Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 30th, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
2 Thessalonians 2

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

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Verse 1

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: The word "by" (uper) means "with reference to" or "concerning" (Kittel, Vol. VIII 514). Paul is calling attention to the subject he has reference to, that is, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The word "coming" is often translated "presence." In the New Testament, the word "coming" (parousial) is never used in reference to a fleshly or earthly return of Christ. When Jesus comes again, His presence will be in the clouds, and every eye shall see him, every tongue shall confess his name (Revelation 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Acts 1:9-11; Philippians 2:9-11).

and by our gathering together unto him: The Greek word episunagogee is used in the New Testament of "a gathering together in one place" (Thayer 244-1-19971). This form of this word is used only twice, once in this passage and the other time in Hebrews 10:25, which states: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." There is a day set aside by God the Father when we will all assemble with Him. Until that day comes, we should regularly assemble ourselves together with the saints.

Two major events are mentioned in this one passage:

1. The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ

2. Our gathering together unto Him

These events are prophesied in the first epistle to the Thessalonians:

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

In the first chapter of 2 Thessalonians, Paul stresses the same point and further discusses the benefits of being a faithful child of God and the consequences of one who is not. One of the primary reasons for the writing of this epistle was that many had misunderstood Paul’s earlier teaching concerning when the Lord would return. They thought it was soon, very soon, so he wrote this epistle to let them know it would be a while and that certain things must take place first. This chapter is devoted to that subject.

Verse 2

That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

This passage is written to console the brethren who were all beside themselves over the fact that the coming of Christ was going to occur soon. They drew this conclusion from the first letter when Paul spoke of the end of the world and the coming of Christ by saying: "we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds" (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

In order to correct their misunderstanding, Paul assures them the coming of Jesus Christ will not occur until these prophecies are fulfilled. It is not a matter of "if" He will come but "when" He will come. Paul consoles them because he does not want their faith to be overthrown.

That ye be not soon shaken in mind: The word "soon" (takoes) refers to "quickly, shortly...hastily (Thayer 616-1-50301). "Be shaken" (nous) means "to shake down, overthrow, that is trop. to cast down from one’s (secure and happy) state...to move, agitate the mind to disturb one" (Thayer 567-1-4531). Paul encourages the Thessalonians so they will not be easily confused, mislead, shaken, or unsettled by deceitful teaching about the coming of Jesus Christ. Vincent says that by the phrase "be not soon shaken in mind," that Paul is telling the Thessalonians "to keep their heads" (Vol. IV 62).

or be troubled: "Troubled" (throeomai) means "to cry aloud, make a noise by outcry; in the New Testament to trouble, frighten...to be troubled in mind, to be frightened, alarmed" (Thayer 292-1-2360). Paul commands the Thessalonians not to be troubled (throeo), that is, they are not to be "frightened" or "alarmed" (Thayer 2922-2-2360) but to have a clear mind that they may have "the power of considering and judging soberly calmly and impartially" (Thayer 429-2-3563).

neither by spirit: "Spirit" is from pneuma, which means "one in whom a spirit is manifest or embodied; hence i.e. actuated by a spirit, whether divine or demoniacal; one who either is truly moved by God’s Spirit or falsely boasts that he is" (Thayer 522-2-4151) (see also 1 John 4:1-3 and 1 Timothy 4:1). Paul is teaching "if someone teaches something different from what we have taught, do not believe them." Paul teaches the same message saying:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:6-9).

nor by word: "By word" indicates someone has received word or messages from the apostles regarding the coming of Jesus Christ being at hand. It seems some of the false teachers pretended to bring a message from the apostle to the Thessalonians, saying the day of Christ was at hand.

nor by letter as from us: The word "letter" (epistolee) is defined as an "epistle" (Thayer 243-2-1992). Notice the similarities between the Greek spelling epistolee and the English word epistle. This phrase indicates a forged letter had been written as though from Paul, declaring false information about the coming of Jesus Christ. It is thought by some writers the phrase "nor by letter as from us" refers to a false interpretation of the actual letter Paul sent. The thought is people may be reading more into what Paul said and consequently drawing false conclusions and teaching the same. When Paul concludes this epistle, it becomes easy to recognize the authenticity of his writing. "The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write" (2 Thessalonians 3:17).

as that the day of Christ is at hand: The word "day" (heemera) points "of the last day of the present age" (Thayer 278-2-2250). "At hand" (enisteemi) literally means " (properly as it were to stand in sight, stand near) to be upon, impend, threaten" (Thayer 216-2-1764). The confusion of the Thessalonians concerns false reports saying that Paul said the coming of the Lord was at hand (enistemi), that is, "now present" (Vincent, Vol. IV 63). The underlying reason for this section of this epistle is the misunderstanding for whatever reason of the coming of Christ. Paul wants to clear it up before the congregation, saying certain events must happen before Jesus Christ will return.

