. 14:9-11), no matter how much longer that person lives or how many times he may hear the gospel message.

4. but took pleasure in wickedness: The verb, took pleasure, is eudokeo as an aorist active participle. It means to think favorably toward something. In this case, in a tribulation context, it refers to rejecting the spiritual value of identification with Christ, and identification instead with the worship system of the beast. That system is called ADIKIA, which can be rendered as either wickedness or unrighteousness, and is the same thing as THE LIE at the end of verse 11. I believe that this is what is in view at Isaiah 2:22, where the people are warned to "Cease from THE MAN, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; for in what degree should he be valued?"

 

Verses 13-15

In view of the reality of judgment upon those who reject Christ, Paul comforts the believers by assuring them of the permanence of God's plan for those who have trusted in Christ.

Verse 13

1. But we should always give thanks to God for you: the word to give thanks is eucharisteo (good grace), which means to express grace. Thankfulness recognizes that everything we have is because of God's grace and true thanksgiving is simply the expression of that attitude toward God. When we express thankfulness toward another person (Rom. 16:4; 2 Cor. 1:11; Acts 24:3), we recognize the benefit and value of the person's actions on our behalf, and acknowledge our dependence upon that person for the particular benefit. Sometimes the word grace (charis) all by itself is used to indicate the idea of expressing thanks (1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 9:14; 9:15; 1 Tim. 1:12; 2 Tim. 1:3). This needs to be distinguished from the cultural custom of saying, "thank you," as a common courtesy. Thankfulness directed toward God should always be from the attitude of grace orientation that recognizes the righteous motives and reasons for everything that God works or allows.

2. brethren beloved by the Lord: Terms that recognize the recipients as believers. The word, brethren, indicates family relationship based on the new birth (John 1:12-13; Gal. 3:26; Heb. 2:11).

The word, beloved, is agapātos, which means that someone is the object of another's special kind of value and affection. God's love for these believers is not just from the standpoint of Creator love (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8) that provided salvation, but FATHER love that now wants the very best for those in His family (Romans 8:32).

3. because God has chosen you: Paul is thankful because they are saved. He describes this as "chosen you." The verb is aireo, which means to choose, as in making a decision. It is also used at Philippians 1:22 where Paul writes that he does not know WHICH TO CHOOSE, and at Hebrews 11:25, of Moses who CHOSE God's way instead of the Egyptian life style.

This then describes a CHOICE (not election) made by God that resulted in the salvation of the Thessalonians. This does not mean that God chose them over someone else, but rather that God did in fact choose for them to experience salvation. Whether this means that God chose them FIRST, and then they believed, or whether God chose them as a result of their faith, must be determined by the study of the doctrine of ELECTION and all of its side issues.

See Topic: ELECTION

4. from the beginning: the Greek manuscripts give us two choices, about which good scholars are clearly divided. Both readings have good manuscript evidence as support with one of them having a slight edge.

The first choice is the preposition, APO with the noun, archā (in the genitive case), with the "O" dropped off because of elision, so that the text reads, ap' archās, and means from the beginning. This is supported by most minuscules and the uncials, Aleph, D, K, L and Psi.

The second choice is the noun aparchā, which means first fruits. It is supported by the uncials B, F, G and P; and only three minuscules (33, 81 and 1739). The similarity of appearance makes it easy to see how a mistake could occur. I will side with the second choice for the following reasons.

A. The prepositional construction of apo plus archā does not occur any other place in Paul's writings.

B. Paul uses archā to mean ruler nine times; one time for beginning (Philip. 4:15) and one time as a reference to Christ as The Beginning (Col. 1:18).

C. The noun, aparchā, is used six times by Paul (Rom. 8:23; 11:16; 16:5; 1 Cor. 15:20, 23; 16:15).

D. What is quite interesting is that at two other places, two copyists wrongly changed the word aparchā to ap' archās (Rom. 16:5 and Rev. 14:4), In fact at Rev. 14:4, it is the manuscript Sinaiticus (Aleph), which is one of the ones that have ap' archās at 2 Thes. 2:13.

