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Bible Commentaries
2 Thessalonians 2

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Introduction

2 Thessalonians 2:1

Now we beseech you, brethren, touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,—Paul presented in the preceding chap­ter the coming of the Lord, and the gathering of his people to him, and the judgments visited on the wicked, and the rewards of the righteous. He had taught them in the first Epistle (5:2) that the day of the Lord should come as a thief in the night when they were not expecting him. It is now clear that some had taught that the day of the Lord would speedily come. Then, as now, the people were easily excited over this question, were excited and unfitted for the faithful performance of everyday duties of Christians. Paul wrote this Epistle to correct the false teaching that had so excited them.

and our gathering together unto him;—[The word trans­lated “gathering together” occurs only once again in the New Testament, where it is used with reference to the assembling of Christians for worship. (Hebrews 10:25.) Here it is used with reference to the assembling of believers to Christ, when he shall be revealed from heaven; it refers not to the raising of the dead, but the gathering together of the saints who are alive.]

2 Thessalonians 2:2

to the end that ye be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be troubled,—They had evidently been excited by false impressions about the nearness of the Lord’s coming, and had acted as men who had lost their sense, giving up their ordinary occupations and scandalizing sober-minded people. The word shaken marks that shaken and disquieted state of mind which was due to wild spiritual anticipations. To prevent this in­stability and disorder Paul now again writes to them.

either by spirit, or by word, or by epistle as from us, as that the day of the Lord is just at hand;—That they would not know when he would come was so clearly revealed that none of the things mentioned should move them on the sub­ject. Just as he said: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, Jet him be anathema.” (Galatians 1:8.) In other words, the truth that none would or could know the time of his coming was so fixed that no one could truthfully say it could be known.

2 Thessalonians 2:3

let no man beguile you in any wise:—[They were sur­rounded by many influences tending either to lead them into error and delusion or into unbelief. Whatever device they might adopt—spirit, letter, or whatnot—they were deceivers or deceived; they were warned not to be deceived by them.]

for it will not be, except the falling away come first,—A widespread apostasy from God, on the part of his followers, was to arise within the church. The foundation principle of the falling away is the assumption of the right to change or modify the laws and commandments of God.

and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition,—There has been much diversity in the religious world as to what is “the man of sin,” “the son of perdition.” Most Protestants say the Roman Catholic Church is the man of sin. I doubt if any organization is “the man of sin.” A principle was at work that would set aside God’s order and establish one of its own in its stead. It leads to ruin and perdition—is called the son of perdition.

2 Thessalonians 2:4

he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped;—This principle under dif­fering circumstances works out different developments and organizations. The highest, the most sacred right, and pre­rogative that God has reserved to himself is the right to make laws for his kingdom and to rule it. This he jealously guards because it lies at the foundation of his claims to be God, and out of this grows all other claims. It requires as great authority to repeal or change a law as it does to enact it; hence, the power that enacts laws for God’s people repeats or changes the laws of God, exalts itself into a rival and an opponent of God.

so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God.—Whoever or whatever claims the right to legislate for the children of God exalts himself or itself against all that is God and sits in the seat of God. This principle, that claims the right to change the order of God and to legislate for the church of God, is the man of sin. The principle develops dif­ferent bodies or forms, according to surrounding circum­stances. Roman Catholicism, I have no doubt, is one develop­ment or outgrowth of this man of sin. But the same principle manifests itself in many different forms in the history of the church.

2 Thessalonians 2:5

Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?—The spirit of lawlessness was at work in Paul’s day. The principle was just developing itself. It was not a grown man. It was really an unborn babe. It took several hundred years to prow into papacy. All the time back to Paul’s day it was that same man of sin in different stages of growth. It was the same person in its essential nature and character from its conception until its complete development in the papacy. It is easy in history to trace it back to its appearance at its birth. Its essential character was that it assumed the right to change and modify the order and ap­pointments to legislate for the kingdom of God. Wherever that principle is found, there the mystery of iniquity is. This is its one essential character.