Verse 3

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

Let no man deceive you by any means: The term "deceive" (exapateo) is defined as "actually leading astray" (Vincent, Vol. IV 63). "Means" (tropos) is "a manner, way, fashion...as even as, like as" (Thayer 631-l-5158).

There is a tremendous spiritual war going on. Since his creation, man has been tricked and deceived either by Satan (Genesis 3:13), Satan’s followers (Matthew 24:4), or even by man himself (l Corinthians 3:18; James 1:26). The Apostle Paul warned the Corinthians of the possibility of following Eve in deception instead of the simplicity that is in Christ. Severe consequences befall the one who follows another claiming to be Jesus or receiving another spirit or accepting another gospel, which is defined by Paul as a perverted gospel (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4; Ephesians 5:6).

for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first: "That day" refers to the coming of Christ that is being addressed in this book. The return of Jesus Christ is not going to happen until "there come a falling away." This phrase "falling away" (apostasia) indicates "a defection (or) apostasy" (Thayer 67-11-646). The King James Version of the Bible translates "a" falling away, but the Greek text renders "the" falling away.

The falling away, as sad as it is, has reference to many Christians leaving God, their faith, and Christianity altogether. Obviously, the subject of apostasy is the central theme in this and the next several verses. Paul is telling the Thessalonians the return of Christ cannot come until this event takes place. It is most likely Jesus equally has reference to this falling away when He says; "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many" (Matthew 24:11). Paul, in writing to Timothy, speaks of the falling away: "Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (1 Timothy 4:1). In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he says, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Paul wants to guard the Thessalonians lest they be deceived by the false teaching concerning the coming of Christ. He lists three ways they could be deceived and now directly warns them against the possibility. If anyone tells you that the end of the world, or the coming of Christ, is imminent, is a false teacher because there must "come a falling away first."

and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition: The religious world is much divided as to whom the phrases "the man of sin" and "son of perdition" refer? Some believe they refer to Judas Iscariot as the devil in the flesh while most writers believe they refer to the Pope. The most logical reference is to the Roman Catholic system, which includes the Pope and all his wickedness. The phrases "the man of sin" and "the son of perdition" have reference to the same being. They both refer to the Antichrist. The second phrase has reference to the fate of the Antichrist, that is, destruction. The phrase "son of perdition" (apokalupto) refers to "the Antichrist" (Thayer 62-1-601). In this chapter he is referred to three times:

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (2:3).

And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time (2:6).

And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming (2:6).

The word "perdition" (apolia) means "the destruction which consists in the loss of eternal life, eternal misery, perdition" (Thayer 70-2-684). Thayer further comments "it is the lot of those excluded from the kingdom of God...a man doomed to eternal misery...(of Antichrist)" (see John 17:12; 2 Peter 3:7).

"While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled" (John 17:12). (Here Jesus prays for his disciples and this son of perdition refers to Judas Iscariot.)

This appellation being given to Judas, (John 17:12) Dr. Newton thinks the application of it to the man of sin signifies, that, like Judas, the man of sin was to be a false apostle, and would betray Christ, and be utterly destroyed (MacKnight 429).

The Apostle Peter says, "But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men (2 Peter 3:7).

That man of sin, that son of perdition--The article, joined to these appellations, is emphatic, as in the former clause importing that the ancient prophets had spoken of these persons, though under different names; particularly the prophet Daniel, whose descriptions of the little horn and blasphemous king agree so exactly in meaning with Paul’s descriptions of the man of sin, and the son of perdition, and lawless one, that there can be little doubt of their being the same persons. But this will best appear a comparison of the passage (MacKnight 428).

Verse 4

Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God: MacKnight says:

In short, the meaning of the verse is, that the wicked teacher of whom the apostle speaks, will first oppose Christ, by corrupting the doctrine of the gospel concerning him, and after that, they will make void the government of God and of Christ in the Christian church, and the government of the civil magistrate in the state, by arrogating to themselves the whole spiritual authority which belongs to Christ, and all the temporal authority belonging to princes and magistrates (429).

This word "opposeth" is translated "adversary" (1 Timothy 5:14), "contrary" (Galatians 5:17), and "opposeth" (2 Thessalonians 2:4). The phrase "exalteth himself" (huperairomail) means "to lift or raise up over some thing; middle voice to lift one’s self up, be exalted, be haughty." Thayer further says "to carry one’s self haughtily to, behave insolently towards one" (Thayer 640-1-5229). The word "God" (Theos) is "a general appellation of deities or divinities" (Thayer 287-2-2316). It is used 1343 times in the New Testament.

