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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

2 Thessalonians 2

Verse 1

THE SECOND COMING

‘Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him.’

2 Thessalonians 2:1

When will this ‘gathering’ be? It will be at the end of the world, when Christ returns to earth the second time. Visibly He went away, visibly in the body He will return; and the very first thing that He will do will be to ‘gather together’ His people ( Matthew 24:31).

I. What will be the manner of this ‘gathering’?—This is plainly revealed in Holy Scripture. The dead saints shall be raised, and the living saints shall all be changed ( Revelation 20:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-Esther :; 1 Corinthians 15:51-1 Thessalonians :). And this ‘gathering’ will be great, wonderful, humbling:

( a) Great—because all the people of God, from the first saint of God’s to the last born at the time of His Coming, out of every nation, all shall be assembled together.

( b) Wonderful—because His saints in different ages and from different climes, who have never seen each other in the flesh, nor know each other’s native tongues, shall form one harmonious throng; the confusion of tongues shall cease ( Revelation 5:13; Revelation 7:9-2 Samuel :). Moreover, many will be there whom we might never have expected to see at all (St. Matthew 19:30).

( c) Humbling—because an end will then be made of all that disfigured and hampered the ‘Church’ on earth—an end to bigotry, party spirit, religious jealousy, and pride. They will meet there in perfect agreement who refused to meet on earth; all differences will be sunk, for at last all will be completely ‘clothed with humility’ ( 1 Peter 5:5).

II. What will be the object of this ‘gathering’?—For the safety and reward of Christ’s people. However fearful the signs of the impending Judgment, His saints will have no cause to tremble, or to dread the great day of their ‘gathering together’; they shall be hidden in the secret place of the Most High. And this ‘gathering together’ will mark the inauguration of their exceeding great and final reward; complete justification from all guilt will be declared to all; each will receive that ‘crown of glory which fadeth not away’ and ‘the kingdom prepared before the foundation of the world’; and the great throng will be admitted publicly into the joy of their Lord.

III. Why is this ‘gathering together’ of His people a thing to be desired?—Because

( a) It will be a state totally unlike their present condition. To be scattered rather than gathered seems to be the rule on earth. Few continue long together even during their lives here. Children, parents, friends, fellow-workers, fellow-Christians, are being continually forced asunder from various causes; and, as life draws to its close, many a one is left almost alone. The hour is coming when there shall be no such thing as separation and loneliness. There will be no lack of company in that great ‘gathering together.’

( b) It will be an assembly of one mind and one heart. There are none such now. Mixture, hypocrisy, disunion, false profession, discord, creep in everywhere here. The tares grow together with the wheat. The foolish virgins tarry along with the wise. There is a Judas and a Demas in every Christian congregation; and wherever the ‘sons of God’ come together, Satan is sure to appear among them. But this will cease on that Day, when our Lord shall present to the Father a perfect Church ‘having neither spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing’ ( Ephesians 5:27).

( c) It will be a ‘gathering’ at which none shall be absent. The weakest lamb will not be left behind in the wilderness. We shall hold communion with all the saints of God who have fought the good fight before us from the beginning of the world. We shall once more see our dear ones who fell asleep in Jesus, better, more beautiful, than we knew them on earth.

( d) It will be a ‘meeting’ without a ‘parting.’ There are no such meetings now. ‘Good-bye’ is ever treading on the heels of ‘How are you?’ The cares and duties of life seem to eat up all our days and to make any appreciable period of inter-communion impossible. But the hour cometh when ‘farewell’ shall be buried for ever; when we shall meet in that endless state of ‘blessedness’ to part no more. No wonder the Apostle Paul bids us look up and look forward.

—Bishop J. C. Ryle.

Verse 1

THE SECOND COMING

‘Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him.’

2 Thessalonians 2:1

When will this ‘gathering’ be? It will be at the end of the world, when Christ returns to earth the second time. Visibly He went away, visibly in the body He will return; and the very first thing that He will do will be to ‘gather together’ His people ( Matthew 24:31).

I. What will be the manner of this ‘gathering’?—This is plainly revealed in Holy Scripture. The dead saints shall be raised, and the living saints shall all be changed ( Revelation 20:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-Esther :; 1 Corinthians 15:51-1 Thessalonians :). And this ‘gathering’ will be great, wonderful, humbling:

( a) Great—because all the people of God, from the first saint of God’s to the last born at the time of His Coming, out of every nation, all shall be assembled together.