Accordingly, the translation should read, "has chosen you (as) firstfruits unto salvation. This choice does not affect the Calvinistic view of election either favorably or dis-favorably, for that issue settles around the use of the verb, chosen, and the two prepositional phrases that follow.

5. for salvation: This is the preposition, EIS, plus the noun, sotāria.

It refers to salvation from the penalty of sin and not deliverance from the DELUSION that will come upon the unbelievers through the activities of the man of lawlessness. It is deliverance from the final stage of divine judgment that is included at verse 12, "they all may be judged," which is to be cast into the lake of fire.

6. through sanctification by the Spirit: this is the preposition, EN, which governs two nouns here. As the NASB indicates (through), it is used in an instrumental sense to indicate God's part in accomplishing salvation. This phrase is not mentioned first in order to establish an ORDER to the salvation equation, but simply to indicate emphasis. The rest of Scripture makes it clear that after hearing the gospel, when a person believes in Christ, it is at that time and only that time, that all the factors of getting and being saved are accomplished (Eph. 1:13-14).

The first noun is, hagiasmos, which means a setting apart or a placement as unique and special. It is commonly translated as, sanctification, but that English word needs to be understood not only from the meaning of the Greek word, but also the way it is used within the context of Christian (biblical) theology. Sanctification is then amplified by the genitive case of the second noun, SPIRIT (pneuma), which can refer to either BY the Holy Spirit or OF the human spirit. When the rest of scripture speaks of this, we see that the emphasis is on the Holy Spirit as the agent of sanctification, rather than the human spirit being the object.

7. and faith in the truth: This is the noun, pistis (faith) plus the genitive case of truth, which expresses the idea of faith IN the truth.

This is saving faith expressed toward the gospel message, which is the opposite of verse 12, "did NOT believe the truth, so as to be saved."

Faith is man's part in the salvation equation.

A. God PROVIDES salvation through the work of the cross.
B. God extends the promise of salvation to all men.
C. Those who accept God's gift through faith are born again.
D. At that very instant God the Holy Spirit sanctifies that new believer by placing him into union with Christ.

For details see Topic: SANCTIFICATION

 

Verse 14

1. And it was for this He called you through our gospel:

The word, called, is kaleo as an aorist active indicative. and refers to both the invitation into salvation, and the STATUS that results when that invitation is accepted. This formula, "called for," occurs often and presents either a functional purpose for our election while we live here on earth, or an eternal purpose, which will be ours when we get to heaven.

2. that you may gain: This is the preposition, EIS, plus the noun, poiāsis, which means "for the possession." The purpose of being called into the status of salvation is so that the believer can share the glory of Christ IN THE FUTURE. This does not refer to glorifying Christ in your life, but rather, a participation and sharing in His glory at the moment that He returns, as well as throughout all eternity. In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians at verse 2:12, it says that God is the one "Who calls us into His own kingdom and glory."

3. the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ: This refers to resurrection glory first. At Colossians 3:4, Paul writes, "When Christ who is our life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory." Philippians 3:21 describes our resurrection body as, being transformed "into conformity with the body of His glory."

And then John tells us that "when He appears, then we shall be LIKE HIM for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:3).

It also refers to glory through reigning with Him for all eternity.

 

Verse 15

1. So then, brethren, stand firm: Paul exhorts the believers to be strong in the face of the great persecution pressure they were going through. The verb is stāko as a present active imperative and focuses on avoidance of human viewpoint and personal sin. Peter exhorts US about the same issues at 2 Peter 3:17 when he writes, "be on your guard lest being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own place of strength."

The means by which we stay strong and avoid the pitfalls of either human viewpoint or sin is to learn and consistently apply God's word. Paul calls this "the traditions which you were taught."

2. and hold to the traditions: This also is a present active imperative (krateo) and indicates the means by which the believer can stay strong.

Traditions is the word, paradosis, and means that which has been handed down as authoritative and standard for Christian living. Paul focuses on two sources here - verbal teaching or written teaching.

