the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical Lange's Commentary
- 2 Thessalonians
by Johann Peter Lange
TWO EPISTLES OF PAUL
C. A. AUBERLEN
Dr. of Philosophy and Theology,
Late Extraordinary Professor in Basel
C. J. RIGGENBACH
Dr. of Theology, and Professor in Ordinary
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN, WITH ADDITIONS
JOHN LILLIE, D. D.
VOL. VIII OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: CONTAINING THE EPISTLES TO THE THESSALONIANS, TIMOTHY, TITUS, PHILEMON AND THE HEBREWS
The exposition of the two Epistles to the Thessalonians was at first undertaken by my dear colleague, Professor Dr. Auberlen, who, however, was able to complete only the first two chapters of the First Epistle. A disease, which unhappily compelled him for years to forego severe labor, led him, on an understanding with the esteemed editor, to commit to my hands the continuation of the work. It grieves me that he was not to live to see the task accomplished. On May 2d of the present year he entered into rest.
For the Introduction to the First Epistle and for the last three chapters of the same, as well as for the whole of the Second, I alone am to be held responsible. The two chapters executed by my predecessor I went over along with him; but here, with the exception of a few additions1 to which he assented, every thing is from his hand. May the reader not find in what follows too great a contrast. Some points in which I slightly differ from the view of my late friend are in part too unimportant to require alteration, as, for example, the way in which ἔμπροσθεν is connected with what precedes (2 Thessalonians 1:3); the view of the dative ὑμῖν (2 Thessalonians 2:10); the question to what ὅς refers (2 Thessalonians 2:13); in other cases subsequent opportunities were found of recurring to them; thus, in regard to ἔργον τῆς πίστεως (2 Thessalonians 1:3) I refer to the note on 2 Thessalonians 1:11, and a small supplement in reference to the handicraft of the Apostle is furnished at 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9.
For what help I am indebted to Dr. Stockmeyer, Pastor of St. Martin’s, Basel, is mentioned in the Homiletical and Practical Notes to 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.
In now sending forth, along with the legacy of an honored divine, the first fruits of my labor in this department, I can but wish and pray God, that the joint work may promote the understanding of these glorious Epistles, love to the truth therein proclaimed, and the edification of the Church of Christ.
Dr. C. J. Riggenbach.
Basel, June, 1864.
This eighth volume of the English edition of Dr. Lange’s “Bible-Work” contains the exposition of seven Epistles of the New Testament, by the combined labor of ten European and American scholars, as follows:
I. and II. Epistles to the Thessalonians, By Drs. Auberlen and Riggenbach. Translated by Dr. Lillie.
I. and II. Epistles to Timothy. By Dr. Van Oosterzee. Translated by Drs. Washburn and Harwood.
Epistle to Titus. By Dr. Van Oosterzee. Translated by Dr. Day.
Epistle to Philemon. By Dr. Van Oosterzee. Translated by Dr. Hackett.
Epistle to the Hebrews. By Dr. Moll. Translated by Dr. Kendrick.
These authors and translators represent fire countries—Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Scotland,2 and the United States; and seven communions—the Evangelical Lutheran, Swiss Reformed, Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian, Protestant Episcopal, Congregational, and Baptist.
The reader may therefore look for a considerable variety of talent and difference of opinion in minor points of doctrine and polity. But in all essential articles of faith, he will find a striking degree of unity—a unity more spiritual and free, and for this very reason more deep and real than the consensus patrum, so called, by which the Roman Church would fain prevent or obstruct all further progress in working the inexhaustible mines of revealed truth. Far above all sectarian steeples rises the hill of Zion, where the discords of human creeds are solved in the divine harmony of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all.”
The numerous additions of the translators, from their own researches, and from leading English commentators, will be found to raise the value of the American edition far above the German original.
As general Editor, I wish here publicly to congratulate the translators on the successful completion of their laborious task, and to express my grateful appreciation of their hearty and efficient co-operation in this noble work. I only regret that one of them—the late lamented Dr. Lillie, like the like-minded Dr. Auberlen—was not permitted to see the volume which owes so much to his accurate scholarship and faithful study.
The Epistles to the Corinthians are nearly ready for the press; as is also the volume on Genesis. The remaining books of the New Testament, excepting the Apocalypse, which has not yet appeared in Germany, are all in course of preparation by able and competent scholars.
5 Bible House, New York, Feb. 20, 1868.
AUTHORS OF THE COMMENTARY ON THE THESSALONIANS
THE AMERICAN EDITOR
Charles Augustus Auberlen, to whose competent hands the Commentary on the Epistles to the Thessalonians was first intrusted, and who would have prepared other parts of Lange’s Bibelwerk (probably the Book of Daniel and the Apocalypse of John), had not a premature death removed him from his earthly labors, was born Nov. 19, 1824, at Fellbach, near Stuttgard, in the kingdom of Württemberg, which for its small size has given rise to an unusual number of distinguished divines, philosophers, and poets. He was educated at Esslingen, Blaubeuren, and at the University of Tübingen, where he stood among the first in his class. For a short time he was in danger of being carried away by the enthusiasm then prevailing among German students for the humanitarianism of Goethe’s poetry and Hegel’s pantheistic philosophy, But his pious education and associations, the influence of his teachers, Drs. Schmid, Landerer, and Beck, and the diligent study of the Bible and the older Württemberg divines, especially Bengel and Oetinger, guarded him against serious error. After a literary journey through Germany, Holland, and Belgium, and a second residence at Tübingen as Repetent (Fellow or Tutor) of the Theological Seminary, he accepted a call as professor extraordinary of theology at the University of Basel in 1851, and was happily married in the same year to a daughter of Dr. Wolfgang Menzel, the well-known author of a History of Germany, a History of German literature (translated into English by the late President Felton of Harvard University), and other works. In 1860 the University of Basel, at its fourth centenary, conferred on him the honorary degree of D. D. In that post he labored with great acceptance and rising fame to his death, May 2, 1864. As his theology, so his departure was full of joyful hope.
Dr. Auberlen was one of the most gifted and promising of the present generation of evangelical divines in Germany, combining thorough learning with devout piety and profound reverence for the Word of God. He had imbibed the spirit of Bengel and Oetinger, but was fully at home in all the modern systems of theology and philosophy. He devoted special attention to the prophetical portions of the Scriptures. Characteristic for his standpoint is the following passage from the preface to the second edition of his work on Daniel: “The elevation on which Scripture places us is one, not merely of the life, but also of knowledge, and to descend from it is likewise to suffer a mighty loss in ideas, especially in the moral sphere. Here that word holds good: ‘In Thy light we see light.’... Here is a real solution of the problems of life—here a real answer to the questions of existence, so far as one can be given at all for beings, who as yet walk not by sight.”