All organizations, institutions, and practices in the church that grow out of the exercise by man or men of this power are developments of the man of sin. Some one body, by pre­eminence in time or power, may be called the “man of sin,” but all are of the same family, even though less pronounced in character. This principle has not confined itself to one church or to one development, but has made many and varied growths, each shaped by the conditions and surroundings, of its growth. Whenever or wherever men in the church have added to, taken from, or changed the laws, institutions, or order God has ordained, there the man of sin is at work. The outgrowth of that principle, wherever found, is a development of the man of sin.

2 Thessalonians 2:6

And now ye know that which restraineth, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season.—The disposition to amend and change the appointments of God was at work and was restrained in its growth by Paul’s authority as an apostle of the Lord; but when he was taken out of the way it had free course and developed rapidly. It is not difficult to trace its growth through the succeeding centuries, culminating in hierarchies for which God’s word made no provision. But that principle is not confined to one or two churches. Its presence is manifest in a greater or lesser degree in all the churches, in the changes in the order of worship, in the ordi­nances of the church; and in the multiplication of societies and organizations that seem for a time to add to its beauty and activity, but which in the end, as parasites, sap the life out of the churches. This principle is manifest especially in the organizations of the churches themselves into societies and ecclesiasticisms that first usurp the work of the churches and then control them and come between man and God.

God placed the churches as distinct congregations connected with each other only by the bonds of faith and love. The office of the congregation is in the ordinances and teachings to bring man into close and constant contact with God and to cultivate a sense of personal responsibility and nearness to him. This condition will bring out all that is best in him and stir him to zeal in the service of God. God’s service leads to doing good to man in his name. All added organizations come between and separate man from God. They make his service a proxy service, which destroys his sense of account­ability to God and weakens his zeal and devotion. Obedience to God’s order as he gave it builds up his kingdom, and the substitution of a human order destroys it, and changes it into the “man of sin.” All efforts to consolidate the churches into one organization for any purpose must be manifestations of this principle, and must result in the turning of the churches from fidelity to God. This was typified in the Jewish people. The consolidation of the people into one nation was rebellion against God, and resulted in their ruin as a people. No power should come between the churches of Christ and God. Any such breaks the sense of responsibility to God, and is the mystery of iniquity that sits in the seat of God, displeases him, and will bring ruin sooner or later to his church.

2 Thessalonians 2:7

For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work:—The influence is called “the mystery of lawlessness" because it is not open in its work, is not seen, and is of the spirit that sets aside the law of God. It is not regulated by the law, has no law to guide or control it. It was already at work, spreading among the children of God, when this Epistle was written.

only there is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way.—Paul, protesting against the lawless power, main­taining the sole authority of God in the work and worship of the church, insisting that all should give heed to the things they had seen and learned of him, and should follow his in­structions closely as he had followed Christ, was the restrain­ing power about to be taken out of the way. This accords fully with Paul’s style. (2 Corinthians 12:1-16.)

2 Thessalonians 2:8

And then shall be revealed the lawless one,—When Paul should be taken out of the way then this spirit of lawlessness would run riotously and carry the great body of Christians and churches into apostasy.

whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth,—The breath of his mouth means his word. All this power to legislate, make, repeal, change the laws, add to the institutions that God has appointed is of “the man of sin.” Taking the Roman Catholic hierarchy as the development of the man of sin, as I am sure it is, it will be seen that this mystery of lawlessness developed into the “man of sin” only after several hundred years’ growth. But the principle was at work in the days of Paul and developed into activity soon after he was taken out of the way and grew into the great Romish hierarchy. Can we find the first developments of the man of sin? What it was in its childhood? We should understand this, lest we unconsciously nurse an infant of the same brood into life and vigor.

and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming;—[That is, as soon as his coming shall be made manifest. The very sight of the advancing King shall carry terror to the heart of his adversary and bring to utter ruin. The vision of him from afar shall be, as it were, instant destruction of his foes.]