In verse 4, the characteristics of the antichrist work themselves out, in the form of sin, in four different ways. The first sin of the antichrist is found in one who "opposeth" (antikeimai) God. "Opposeth" (antikimai) means "to be hostile to" God (Kittel, Vol. IV 655) or "to be adverse to, withstand" (Thayer 50-1-480), therefore, an adversary.

The second sin of the antichrist is found in a person who "exalteth himself above all that is called God." This person presents himself as though he is as great as God. As the greatness of the Apostle Paul’s ability to preach the gospel and the honors God entrusted to him increased, it seems he was made so humble that he would not look upon himself a some great man. He says, "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure" (2 Corinthians 12:7). Paul realizes the dangers of exalting himself above others, and he now speaks of it to the Thessalonians concerning the antichrist.

or that is worshipped: The third sin of the antichrist is found in a person who desires to be "worshipped." The phrase "that is worshipped" comes from sebasma, meaning "whatever is religiously honored, an object of worship" (Thayer 572-2-4574). This word is used of temples, altars, statues, and idolatrous images.

In Acts 17:16-34, while Paul is at Athens, "his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry" (verse 16). He says,

For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you (verse 23). This man of sin, son of perdition, Antichrist lifts himself above God Almighty and above all the idols that many in the world serve.

so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God: Most Greek manuscripts do not include this phrase. It is obvious no one can truly display himself as being God, even though the Pope lifts himself up so high he is recognized as "Lord God the Pope" in some religious circles.

"Archaeological material from Egypt, the Near East and the Greek Hellenistic world shows that sitting is a distinctive sign of deity" (Kittel, Vol III 441). Jesus also describes God as sitting upon a throne when He says, "But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King...And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon" (Matthew 5:34-35; Matthew 23:22). Also consider John’s vision of heaven:

And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold (Revelation 4:2-4).

The antichrist looks upon himself as being so sacred he not only lifts himself above God but also becomes as god sitting while others are to stand in his presence, which is a sign of authority over others.

showing himself that he is God: The fourth sin of the antichrist is that he portrays himself as a god. This son of perdition "showing himself that he is God" (apodiknumi) means he "declares" that he is God. No man can truly show himself to be God; however, throughout history, many have claimed to be God. Even though there is no proof for such a claim, by disguise and deceit they attempt to convince others of this falsehood.

Verse 5

Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

Remember ye not: "Remember" (mneemonuo) means "to be mindful of, to remember, to call to mind" (Thayer 416-1-3421). Paul is basically stating, "Don’t you remember" or "I am sure you remember" or "you certainly must remember."

that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?: Thayer comments "of a time; of a thing which went on formerly, whereas now a different state of things exists or has begun to exist" (254-2-2089). Paul, knowing what is going to transpire, tells the Thessalonians of the great falling away. He wants them to be informed and alerted to the difficult times ahead. He now reminds the church in Thessalonica that when he was with them, he had instructed them fully concerning these things that would come to pass. These words are a kind and gentle rebuke.

Verse 6

And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

And now ye know: This word "now" (nun) refers to "the present time" (Thayer 430-1-3568).

what withholdeth: These two words "what withholdeth" are from the Greek word "kateko," meaning "to hold back, detain, retain" (Thayer 339-2-2722). The word "withholdeth" in verse 6 is the same Greek word translated "let" in verse 7.

Thayer comments on this passage and verse 7 by saying:

that which hinders, namely Antichrist from making his appearance...;the power of the Roman empire is meant; he that hinders, checks, namely the advent of Antichrist, denotes the one in whom that power is lodged, the Roman emperor (339-2-2722)

Contextually it is clear there is some force in existence in Paul’s time that is hindering the appearance of the man of sin. Phillips’ translation puts it this way: "You will probably also remember how I used to talk about a "restraining power" which would operate until the time should come for emergence of this man."

Many New Testament passages reveal that a falling away from the truth was already developing even in apostolic times (Acts 20:29-30; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 John 4:1; 1 John 4:3; Judges 1:3; 1 John 2:18-19; 2 John 1:7).

that he might be revealed in his time: This phrase refers to the antichrist indicated in verse 5. The word "time" (kairos) refers to "a fixed and definite time." Thayer further comments, "the time when Antichrist shall show himself openly" (Thayer 318-1-2540).

Paul is telling the Thessalonians that now they know what is holding the "son of perdition," that is, the antichrist back, so that he may be made known at the proper time. MacKnight writes:

accordingly, the Christian fathers universally understood the restraining power to be the Roman Empire. In which opinion, whether it was derived from tradition or from conjecture, they seem to have been well founded (429).

"Revealed in his time means when the time came that the religion of Rome would not be any hindrance, then would be the time for the pope to be revealed or come out in the open." (Zerr, Vol. VI 158)

Paul did not say the antichrist would come in his own time, as Robertson states, the phrase indicates "in the time set him by God" (Robertson, Vol. IV 51).