The principal works of Dr. Auberlen, besides a part of the Commentary on the Thessalonians, are the following:
The Theosophy of Friedrich Christoph Oetinger in its leading features. With Preface by Dr. R. Roth (of Heidelberg). Tübingen, 1847.
The Prophet Daniel and the Revelation of John, Basel, 1854; 2d edition revised, 1857. A very superior work, which has been translated into English (for Clark’s Foreign Library), and into French. It is not a full commentary, but a comparative exposition of the chief sections of the two books as a basis for a Biblical philosophy of history.
The Divine Revelation, Basel, 2 vols. 1861–64. The second volume, in the preparation of which he died, is unfinished, and was published after his death by Prof. Gess.
Comp. the Biographical Notice in the second volume of Auberlen’s work on Revelation, and an article of Dr. Fabri in Herzog’s Theol. Encyc!., vol. xix. p. 789 sqq.
Dr. C. J. Riggenbach, who completed the Commentary on the Thessalonians after the death of his friend and colleague, is a native of Switzerland, completed his studies at Berlin during 1839–41 (simultaneously with the writer of this notice), and, after laboring as pastor for some time, was elected professor of theology at the University of Basel, where he labors still and enjoys the full confidence of the Christian community. He was once a follower of the Hegelian philosophy, but became a thorough convert to orthodox practical Christianity. He is the author of a valuable work on the Life of Christ, and of several popular lectures against modern infidelity.—P. S.
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE OF DR. LILLIE
It becomes my sad duty, as the general editor of Lange’s Commentary, to send out this part of the work with a biographical notice of the translator. A few weeks before his death, Dr. Lillie paid me a visit, in excellent health and spirits, and intrusted to me the manuscript of his translation, after having put to it his last touches in my study. We settled the form of the title page and several matters relating to the final revision. At his request I prepared the biographical notice of my friend Auberlen, who was called hence while engaged in this same Commentary. How little did I dream at that time that I would have so soon to add his own obituary, and to finish his work, as a labor of love to a departed friend and esteemed co-laborer!
The Rev. John Lillie, D.D., was born, December 16, 1812, at Kelso, Scotland, the youngest of a family of six children. He entered the University of Edinburgh in 1828, and was graduated in 1831, with the first honors of his class. During his course he received several prizes, among which was the gold medal given annually by the “Writers to the Signet” to the best Latin scholar. I well remember in what high terms his Latin Professor, James Pillans, to whom he gave me a letter of introduction in 1854, spoke of the classical scholarship, talent, and industry of his former pupil. His Alma Mater publicly recognized his merits, by conferring on him, in 1855, the diploma of Doctor of Divinity.
From 1831 to 1834 he studied theology, taught a classical academy at Edinburgh, and travelled in England.
In August, 1834, he sailed, in company with elder members of his family, for the United States, and completed his theological studies in the Seminary of the Dutch Reformed Church at New Brunswick, N. J. In February, 1836, he was ordained and installed minister of the Reformed Dutch church at Kingston, Dutchess Co., N. Y., where he labored with ability and fidelity till August, 1841, when he was invited to the Presidency of the Grammar School connected with the University of the City of New York. Shortly afterwards he took charge of a church in Stanton street, New York, and edited the Jewish Chronicle (from 1844 to 1848) in behalf of missions among the Jews.
In 1852 the “American Bible Union,” which was organized in 1850 in the city of New York, engaged his services, and subsequently those of Drs. Conant, Hackett, Kendrick, Rödiger, Forsyth, and other scholars of various denominations, for the difficult work of preparing a new or revised version of the Holy Scriptures. He assisted the Society in collecting for the purpose one of the most complete and valuable exegetical and critical libraries extant, including a rare set of the best editions of the Greek and Latin fathers, and all the German commentators of note. He went into this arrangement as an enthusiast for Biblical studies, and in full sympathy with the movement for such a revision of the authorized English Version of the Scriptures as would correct admitted errors, and embody the approved results of modern textual criticism and biblical research for the benefit of all the Protestant churches of the English tongue. His part in the work, however, like that of several other scholars, was merely of a preliminary and strictly literary character; the final revision, for popular use, being reserved for a special commission, which has since completed the revision of the New Testament.
In this connection Dr. Lillie labored for five years with great zeal and energy. He fixed up a study with exquisite scholarly taste in the venerable Baptist church in Broome street, and felt perfectly happy in the company of all the great Bible translators and commentators, whose stately folios and handy octavos were laid out before him, together with grammars, dictionaries, and other auxiliary works of ancient and modern lore.
He prepared in the service of the Bible Union new versions and philological commentaries on the Epistles to the Thessalonians, the Epistles of John, the Second Epistle of Peter, the Epistle of Jude, and the Revelation 3:0 which were published in 1854 and 1856 in beautiful quarto style in three columns, containing the Greek text, King James’ Version, and the Revised Version, the greater part of the page being occupied with learned notes, and the amplest references to former versions and commentaries. They were published, however, merely as literary works, with the express declaration of the Bible Union “that the translation is not final.” These philological commentaries, together with the similar works of Dr. Conant on Job and on Matthew, and of Dr. Hackett on the Epistle to Philemon, are undoubtedly the most scholarly publications of the “American Bible Union,” and have a permanent exegetical and critical value. The late Dr. Joseph Addison Alexander, of Princeton, often spoke in very high terms of Dr. Lillie’s commentaries, and expressed to him the wish that he might treat in the same thorough manner all the books of the New Testament. Dean Alford, of England, was stimulated by them to write his article on “Bible Revision” in the Edinburgh Review.
Close application to study somewhat weakened the otherwise vigorous health of Dr. Lillie, In June, 1854, he sailed for Europe and returned in October, fully restored for his work.