2 Thessalonians 2:9

even he, whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,—Satan in the days of miracles wrought all forms and deceptions that unrighteousness could invent to lead to destruction those that obey him. When and where signs and lying wonders were performed, it is difficult to tell. In the age when Christ and the apostles and prophets wrought wonders, the devil and his emissaries did also. There were miracles of evil wrought in the early age of the church by the evil one as there were wrought by Jesus and his disciples. As these miracles of his disciples were said to follow them that believe do follow them as their heritage handed down from the early church, so also these miracles of evil wrought in the days of the early church.

2 Thessalonians 2:10

and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.—And this evil comes to the destruction of those who disobey God, because when they learned the truth they did not receive it in the love of the truth. To receive it in the love of it was to receive it in the heart and obey it in all of its precepts: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” (1 John 5:3.) To love the truth is to obey it. To know the truth and not obey it is to “hinder the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18.) There is no more dangerous condition for man than for him to know the truth and refuse to obey it. To do this is to harden the heart and make the condemnation sure.

2 Thessalonians 2:11

And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie:—When one knows the truth and refuses to obey it. he is a fit subject for following any delusion that sweeps over the land. The prophet teaches the same thing: “Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations: I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did that which was evil in mine eyes, and chose that wherein I delighted not.” (Isaiah 66:3-4.) This teaches plainly that when men know the truth, refuse to receive it in the love of it, refuse to obey it, they hold it in unrighteous­ness, and God sends strong delusions upon them that they should believe a lie.

[Of all fatal effects of sin, none looks so dreadfully, none strikes so just an horror into considering minds as that every sinful action a man does naturally dis­poses him to do anything so ill, that it does not prove a preparative and introduction to the doing of something worse.]

The number of men who are willing to work on either side of a question that will pay would be surprising to those not in position to know and who have not become accustomed to such things. It is the discouraging feature about the work of the churches today. So few men are willing to stand to their convictions—nay are willing to have convictions on any sub­ject that will interfere with their worldly success. But truth can never be maintained, save by those who are willing to honor their own convictions, cherish a keen sense of right, are afraid of the least participation in that which is wrong, and will honor and maintain the truth, let it cost what it may of popularity or private prosperity. Let us, then, drink deeply of the essence of the spirit of Christ. Without it the Christian religion cannot exist,

2 Thessalonians 2:12

that they all might be judged who believed not the truth,—To know the, truth and refuse to obey it is not to believe it with the earnest living faith that God requires and blesses. If a man at heart desires to do the whole will of God, God’s will in its fullness will be opened to him that he may do it. God does not cast pearls before swine. When a people desire not to do the will of God, God withdraws the knowledge of himself from them. We may Infer that when men wish to do only a part of his will, he permits only partial knowledge of himself to be known. This doubtless explains why so many professed Christians seem never able to see portions of the will of God; they do not desire to do it all. They see only what they wish to do. “Blindness in part” has happened to those people.

but had pleasure in unrighteousness.—Instead of that faith that works by Jove and obeys God in doing his will, they had pleasure in doing the things that were displeasing to him. [They are credulous of that which falls in with their evil in­clination. Wicked men are of wickedness.]

2 Thessalonians 2:13

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved of the Lord,—Paul felt bound to give thanks to God for them because they pursued the opposite course from those who held the truth in unrighteousness.

for that God chose you from the beginning unto salvation—[From what time was it from which these persons were chosen? As the choosing was “in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth," it is impossible that the choosing could have preceded the belief of the truth through which it was effected. Then it was the beginning of their spiritual life when they heard the gospel and became obedient to it—the time of their conversion.]

in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:—All who hear and obey the truth as revealed by the Spirit through the inspired apostles are sanctified by the Spirit, and are God’s chosen ones. Those who will not be thus guided refuse to let God sanctify them, for in so doing they reject the means God uses to accomplish that end.

