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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

2 Thessalonians 2

Verse 1

2 Thessalonians 2:1 . Ἐρωτῶμεν , we beseech ) There are five divisions of the epistle, of which the principal one begins here.

I. The Inscription, 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2 .

II. Thanksgiving for the Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 . With prayer, 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 .

III. The Doctrine concerning the man of sin, who is to come before Christ, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 .

Whence he comforts the saints against that calamity, 2Th 2:9-10 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 .

With the addition of exhortation and prayer, 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17 .

IV. An exhortation to prayer, accompanied also with a prayer for them, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 .

And an exhortation to reduce to order the brethren who are walking disorderly, with a prayer also for them subjoined, 2Th 3:6-7 ; 2 Thessalonians 3:16 .

V. Conclusion, 2 Thessalonians 3:17-18 .

ὑπὲρ ) with respect to [not by , as Engl. Vers.]. The particle is intended for clearly indicating the subject in hand, not for adjuration; although the subject under discussion ought in itself to rouse the Thessalonians: comp. ὑπὲρ , 2 Corinthians 5:20 . [7] ἐπισυναγωγῆς , ( final ) gathering together ) which will take place at the time of the coming of Jesus: care must be taken lest any falls away. Believers are already gathered in to the Lord; but that gathering together then at last will be the complete and crowning one. This is the force of the double compound when it is broken into its component parts: comp. Hebrews 10:25 , note.

[7] “We are ambassadors for Christ,” i.e . with respect to Him. He and His Gospel are the foundation of our mission. ED.

Verse 2

2 Thessalonians 2:2 . Σαλευθῆναι , [8] be moved ) in mind. θροεῖσθαι , be troubled ) in your affections or emotions. That readily occurs in the case of those who are too eager to know future events. πνεύματος ) ΠΝΕῦΜΑ , a prophesying spirit . λόγου ἘΠΙΣΤΟΛῆς , word letter ) 2 Thessalonians 2:15 . ὡς διʼ ἡμῶν ) as coming through us . This was the ground on which the Thessalonians might be moved. A genuine epistle of Paul might indeed be wrongly explained; but there might also be fraudulently imposed on them a letter written by another person; ch. 2 Thessalonians 3:17 . ὡς ὅτι ἐνέστηκεν , as if it were immediately at hand ) This word signifies to be exceedingly near; for ἐνεστὼς means present . It is therefore declared that the day of Christ is not so immediately near. The epistles to the Thessalonians are the oldest of the apostolic epistles. Hence it is evident that the apostles, in speaking of the nearness of the day of Christ, were not in error, but spoke with full knowledge. τοῦ Χριστοῦ , of Christ ) to Whom Antichrist is opposed, in a sense of the word long used in the Church. [9]

[8] Literally, tossed, agitated as persons on the sea , σάλος . ED.

[9] The Germ. Vers., however, prefers the reading Κυρίου , following the margin of both Ed. E. B.

ABD( Δ ) corrected, G fg Vulg., Orig. 1, 668 b , read Κυρίου . Rec. Text, without good authority, Χριστοῦ . ED.

Verse 3

2 Thessalonians 2:3 . Κατὰ μηδένα τρόπον , by no means ) He indicates three means in which they might be deceived, 2 Thessalonians 2:2 . ὅτι , because ) Supply from what goes before, the negative particle with the substantive verb, it does not come to pass (that day shall not come), unless , etc. But this ellipsis shows εὐλάβεια , pious, reverent caution . He is εὐλαβὴς , reverently cautious , who comprehends well, and receives in a right spirit, the matter set before him, not with an unseasonable and foolhardy rashness, sachte, scheu , etc. Εὐλάβεια is shown in the fact, that Paul does not expressly say: The day of Christ does not come, unless , etc. He speaks mildly (moderately); he abstains from words to which the lover of the coming of Christ would not willingly listen. ἐὰν μὴ , unless ) What we read in 2Th 2:3-8 demands a fuller consideration. And, first, we shall look closely into this paragraph by itself; then we shall compare the Apocalypse with it. The former aspect of it comprehends something like the following positions:

I. The object of Paul is to admonish the Thessalonians not to think the day of Christ nearer than it really is . The expectation of future events, which is supposed to rest upon Divine testimony, and which after all is discovered in the end to be false, occasions great offence (raises a great stumblingblock in the way of religion). Such an expectation of the day of Christ might occasion very great offence: wherefore Paul anxiously obviates it. The Thessalonians had been prepared to receive the Lord with joy, ch. 2 Thessalonians 1:11 ; 1 Thessalonians 1:10 : and indeed a desire of that sort presupposes hope and faith; but yet this very desire may be out of due order. It is therefore reduced to order.

II. Paul especially teaches, that some great evil will first come . Paul does not enumerate all the events which were to intervene between that age and the day of Christ; but he points out a certain one thing, especially remarkable, the explicit declaration of which was even already at that time seasonable and salutary to the Thessalonians. He therefore describes the apostasy, the Man of Sin , etc.

III. Not only does the apostle point out the evil, but also the check upon it. He who hindereth or checketh , ὁ κατέχων , is made mention of, the person who checks or holds back the Man of Sin. That check is in some measure prior to the evil itself, and therefore the announcement of it appertains much (in a great degree) to the design of the apostle, which is, that the time may be defined, though with a proper latitude, when the adversary is to be revealed.