Verse 7

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: This verse basically repeats an earlier message, although in different words. This phrase means "a hidden purpose or council; secret will" (Thayer 420-1-3466). Thayer further comments "the mystery of lawlessness, the secret purpose formed by lawlessness, seems to be a tacit antithesis to God’s saving purpose" (420-1-3466). The mystery of iniquity refers to the concentration of power. "The mystery of iniquity is a scheme of error not openly discovered, whose influence is to encourage iniquity" (MacKnight 429).

The word "iniquity" (anomia) means "the condition of one without law, whether because ignorant of it, or because violating it" (Thayer 48-2-458). The words "doth... work" (energeo) mean "to display ones activity, show ones self operative (Thayer 215-2-1754). The word "already" in the New Testament "is used everywhere of time, now, already" (Thayer 276-2-2235). This phrase "doth already work" clearly shows the thirst for power is already manifesting itself in those days as is still seen today.

The "mystery of iniquity" is the work of the antichrist that labors against God and His ways. The mystery refers to undeveloped sins that are already at work; and once they were fully developed they would attempt to destroy the simplicity of the gospel. It has direct aim at the doctrine of the church; therefore, Jesus says, "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (Matthew 24:11-12). In verse 9 of 2 Thessalonians, Paul will relate some of the different types of works that were being used to trick and confuse the Lord’s people—"signs" and "lying wonders." The Apostle John says, "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world" (1 John 4:3).

only he who now letteth will let: These words "who.. letteth" come from the same Greek word that "what withholdeth" does in verse 6. The Greek word "kateko" means "to hold back, detain, retain" (Thayer 339-2-2722). Thayer continues by saying, "that which hinders, namely Antichrist, denotes the one in whom that power is lodged, the Roman emperor."

until he be taken out of the way: Thayer says "to be taken out of the way, to disappear" (402-1-3319). The New International Version translates, "For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work: but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way."

Zerr says:

He who now letteth (hindereth) will let. He (the Roman heathen religion) will continue to be a hindrance to the growing movement in the church for universal power. Until he be taken out of the way. This means until the pagan or heathen religion of the Roman empire is replaced by the professed Christian religion that was claimed by the ambitious bishops (158).

McGarvey lists nine ways in which the papacy fulfills the prophecy about the falling away and the appearance of the man of sin:

1. It has one official man at its head, and the arrogance of its claims are centered in him.

2. That man came with, and out of, an apostasy, the very kind of an apostasy such as Paul describes elsewhere (2 Timothy 3:1-9; 1 Timothy 4:1-3).

3. The spiritual pride, lawlessness, and desire for power which worked in Paul’s day were curbed by the Roman civil government which dominated and persecuted.

4. When the bishop of Rome began to assert power, he was in conflict with the civil government.

5. When the Roman empire collapsed, the Roman church became all-powerful.

6. The same apostasy has been preserved carefully. The line of popes has been preserved, and will apparently be continued until Christ returns.

7. The papacy exalts itself against God and Christ, taking unto itself titles which God alone has the right to wear.

8. The popes sit in the temple of God.

9. The papacy proves its claims by fraudulent miracles, signs, and wonders, cures effects by relics and shrines (as quoted in Fields 203).

Verse 8

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

And then shall that Wicked be revealed: And then shall be revealed the "Wicked" or lawless one--the lawless one, being the man of sin, whose character and actions are described in verse 4. Note the word "wicked" is capitalized, thus primarily referring to the pope, leader of the Catholic religion. The fact that he will now be "revealed" means he will no longer be in the dark and in secret but will become openly known to everyone.

whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth: The word "consume" (analiskol) means "to consume, use up, destroy" (Thayer 39-2-355). In order to get a proper understanding of the magnitude of this word "consume," see Luke 9:54 and Galatians 5:15. This word "mouth" (stoma) refers specifically "the breath of his mouth" (Thayer 589-2-4750).

David Lipscomb says:

The breath of his mouth means his word. All this power to legislate, make, repeal, change the laws, add to the institutions that God has appointed is of "the man of sin." Taking the Roman Catholic hierarchy as the development of the man of sin, as I am sure it is, it will be seen that this mystery of lawlessness developed into the "man of sin" only after several hundred years growth. But the principle was at work in the days of Paul and developed into activity soon after he was taken out of the way and grew into the great Romish hierarchy (99).

and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: The words "shall destroy" (katargeo) mean "to render idle, unemployed, inactive, inoperative" (Thayer 336-1-2673). Thayer says the word "brightness" (epiphania) means "an appearing, appearance" (245-2-2015). Coming (paraousia) means "the presence of one coming, hence the coming, arrival, advent" (Thayer 490-2-3952).