In 1857, he accepted a call to the First Presbyterian church at Kingston, N. Y., where he labored faithfully and acceptably till his death. In January, 1867, he paid a visit to New York, and was hale and strong and in excellent spirits. On his return, Saturday, January 19, during a snow storm of unusual severity, he caught a cold, but recovered, and attended to his pastoral duties till the week of his death. On Sunday, the 17th of February, he preached his last sermon with unusual vigor and solemnity; on the day following he was taken sick with inflammation of the lungs, and on Saturday, the 23d, in the fifty-fifth year of his life on earth, he peacefully fell asleep to awake in his heavenly home. He bore the severe pains of his illness without a murmur,—so completely had his naturally irritable temper been softened and subdued by Divine grace. He left behind him a most amiable and worthy wife (a daughter of A. Bruyn Hasbrouck, LL.D., late President of Rutgers College, N. J.), and six promising sons and daughters. His funeral was largely attended, the church being insufficient to accommodate the assemblage of ministers and people. On March 17, 1867, the Rev. W. Irvin, of Rondout, N. Y., at the request of the First Presbyterian church of Kingston, preached an appropriate memorial sermon in the Reformed Dutch church of that place, to which he had devoted the first years of his ministry. The session of his church, as also that of the Reformed Dutch church of Kingston, the Ulster County Bible Society, and the higher ecclesiastical courts with which he was connected, gave fit expression to their high sense of esteem and affection, in a number of highly complimentary resolutions.
Besides the exegetical works already mentioned, Dr. Lillie wrote a volume of Expository Practical Lectures on the Epistles to the Thessalonians (published by his friends and countrymen, Messrs. R. Carter & Brothers, N. Y., 1860), and occasional sermons and pamphlets, which are all written with great care and some of which were published by request. He finished in manuscript a Commentary on the First Epistle of Peter, which he regarded as his best work, and which we hope will before long be given to the public.
The last work of his life was the translation of the Commentary on the Thessalonians for the American edition of Lange’s Bible-Work. I could not have found in America a scholar better qualified for this task than Dr. Lillie, who had made the Epistle to the Thessalonians the subject of repeated and thorough study, and had already published on this portion of the Scriptures a philologico-critical commentary with a new translation, and a volume of Practical Expository Lectures. He finished the manuscript of the translation a few weeks before his death, but read the proof only of the first sixteen pages. The task of completing his work fell upon me, as the responsible editor. I read the proof with scrupulous regard to his copy. Lillie’s Thessalonians will be found to be one of the best executed portions of the American edition of Lange. The translation is remarkably accurate and elegant, and the additions from his own researches and the best English commentaries are carefully selected and valuable. He took great delight in this task, especially in the critical notes below the text, and would have contributed other portions to this Biblical work, had Providence spared his life. I had already assigned to him the Apocalypse (for which, by his previous labors and his deep interest in eschatology, he was likewise thoroughly prepared), and the books of Leviticus and Numbers.
Dr. Lillie was undoubtedly one of the first classical and Biblical scholars in the United States. He would have adorned a chair of Biblical Literature in any of our Theological Seminaries, although his difficulty of hearing might have interfered somewhat with his efficiency as a teacher. He was naturally a close student, and had rare opportunities for cultivating his talents in the best institutions of his native Scotland. He was remarkably accurate and nice, even to the smallest minutiæ of Greek accents and punctuation. Besides the Latin, Greek and Hebrew, he had mastered the French, German and other modern languages. He was at home in the ancient and the English classics, and in the vast field of Biblical literature, especially in the critical department.
He was, moreover, an earnest, solemn, and impressive preacher, a faithful pastor, a conscientious and devout Christian, a genial, hospitable companion, with a stout Scotch heart, an ardent temper, strong affections, and a frank, social disposition. In his theology he was thoroughly orthodox and evangelical, but with a strong leaning to millennarianism, and considerable sympathy with the spiritual and devotional (but not with the hierarchical and ritualistic) features of the Irvingite movement. He admired the writings of Auberlen, the author of a portion of the commentary on the Thessalonians. Much as he cherished the hope of the second coming of Christ, he knew how to subordinate disputed eschatological opinions to the great central truths of the gospel, on which the churches are agreed.
In personal appearance, Dr. Lillie was a fine-looking, robust gentleman, with a genial face and manly bearing, very neat in his dress and methodical in all his habits. He was called away in the midst of his usefulness to see his Lord and Master face to face, for whose coming he had so often and so earnestly prayed.
To this notice I am happy to add a tribute to the memory of Dr. Lillie from the pen of his countryman, fellow-student, and life-long friend, the Rev. James Inglis, who edits in this city a highly spiritual and devotional periodical, The Witness. The letter, which I subjoin, with his kind permission, breathes the spirit of a sweet and holy friendship that was made in heaven and for heaven, and outlives the fleeting changes of earth. It reminds me of those beautiful lines in which Gregory Nazianzen, in a sad moment of temporary alienation, describes his friendship with Basil, which commenced in the community of literary study at Athens, and culminated in the consecration of their souls to Christ and the service of His Church:
Τοιαῦτ’ Ἀθῆναι, καὶ πόνοι κοινοὶ λόγων,
Ὁμόστεγός τε καὶ συνέστιος βίος,
Νοῦς εἷς ἐν�, οὐ δύω, θαῦμʼ Ἑλλάδος,
Καὶ δεξιαὶ, κόσμον μὲν ὡς πόῤῥω βαλεῖν,
Αὐτοὺς δὲ κοινὸν τῷ Θεῷ ξῆσαι βίον,
Λόγους τε δοῦναι τῷ μόνῳ σοφῷ Λόγῳ,
New York, October 12, 1867.
REV. DR. SCHAFF:
Any of the early and intimate friends of Dr. Lillie would be embarrassed in speaking publicly of his memory; I most of all, who, in the intimate associations of our college life, when I shared the same room with him, knew him best. Our embarrassment arises from his superiority as known to us, to all that he ever made himself publicly known to be; so that our severest estimate of him might be regarded as the partial judgment of affection. Professor Pillans in his old age stated to me that John Lillie was the most accomplished scholar of all the pupils who had passed from his care in a professional career, which, at Eton and Edinburgh, extended over more than half a century. Probably any member of the Faculty of Letters in the University of Edinburgh at that day, would have endorsed this testimony. His attainments at the age of twenty-one, were not those of a precociously brilliant or a merely studious youth, but rather those of a vigorous and cultivated mind in its maturity. When from this distance of time I recall them, they seem more wonderful to me now than they did then. If he did not fulfil all the high expectations which we cherished of his future eminence in the world, his was not the failure of a superficial precocity which had awakened hopes which it could not make good, but the sacrifice of worldly ambition to the higher aims of an office to which he was called by the Lord, by whose blood he was redeemed, and by whose love he was constrained. We are more than content with his loss of an earthly crown, since we know that “when the Chief Shepherd shall appear,” the loss will be compensated by a crown of glory which fadeth not away.