IV. The evil extends itself from the times of Paul, even up to the appearance of the coming of Jesus Christ . That evil is not only most widely extended, 2 Thessalonians 2:4 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:10 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:12 , but also very long continued; and although it rises up by various degrees, yet it is also continuous from its first beginnings (staminibus, threads in weaving the web) even to its end. Now already , says the apostle, the mystery of iniquity is working . It already wrought in the time of the apostles, but more after their death, most of all after the death of the men who were the contemporaries and immediate successors of the apostles ( i.e. the apostolic fathers). They do not arrive at the best and wisest conclusion, who entertain the opinion, that the ideal and rule of the Church lie in the ancient practice (the antiquity) of some of the earliest ages, rather than in the truth itself, seeing that those ages merely rebuke the greater declension of posterity [and do not, by the fact of their antiquity, establish their own complete coincidence with the truth].

V. There was also a check in the time of Paul, and that check then, and not till then, ceases to exist in the way, when the evil breaks out in all its force. He who now holdeth (the evil) back [“letteth,” Old Engl.], says Paul, until he be taken out of the way . Hence it is evident, that the restraining check was not the preaching of the Gospel, either universal or apostolical. The check remained even after the time of the apostles, who finished their course long before the check ceased to act as a check; but the preaching of the Gospel is never wholly taken from among men [“out of the way”].

VI. The evil is described first in the abstract, then in the concrete. The mystery of iniquity is said to be now already working; but after an interval, that Iniquitous one ( Wicked ) himself [10] shall be revealed. The event turned out corresponding with this order. Not dissimilar is the fact, that in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 , previously, the appellation given is first apostasy , then the Man of Sin . In preaching of Christ, it was said first, in the abstract, the kingdom of heaven is at hand; then Christ Himself, with His glory, was more openly manifested. So, on the opposite side, the testimony is similarly framed concerning [the coming] evil. The vicious humour is drawn together, and breaks out at length in one abscess.

[10] ὁ ἄνομος , ver. 8, the embodiment and incarnation of the previous ἀνομία . ED.

VII. The apostasy and the mystery of iniquity are a great evil . The description of the evil in the abstract and concrete has different parts, and these mutually explain each other. Apostasy is a falling away from the faith, and is clearly described, 1 Timothy 4:1 . This apostasy is not determined in its extent by any particular place; as widely as the faith extended, so widely, for the most part, does the apostasy extend; yet it prevailed in the greatest degree among the Jews. There is also the apostasy of those to whom faith had been offered, although they did not receive it. Some of those who had received it [11] drew back [“ departing from the living God”]: comp. Hebrews 3:12 . The people is treated as equivalent to one man, whether regard is had to the Divine grace, which offers itself, or to man’s refusal of it, under whatever circumstances. It was apostasy in the people who refused to enter into the promised land, LXX. Numbers 14:31 . The bitterness of the Jews was excessive, especially at Thessalonica , Acts 17:5 ; Acts 17:11 ; Acts 17:13 ; and Judaism at Rome occasioned great damage to Christianity. In like manner, iniquity , the mystery of which was then already working, is not iniquity of any kind whatever, although it be manifold, Matthew 24:12 , but that from which the Iniquitous one (‘Wicked:’ ὁ ἄνομος ) himself is denominated, 2 Thessalonians 2:8 , with which comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 . The mystery of this iniquity was then already working (comp. Deuteronomy 31:21 ; Deu 31:27 ), and was so concealed, that it crept in among men almost without themselves being conscious of it, and went on increasing for many ages. But even yet it is working, until the working of Satan shall bring forth the Iniquitous one himself (“that wicked”): 2 Thessalonians 2:9 . Judaism , infecting Christianity, is the fuel; the mystery of iniquity is the spark.

[11] Perhaps the italicised resilierunt of Beng. refers to the ὑποστείληται and ὑποστολῆ of Hebrews 10:38-39 , which see; also Psalms 78:57 . ED.

VIII. The Iniquitous one (‘ Wicked ’) himself is the greatest evil . He is the Man of Sin, the son of perdition, opposed to and exalted above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he sits himself as God in the temple of God, and declares himself to be God (a god). He is the very Iniquitous (‘ Wicked ’) one , whose coming is according to the working of Satan , etc. These points we shall afterwards consider one by one.

IX. The check is used indifferently in the masculine and neuter gender [ ὁ κατέχων and τὸ κατέχον ]: unless the neuter be put first in the text for this purpose, namely, in order that ὁ κατέχων , He who holdeth back (‘ letteth ,’ viz. the evil), may be afterwards opposed to the adversary, who is described in the singular [ 2Th 2:8 ]. HE WHO NOW holdeth back (‘ letteth ’), says he, will cease to be in the way (to be among men); and a little before, Now ye know THAT WHICH withholdeth (holds back), so as that he may be revealed in HIS TIME [and not sooner; but for τὸ κατέχον , he would be revealed sooner than the proper time ].