Many think to know truth is sufficient: but the truth must be so received into the heart that it is warmed into life that it may assimilate the feelings and purposes of the heart to its needs in producing in the heart the new living plant of faith that bears the fruits of love and holiness. The seed that falls into the earth will remain barren and unfruitful unless it so comes into contact with the moisture and warmth of the soil as to excite to activity the germ of life within the seed. Then this aroused principle of life so appropriates to itself the strength and richness of the soil as to produce a new plant that will multiply the seed sown. The word of God is the seed of the kingdom sown in the heart; and when properly cherished, it appropriates all the better qualities to the growth of a spiritual plant that will abundantly multiply the seed sown. The great end, then, is not simply to get the seed sown—the word known—but to get it into the conditions that will energize the life principle and cause it to root and ground itself in the heart and direct and appropriate all the feelings of the heart. This can be done by cherishing the word of God in the heart and seeking to have it permeate our whole being.

2 Thessalonians 2:14

whereunto he called you through our gospel,—God called all who believed the gospel that he might sanctify and purify and fit them to obtain the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.—They were called by the gospel to school and fit them to share the glorious inheritance of the saints in light. [The glory of the saints will be complete and secure in the completeness of his glory.—’’We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is.” (1 John 3:2.)]

2 Thessalonians 2:15

So then, brethren, stand fast,—Because they had been called by the gospel to this glorious end, he exhorts them to stand fast in the faith, and hold to the teaching they had re­ceived from him.

and hold the traditions which ye were taught,—Traditions were handed down from one to another or taught, and is used in both a good and a bad sense in the Scriptures. The people were warned against the traditions of the elders which dis­placed and made void the commandments of God. Jesus said: “Ye leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradi­tion of men.” (Mark 7:8.) The traditions that they had been taught by Paul, by word or letter, were the commandments which he had given to them.

whether by word, or by epistle of ours.—[Traditions as used in this passage are the teachings and precepts which the in­spired men taught as the precepts of God, whether they taught them by the word of mouth or by writing. Paul draws no distinction between oral and written tradition as was done later. The worth of tradition lies not in the form, but in the source and quality of the thing. Paul says: "For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24.) In this he was communicating to the church by epistle and stamps it with the authority of his spoken word. The sentence asserts the claim of the true apostolic teaching as against any who would beguile the church away from it. “Now I praise you that ye remember me in all things, and hold fast the traditions, even as I delivered them to you.” (1 Corinthians 11:2.)]

2 Thessalonians 2:16

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father who loved us—Paul commends them to God that they might be by him directly cheered and maintained in the evil day. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.” (1 John 4:10.) “Even when we were dead through our tres­passes, made us alive together with Christ . . . and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:5-6.) “Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us.” (1 John 3:16.)

and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,—Freely, not in discharge of obligation, but without restraint of any kind. Hope here describes the happy anticipation of good. The element of uncertainty with the consequent dis­appointment, which is the essence of all hope among men of the world, has no place in the hope of the faithful Christian. “Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is.” (1 John 3:2.)

2 Thessalonians 2:17

comfort your hearts—Comfort implies more than the merely external condition of enjoyment, exemption from an­noyance, or even relief from affliction; these are later and lesser meanings. To comfort was originally to impart strength, fortitude, cheerful energy, and in the passages in the New Testament, the word should be understood in this sense. When we come thus to understand the word, it invests it with fresh significance.

and establish them in every good work and word.—[Bring your Christian life to maturity and strength. The order is significant; practice should precede precept “that ye may be­come blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye are seen as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.” (Philippians 2:15-16.) The phrase comprehends the whole Christian conduct, private and public.]

Verse 1

2Th 2:1

Now we beseech you, brethren, touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,—Paul presented in the preceding chap­ter the coming of the Lord, and the gathering of his people to him, and the judgments visited on the wicked, and the rewards of the righteous. He had taught them in the first Epistle (5:2) that the day of the Lord should come as a thief in the night when they were not expecting him. It is now clear that some had taught that the day of the Lord would speedily come. Then, as now, the people were easily excited over this question, were excited and unfitted for the faithful performance of everyday duties of Christians. Paul wrote this Epistle to correct the false teaching that had so excited them.

and our gathering together unto him;—[The word trans­lated “gathering together” occurs only once again in the New Testament, where it is used with reference to the assembling of Christians for worship. (Hebrews 10:25.) Here it is used with reference to the assembling of believers to Christ, when he shall be revealed from heaven; it refers not to the raising of the dead, but the gathering together of the saints who are alive.]