The life of such a student as he was, was necessarily far apart from the vices and follies which dishonored the name of student in that day. But besides the habits which kept him aloof from ignoble dissipations, he was distinguished by a peculiar sensitiveness of honor, truthfulness and purity which gained involuntary respect even from those who were irritated by its living reproof. The tone of his mind was indicated by an enthusiastic admiration of the prose works of Milton, upon which his early style and use of English were moulded. The inspiration of liberty from that source determined him to seek a home in America. After years of separation I saw what the grace of God could effect even in such a character as his; I saw the difference between the fruit of the Spirit and the highest human virtue.
He was what is styled a Calvinist, not as a mere theologian, but as a Christian whose soul yielded a reverent and uncavilling submission to what God has been pleased to reveal of Himself, and what to many are mere speculations or party distinctions, were to him divine and influential verities. He was clear and uncompromising in his testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus, in whose glorious person and perfect work he found life and all that satisfies life. To him it was evidently a small matter to be judged of man’s judgment, and so he was often found on the unpopular side with the truth of God. He was the earnest advocate of Millennarianism, when to be a Millennarian was to expose himself to ecclesiastical ostracism. He dared take the attitude of a candid enquirer into the claims of the self-styled “Catholic Apostolic Church.” But when it is said that “he sympathized with some features of the Irvingite movement,” it should be known that it was not with the doctrinal system nor with the ritualism of that Church that he sympathized.
His sympathy, so far as it went, arose from his exalted conception of what the Holy Scriptures teach of the Church as the temple of the Holy Ghost, the body of Christ, invested, as the representative of her Head, with His authority and endowed with His ascension gifts; and from his convictions regarding the destiny of the Church as the bride, the Lamb’s wife—in the words of one of his published sermons, “The Queen-consort of a renewed and emancipated world,” in which the everlasting purpose of Divine love will be accomplished and the manifold wisdom of God will be displayed. He could not be satisfied with low views of the Church as a voluntary association of men, defining its own prerogatives, framing its own laws, choosing its own ministry, whose qualifications and functions it prescribes, adapting itself to the expediencies of the hour, and renouncing a heavenly destiny for the empty boast of a temporal triumph. He was attracted by the pretensions of a body which claimed to realize his august conception, or, permit me to say, the divine revelation of the Church’s existence, and which, in its testimony, gave great prominence to the Church’s glorious destiny. But the fact that he did not die in the communion of “the Catholic Apostolic Church,” is the proof that, on careful examination, he did not find its pretensions substantiated.
Pardon me that I have written at such length on these points to you who are so much more capable than I am to do justice to the character, gifts and views of my friend. I know what your friendship was to him in his lifetime, and I am happy that it is your hand that is to pen the brief record which will associate his memory with the enduring work in which he counted it a privilege to be your fellow-laborer. For me it would perhaps have seemed more fitting that I should speak only of the generosity and tenderness of his unfailing friendship, and the disinterestedness of his brotherly love. The memory of these is rather to be cherished as a solace of the “little while” which separates me from him who was the last of the friends of life’s spring-tide who remained to be the companion of its autumn days, and the only one, of them whose sympathy relieved “the sear and yellow leaf” with the light of that blessed hope in which he sleeps, and in which
I am, Dear Sir,
Yours, with high respect,
THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL
§ 1. OCCASION, TIME, AND PLACE OF WRITING
The Second Epistle, on the whole, indicates the same state of things as the First, and moves also in a similar circle of thought. Here too we still find no sort of reference to any Jewish-Christian adversaries of the Apostle. Silvanus and Timothy are still as in the First Epistle his helpers, and joined with him in the composition of the letter. From this very circumstance it may with great probability be inferred, that this Second Epistle also was written at Corinth. After the period marked in Acts 18:0 we no longer find Silas with the Apostle. But when the subscription says, from Athens, that is here as erroneous as in the First Epistle. As regards both the situation of the Apostle and the state of the church we may observe in the Second Epistle a further development, which shows us that it was written some time after the First; not too soon after, for the First Epistle must have been in operation for some time, if we are to account for the appearance of spurious Epistles (2 Thessalonians 2:2); nor yet too long after, certainly not after Paul had left Corinth, for 2 Thessalonians 2:5; 2 Thessalonians 3:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:10 imply, as Bleek properly remarks (in his Introduction), that Paul had been but once in Thessalonica.4 Paul has to endure an obstructive hostility (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2); and this agrees with the latter period of his stay at Corinth (comp. Acts 18:9; Acts 18:12). Moreover, there are branch-churches near Corinth (2 Thessalonians 1:4); which implies that Paul had already been working there some time (comp. 2 Corinthians 1:1; Romans 16:1). In Thessalonica, on the other hand, the development shows itself in three particulars, of which Paul must have been apprised orally or by letter:
1. An outbreak of new persecutions (2 Thessalonians 1:4) brought with it the necessity for new confirmation in the faith.
2. The excitement in regard to the expectation of the Advent had increased, but in a modified form. They no longer entertained any solicitude as to the dead; on that point 1 Thessalonians 4:13 sqq. had given them sufficient light; but as they did not receive the instruction as soberly as 1 Thessalonians 5:0 required, so their minds had been agitated in another way, partly through terror and consternation, partly through a vehement longing, whilst they supposed that Christ’s return was immediately imminent. Suggestions that claimed to be from the Spirit, and even forged apostolic letters (or at least one letter) increased the violent commotion (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2). To correct this error, the Apostle insists on the terribly grave character of the catastrophe, that was still to be looked for previously. For believers, indeed, the result will be a happy one; but first the severe trial of the dominant apostasy, of the Antichristian period, will be gone through; and, until this passage is effected (which something at present restrains), the dawn of Christ’s blessed Coming is not to be expected. It is not satisfactory to say with De Wette, that Paul seeks to cool off somewhat the too lively expectation. Rather, he seeks to deepen the too lightly cherished hope, and prepare the readers for a time which will be more trying than they supposed. Here likewise, though in a different direction from 1 Thessalonians 4:0, it again appears that they were still too little reconciled to the serious path of the cross and of death, and too readily overlooked the ὠδῖνες.
3. It is probably connected with this, that the outgrowth of a disorderly, lazy officiousness had not declined, but had deplorably increased. If their thought was: “Now, indeed, everything that exists is presently dissolving!” so much the more might many break bounds. Against this the Apostle directs, 2 Thessalonians 3:6 sqq., his sharp word of reproof, and enjoins sterner measures of discipline.