Jesus needs no armies, jet planes, nor guided missiles. All He needs to do is speak His word. Isaiah says, "He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked" (11:4). David emphasizes, "The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: He uttered his voice, The earth melted" (Psalms 46:6). In 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8, Paul teaches that Jesus will come in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and they shall be destroyed with everlasting destruction. On that terrible blazing Day of the Lord when Jesus comes to execute righteous judgment upon all, there will be kings, great men, captains, bondmen, every free man, who will pray for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them and hide them from His face (Revelation 6:16). The rocks and the mountains will not answer their cry, and the Christ (whose face terrorizes the enemies of God) will need only to speak a word and the diabolical titanic Antichrist will be slain.

The Greek for the statement "with the brightness of His coming" signifies superhuman, divine appearance. The blazing brightness of the face of Jesus will be sufficient to destroy the Antichrist and wipe out all of his followers. When the enemies of Jesus see His face it will paralyze them in such fashion that they will become maniacs, screaming and begging for the great boulders of the mountains to roll down upon them and hide them from the face of the Christ! (Green 269).

This verse teaches that when the man of sin is revealed he will be destroyed by the Lord in the final day with the simple breath of His mouth. As powerful as the Pope is, and as tremendous as his organization is, it will fall to ruin with the breath of Jesus Christ in the final day. The great event may be compared to a big ant bed that has taken those hard working little creatures a long time to prepare yet with one footstep one can destroy it all. The great mighty evils of the Roman Catholic church will be destroyed with no problem by the divine being in Heaven.

Verse 9

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan: The first two words of this verse were added by the translators for clarification and are not in the original Greek text. This word "coming" (parousia) means "the coming, arrival, advent" (Thayer 490-2-3952). The term "working" (energeia) is defined as "working, efficiency" (Thayer 215-1-1753). Thayer continues by commenting that this term is "in the New Testament (is:) used only of superhuman power, whether of God or of the devil." In the passage under consideration, the working of Satan has reference to all deceptive miracles worked by the children of Satan, that is, his followers. Every miracle done by Antichrist or others are works done for Satan. Paul says, "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:" (Ephesians 2:2). "Satan" means "adversary" (Thayer 572-1-4567).

The spirit that works in the children of disobedience is still prevalent today. Many denominations today claim to perform all types of miracles, when in reality they are mere tricks and lies. The "miracles" are often very convincing, but they are false miracles. Jesus warns of false "miracle" workers, "For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things" (Mark 13:22-23).

with all power: The word "power" (dunamis) refers to "the power of performing miracles" (Thayer 159-2-1411).

and signs: Thayer says the word "signs" (seemion) means "a sign, prodigy, portent," and he comments "that (it) is an unusual occurrence, transcending the common course of nature" (Thayer 573-1-4592). God permitted "miracles" (mentioned above) and "signs" to be used in the apostolic times in order to convince people of His new message; however, during this time, men were often deceived because of the many false teachers and false prophets performing miracles by deception. John writes:

And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live (Revelation 13:13-14).

For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty (Revelation 16:14).

and lying wonders: The word "lying" (psudos) means "a lie, conscious and intentional falsehood" (Thayer 676-1-5579). The term "wonders" means "a prodigy, portent; miracle" (Thayer 620-2-5059).

"Lying wonders" refer to the fraudulent "power" and "signs" being performed for the purpose of deceiving others. These types of powers and signs were more of magical qualities or strong delusions than true miracles, simply making things appear different from the way they actually were. Many people were deceived by believing a lie, thinking that what they witnessed was a true miracle. Paul says, "For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" (verse 11).

Verse 10

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish: The word "deceivableness" (apatee) means "deceit, deceitfulness" (Thayer 55-1-539), "deception or enticement" (Kittel, Vol. I 385). Just as is true with Satan himself, the number one trait of the "mystery of iniquity" (Antichrist) is deception. This is Satan’s tool to lead God’s children into wickedness. Paul cautions the Thessalonians against being easily confused (verse 2). People with such a characteristic would be the first to be deceived. Warnings of this type are common in Paul’s writings: "But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:13).

To the church at Colosse, Paul says, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Colossians 2:8).

"Deceivableness of unrighteousness" is found in those who perish. The term "unrighteousness" (adikia) refers to "unrighteousness of heart and life" (Thayer 12-1-93). The message is that all unrighteousness in our hearts and lives will lead to perishing. Paul contrasts salvation and damnation. In this verse, he contrasts those who are perishing and those receiving salvation. Thayer further comments "deceit which unrighteousness uses" (Thayer 12-1-93). "That perish" (apollumi) means "to incur the loss of true or eternal life; to be delivered up to eternal misery" (Thayer 64-1-622).

because they received not the love of the truth: The word "because" (anti) is defined here as "for the reason that" (Kittle, Vol. I 372). The word "received" (dekomai) means "to receive favorably, give ear to, embrace, make one’s own, approve, not to reject" (Thayer 130-2-1209). Thayer says the word "love" (agapee) means "affection, good-will, love, benevolence" and comments that the love under consideration is "love which embraces the truth" (4-1-26).