X. That check, whatever it is, does not restrain the apostasy and the mystery of iniquity but the Man of Sin himself that iniquitous , or wicked one. The mystery of iniquity , and he who holdeth back (‘letteth’), fall upon one and the same time [are coincident in time]; but, when he who holdeth back , and that which holdeth back (‘withholdeth’), have ceased to be in the way, then the Iniquitous one (Wicked) is revealed.

XI. At length out of the apostasy arises the Man of Sin; moreover, the political power of Rome, as a check, holds this very person back . We clearly see, from the mutual comparison of the evil and the check upon it, and of the qualities of each, what both are. That Iniquitous one (‘ Wicked ’), besides marks of falsehood, has also a certain degree of majesty , set off under a spiritual disguise, as if he were a god . The civil authority acts as a check upon him; and this authority was assuredly in the hands of the Romans in the time of Paul, and comprehended Jerusalem; Rome, and Corinth, from which he was writing, as also Thessalonica, to which he was writing, etc.

XII. The date of this epistle in no small degree helps the interpretation . It was written in the time of Claudius; comp. Acts 18:2 ; Acts 18:5 , with 1 Thessalonians 3:1 ; 1 Thessalonians 3:6 : and this very circumstance utterly refutes Grotius’ attempt to interpret the prophecy of Paul concerning Caligula. The ancients were of opinion, that Claudius himself was absolutely this check; for from this circumstance, as it appears, it came to pass, that they considered Nero , the successor of Claudius, to be the Man of Sin; and when the wickedness of Nero, how furious soever it might be, had not, however, filled up that measure, they accounted Domitian , and the other emperors of a similar character, as a kind of complement to make up the full measure of the evil. They certainly did not by this interpretation exhaust the prophecy; but yet they attained to some part of the truth, namely, that something connected with Rome is here intended, whatever might be the mode of its exhibition.

Let us go a little closer. The check is something with which the Thessalonians were unacquainted when Paul had been with them not long before: and ‘now,’ when the same apostle wrote these things, they ‘knew’ it, from the fact of the beginnings of the events corresponding [to his words] more than many, a little before, would have thought. This is evident from the antithesis between the fifth and sixth verses. The epistle was written about the eighth year of Claudius, 48 of the Dion. æra, as we show in Ordo temporum p. 278. At that period Claudius had expelled from Rome the Jews, whether believers or unbelievers, and this because the latter were constantly raising tumults; and in Judæa itself, too, Cumanus was grievously oppressing them. Therefore, in the provinces, the prefects and procurators, in Italy and at Rome the Emperor himself, was holding back the evil. It is a remarkable proof of this fact, that the Jews did not kill James until after the death of Festus, and before the arrival of Albinus. Whatever they did on that occasion, they would willingly have done on other occasions against Christ, but could not for the Romans. So Gallio held them back at Corinth, Claudius Lysias at Jerusalem, Acts 18:14 ; Acts 18:21 ; Acts 18:23 . In the time of Paul, the Roman power certainly held back the evil; not immediately (directly): therefore it must have been mediately (indirectly). Moreover, the instrumentality or medium of holding it back was severity towards the Jews, who would have proceeded farther, if they had been permitted by the Romans. I shall willingly listen to an easier and simpler (I should be glad to hear a more ready and probable) interpretation.

XIII. When the check ceased to be in the way, that Iniquitous one [‘ Wicked ’] is revealed . This position agrees with the fifth, and yet it also differs from it. The former marks the long continuance of the check; the latter, the time of revealing the Iniquitous one [‘Wicked’]. The coming of the Iniquitous one [‘ Wicked ’] is according to the working of Satan in all power, and signs, and lying wonders , etc. This coming has not yet taken place, although its preludes are for a long time not wanting; therefore the check still exists. And it is evident from this most powerful argument, that the political power in the hands of the Romans is the check. For no other check, so powerful and so long-continued, will anywhere be found. This check, however, did not restrain the working of Satan, but the setting up of the dominion of the Iniquitous one [‘Wicked’]; and when it is removed, Satan lends his aid to the Iniquitous one [‘Wicked’].

We shall now take the assistance of the Apocalypse .

XIV. That Iniquitous one [‘ Wicked ’] is the beast ascending out of the bottomless pit . So long and so continuous is the evil described by Paul, § iv., that it cannot but fall in at some period with the times of the apocalyptic beast; and the resemblance between the Iniquitous one [‘Wicked’] and the beast is so great, the power so widely spread and so exalted, that they can only be one subject [they must be one and the same person or existence]. The Iniquitous one [‘Wicked’] will not finally perish [his destruction will be deferred] until after the destruction of the beast; for in that battle, which is described in Revelation 19:0 , the Lord’s enemies are so completely destroyed, that the calamity described by Paul cannot be extended to a period farther on. Moreover also the Iniquitous one [‘Wicked’] will not perish previously [before the destruction of the beast, etc., in Revelation 19:0 ]: for he remains even till the appearing of the coming of the Lord, [2 Thessalonians 2:8 .]

XV. Therefore the whole evil described by Paul is strictly and intimately connected with the Roman empire . What tie of relationship the apostasy and the Man of Sin himself had with the city Rome, could not be known by the Thessalonians, unless Paul taught them it face to face. The Apocalypse and the event teach us, and will teach posterity more and more fully. We then, according to our present ability, will institute a comparison.