Thus the Second Epistle throughout presupposes the First. The First relates the history of the conversion of the Thessalonians; the Second shows us the progress of their development. The First treats of the possible nearness of the Advent; the Second corrects a misapprehension of this doctrine. The First gives friendly warning against a spirit of disorder; the Second is required to attack more sharply this stubborn evil. Besides, 2 Thessalonians 2:15 refers to the First Epistle (the reference at least includes our First), and 2 Thessalonians 2:1 to 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
Some expositors, it is true, would invert the relation. In the first place, Grotius supposed that the Man of Sin (2 Thessalonians 2:3) was the Emperor Caligula, who attempted to place his statue in the temple; moreover, that ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς (2 Thessalonians 2:13) is only to be understood by supposing that the Epistle was addressed to Jewish Christians who had come from Palestine, and amongst them Jason; finally, that the mark of genuineness (2 Thessalonians 3:17) is to be regarded as a notice communicated by Paul to his readers at once in his first letter. But the whole of this is utterly arbitrary. A mark of genuineness was not wanted by readers until spurious letters were forthcoming, and this again is not conceivable prior to the existence of genuine letters. Nor are the Palestinian recipients of the letter anything but a fiction, invented to render somewhat more plausible that which contradicts all chronology, the reference of the second chapter to Caligula.
Less impossible a priori is Ewald’s hypothesis, that the Second Epistle, put last as being the shorter, is rather the First, and indeed written from Berœa; that Paul therein corrects the misunderstanding in regard to his preaching of the speedy Advent; that only by this correction is there explained that anxiety on account of such as died before the Advent, which he has now occasion to remove in his second letter (1 Thessalonians 4:13 sqq.). It is certainly not à priori impossible, that from a misunderstanding of 2 Thessalonians 2:0. there should have arisen such an anxiety as 1 Thessalonians 4:0. implies, though we would still find more natural a different effect of 2 Thessalonians 2:0. But the entire relation of the two Epistles is not at all satisfactorily explained by Ewald’s method. In a first letter we can understand the fact and reason of Paul’s reverting so particularly to the history of the conversion of the Thessalonians (on that point pomp. the exposition of the First Epistle); in a later letter, after that our Second had preceded as the First, we should no longer comprehend it; nor again the fact, that our First Epistle should be so entirely silent respecting the Second, in that passage (1 Thessalonians 2:15  sqq.) where the Apostle recounts all his cares and efforts in behalf of the Thessalonians. Of the mention of the churches, in which Paul gloried in the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 1:4), Ewald, who makes him write so at Berœa, has no other than a very forced explanation. At 2 Thessalonians 2:2 Ewald himself has to admit, that from that it is evident that our Second Epistle had already been preceded by an earlier Epistle; and should that have been, not our First, but another lost one? That were, however, a groundless conjecture. Nor is there at Berœa adequate opportunity for the vexations which the Apostle had to suffer, 2 Thessalonians 3:2; for when, after some time of unobstructed activity in that city, the agitators arrived from Thessalonica, his sojourn there came immediately to an end (Acts 17:14). So we will rest in this, that the old established succession of the two Epistles is likewise the correct one.
§ 2. GENUINENESS OF THE EPISTLE
The external evidence of the Second Epistle is precisely the same as for the First, and as for the Epistle to the Galatians. An allusion to 2 Thessalonians 3:15 sq, see in Polycarp, Phil. 11. If the First Epistle has on a close examination of even its minutest features proved itself to be genuinely Pauline, that of itself tells in favor also of the Second. The latter likewise has never been suspected until the 19th century, and then on so-called internal grounds; first by John Ernst Christian Schmidt, who began (1801) with merely explaining 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 as a Montanistic interpolation, and subsequently called in question the whole Epistle. De Wette took sides with him in the first edition of his Einleitung [Introduction to the New Test.—J. L.], but subsequently he himself refuted the grounds of doubt. On the other hand, Kern attacked the genuineness of the Epistle in the Tübingen Zeitschrift, 1839, 2; after him Baur, Paulus, p. 485 sqq., and in a modified form in his and Zeller’s Theol. Jahrb., 1855, 2 p. 150 sqq.; most recently Hilgenfeld (who regards the First Epistle as genuine) in his Zeitschrift für wissensch. Theologie, 1862, 3 p. 242 sqq. Amongst the defenders of the genuineness are especially to be named Guericke, Beiträge, 1828; Reiche, authentiæ posterioris ad Th. epitolæ vindiciæ, 1829; Lange, Das apost. Zeitalter, I. p. 111 sqq.; the expositors Lünemann, 2d ed., with special thoroughness, and Hofmann. Nothing but what Hilgenfeld brings forward of his own remains still unanswered.
Many of the scruples alleged are in the highest degree trifling. One time the Second Epistle should be too like the First, merely an imitation; then again the expressions (of which every Epistle contains a number), that cannot be matched out of other Epistles, are urged as grounds of suspicion. In truth, the Second Epistle has no greater resemblance to the First than the Epistle to the Ephesians has to that to the Colossians, or than many passages of the Epistle to the Romans have to the Epistle to the Galatians; it has, besides, its altogether definite and appropriate aim. Nor are the peculiarities of expression for that reason unpauline, as the exposition will have to show. Amongst other points, indeed, Hilgenfeld thinks that 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7 has an unapostolic sound, as if one merited the kingdom of God by suffering; moreover, that in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 we light upon an almost Romanizing recommendation of the Apostle’s oral and written traditions in general, and so forth; but others will have difficulty in seeing in what way the latter text is so essentially different from 1 Corinthians 11:2 or 1 Corinthians 15:3; and as for the former and others such, it is the less necessary to anticipate the exposition, as the result in reference to the question of genuineness is in any event too unimportant; indeed, Hilgenfeld himself does not in this relation go further than to say (p. 245): “Certainly we are here brought at least to the extreme limit of the Pauline mode of statement.”