The word "truth" (aleethia) refers to "the truth, as taught in the Christian religion, respecting God and the execution of his purposes through Christ, and respecting the duties of man." Thayer further comments, "opposed alike to the superstitions of the Gentiles and the inventions of the Jews, and to the corrupt opinions and precepts of false teachers even among Christians...the truth which is the gospel or which the gospel presents" (26-2-225).

The reason some did not receive the love of the truth and salvation is they were deceived. We see another contrast between truth, which is characteristic of God and his followers, and lying wonders (verse 9), which are characteristic of the antichrist and his followers. The truth refers to the gospel. People who reject the truth are also refusing to receive God and all He stands for. In rejecting the truth (gospel), they reject the church which is built upon the truth. Paul says, "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15).

To reject the truth (gospel) is to reject Christianity, as Peter says, "Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth" (2 Peter 1:12). The entire message of this verse is that truth leads to salvation while unrighteousness leads to perishing.

"Perishing" is accomplished by "deceivableness of unrighteousness" while salvation is received by the love of the truth. In verse 12, Paul contrasts believing the truth, which leads to salvation, and having pleasure in unrighteousness, which leads to damnation. Paul gives a similar contrast in Romans 2:8, "But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath."

that they might be saved: The words "be saved" (sozo) refer "to save in the technical biblical sense; negatively, to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment, Joel 2:32; to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance" (Thayer 610-1-4982).

Verse 11

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusions: The words "shall send" mean "to send (thrust or insert) a thing into another (Revelation 14:15; Revelation 14:18)" (Thayer 499-2-3992).

According to Thayer, the word "delusion" means:

a wandering, a straying about, whereby one, led astray from the right way, roams hither and thither. In the New Testament metaphorically mental straying, that is error, wrong opinion relative to morals or religion: Ephesians 4:14, 1 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:11; 2 Peter 2:18; 2 Peter 3:17; 1 John 4:6; Judges 1:11 (514-1-4106).

that they should believe a lie: To "believe a lie" means "to think to be true; to be persuaded of; to credit place confidence in" (Thayer 511-1-4100). Lying (psudos) means "a lie, conscious and intentional falsehood" (Thayer 676-1-5579).

It seems that Paul is quoting, at least in part, the words of Isaiah, as he says:

Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not (Isaiah 66:3-4).

Since creation, man has been allowed to decide for himself the way he would go. If people choose to obey God, they follow Him; but if they choose to follow Satan, they are permitted to do so. Joshua says:

Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth:...And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD (Joshua 24:14-15).

When people choose to "receive not the truth" (verse 10) or the gospel, then God gives them to Satan by allowing them to believe the lies and deceptive miracles of the unrighteous.

On another occasion, Paul says, "Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves" (Romans 1:24).

The gospel is God’s last plea for mankind; therefore, if anyone rejects these truths, there is no hope for him—he is turned over to Satan. The delusions are simply the works of false teachers that the Lord will "take out of the way" (verse 7) when He returns. Steadfastness in belief of the truth is the only escape from the strong delusions in this world.

The case of incest in 1 Corinthians 5 is an example of a person who rejected the truth, and speaking of him Paul says, "To deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Corinthians 5:5). Paul also speaks of others who rejected the truth. Writing to Timothy about two former faithful Christians, he says: "Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme" (1 Timothy 1:20).

If a person does not "love the truth," God will allow him to follow after that which he loves; and, consequently he will pay for it with eternal damnation.

Verse 12

That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

That they all might be damned who believed not the truth: The phrase "might be damned" (krino) is from the Greek word meaning "to judge; to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong." Thayer comments further "of the judgment of God or of Jesus the Messiah, deciding between the righteousness and the unrighteousness of men (Thayer 360-2-2919)." Thayer continues, saying, "contextually used specifically of the act of condoning and decreeing (or inflicting) penalty on one" (Thayer 361-1-2919).

The "damned," that is, God’s judgment of the wicked, must be on those who reject the gospel because they find pleasure in unrighteousness. They could have chosen to obey the truth, but yet they willingly chose unrighteousness.