Verse 2

2Th 2:2

to the end that ye be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be troubled,—They had evidently been excited by false impressions about the nearness of the Lord’s coming, and had acted as men who had lost their sense, giving up their ordinary occupations and scandalizing sober-minded people. The word shaken marks that shaken and disquieted state of mind which was due to wild spiritual anticipations. To prevent this in­stability and disorder Paul now again writes to them.

either by spirit, or by word, or by epistle as from us, as that the day of the Lord is just at hand;—That they would not know when he would come was so clearly revealed that none of the things mentioned should move them on the sub­ject. Just as he said: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, Jet him be anathema.” (Galatians 1:8.) In other words, the truth that none would or could know the time of his coming was so fixed that no one could truthfully say it could be known.

Verse 3

2Th 2:3

let no man beguile you in any wise:—[They were sur­rounded by many influences tending either to lead them into error and delusion or into unbelief. Whatever device they might adopt—spirit, letter, or whatnot—they were deceivers or deceived; they were warned not to be deceived by them.]

for it will not be, except the falling away come first,—A widespread apostasy from God, on the part of his followers, was to arise within the church. The foundation principle of the falling away is the assumption of the right to change or modify the laws and commandments of God.

and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition,—There has been much diversity in the religious world as to what is “the man of sin,” “the son of perdition.” Most Protestants say the Roman Catholic Church is the man of sin. I doubt if any organization is “the man of sin.” A principle was at work that would set aside God’s order and establish one of its own in its stead. It leads to ruin and perdition—is called the son of perdition.

Verse 4

2Th 2:4

he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped;—This principle under dif­fering circumstances works out different developments and organizations. The highest, the most sacred right, and pre­rogative that God has reserved to himself is the right to make laws for his kingdom and to rule it. This he jealously guards because it lies at the foundation of his claims to be God, and out of this grows all other claims. It requires as great authority to repeal or change a law as it does to enact it; hence, the power that enacts laws for God’s people repeats or changes the laws of God, exalts itself into a rival and an opponent of God.

so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God.—Whoever or whatever claims the right to legislate for the children of God exalts himself or itself against all that is God and sits in the seat of God. This principle, that claims the right to change the order of God and to legislate for the church of God, is the man of sin. The principle develops dif­ferent bodies or forms, according to surrounding circum­stances. Roman Catholicism, I have no doubt, is one develop­ment or outgrowth of this man of sin. But the same principle manifests itself in many different forms in the history of the church.

Verse 5

2Th 2:5

Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?—The spirit of lawlessness was at work in Paul’s day. The principle was just developing itself. It was not a grown man. It was really an unborn babe. It took several hundred years to prow into papacy. All the time back to Paul’s day it was that same man of sin in different stages of growth. It was the same person in its essential nature and character from its conception until its complete development in the papacy. It is easy in history to trace it back to its appearance at its birth. Its essential character was that it assumed the right to change and modify the order and ap­pointments to legislate for the kingdom of God. Wherever that principle is found, there the mystery of iniquity is. This is its one essential character.

All organizations, institutions, and practices in the church that grow out of the exercise by man or men of this power are developments of the man of sin. Some one body, by pre­eminence in time or power, may be called the “man of sin,” but all are of the same family, even though less pronounced in character. This principle has not confined itself to one church or to one development, but has made many and varied growths, each shaped by the conditions and surroundings, of its growth. Whenever or wherever men in the church have added to, taken from, or changed the laws, institutions, or order God has ordained, there the man of sin is at work. The outgrowth of that principle, wherever found, is a development of the man of sin.