( b) Wonderful—because His saints in different ages and from different climes, who have never seen each other in the flesh, nor know each other’s native tongues, shall form one harmonious throng; the confusion of tongues shall cease ( Revelation 5:13; Revelation 7:9-2 Samuel :). Moreover, many will be there whom we might never have expected to see at all (St. Matthew 19:30).

( c) Humbling—because an end will then be made of all that disfigured and hampered the ‘Church’ on earth—an end to bigotry, party spirit, religious jealousy, and pride. They will meet there in perfect agreement who refused to meet on earth; all differences will be sunk, for at last all will be completely ‘clothed with humility’ ( 1 Peter 5:5).

II. What will be the object of this ‘gathering’?—For the safety and reward of Christ’s people. However fearful the signs of the impending Judgment, His saints will have no cause to tremble, or to dread the great day of their ‘gathering together’; they shall be hidden in the secret place of the Most High. And this ‘gathering together’ will mark the inauguration of their exceeding great and final reward; complete justification from all guilt will be declared to all; each will receive that ‘crown of glory which fadeth not away’ and ‘the kingdom prepared before the foundation of the world’; and the great throng will be admitted publicly into the joy of their Lord.

III. Why is this ‘gathering together’ of His people a thing to be desired?—Because

( a) It will be a state totally unlike their present condition. To be scattered rather than gathered seems to be the rule on earth. Few continue long together even during their lives here. Children, parents, friends, fellow-workers, fellow-Christians, are being continually forced asunder from various causes; and, as life draws to its close, many a one is left almost alone. The hour is coming when there shall be no such thing as separation and loneliness. There will be no lack of company in that great ‘gathering together.’

( b) It will be an assembly of one mind and one heart. There are none such now. Mixture, hypocrisy, disunion, false profession, discord, creep in everywhere here. The tares grow together with the wheat. The foolish virgins tarry along with the wise. There is a Judas and a Demas in every Christian congregation; and wherever the ‘sons of God’ come together, Satan is sure to appear among them. But this will cease on that Day, when our Lord shall present to the Father a perfect Church ‘having neither spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing’ ( Ephesians 5:27).

( c) It will be a ‘gathering’ at which none shall be absent. The weakest lamb will not be left behind in the wilderness. We shall hold communion with all the saints of God who have fought the good fight before us from the beginning of the world. We shall once more see our dear ones who fell asleep in Jesus, better, more beautiful, than we knew them on earth.

( d) It will be a ‘meeting’ without a ‘parting.’ There are no such meetings now. ‘Good-bye’ is ever treading on the heels of ‘How are you?’ The cares and duties of life seem to eat up all our days and to make any appreciable period of inter-communion impossible. But the hour cometh when ‘farewell’ shall be buried for ever; when we shall meet in that endless state of ‘blessedness’ to part no more. No wonder the Apostle Paul bids us look up and look forward.

—Bishop J. C. Ryle.

Verses 1-2

MYSTERY MET BY FAITH

‘The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ … that ye be not soon shaken in mind.’

2 Thessalonians 2:1-Exodus :

The Apostle is here evidently addressing men who had conceived a wrong opinion as to the nearness of the Day of Judgment. He beseeches them by the very event, and by the solemn interest which all Christian men have in it, that they would give up this mistaken notion however they might have become familiar with it. He goes on to explain that previous to the tremendous transaction a certain other appalling event must take place, to be followed by the discovery of Antichrist.

I. How does it come to pass, if the Apostles were indeed aware that the Day of Judgment was still distant, that they so frequently use language which seems to imply its very near approach indeed? We must remember that their language is the established language of the prophets from the beginning. Ever since the Fall, the Second Advent of Christ was ever the one great event for which the whole human race was ever looking; and all, as many as God hath ever sent to be watchmen to the House of Israel, He hath instructed to herald His approach in the same unvarying formula, ‘The Lord is at hand.’

II. There is generally something mysterious and unexpected in the notes of time which are found in the utterances of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. They create rather than remove difficulties.

III. And yet the simplest, humblest faith is ever the wisest and the best. The Lord must be at hand, because the Lord Himself hath said it. He at the end of the days—he will find himself in the right, who has believed in the nearness of the Second Advent; who has accepted the message in the letter of it; who has lived and died in the constant apprehension, ‘Behold, the Judge standeth before the door.’

—Dean Burgon.

Verse 3

THE SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST

‘That day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.’

2 Thessalonians 2:3

The spirit of Antichrist is always in the world.