XVI. That Iniquitous one [‘ Wicked ’] is yet to come . It is one and the same beast which ascends first from the sea, then from the bottomless pit. That beast has very much to do with the woman, who is Babylon, Rome. Sometimes it carries the woman, at length it destroys her with the assistance of the ten horns [ Rev 17:16 ]. The beast out of the sea is the papacy of Hildebrand; but the beast from the bottomless pit, excepting the succession in the papacy (which does not take away the ancient tradition concerning the rise of Antichrist from the Jews , but leaves it in its own place [just as it finds it]), will have a quite new and singular character of wickedness, on account of which he is called the Man of Sin , etc. All these observations are demonstrated in my German and Latin interpretation of the Apocalypse . Antichrist, or the Man of Sin, as being about to come in the nineteenth century, could not be retarded by the Roman power of the first and following centuries, on which comp. Revelation 8:9 . Therefore the Roman Emperor will be among the ten kings; and when he, with the nine others, shall give his power to the beast, he will be taken out of the way, and will give place to the Man of Sin. The Roman power is the check even up to the time of the rising of the Iniquitous one [‘Wicked’], who, after he has arisen, makes the whore desolate, with the assistance of the ten horns.

XVII. Rome is, notwithstanding, the channel in which the apostasy and the mystery of iniquity have flowed for many ages . Claudius did not long exclude the Jews, and along with them the Christians, from Rome; a short time after, they returned, and with the good the evil also obtained abundant opportunity of being increased. The two parts of the evil are, the apostasy [“falling away”], and the mystery of iniquity. Apostasy from the faith , and διχοστασίαι or divisions , which lead men to forsake the doctrine of the apostles, are very closely connected; and the latter already at that time were arising at Rome on the part of some, who were under the influence of Satan; Romans 16:17 , with which comp. Romans 2:20 . Moreover, apostasy from the faith, bringing in doctrines concerning the worship of intermediate divinities (intercessors), [12] concerning the avoiding of marriage under pretence of spiritual perfection, and abstinence from meats , only indeed some kinds of meat, 1Ti 4:1 ; 1 Timothy 4:3 , is peculiarly applicable to Rome, although it was long untainted by other heresies. The iniquity [ ἀνομία 2Th 2:7 ] chiefly consisted in the most deadly sin of pride , 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 . The beginning of man’s pride was his apostatizing from God; since his heart withdrew itself from Him who made him. For pride is the beginning of all sin . [13] Sir 10:14-15 . The seeds and commencing fibres lay concealed in the elevation of human authority, in Petrism [“I am of Cephas”]; 1 Corinthians 1:12 , note. Hence by degrees arose the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, and the whole system of the papacy.

[12] Alluding to the “doctrines of δαίμονες1 Timothy 4:1 , not ‘devils,’ as Engl. Vers.; but inferior divinities , genii, etc. ED.

[13] The Wisdom of Sir 10:12-13 ; Ἀρχὴ ὑπερηφανίας , ἀνθρώπου ἀφισταμένου ἀπὸ Κυρίου , καὶ ἀπὸ τοῦ ποιήσαντος αὐτὸν ἀπέστηκαρδία αὐτοῦ , Ὅτι ἀρχὴ ὑπερηφανίας ἁμαοτία . ED.

XVIII. Also, now and then, the Pope very closely approaches the characteristics of the Man of Sin himself . The Pope is in some respects the Man of Sin , while he eagerly promotes the transgression of the Divine law and the Divine commandments, and greatly impedes the observance of them, but defends with the utmost severity his own decrees: he is the son of perdition , in that (whilst) he has plunged innumerable souls into destruction, and has delivered to death immense multitudes of men either devoted to himself or in any way resisting him: he is opposed [ 2Th 2:4 ] to the majesty of Cæsar, formerly his master, and is exalted above all that is called God or worshipped , by the fact of his claiming as his right the highest authority, the highest worship, by his commanding angels, and subjecting the Emperor to himself. It is not merely once that the paroxysm of pontifical pride has broken out to such degree, that he called, or permitted himself to be called, god or vice-god [vicegerent of God]; and the solemn titles, Most Holy Lord (for godhead and holiness are synonymous in the language of Scripture), and, Most Blessed Father , have the same meaning: comp. Matthew 19:17 . Sometimes the Pope, as if he were the divine image [14] [or pageant representing God], is placed with his chair [comp. sitteth , 2Th 2:4 ] upon the altar [comp. in the temple , 2Th 2:4 ], by princes acting as bearers. Their due praise remains undiminished to the first bishops of Rome; but yet in the progress of time, by gradual advances in spiritual and civil authority, according to the order in the text, the lineaments are to be seen of that form which will put itself forth before the world as palpably as possible in that Iniquitous one [‘Wicked’] in its own time.

[14] The Latin word is ferculum , one of whose meanings is, “bearing in the hands the images of the gods.” Cæsar had a ferculum decreed to him, which implies, that his statue was to receive the same honour as those of the gods. If I understand this passage aright, it means, that the Pope, as the earthly image or representative of God, was to be placed on the altar of God, to receive the same honour as God TRANSL.