A. which you were taught: This is the verb, didasko, as an aorist passive indicative, and refers to all the various occasions that they were taught, viewed as one point of time, that has resulted in the possession of standards that will help them maintain stability in their Christian experience.

B. whether by word {of mouth} or by letter from us. Both verbal and written instruction results in the possession of this truth.
Paul describes this information as, "the words of the faith and the sound doctrine" (1 Tim. 4:6).

The actual content of the teaching revolves around the two factors that Paul mentions to Timothy at 1 Timothy 6:3, "the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the doctrine conforming to good worship."
The words of Jesus are obviously what He taught to the disciples. The other category of truth refers to an application of what Jesus taught in view of the church being the new evangelistic agent, as well as specific things that Jesus did not mention - or at least, is not recorded in the gospels as having been taught by Him.

According to 1 Corinthians 7:25, Paul had divine authority to teach on various truths that were not directly addressed by Jesus, for he writes, ". . . I have no command from the Lord, but I give viewpoint as one who has been shown mercy by the Lord (given the apostle gift) to be trustworthy."

These truths are the specifics that bring about consistency in true worship of God in light of the resurrection of Jesus.

 

Verses 16-17

These verses sound like a closing, and yet Paul still has a lot to write to them. Perhaps he had intended to close it at this point, but was then motivated to add the additional information contained in chapter 3. It seems that at verse 3:16, Paul writes another CLOSING after the additional information that he has added. It appears that verses 2:16-17 closes the letter, and then verse 3:1, "finally," (Literally - the rest), it seems like he writes, "oh wait, here's some more stuff I wanted to tell you."

1. Now may: This DESIRE is expressed through the optative mood of the two verbs in verse 17 (comfort and strengthen).

2. our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father: A dual subject, but there is no way to be certain whether the relative clause that DESCRIBES, is to be applied to both the Father and the Son, or just the Father. However, both the Father and the Son are involved with giving the comfort and strength mentioned in verse 17, and certainly both participate in our salvation to such an extent that the descriptions apply to both of them.

Paul often views the Father and the Son together as a UNIT, working together to accomplish not only the plan of salvation, but the experiential blessings for living here on earth. Jesus said, "I and my Father are one," (John 10:30) to indicate unity of character and purpose. Accordingly, using the relative clause to describe both of them would not be unusual.

In addition, the two verbs at verse 17 are in the 3rd person singular, but even this is not unusual for Paul. He does the very same thing at 1 Thessalonians 3:11 in what is almost an identical construction.

He wrote, "Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way (3rd person singular verb) to you."

If one were overly concerned with this interpretation, it would only need to be shown how both the Father and the Son participate in both the SALVATION factors mentioned in verse 16, and the experiential factors mentioned in verse 17.

3. who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace:

A. We know that both the Father and the Son HAVE loved us and on that basis provided salvation (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 5:), which is represented by the two factors, "eternal comfort" and "good hope."

B. Eternal comfort: The word, paraklāsis, often speaks of encouragement first and then comfort. It applies to our salvation as well, for we are encouraged AND comforted that our sins have been forgiven and we have everlasting life with God. However, this is the only place where the idea of COMFORT is used in reference to our salvation, although at Luke 16:25, Lazarus in paradise (Abe's bosom), is being comforted as he experiences the blessing of the after life at that time. Besides that, the closest thing we have to a COMFORT idea is found at Revelation 21:4.