The word "truth" (aleethia) means "the truth, as taught in the Christian religion, respecting God and the execution of his purposes through Christ, and respecting the duties of man" (Thayer 26-2-225).

but had pleasure in unrighteousness: The phrase "had pleasure" (udokeo) means "to be well pleased with, take pleasure in" (Thayer 258-1-2106). The word "unrighteousness" (adikia) refers to "unrighteousness of heart and life (Thayer 12-1-93). In 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, the Apostle Paul says:

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Verse 13

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you: These words are almost a duplicate of the statement found in the introduction to this second letter (1:3). Paul has obviously found much to pray for on behalf of the Thessalonians. In chapter one, verse 3, he thanks God for their growing faith and charity for each other. In chapter one, verse 11, he prays that God would count them worthy of their calling.

brethren beloved of the Lord: The word "beloved" here is the same Greek word as "hath loved us" in verse 16.

because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: The word "beginning" (arkee) means "origin" (Thayer 76-2-746). The words "chosen you to salvation" mean exactly what they say with no hidden meaning. The word "sanctification" (hagiasmos) means "consecration, purification" (Thayer 6-2-38). In other words, Paul is saying these people were chosen by "sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." When the Thessalonians first believed and obeyed the truth (gospel), they were chosen by God. Often, people are mistaken in thinking the beginning refers to the beginning of creation; however, Paul could not mean creation because he said they were chosen from "belief of the truth" and that God called them by the gospel (2:14).

Some Calvinists believe we are predestined for eternal life or eternal damnation based on this verse and other similar ones. God does not predestine any of us to heaven or hell. We are free moral agents, capable of making up our own minds whether to obey the truth and be saved or disobey it and be lost.

God has the ability to foreknow many things, but He does not predestine our eternity either in heaven or hell. God does predestine the fact that the righteous will be saved and the wicked will be lost. He set up the classes of people for eternity, but He does not forcibly place us in a situation against our personal will.

Hagiasmos, defined as "consecration or purification" (Thayer 6-2-38), is translated "sanctification" in this verse; however, it can also be translated "holiness" as in Paul’s first letter: "For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness" (1 Thessalonians 4:7).

People receive sanctification of the Spirit, that is, they become purified or holy by obedience to God’s word. Jesus says, "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth" (John 17:17). Sanctification comes after we are freed from sin. Paul says, "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life" (Romans 6:22).

and belief of the truth: The truth here, as in the preceding verse, is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul’s message is that being chosen by God depends upon our believing and obeying the truth. God calls us by the gospel; and if we obey the gospel, then through this means He has chosen us. The word "belief" (pistis) means "faith in God of which Jesus Christ is the author" (Thayer 513-1-4102). The word "truth" (aleethia) means "the truth, as taught in the Christian religion, respecting God and the execution of his purpose through Christ, and respecting the duties of man" (Thayer 26-2-225).

Verse 14

Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Whereunto he called you by our gospel: According to Thayer, the word "called" (kaleo) means "to invite one." He continues by saying, "metaphorically to invite one to something that is to participate in it, enjoy it; used thus in the Epistles of Paul and Peter of God as inviting men by the preaching of the gospel" (Thayer 321-1-2564).

People frequently refer to God’s calling them by a variety of means. God calls us "by the gospel" and in no other way. God does not speak to us through other means today, only through the word of God. The proof of this belief is found in the conversions in the book of Acts. In all cases of conversion, the gospel is carried forth and proclaimed by a third party.

When Saul is converted to New Testament Christianity in Acts 9, he asks "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6). Jesus responds, "Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do" (Acts 9:6).

to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ: The word "obtaining" is defined "obtaining...with a genitive of the thing to be obtained" (Thayer 505-1-4047). The words "the glory" (doxa) refer to "the glorious condition of blessedness into which it is appointed and promised that true Christians shall enter after their Saviour’s return from heaven" (Thayer 156-2-1391). This popular phrase "Lord Jesus Christ" refers "to Jesus as the Messiah, since by His death he acquired a special ownership in mankind and after his resurrection was exalted to a partnership in the divine administration" (Thayer 366-1-2962).

Through obedience, Christians obtain this glory in order to be ready to meet Jesus when he returns. Jesus says, "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one" (John 17:22).

During times of trouble and suffering, Paul would think and speak of this glory: "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). The greatest promise we have to help us overcome all troubles in this present life is found in Paul’s teaching "when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory" (Colossians 3:4).

Verse 15

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast: The two words "stand fast" (steko) mean "to stand firm; tropically to persist, persevere" (Thayer 588-1-4739).

and hold the traditions which ye have been taught: The word "hold" (krateo) means "to hold fast...not to discard or let go; to keep carefully and faithfully" (Thayer 359-1-2902). The word "traditions" (paradosis) means "a giving over which is done by word of mouth or in writing...what is delivered, the substance of the teaching" (Thayer 481-2-3862). We need to be careful to understand and accept that today we use the word "tradition" to indicate our custom or perhaps our manmade ways of doing things; however, in the scriptures, especially in the passage under consideration, the word "tradition" is not used in that way; it is used to convey precepts received from the fathers, whether handed down in the Old Testament books or orally. These precepts were to be accepted with equal force and reverence. The common use of the word "tradition" is used some in the New Testament (Mark 7:8; Colossians 2:8) but let us not misunderstand its usages in this passage and others.