Verse 6

2Th 2:6

And now ye know that which restraineth, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season.—The disposition to amend and change the appointments of God was at work and was restrained in its growth by Paul’s authority as an apostle of the Lord; but when he was taken out of the way it had free course and developed rapidly. It is not difficult to trace its growth through the succeeding centuries, culminating in hierarchies for which God’s word made no provision. But that principle is not confined to one or two churches. Its presence is manifest in a greater or lesser degree in all the churches, in the changes in the order of worship, in the ordi­nances of the church; and in the multiplication of societies and organizations that seem for a time to add to its beauty and activity, but which in the end, as parasites, sap the life out of the churches. This principle is manifest especially in the organizations of the churches themselves into societies and ecclesiasticisms that first usurp the work of the churches and then control them and come between man and God.

God placed the churches as distinct congregations connected with each other only by the bonds of faith and love. The office of the congregation is in the ordinances and teachings to bring man into close and constant contact with God and to cultivate a sense of personal responsibility and nearness to him. This condition will bring out all that is best in him and stir him to zeal in the service of God. God’s service leads to doing good to man in his name. All added organizations come between and separate man from God. They make his service a proxy service, which destroys his sense of account­ability to God and weakens his zeal and devotion. Obedience to God’s order as he gave it builds up his kingdom, and the substitution of a human order destroys it, and changes it into the “man of sin.” All efforts to consolidate the churches into one organization for any purpose must be manifestations of this principle, and must result in the turning of the churches from fidelity to God. This was typified in the Jewish people. The consolidation of the people into one nation was rebellion against God, and resulted in their ruin as a people. No power should come between the churches of Christ and God. Any such breaks the sense of responsibility to God, and is the mystery of iniquity that sits in the seat of God, displeases him, and will bring ruin sooner or later to his church.

Verse 7

2Th 2:7

For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work:—The influence is called “the mystery of lawlessness" because it is not open in its work, is not seen, and is of the spirit that sets aside the law of God. It is not regulated by the law, has no law to guide or control it. It was already at work, spreading among the children of God, when this Epistle was written.

only there is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way.—Paul, protesting against the lawless power, main­taining the sole authority of God in the work and worship of the church, insisting that all should give heed to the things they had seen and learned of him, and should follow his in­structions closely as he had followed Christ, was the restrain­ing power about to be taken out of the way. This accords fully with Paul’s style. (2 Corinthians 12:1-16.)

Verse 8

2Th 2:8

And then shall be revealed the lawless one,—When Paul should be taken out of the way then this spirit of lawlessness would run riotously and carry the great body of Christians and churches into apostasy.

whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth,—The breath of his mouth means his word. All this power to legislate, make, repeal, change the laws, add to the institutions that God has appointed is of “the man of sin.” Taking the Roman Catholic hierarchy as the development of the man of sin, as I am sure it is, it will be seen that this mystery of lawlessness developed into the “man of sin” only after several hundred years’ growth. But the principle was at work in the days of Paul and developed into activity soon after he was taken out of the way and grew into the great Romish hierarchy. Can we find the first developments of the man of sin? What it was in its childhood? We should understand this, lest we unconsciously nurse an infant of the same brood into life and vigor.

and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming;—[That is, as soon as his coming shall be made manifest. The very sight of the advancing King shall carry terror to the heart of his adversary and bring to utter ruin. The vision of him from afar shall be, as it were, instant destruction of his foes.]

Verse 9

2Th 2:9

even he, whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,—Satan in the days of miracles wrought all forms and deceptions that unrighteousness could invent to lead to destruction those that obey him. When and where signs and lying wonders were performed, it is difficult to tell. In the age when Christ and the apostles and prophets wrought wonders, the devil and his emissaries did also. There were miracles of evil wrought in the early age of the church by the evil one as there were wrought by Jesus and his disciples. As these miracles of his disciples were said to follow them that believe do follow them as their heritage handed down from the early church, so also these miracles of evil wrought in the days of the early church.

