|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.
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."
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 as recorded at Matthew 24:23-26. False teachers will arise and tell you that Jesus has already come and He is here or there.
Jesus also clarified that the second coming would not occur until some time after 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
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).
The exhortation not to be deceived is an aorist active
subjunctive plus the negative, of exapataō. 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.
THE DEIFICATION OF THE MAN OF LAWLESSNESS
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,
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.
Daniel gives us more information about this person and his activities after he breaks the 7-year covenant.
Jesus told us that this act of "abomination" would signal the beginning of the great tribulation,
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,
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.
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.
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 -
2. The last clause also requires an addition of words.
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
Jesus tells of these things at Matthew 24:24.
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.
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.
1. in order that: this is a hina clause to indicate the
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?"
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.
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.
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.
For details see Topic: SANCTIFICATION
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.
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.
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:
See Topic: SALVATION SECURITY
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.
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.
©Ron Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com.
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