XIX. First he who withholdeth, next that which withholdeth, ceases to be in the way . We have mentioned this circumstance already, § 9: but here it comes to be repeated more strictly. He who withholdeth , is he who hath Rome under his sway; that is, heathen, or Christian emperors at Rome, or Constantinople; the kings of the Goths, and Lombards; again the Carlovingian and German emperors, from whom comes the wound of the sword, Revelation 8:0 . This is He that withholdeth, going far into the middle of the times of the beast that arose out of the sea. Those princes so held back the papacy, as even notwithstanding to give it help; they so helped it, as notwithstanding to hold it back also. In the last time that which withholdeth is the power of Rome itself, when the beast carries the woman, and itself is not [ Rev 17:8 ]. When that shall be removed out of the way, the Iniquitous one [‘Wicked’] will be revealed.

XX. The Iniquitous one [‘ Wicked ’] is revealed, when he begins to act with open wickedness. Revelation is opposed to mystery , and the former is thrice mentioned, 2 Thessalonians 2:3 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:6 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:8 . Therefore that is not called ‘revelation’ by which the Iniquitous one [‘Wicked’] is convicted through the testimony of the truth; but that by which he himself, after the check is removed, acts with open wickedness, although few perceive (see through) the wickedness.

XXI. The appearance of the coming of Jesus Christ, by which the Iniquitous one [‘ Wicked ’] will be destroyed, will precede the actual coming itself, and the last day . This appearance, with the destruction of the beast, or the Iniquitous one [‘Wicked’], is described, Revelation 19:11 , etc.: where these two , the beast and the false prophet, are cast alive into the lake of fire, that burns with brimstone; moreover the kings of the earth and their armies are slain, Revelation 19:20-21 . Lastly, the captivity of Satan and the kingdom of the saints follow. For the Apocalypse clearly interposes a thousand years between the destruction of the beast and the last day. But how will these years be reconciled with the language of Paul ? Ans . Paul, looking back (referring here) to Daniel, as we shall afterwards see, at the same time implies those things, which are marked by the same prophet as about to happen between the destruction of the little horn and the end of the world, Daniel 7:26-27; Daniel 7:26-27 . Many things long prior to the destruction of the beast, as well as also the entrance of Jesus Christ through suffering into glory, are connected with His coming in the clouds; Matthew 26:64 ; John 21:22 , notes. Therefore the same coming might be connected with the destruction of the adversary, which is a matter of very great importance between the two comings of Christ. And as the end of the world admitted of being (was able to be) connected with the destruction of Jerusalem, because the revelation of the intermediate events was not yet mature; so Paul might connect the coming of Christ with the destruction of the adversary, because [the revelation of] the thousand years were reserved for (against the time of giving) the Apocalypse, which much more clearly explains these points, so that the prophecy of Daniel itself may obtain light from the Apocalypse subsequently given. However, Paul appropriately [skilfully] terms it, the appearance of the coming , not the coming itself. It was not yet the time for more special information, and yet the Spirit of truth dictated those words to Paul, that they might exactly agree with the very things, which were afterwards to be more particularly revealed. The prophecy proceeds gradually. The Apocalypse speaks more explicitly than Paul; and Paul in this passage speaks more explicitly than the Lord Himself, before He was glorified; Matthew 24:29 : where see the notes. Moreover we ought to interpret the more ancient and more involved expressions by such as are most recent and most distinct, and not abuse the former for the purpose of weakening and eluding the latter . Nay, even in actual fact the destruction of the adversary coheres (is connected) with the coming of Christ; for there are two things especially illustrious in the glory of Christ, namely, that He is the Son of God, and that He is coming to judgment. Concerning each of these the Scripture has a similar mode of speaking, which we should carefully observe. It alleges the generation of the Son as a thing then present [then vividly realized], as often soever as anything very worthy of the only-begotten of the Father occurs; Acts 13:33 , note. And thus it also represents [vividly presents to us] the glorious coming under the aspect of the judgments, which are altogether worthy of the Judge of the living and the dead; comp. Romans 2:16 , note. The beast and the false prophet are first of all cast into the lake of fire at the appearance of the coming of the Lord Jesus; and when He actually comes , all who are not found written in the book of life are cast into the lake of fire. The first judgment is a prelude and altogether peculiar specimen of the second judgment; nay, it is in reality one and the same judgment, only separated by time, and out of the whole period [ Rev 8:2 to Rev 11:15 ], falling under that portion which is marked now by the trumpet of the seventh angel.

The principal points of the subject-matter have been, I think, cleared up; and we shall now proceed to illustrate what remains , viz. the phrases or particular expressions. ἡ ἀποστασία , the apostasy [falling away]) The Greek article is frequent in this paragraph, ἡ ἀποστυσίαἄνομος , and it is to be referred (ascribed) either to what Paul had previously said, or to the prophecies of the Old Testament. ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁμαρτίας , the Man of Sin ) who is the greatest enemy of true righteousness . Paul so describes him, as to allude by way of contrast to Jesus Christ, and especially to the passage, Zechariah 9:9-10 : for the King of Zion is, 1) Righteous; 2) Full of salvation; 3) Meek , and riding on an ass: in short, He is the author of peace . But His enemy is, 1) The Man of Sin; 2) The son of perdition; 3) He opposes and exalts himself: in short, he is the Iniquitous one [ Wicked ]. For where justice and equity [as opposed to the Iniquitous one: nefarius, fas ] flourish, peace flourishes. The whole benefit derived from Christ is indicated by peace . But the Iniquitous one [ Wicked ] occasions all misery and calamity. The law is holy and just and good; the ἄνομος , on the other hand, is profane and unjust and evil. Moreover, what Paul principally declares elsewhere concerning Jesus, he declares the exact reverse concerning the enemy, ascribing to him revelation and mystery, coming signs , etc. ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας , that son of perdition ) who will both consign as many as possible headlong to destruction, and will himself go away to the deepest perdition, Revelation 17:8 ; Revelation 17:11 .