"And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there
shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any
mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

C. The idea of GOOD hope is also a concept that is expressed only here. The word GOOD, is agathos, and refers to that which is intrinsically good, rather than what is FELT or perceived as good, which would be the Greek word, kalos.
The word, HOPE is elpis, and usually has the idea of confident expectation. The fact of our salvation, that is, a FUTURE life with God is a confidence that we have based on God's character. We depend on HIM and not on ourselves for the completion of our salvation, and that is why we can have confidence. The confidence of our salvation is expressed in many passages; some focus on the inception of our completed salvation which is at the time of resurrection, and some focus on the FACT and CONDITION of our salvation. (Rom. 5:2; Rom. 8:24; Rom. 8:25; Rom. 12:12; Rom. 15:12; 2Cor. 1:10; Gal. 5:5; Eph. 1:18; Eph. 2:12; Eph. 4:4; Col. 1:5; Col. 1:23; Col. 1:27; 1Ths. 1:3; 1Ths. 4:13; 1Ths. 5:8; 2Ths. 2:16; 1Tim. 1:1; 1Tim. 4:10; Titus 1:2; Titus 2:13; Titus 3:7; Hebr. 6:18; Hebr. 6:19; 1Pet. 1:3; 1Pet. 1:13; 1Pet. 1:21; 1Pet. 3:15; 1John 3:3).

 

D. By grace: this refers to the TERMS by which we are saved. Grace means what God does for us based on His character without recourse to our human merit, character or works. The only thing required by God is the ACCEPTANCE of the gift of salvation. Once we accept that gift through faith, we are secured in our salvation because God has so promised, and not because of anything we do or fail to do in the future.

See Topic: SALVATION SECURITY

 

Verse 17

1. comfort: This is parakaleo as an aorist active optative. It is the optative mood that gives us the MAY idea. It expresses a wish or desire on the part of the speaker. But the fulfillment of this desire is not dependent either on the wisher, or for that matter even God, who is the source. It is based rather, on the consistent fellowship and faithfulness of the believer. As the believer is faithful in Christian production (good works) and in speech (Christian message), he will experience great encouragement and a strengthening of resolve. The DESIRE of Paul is that the believers remain faithful and consistent. The comfort and support from God will then come as a result. He is not writing, "I wish that God would do this," but rather, "I wish that YOU would be consistent in your Christian life, and God will do this AS A RESULT."

2. and strengthen: This verb is stāridzo, which means to be strengthened from the standpoint of being supported.

3. your hearts: This word is usually used to indicate the mentality of the soul; where is contained intellect, knowledge and character.

For details: See Topic, The HEART

The heart, then, is the source for character expression, and the PLACE for finding MENTAL encouragement and support for continued faithfulness.

4. in every good work and word: This is the preposition EN, which can be rendered either IN THE SPHERE OF, or BY MEANS OF. It indicates that as the believer continues to apply bible truth in the sphere of good works and in proclaiming the word, God will continue to encourage and support him in His Christian walk.

It serves then, like a promise. If you guys will continue, God will be able to bless you. But if you fail, then God will be unable to comfort or support because that comes through an active application of God's word by the believer. God's comfort is first found in His word and experienced by the believer through application of God's character and plan as delineated in the word. Then the believer begins to experience the peace of God which surpasses all human comprehension (Phil. 4:6-7).

As we are consistent to apply God's word to the pressures and problems of our life, we are less likely to fall prey to the worry, depression, fear, and doubt that tempts us.

 

At verse 3:3, Paul repeats the promise in a different format.

He writes,

"The Lord is faithful, and He will SUPPORT (strengthen) and protect you from the evil one."

As the believer learns and uses God's word, he will find what he needs to UNDERSTAND about the schemes of the devil (2 Cor. 2:11), and how to defeat him. Satan is defeated in the lives of individual believers, as each believer applies the truths of God's word in order to maintain Christian character and behavior. God is faithful to work though the word and the Holy Spirit to protect us from evil influence and actions, if we will be diligent in using the truths He has provided.

It is as John writes, that if we let the word of God (the SEED) abide in us, then we will not sin (1 John 3:6-9). But as soon as we choose to set those divine viewpoint standards aside, then we quench the Spirit and leave ourselves open to the temptations of the world, the sin nature, and the devil.

God is ever faithful to support us; to encourage and guide, but He will never make us do or think anything. We choose to love Him; we choose to serve Him; we choose to make His word the standard for our life; AND we choose to turn away from Him and His word. The blessings and the misery in our Christian life is then based on those choices.

 
 
 

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