I. The spirit of Antichrist is the spirit of opposition to all moral restraint, and to all rule and authority. It is the spirit of corruption as St. Peter says, that is to say, of undoing and decomposition. Corruption is the opposite to life. Life builds up, corruption destroys.

II. The spirit of Antichrist is the spirit of hindering and forbidding the Church to do the work Christ has set her to do. It is the spirit that hates and would tread down worship offered to Christ. It is the spirit that abhors and would eliminate all definite belief in the truths of the gospel.

III. The antichristian spirit is not only engaged in attack from without, it is a corrupting spirit acting within, degenerating that which is good. Now we are expressly told that before the end the man of sin will be revealed, who is to oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

IV. But the end is not yet.—As you look into the summer sky on the advent of a storm, you see fitful flashes and hear distant rumblings before the tempest bursts with full fury on you; so throughout the age of the Christian Church we see the flash and hear the mutter of persecution, the signs preceding the advent of Antichrist and the coming of our Lord in glory. Such was the destruction of Jerusalem, such persecution following persecution; such in France, the outburst of the Revolution—but the whole series of events, the full stress of that terrible time will not be yet—not till the end.

—Rev. S. Baring-Gould.

Illustrations

(1) ‘I cannot say that the Papacy is the Antichrist, but it has shown the antichristian spirit. It is founded on lies, for its claims rest on forged title-deeds, the Decretals; it has been a corrupting power, encouraging, sanctioning lying wonders, conferring indulgences on such as worship this and that image which the Pope solemnly crowns; it withdrew the cup from the laity, withheld the Bible from the people, revolutionised the divine order of the Church, by the Pope exalting himself over all the bishops of the Latin communion, making them derive their authority and mission from him; it has used torture and the sword and fire to exterminate those who revolted against its supremacy, and it has finally proclaimed its infallibility.’

(2) ‘The most striking foreshadowing of the great falling away, and the revolt against Christ and His kingdom, was shown on a small scale, and in one land only—in the French Revolution. Then the Sunday was abolished and the week made to consist of ten days. The churches were desecrated and turned into debating club rooms, the worship of Christ was forbidden, and it was a matter of death for Christians to assemble for Divine worship, priests wherever caught were hung to a tree or the next lamp-post, and volleys of shot were poured upon those who assembled for prayer, and finally in place of God, in the temple of God, Human Reason was elevated to be publicly worshipped.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

THE MAN OF SIN

Very solemn, to the ear of faith, are all those deep notes of prophecy which foretell what shall be in the last days. Solemn in every age of the Church, the words and prophetic warnings seem to increase in solemnity as the ages roll by. Consider what Holy Scripture delivers concerning the great apostasy which shall usher in the end, and specially concerning the man of sin, the son of perdition, who is to be revealed before the final advent of Christ to judge the world. Would we make the teaching of the Spirit practical, we shall—

I. As knowing that we have no assurance that Antichrist will not come in our own day, survey his features attentively as they are given in God’s Word, in order that we may know him if we see him. And

II. If exaltation of self against and above God—if a blasphemous assumption of the privileges and prerogatives of the Godhead be a prime note of Antichrist, then let us look warily in the direction of Rome.

III. But He is called the lawless one; and although superstition is ever near akin to unbelief, yet we must in fairness acknowledge that the licentiousness of speculation finds its most congenial atmosphere in other branches of the Church than the Roman. All may read the signs of the times, and must be aware that the nations of the north could contribute a feature to the man of sin, no less than those that dwell beyond the Alps.

IV. Keep these the great verities of faith, and suffer not the business or the calling, the family ties or the social duties, to elbow everything else clean out of your sight.

—Dean Burgon.

Illustration

‘When we recall our Lord’s Prayer that all might be one as He with the Father, it is not possible to avoid the conclusion that the spirit of Antichrist will be the sectarian spirit striving to make Christ’s prayer of none effect. That there will be finally a great conjuration among all who hate the truth, or are jealous of the Church, and are in revolt against the moral law, is clearly laid down in Scripture, under the form of a great gathering against Jerusalem, and a final and terrible persecution, so terrible that men will fall away and deny the Faith so as to save their lives, or so as to stand well with the World Power; and doubtless there will be all sorts of attempts at compromise. The great bulk of men may have sufficient faith in Christ to wish to obey Him and worship Him, but will not have the moral courage to resist the power of the world when a confederate attack is made upon the Church.’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/2-thessalonians-2.html. 1876.