Verse 4

2 Thessalonians 2:4 . Ὁ ἀντικείμενος , κ . τ . λ ., who opposeth , etc.) The two preceding names correspond by direct antithesis to the name of Jesus . What follows correspond by antithesis to the majesty of Christ . So Daniel 11:36 , et seqq.: Καί ὑψωθήσεται καὶ μεγαλυνθήσεταιβασιλεὺς ἐπὶ πάντα θεὸν καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν Θεὸν τῶν θεῶν , καὶ λαλήσει ὑπέρογκα , And the king shall be exalted and be magnified above every god, and against the God of gods, and shall speak high-swelling words . This then is what Paul means to say: The day of Christ does not come, unless the prediction of Daniel given in these words concerning Antiochus be so fulfilled (in the Man of Sin), that it shall even be more applicable to the Man of Sin, who corresponds to Antiochus, and is worse than he; comp. on Revelation 13:1 , Thes. 7. § Non momentanea , etc., “It was not by an instantaneous transformation that the Pope passed,” etc., at the end. These two words, ( ὁ ) ἀντικείμενος καὶ ὑπεραιρόμενος [“who opposeth and exalteth himself”], stand under the one article: for it is for this reason he opposes himself, in order that he may exalt himself. He exalts himself in heart, tongue, style, and deeds, by himself and by his adherents. ἐπὶ πάντα λεγόμενον θεὀνσέβασμα , above all that is called god or is worshipped ) Angels are wont to be (sometimes) called gods , as are also men who possess great authority, 1 Corinthians 8:5 . Above every such god , the Iniquitous one [Wicked] will exalt himself: σέβασμα is, that which is worshipped; and the Roman Emperor is distinguished by the peculiar title, ὁ Σεβαστὸς , Augustus , Acts 25:21 . Therefore the majesty and power of Cæsar, which are most conspicuous at Rome, constitute the principal σέβασμα , object of worship , on the earth. Now the Iniquitous one [Wicked] exalts himself so, as that he not only arrogates to himself greater power and worship than any one who is called god or is worshipped possesses, but also so as that every one who is called god or is worshipped is forced to be subject to him, i.e. on the earth, or is feigned to be so, so for as the inhabitants of heaven are concerned. Clement VI., in his Bull concerning the jubilee, commanded the angels of paradise to introduce the souls of those that died on their journey, being entirely set free from purgatory, into the glory of paradise. ὥστε , κ . τ . λ ., so that , etc.) Comprehending the spiritual and civil power, and in both cases the highest degree of power. εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ , in the temple of God ) in that temple of God which is mentioned, Revelation 11:1 . For in 2Th 2:7 of that passage this adversary is the subject of discussion. καθίσαι , sitteth ) by virtue of his authority . [15] ἀποδεικνύντα ἑαυτὸν , declaring himself [“ showing himself ”]) ἀποδείκνυμι , to mark out, to designate, to declare . Herodian uses more than once the phrase, ἀποδειξαι Καίσαρα , to name , or declare the Cœsar . ὄτι ἔστι Θεὸς , that he is God ) The strong asseveration of the Iniquitous one [‘Wicked’] concerning himself is here expressed. He will not say, that he is very God, the Creator of heaven and earth, but still, that he is a god superior to any other that is called god.

[15] For the marg. of both Ed., as well as the Germ. Vers., intimate that the words ὡς θεὸν before καθίσαι should not be considered as a various reading, but should be retained. E. B.

ABD( Δ ) corrected, f Vulg., Orig. 1, 424 d , 669a, Iren. Memph. and Theb. Versions, omit ὡς θεὸν ; Rec. Text reads ὡς θεὸν , with Syr. and later Syr. Versions, and, according to Tisch., with G. But Lachm. quotes G g for ἵνα θεόν . ED.

Verse 5

2 Thessalonians 2:5 . Οὐ μνημονεύετε ; do ye not remember ?) The apostle intimates, that he neither contradicts himself, nor helps out his former statement by some sort of new declaration, as men under the influence of a fond imagination (conjecturers) are wont to do after being the cause of offence: that he had not said, the day of the Lord was near in such a sense, as that other important great events would not occur in the meantime. ἔτι , yet ) The Antithesis is νῦν , now , 2 Thessalonians 2:6 . προς ὑμᾶς , with you ) In the present day Judaism greatly prevails at Thessalonica, and at the proper time the opportunity will be given of observing whether the Iniquitous one [‘Wicked’] is to have a great party, especially in that city. Some even of the tribes [ φυλῶν ; not as Engl. Vers. kindreds ] of Israel, before the death and resurrection of the two witnesses, will stand by the beast, Revelation 11:9 , and after the ascension of the witnesses into heaven, and the earthquake, will repent. In my opinion, it may happen, that a concealed Jew may become Pope; comp. Thes. 16., on 2Th 2:3 above. I do not assert this positively. ἔλεγον ὑμῖν , I told you ) So, 2 Thessalonians 2:15 , ye have been taught .