A ground of suspicion, on which Baur especially lays stress, is what we read in 2 Thessalonians 2:2 of forged letters of the Apostle, taken in connection with the token by which according to 2 Thessalonians 3:17 the readers were afterwards to recognize the genuineness of an apostolic document. The former passage Kern would not understand of a spurious letter, but rather that it speaks of a misconstruction that had appeared in Thessalonica of the First Epistle. And so it is understood also by Bleek (Einl., p. 386), who yet regards the Second Epistle likewise as genuine; but in consequence of that interpretation his explanation of 2 Thessalonians 3:17 proves to be, as Hilgenfeld properly remarks (p. 263), very unsatisfactory. If, however, 2 Thessalonians 2:2 speaks of a forged letter, as almost all since Origen have understood, then it is held to be inconceivable that such a thing should have occurred at so early a period; also that Paul could not possibly have thought already in the beginning, when he had as yet written very few letters, of setting up a mark of genuineness for all subsequent letters: “This is the sign in every Epistle, so I write;” that, moreover, the similar phrase in 1 Corinthians 16:21 is the natural expression of his love in the salutation, whereas here, in an altogether unpauline manner, it is made the mark of distinction between genuine and spurious letters; that this takes us to a time when spurious letters had come to be known, and there was occasion to ask for the tests of genuineness.
These arguments lose every appearance even of validity, as soon as we realize to ourselves the state of the case. The point was, to secure the Thessalonians against repeated deception, and for this the best expedient was the precaution that Paul hit upon: “So I write; let no future letter be put upon you as sent by me, which does not contain the salutation written by mine own hand.” Now, it is true that only in other two instances, 1 Cor. and Colossians 4:18, do we meet with the same clause: “The salutation by the hand of me, Paul,” and in neither of these two places is the same object asserted as in our text. So much the less could a forger, with this and other Epistles before him, have thought of writing: This is my token in every Epistle. For, in fact, he did not find it stereotyped in all the Epistles. But the real Paul might so write to the real Thessalonians, whilst using the salutation of cordial love (and this it certainly was in our Epistle likewise first of all) as at the same time a precautionary measure. The salutation was as to its contents a token of love; as to its form, as being written by Paul’s own hand, a token of genuineness. But with this it is not at all necessary to suppose, that the same words must continually recur; the only thing required was the autograph subscription. In what way Paul understood the word would be perfectly plain to us, if we possessed a third Epistle to the Thessalonians. It is true, indeed, that such a provision could only have been suggested to Paul by the fact that spurious letters were already known; but according to 2 Thessalonians 2:2 this was precisely the case. After the Apostle’s death the temptation to such forging of letters might easily make itself felt; but why not as well in those times when writing to the churches was still a new thing, so that in any greatly excited circle such a letter readily seemed to be the appropriate means for securing an entrance for peculiar notions.
Thus regarded, everything becomes intelligible; on the other hand, what these critics charge upon the forger is utterly incomprehensible. Looking at the matter in a purely rational light, how foolish would it have been for any one, who desired to forge a letter (and the case, we see, actually occurred), to draw attention so pointedly to this consideration: Suffer no spurious letter to be imposed on you, that has not my own subscription. Was he, forsooth, even in his autograph to imitate the Apostle’s handwriting? That would not merely have been foolish, but it would have betrayed such a degree of callous obtuseness of conscience, as could never be reconciled with the character of holy earnestness and thoughtful purity, by which undeniably our Epistle likewise is distinguished. In fact, to infer that the more positively any one says: I am the Apostle, there is the stronger ground for suspecting that it is not true—this is surely unjust, so long as the impossibility of his speaking the truth is not shown conclusively. In the Epistle to the Galatians the Apostle speaks with far larger reference to his own person, and yet no one questions the genuineness.
The main ground of doubt, and really the only one that comes into serious consideration, is the contents of the section, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. It was from this point also that Schmidt’s first doubt started. It is asserted that the doctrine of the Antichrist, which is here presented, is not Pauline. But in this, by dint of reasoning in a circle, people cut out and fashion for themselves a fictitious Paul. Yet what Paul says about the groaning creation occurs only in Romans 8:0, and the prospect he holds out of Israel’s conversion only in Romans 11:0. Is therefore the Epistle to the Romans to be regarded as spurious? On the whole, there is scarcely an Epistle that does not contain some point of doctrine peculiar to itself.
It is said that the expectation of Antichrist rests on a Jewish foundation, especially on the prophecy of the book of Daniel; that by the development of that arose the Christian apocalyptic doctrine; that, as for this being found also in Paul, there is nothing to object to that, since in other respects also he discovers a way of thinking and looking at things that is pervaded by Jewish elements; but that we should beware of attributing to him more of what is Jewish, than can on decisive grounds be established. We shall better describe the true state of the case, if we say that the Apostle’s faith and thought are rooted in the Old Testament revelation. What, then, is really Pauline is not to be determined à priori, but gathered from the sources; and of these we shall not pronounce any to be spurious, merely because it presents something also that is peculiar, so long as it is not shown that this peculiarity contradicts the nature of the Apostle. But in the question before us this is not at all the case.
Baur, indeed, will detect a great difference between the Epistles to the Corinthians and those to the Thessalonians. The truth is, that here as there we find original features, which, however, most beautifully complete one another. Thus it is with the being clothed upon [2 Corinthians 5:2] and changed (1 Corinthians 15:0), and then the being caught away into the clouds (1 Thessalonians 4:0); the one thing necessarily requires the other. Of the same sort is the relation, when 2 Thessalonians 2:0. speaks particularly of Antichrist, whereas 1 Corinthians 15:0. designates death as the last enemy, and so intimates that, prior to the last enemy, other enemies are to be overcome. That 1 Corinthians 15:0. specially harmonizes with Psalms 110, , Psalms 110:1 and 2 Thess. with Daniel, we readily grant; only this proves no contradiction and no difference of authorship. The two supplement each other in the same way as do Romans 5:0 and 1 Corinthians 15:0. But we shall by no means reckon the doctrine of Antichrist among Rabbinical notions, if along with Daniel, Psalms 110:0, and other Old Testament places, we think of 1 John 2:18; 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7; and the Apocalypse.
It is true, they would even form an inconsistency between 1 Cor. and 2 Thess. There, it is said, Paul hopes to live till the Advent, whereas here the aim already is by means of a certain theory to account for the fact, that the Advent cannot yet occur so soon. This, it is alleged, at once implies a tedious, fruitless expectancy, on account of which the non-occurrence is explained on the ground of a certain hindrance; and altogether the prospect carries us to the end of the Roman monarchy, far beyond the stand-point and time of the Apostle. But if Paul looked for the Advent as possibly occurring soon, why might he not also think of the antichristian domination as occurring soon and speedily expiring? he even says himself, that its beginnings are stirring already. There is not a word of correction for such as perhaps began to go astray, because the Advent was so long in coming; on the contrary, Paul sets right only those who supposed that it was even now at the door, and thereupon too lightly overlooked the severe path of the cross and of death, through which they had first to pass. The Apostle merely reminds them of this, but he does not say: It will tarry for a long time yet. Lünemann is quite right in comparing the prophecy of Israel’s conversion (Romans 11:25 sqq.), of which it might likewise be said, and with just as little reason as of the prophecy in regard to Antichrist, that it points far beyond the stand-point and time of the Apostle. Besides, was not the expectation of the Advent of itself an outlook to the end of the Roman monarchy?