The phrase "which ye have been taught" (didasko) means "to teach one something" (Thayer 144-2-1321).

Paul refers here to the teaching he did when he was with them as the church was established in Thessalonica. Now concerning this teaching, they are told to "stand fast (steko) meaning "to persevere" (Thayer 588-1-4739). He encourages the Colossians to be "Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving" (Colossians 2:7). The necessity of standing fast or holding to the truth is often emphasized by Paul. To the Corinthians, he says, "Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you" (1 Corinthians 11:2). To the church at Philippi, he says, "Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ:...that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27).

Paul’s purpose in stressing the necessity of holding to the truth is that Christ will be glorified. Speaking of the communion, Paul says, "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you..." (1 Corinthians 11:23); therefore, the words of Paul were to be obeyed because they came from the Lord.

Paul emphasizes the seriousness of this steadfastness in the truth when he says, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us" (3:6).

whether by word: The word "word" (logos) means "the act of speaking, speech" (Thayer 380-2-3056).

or our epistle: The word "epistle" (epistolee) means "a letter" (Thayer 243-2-1992).

Verse 16

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God, even our Father: Paul mentions several times in this letter the need for praying to God on behalf of the Thessalonians. In these two verses, we read again of his praying. The Thessalonians obviously have become very much concerned because of the false teaching they received; therefore, Paul prays God will comfort their hearts (verse 17). This prayer alone should comfort them because Paul opens the prayer by making reference to two of the three in the Godhead, the Messiah who is our Lord Jesus Christ, and God, our Father. The third person in the Godhead, although not mentioned in this passage has a very important part in our prayers according to Romans 8:26, which teaches the Spirit makes intercessions for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.

which hath loved us: Thayer comments on the phrase "hath loved us" (agopao) by saying "of the benevolence which God, in providing salvation for men, has exhibited by sending his Son to them and giving him up to death" (3-2-25). The phrase "hath loved us" here is the same word as the word "beloved" in verse 13.

What could possibly give more comfort than the knowledge that our Creator and His Son, the Messiah, love us? The term "love" (agapao) is defined as "to have a preference for, wish well to, regard the welfare of" (Thayer 3-2-25). John’s words best describe this love. The love God has for us is more than can be imagined. The closest we can get to it is found in John words: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Paul says:

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors though him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).

and hath given us everlasting consolation: The word "everlasting" (aionios) means "without end, never to cease, everlasting" (Thayer 20-2-166). The same word "everlasting" is used in 2 Thessalonians 1:9, meaning "everlasting destruction," and in 2:16 "everlasting consolation." It is not hard to know which way we would have it with us. The word "consolation" (parakleesia) means "consolation, comfort, solace" (Thayer 483-1-3874).

and good hope through grace: The word "good" from the Greek word agathos means "pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy" (Thayer 2-2-18). The word "hope" (elpis) means "much more frequently in the classics, and always in the New Testament in a good sense: ’expectation of good, hope;’ and in the Christian sense, ’joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation:’" (Thayer 205-2-1680). The word "grace" (karis) generally means "good-will, loving-kindness, favor: in a broad sense...kindness which bestows upon one what he has not deserved" (Thayer 2-2-18).

In continuing this prayer, Paul prays that the Thessalonians, through grace, would have good hope, that is, that they would be "joyful and confident (in expecting) eternal salvation" (Thayer 205-2-1680). Since receiving the false or misunderstood teachings about the return of Christ, it seems they had doubts of their eternal home. With such doubts, they could not live in comfort. This good hope was made possible by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Verse 17

Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

Verse 17 is a continuation of the sentence begun in verse 16 so that the One who loved us and gave us courage is the same One Paul desires may comfort the hearts of the Thessalonians and establish them in every good word and work.

In 2 Thessalonians 1:9, we learn of the fate of the disobedient, that is, eternal destruction. Here we see the everlasting consolation the Christian has.

Comfort your hearts: The word "comfort" (parakaleo) means "to encourage, strengthen" (Thayer 483-1-3870).

and stablish you in every good word and work: This word "stablish" (steerizo) means "to strengthen, make firm;...to render constant, confirm, one’s mind (A.V. establish)" (Thayer 588-1-4741).

Obviously, the main purpose of this prayer is that God would give the Thessalonians the mental comfort they need. The term "stablish" is very close in meaning to "comfort." The word "stablish" has reference to being confirmed in every word that Paul has delivered and also in their works or actions of obedience to these instructions.

The word "work" (ergon) indicates "an act, deed, thing done" (Thayer 248-1-2041).

As Paul prayed, so do we:

We pray that the Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father will comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. God loved us. Through his grace he gave us a good hope and comfort that continues forever (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17) (New Century Version).

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2". "Contending for the Faith". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/2-thessalonians-2.html. 1993-2022.
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