Verse 6

2 Thessalonians 2:6 . Τὸ κατέχον , that which withholdeth, holdeth back ) Some interpret it of one obtaining authority; but ὁ κατέχων is not thus used absolutely, much less τὸ κατέχον : κατέχειν , is to detain , to delay , in LXX., Genesis 24:56 , μὴ κατέχετε με , Hinder me not . On κατέχον , εἰς τὸ , coming presently afterwards, depends. If there were not the τὸ κατέχον , the Wicked would be sooner revealed. οἴδατε , ye know ) They knew from the present information given to them in this epistle, and by adding a view of existing events. He speaks safely [with prudent caution], nor was it necessary to say anything more openly. ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ καιρῳ , in his proper time ) not sooner.

Verse 7

2 Thessalonians 2:7 . Γὰρ , for ) Hereby is given the reason why he just before spoke of the revelation as still future [ 2Th 2:6 ]. For there is subjoined μυστήριον , the mystery , which is already present. [16] [17] ἐνεργεῖται , is at work ) The verb is in the middle voice (as Rom 7:5 ), with the personification, indicating the most secret conduct of the enemy. μόνον , only ) This word shows, not the short continuance of the person, or power, “who holdeth back” the evil, nor the speedy full realization of the event, but the fact of the person or power who holdeth it back being the one and only check to its development. ἕως , until , presently after, denotes delay. The subject is, he, who now holdeth back [‘letteth’]: the predicate is elliptical, holdeth back , or continues to be in the way , till he be taken out of the way or ceases to exist, so that he can nowhere be a hindrance to the Iniquitous one [‘Wicked’]. The power of him that holdeth back , as a whole, possessed of authority [an authoritative whole], has been successively divided into many parts: and yet the Withholding power or person is but one.

[16] Beng. means, The revelation of it is still future; for ( γὰρ ), though it is in a sense already present and at work, it works now only as a mystery , not as a thing revealed. ED.

[17] Ἤδη , already ) It is the one and the same impurity, diffusing itself over many ages. V. g.

Verse 8

2 Thessalonians 2:8 . Τότε , then ) immediately. ὁ ἄνομος ) This is the last and most weighty appellation, comprehending the force of the preceding ones. That unjust, iniquitous, lawless one , and (by a more nervous term used by Plautus and Nonius, ‘ illex ’) the outlaw . רשע , LXX., ἀσεβὴς , ungodly, Isaiah 11:4 : He shall smite the earth with the word (rod) of His mouth ( τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ ), and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the ungodly ( ἐν πνεύματι ἀνελεῖ ἀσεβῆ ). ὃν , whom) after having long enough acted the part of a man of violence. ὁ Κυρίος , [18] the Lord ) the Lord of lords , Revelation 19:16 . τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ , by the breath [or rather, the Spirit ] of His mouth ) There also proceeds out of this mouth a sword ( ῥομφαία ), Ib. Revelation 19:15 ; Revelation 19:21 . Τῇ ἘΠΙΦΑΝΕΊᾼ Τῆς ΠΑΡΟΥΣΊΑς ΑὐΤΟῦ , with the appearance of His coming [But Engl. Vers., with the brightness of His coming ]) In some places appearance , in others coming [ παρουσία ], is mentioned, the latter in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 , both being used in the same sense; but here the appearance of His coming is before the coming itself, or at least (it expresses) the first dawn of the brightness of His actual coming, as ἐπιφάνεια τῆς ἡμέρας [expresses the appearance or dawning of day ].

[18] The 2d Ed. prefers the fuller reading ὁ Κυρίος Ἰησοῦς ; and the Germ. Vers. follows it. E. B.

Tisch., with B (judging from silence), Rec. Text, Orig. 1, 668 d , reads ὁ Κύριος . But Lachm. better, with AD( Δ ) corrected, G fg Vulg., Orig. 4, 321 b , Iren. 182, 323, Hilary, reads ὁ Κύριος Ἰησοῦς . Orig. 1, 424 e has ΚύριοςΘεὸς . ED.

Verse 9

2 Thessalonians 2:9 . Οὗ , of whom ) viz. the Iniquitous one [Wicked]. Paul now subjoins a more lengthened description of the calamity, with the design that in the way of contrast he may console the Thessalonians; 2 Thessalonians 2:13 . τοῦ Σατανᾶ , of Satan ) As Christ is related to God, so on the contrary is Antichrist to Satan, standing midway between Satan and lost men. καὶ σημείοις , and signs ) These signs will be shown by the false prophet, who serves the interest of the beast, and that too even before the ascent of the beast from the bottomless pit, Revelation 13:13 .