Baur himself, moreover, as good as abandoned that argument, when in 1855, in a new form of his hypothesis, he designated the year 68 as the earliest date of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians. Is it not strange that what was to arouse suspicions against Paul is, a few years after the Apostle’s death, accepted without any suspicion at all, as soon as the matter concerns a forger? Already Kern puts the composition of the Epistle into the time between 68 and 70, between Nero’s death and the destruction of Jerusalem. For the Antichrist, he thinks, is Nero, whose return, as Revelation 17:10-11 is supposed to show, was looked for; the κατέχων, again, being Vespasian, and the falling away the detestable wickedness of the Jews in the Roman Empire. But De Wette and Lünemann properly declare against such an infusion of the political element into the interpretation of our passage. Baur, on the other hand, going still farther in the track of Kern, comes to this result: that the Second Epistle was written soon after the year 68, but the First Epistle considerably later, after that the expectation of Antichrist had in consequence of his non-appearance subsided (against the latter point see the Introduction to the First Epistle); that, in particular, in 2 Thessalonians 2:0 we already have an example of specifically Christian apocalyptic doctrine; that Antichrist is none other than Nero, and that the statements of our Epistle presuppose the view of the Apocalypse; that the divine worship, which according to Revelation 13:12-15; Revelation 19:20 is paid to the Beast, agrees with 2 Thessalonians 2:4; and so the Beast which was, and is not, and shall be5 (Revelation 17:8), to wit Nero, who passed for dead, but who should come again, is meant also in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7; that the σαλευθῆναι of 2 Thessalonians 2:2 has reference to the agitation about the pseudo-Nero after Galba’s death, of which Tacitus, Hist. ii. 8, gives this account: Achaia atque Asia falso exterritæ, velut Nero adventaret: vario super exitu ejus rumore, eoque pluribus vivere eum fingentibus credentibusque (Baur thinks this delusion was of Christian origin, but what follows does not fit the Christians). Inde late terror, multis ad celebritatem nominis erectis, rerum novarum cupidine et odio præsentium. Gliscentem in dies famam fors discussit.
There are altogether three spurious Neros recognized; this one the first; a second in the year 832 U. C. under Titus in Asia Minor (according to Zonaras); the third, twenty years after Nero’s death under Domitian, of whom Tacitus, Hist. i. 2, makes mention (comp. Suetonius, Nero, 57): Mota prope Parthorum arma falsi Neronis ludibrio. Our place, says Baur, refers to the first, as is indicated also by the excitement in the Christian regions of Achaia and Asia. The Epistle, he thinks, was written after that, 1. the σαλευθῆναι, that is, the commotion occasioned by the pseudo-Neronian disturbances, was now passed, the famam fors discussit had occurred, and the futility of the affair was already demonstrated. He supposes that the κατέχων was Vespasian, but that whether the temple in Jerusalem was still standing is doubtful, since 2 Thessalonians 2:4 may be explained otherwise (Jahrb., p. 158). According to this scheme, the author wrote, 2. not until the Apocalypse was pretty generally recognized; and his object was to impress on his readers the wisdom of letting the mistake which had been committed teach them this lesson, that the Advent cannot come before Antichrist comes, nor Antichrist without the apostasy, nor that without the removal of the κατέχων; consequently, Vespasian must first be overthrown! and Antichrist must show himself as a wicked despot, and set himself up as God. For the future, therefore, let us be circumspect, and not suffer ourselves to be deceived by any falsi Neronis ludibrium.
This entire hypothesis, however, stands in glaring contradiction to the plain tenor of our Epistle:—2 Thessalonians 2:2 does not at all sound as if Christians had to be corrected, who had already once allowed themselves to be deceived into the notion that Antichrist was present, and to them it had now to be said: No doubt He will come, but you must be far more heedful in the examination of the signs. The Apostle rather speaks to such as suppose that the Lord is here, and they must be reminded that Antichrist comes first. The σαλευθῆναι of 2 Thessalonians 2:2 has a quite different motive from that which Baur imputes to it. But generally, even as regards the Apocalypse, the whole issue of fantastic, politico-spiritual allusiveness, is by no means the result of correct exposition; and in the case of our text such ideas are nothing but a sheer importation. Baur’s concession (p. 168) is worthy of note, that there is not one of the features in 2 Thessalonians 2:0. so specifically Neronian, that the author would have to be at once set down as having failed in his part. Baur sees nothing in this but the prudently sustained effort to pass for the Apostle Paul. But is it not more prudent, that is, more natural, to admit that the writer is not merely acting a part, but is really the Apostle Paul? If that is the case, and if Paul wrote the letter in the year 54 at the latest, and had already the year before, according to 2 Thessalonians 2:5, preached the same thing orally, it then follows that Paul had spoken to his Christians of Antichrist even before Nero became Emperor. Lünemann also is quite right in his remark (and so Ewald, p. 29), that the description in 2 Thessalonians 2:0, as compared with the Apocalypse, appears still to be very simple and little developed, and therefore of an earlier date than the latter.
