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Bible Commentaries

Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books

2 Thessalonians 2

Verses 4-6

Characteristics of the Man of Sin

Paul said the man of sin is continually opposed to anyone other than himself being lifted up in man's eyes or worshipped. So jealous is he of anyone, or thing, being worshipped above him that he actually makes himself sit on the seat that belongs to God in the temple. Paul thought of the church as the temple under the new covenant ( Eph_2:21 ; 1Co_3:16-17 ). The man of sin usurps God's place in the church and sets himself up as God.

McGarvey says, "The Greek word for 'worship' is sebasma ; from it came Selastus or Augustus (i.e., the Worshipful), which was the title of the Roman emperors." He went on to say, "A man of that age could hardly see this word in such a connection without thinking that Paul meant to convey the idea that the anti-Christ would arrogate to himself all the reverence then claimed by the great civil lords of the earth, such as emperors, kings, etc." Thus, we see a man, group of men or type of man, who would set himself up at the head of the church as one worthy of worship, thereby leading all who would follow him into apostasy.

Warnings of a falling away are found repeatedly in the New Testament ( Act_20:29-31 ; 1Ti_4:1-5 ; 2Ti_3:1-8 ; 2Ti_4:3-5 ; 2Pe_2:1-3 ; 2Pe_3:1-7 ). Paul warned the Thessalonians in person, as well as in this letter, concerning the dangers of such a falling away. He said God was restraining the man of sin until a time that fit His timetable. He may have done that through the repeated warnings of the apostles and strong elders who constantly went to theWord for their authority. Certainly, when men cease to look within God's word for solutions to spiritual problems they are ripe for the reception of an outside authority ( 2Th_2:4-6 ).

Verses 7-9

The Coming and Power of the Lawless One

The lawless spirit was probably called a mystery because it was not practiced in the open in its early stages. The "he" who prevented lawlessness from spreading at the time of Paul's writing may have been Christ. Certainly, we know he has the power to restrain the devil ( Rev_20:1-3 ). Paul explained that once God allowed the restraints to be released, the spirit of lawlessness would come out of hiding. That spirit would be particularly embodied in one man. The defeat of lawlessness would come about initially through the preaching of God's word and ultimately through the coming of our Lord in the last day.

Paul stated that just as the Lord will have a coming, the wicked, or lawless, one, would come. Christ worked by the power of God, but the apostle foresaw the wicked one working by Satan's power. He also said the wicked one would have signs and wonders, just as Jesus did, but they would be deceitful instead of true like those Jesus worked ( 2Th_2:7-9 ).

Verses 10-12

The Power of the Lawless One Over the Lost

Paul foresaw that the lawless one would especially deceive those who were already in a perishing condition because they did not love God's will enough to obey it ( Joh_14:15 ; 1Jn_5:3 ). Those who refused to do as God directed could only look forward to His wrath ( Rom_2:8 ; Rom_1:18 ). This was especially true because they would do evil against God's law by living in a manner totally opposed to God. Paul said He would deceive those unbelievers lest they should see the truth and be saved ( Mat_13:13-15 ).

Some would rather hear a lie than the truth. God tests man's desires by allowing lies to be presented as well as truth. One can know what he hears is true when it is from God's word ( Deu_13:1-5 ; 1Pe_4:11 ). Those who will perish delight in acts that are repulsive to God. Because of their attitude, God will permit them to find opportunity to show their true allegiance ( Isa_66:3-4 ). Those who love ways contrary to God's will certainly would not love the truth. In its place, they would readily accept some lie that was more palatable to them. Because of such acceptance of error, Paul said they would be eternally condemned ( 2Th_2:10-12 ).

Verses 13-14

Thanksgiving for God's Chosen

In contrast to the tragic condition of those who rejoiced in wicked ways, Paul was able to give thanks for the saints. They were the Lord's beloved as is shown by His choosing them for salvation. Since Jesus came to save the lost, and God desires all men to be saved ( Luk_19:10 ; 2Pe_3:9 ; 1Ti_2:3-4 ), we might say God intends for all to be a part of the chosen. Unfortunately, not all will receive His calling or choosing. It comes through the setting apart of, or by, the Spirit and an actively demonstrated belief of the truth.

God's word is the means of sanctification and is called the "sword of the Spirit" by Paul ( Joh_17:17 ; Eph_6:17 ). We conclude that obedience to the commands contained in the book delivered by the Spirit's power is the way of accepting God's call and receiving the longed for setting apart by God. Some would say we are randomly elected unto salvation. Paul says those who receive the gospel call will get to share in Christ's glory at His coming ( Heb_5:8-9 ). So, obedience to the gospel yields a final, glorious, setting apart ( 2Th_2:13-14 ).

Verses 15-17

Paul's Exhortation and Prayer for Thessalonica

Paul wanted them to hold their ground (in contrast to verse 2) by keeping the truths given over to them through inspired speakers and writers. God's children need to hold on to inspired words that have been handed down to them but not the doctrines of men that have been taught or practiced from generation to generation ( Mat_15:1-9 ; Col_2:8 ).

Paul's desire was that the Lord, Savior and King of all believers, with his Father, who loved the lost ( Joh_3:16 ), would encourage and strengthen them in righteous words and works. It should be noted that the Father and Son are considered to be the common source of these things, thus acknowledging their equality. Christians have the eternal comfort of heaven before them because of the unmerited favor they bestowed ( 2Th_2:15-17 ).

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Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". 2014.