Verse 10

2 Thessalonians 2:10 . Τῆς ἀληθείας , of the truth ) which is in Christ Jesus. οὐκ εδέξαντο , they did not receive ) The Jews were mostly chargeable with this conduct, John 5:43 ; and that Iniquitous one [Wicked] will be particularly hurtful to the Jews. The remarks, which we a little before threw out concerning the Jews here and there in the positions laid down, refer to this point.

Verse 11

2 Thessalonians 2:11 . Πλάνης , of error ) [Engl. Vers. ἐνέργειαν πλάνης , strong delusion ,] which is in Antichrist.

Verse 12

2 Thessalonians 2:12 . [20] Πάντες , all ) That error then is to exhibit extensive, long-continued, and violent prevalence.

[20] Εἰς τὸ , that ) Endeavour therefore with all your might to believe the truth. V. g.

Verse 13

2 Thessalonians 2:13 . Ημεῖς δέ , but we ) Comfort after the prediction of mournful events. So 2 Timothy 2:19 . It may be said, What need was there of comfort at that time to the Thessalonians? Ans . The mystery of iniquity was even then in operation; and instruction may be equally derived from the distant future, as from the remote past, 1 Corinthians 10:1 , et seqq. ὀφείλομεν , we are bound ) ch. 2 Thessalonians 1:3 . ὑπὸ Κυρίου , by the Lord ) Christ. εἳλετο ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς ) He does not say ἐξελέξατο , but in this one place, and on this subject, he uses εἳλετο . That effect was produced by the success of evangelical calling; and yet there is added, from the beginning , i.e. from eternity, comp. 1 John 1:1 , because believers are fortified and claimed as such by the eternal decree, Ephesians 1:4 , in opposition to those who worship the Man of Sin, Revelation 13:8 . Comp. Deuteronomy 7:7 ; Deuteronomy 10:15 , προείλετο Κύριος ὑμᾶς καὶ ἐξελέξατο , the Lord preferred and chose you, etc. Ibid. Deuteronomy 26:18 , האמירך , has avouched ( εἵλετο , has taken to Himself) thee this day to be His peculiar ( περιούσιον ) people. The decree is truly from eternity, as truly as the generation of the Son of God is from eternity: yet the decree is one thing, the generation is another. [21] ἐν ἁγιασμῷ Πνεύματος , in sanctification of the Spirit ) The Holy Spirit sanctifies us, and sanctification is the test of election, 1 Peter 1:2 .

[21] Just as God’s decree and His eternal adoption of believers are distinct things. ED.

Verse 14

2 Thessalonians 2:14 . Εἰς ὅ , Whereunto ) The phrase, to salvation , is hereby explained. εἰς περιποίησιν , [ to the obtaining , Engl. V.] to the deliverance ) εἰς is resumed the second time: supply, namely . There is no περιποίησις , or mere deliverance ( preservation [22] ), from the shipwreck of the world, but as it is conjoined with glorification , 2 Timothy 2:10 . περιούσιον , in Deut., cited above, is in consonance with this. ΤΟῦ ) [ ΚΥΡΊΟΥ ] construed with ΠΕΡΙΠΟΊΗΣΙΝ [not with ΔΌΞΗς , as Engl. Vers.]

[22] Beng. understands περιποίησιν of “that which remains when all else perishes.” He translates it conservationis in Ephesians 1:14 , and distinguishes it from redemption by the blood of Christ. Here liberatio , viz. final deliverance , which is connected with glory , and which is to be the gift of our Lord Jesus . ED.

Verse 15

2 Thessalonians 2:15 . Ἄρα οὖν , therefore then ) The conclusion. κρατεῖτε , hold ) adding nothing, subtracting nothing. τὰς παραδόσεις , the traditions ) I wish that those who are most urgent on the subject of Traditions , had also from this passage held, and would hold, the traditions which Paul has furnished in this chapter. Tradition is a very great benefit. God bestows traditions by means of the messengers of the Gospel. Paul taught many years before he began to write. Tradition is given either by speaking [comp. 2Th 2:5 ] or by writing. διʼ ἐπιστολῆς , by letter) He had written on this subject, 1 Thessalonians 4:5 .

Verse 16

2 Thessalonians 2:16 . Ὁ Κύριος , the Lord ) Refer to this the words, through grace . ὁ Θεὸς , God ) To this refer the words, who loved; 2 Corinthians 13:13 . αἰωνίαν , eternal ) Nothing then can destroy believers.

Verse 17

2 Thessalonians 2:17 . Παρακαλέσαι , comfort, console [‘adhortetur,’ liter, give consoling, comforting exhortation ]) This is deduced from who hath given (us) παράκλησιν , consolation [ 2Th 2:16 ]. στηρίξαι , establish ) This is deduced from who hath given (us) good hope through grace . λόγῳ , [23] in word ) by παράκλησι , consolation . ἔργῳ , work ) by στήριξιν , establishment , 1 Corinthians 15:58 .

[23] The margin of both Ed. and the Germ. Vers. prefer the reading ἔργω καὶ λόγῳ in the inverse order. E. B.

ABD( Δ ) f Vulg. read ἔργῳ καὶ λόγῳ . G g and Rec. Text read λόγῳ καὶ ἔργῳ . ED.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.