It is at any rate strange, when Hilgenfeld expressly asserts to the contrary, that 2 Thessalonians 2:0, as contrasted with the Apocalypse, shows an important advance in eschatology, and belongs to a far later period. The result of his combinations is to remove the composition to the time of Trajan. In the mystery of lawlessness he would recognize the Gnostic heresies; most arbitrarily; since the worship of a supreme Deity is something quite different from self-deification. The writer, according to Hilgenfeld, is led to speak of the κατέχων by the fact of a longer delay having already occurred than the Apocalypse gave reason to expect, and therefore also the Second Epistle is in irreconcilable contradiction to the First, which according to Hilgenfeld is genuine. The doctrine of the First Epistle, that the day of the Lord comes quite suddenly and at a time that cannot be calculated, like a thief in the night, is not he says, the doctrine of the Second, which rather specifies very distinct tokens of Christ’s return, to wit, the rise of the apostasy, and the self-deification of the Man of Sin. Had Paul really taught thus in Thessalonica (v. 5), he would then in the First Epistle have again completely renounced his own doctrine. But the whole of this assertion is perfectly groundless. As regards the κατέχων, we cannot here further anticipate the exposition; every one must allow that an explanation which leads to such a result as that of Hilgenfeld, cannot at least be à priori the only possible one. But that the signs of the time, mentioned in the Second Epistle, are to be considered as in irreconcilable contradiction to the coming as a thief in the night, is an extremely arbitrary assertion. Certainly the time and the hour are not at all thereby determined, and, on the other hand, to regard the signs of the time is everywhere required of the disciples. Even the First Epistle furnishes such a sign, namely, the utter, careless security itself of those who are no disciples (1 Thessalonians 5:3). The apostasy, of which the Second Epistle speaks, is nothing but the highest development of that evil disposition, and when the deceptive power of the Man of Sin comes to an end in the Lord’s taking him away6 by the Spirit of His mouth (1 Thessalonians 2:8), that will be the consummation of those pangs which come suddenly on her who is with child (1 Thessalonians 5:3). The whole is aimed merely at a wicked, careless security. “But the day,” says the Apostle to the Christians (1 Thessalonians 5:4), “does not come on you as a thief, for ye are sober and watchful;” and again: “You do not allow yourselves to be befooled by the deceptions of the antichristian period, and have your eyes open for the signs of the time.” One must read with a preconceived opinion, to assert the irreconcilableness of the two Epistles.
The development of the doctrine beyond the Apocalypse Hilgenfeld sees especially in this, that the antichristian ruler, who in the latter is distinguished from the false prophet, already in our Epistle coalesces with him. But is it not far more natural to acknowledge that here we have rather a first step, on which, not yet clearly discriminated, there comes forth the party by whom the lying wonders are performed, the object of which is to secure credit for the self-deification of the Man of Sin? In that case, however, 2 Thessalonians 2:0 does not presuppose the Apocalypse, but precedes it. On the whole, the prophecy of Daniel is quite sufficient as the basis of 2 Thessalonians 2:0; even the exaltation above all that is called God or that is worshipped meets us already in that place (Daniel 11:36; Daniel 7:8). This old prediction of the consummation, by its being concentrated in a head, of enmity against God and His anointed, is renewed by the Apostle, whose own eye is opened, and he thus foretells the acme of the wickedness of which the beginnings are already stirring; all, as Baur admits, without a single specific Neronian feature; in truth, all before even Nero was Emperor. It is very conceivable how the Christians might subsequently fall into the way of finding at once in the Emperor Nero the Antichrist whom they expected; but even this presupposes the existence of the prophecy of Antichrist. This knowledge is also of importance for the interpretation of the Apocalypse.
The question as to the genuineness must therefore be decided essentially by the exposition of the second chapter.
§ 3. COURSE OF THOUGHT IN THE EPISTLE
In this case the old division of chapters has, on the whole, hit the right mark. Lünemann, indeed, would divide differently. After the salutation (2 Thessalonians 1:1-2) and introduction (2 Thessalonians 1:3-12), he distinguishes a doctrinal part (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12) and a hortatory (2 Thessalonians 2:13 to 2 Thessalonians 3:15), to which are added in conclusion the salutation and benediction (2 Thessalonians 3:16-18). But it is, in the first place, unsuitable to describe 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12 as being simply introduction; then the distinction between a doctrinal and a hortatory part is rather a modern than an apostolic conception; and, moreover, it is overlooked that the exhortation in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 belongs strictly to the instruction concerning Antichrist, whereas τὸ λοιπόν, 2 Thessalonians 3:1, obviously introduces the closing section. The last point is recognized by Hofmann, who, however, on his part infers too much from it, namely, that the exhortation in 2 Thessalonians 3:0 forms a sort of supplement, unconnected with the main instruction of 2 Thessalonians 2:0 and that, consequently, even the officious idleness here reproved by the Apostle does not at all originate in eschatological excitement. But that is to assert more than can be proved.
According to what has been said, our Epistle divides itself as follows:
1 Chronicles 1:0 contains an address for the consolation of the readers under the fresh outbreak of persecutions; after the salutation (2 Thessalonians 1:1-2), the Apostle thanks God for their growth in faith (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4), cheers them by the prospect of judgment and salvation (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10), and prays that God would make them partakers of perfection (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).
2 Chronicles 2:0 supplies instruction and exhortation in regard to the antichristian consummation of evil; the warning, against allowing themselves to be easily misled into the notion of the day of the Lord being at the door (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2), is confirmed by reminding them that, as he had already told them orally, the Man of Sin must previously be revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:3-5); that the mystery of lawlessness is still for the present restrained by an obstructive power, and will only reach its height when this is removed, and will then also come to its end by the appearing of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8); of what sort the lying power of the enemy will be, is hereupon more exactly described (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12); but the Christians, whom God saves from this ruin, he so much the more encourages to stand fast, and implores in their behalf the Divine guardianship (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17).
3. Ch. 3 closes the Epistle with regulations in regard, chiefly, to those who walked disorderly; after a short introduction, in which he seeks their prayers, and commends to them generally a faithful perseverance in the true Christian spirit (2 Thessalonians 3:1-5), he gives particular directions as to the treatment of those who will not desist from a pragmatical idleness (2 Thessalonians 3:6-16). To this are attached in few words the parting salutation and benediction (2 Thessalonians 3:17-18).
The Epistle is short, but not on that account the less important. The way in which the Apostle comforts his readers by a reference to the righteous judgment of God, is of itself very instructive; still more the peculiar instruction respecting the impending consummation of hostility to God, which deserves the more to be laid to heart, the more the signs of the time reveal the impress of the antichristian nature; and, lastly, the Apostle’s severity likewise against all sham-spiritual indolence is to be well considered, and the discipline, the exercise of which he requires from the church, is in the highest degree fitted to hold forth a mirror to the Christendom of our day.
As to the literature, there is nothing more to be noted, after what has been cited in § 2. What was said in the Introduction to the First Epistle, holds good also for the Second, except only that Koch’s Commentary does not extend to the Second Epistle.
[See Introduction to the First Epistle, p. 9, and foot-note.—J. L.]
[According to the better reading, καὶ πάρεσται.—J. L.]
[According to the reading followed by Riggenbach in 2 Thessalonians 2:8.—J. L.]