Verse 10

2Th 2:10

and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.—And this evil comes to the destruction of those who disobey God, because when they learned the truth they did not receive it in the love of the truth. To receive it in the love of it was to receive it in the heart and obey it in all of its precepts: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” (1 John 5:3.) To love the truth is to obey it. To know the truth and not obey it is to “hinder the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18.) There is no more dangerous condition for man than for him to know the truth and refuse to obey it. To do this is to harden the heart and make the condemnation sure.

Verse 11

2Th 2:11

And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie:—When one knows the truth and refuses to obey it. he is a fit subject for following any delusion that sweeps over the land. The prophet teaches the same thing: “Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations: I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did that which was evil in mine eyes, and chose that wherein I delighted not.” (Isaiah 66:3-4.) This teaches plainly that when men know the truth, refuse to receive it in the love of it, refuse to obey it, they hold it in unrighteous­ness, and God sends strong delusions upon them that they should believe a lie.

[Of all fatal effects of sin, none looks so dreadfully, none strikes so just an horror into considering minds as that every sinful action a man does naturally dis­poses him to do anything so ill, that it does not prove a preparative and introduction to the doing of something worse.]

The number of men who are willing to work on either side of a question that will pay would be surprising to those not in position to know and who have not become accustomed to such things. It is the discouraging feature about the work of the churches today. So few men are willing to stand to their convictions—nay are willing to have convictions on any sub­ject that will interfere with their worldly success. But truth can never be maintained, save by those who are willing to honor their own convictions, cherish a keen sense of right, are afraid of the least participation in that which is wrong, and will honor and maintain the truth, let it cost what it may of popularity or private prosperity. Let us, then, drink deeply of the essence of the spirit of Christ. Without it the Christian religion cannot exist,

Verse 12

2Th 2:12

that they all might be judged who believed not the truth,—To know the, truth and refuse to obey it is not to believe it with the earnest living faith that God requires and blesses. If a man at heart desires to do the whole will of God, God’s will in its fullness will be opened to him that he may do it. God does not cast pearls before swine. When a people desire not to do the will of God, God withdraws the knowledge of himself from them. We may Infer that when men wish to do only a part of his will, he permits only partial knowledge of himself to be known. This doubtless explains why so many professed Christians seem never able to see portions of the will of God; they do not desire to do it all. They see only what they wish to do. “Blindness in part” has happened to those people.

but had pleasure in unrighteousness.—Instead of that faith that works by Jove and obeys God in doing his will, they had pleasure in doing the things that were displeasing to him. [They are credulous of that which falls in with their evil in­clination. Wicked men are of wickedness.]

Verse 13

2Th 2:13

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved of the Lord,—Paul felt bound to give thanks to God for them because they pursued the opposite course from those who held the truth in unrighteousness.

for that God chose you from the beginning unto salvation—[From what time was it from which these persons were chosen? As the choosing was “in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth," it is impossible that the choosing could have preceded the belief of the truth through which it was effected. Then it was the beginning of their spiritual life when they heard the gospel and became obedient to it—the time of their conversion.]

in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:—All who hear and obey the truth as revealed by the Spirit through the inspired apostles are sanctified by the Spirit, and are God’s chosen ones. Those who will not be thus guided refuse to let God sanctify them, for in so doing they reject the means God uses to accomplish that end.

Many think to know truth is sufficient: but the truth must be so received into the heart that it is warmed into life that it may assimilate the feelings and purposes of the heart to its needs in producing in the heart the new living plant of faith that bears the fruits of love and holiness. The seed that falls into the earth will remain barren and unfruitful unless it so comes into contact with the moisture and warmth of the soil as to excite to activity the germ of life within the seed. Then this aroused principle of life so appropriates to itself the strength and richness of the soil as to produce a new plant that will multiply the seed sown. The word of God is the seed of the kingdom sown in the heart; and when properly cherished, it appropriates all the better qualities to the growth of a spiritual plant that will abundantly multiply the seed sown. The great end, then, is not simply to get the seed sown—the word known—but to get it into the conditions that will energize the life principle and cause it to root and ground itself in the heart and direct and appropriate all the feelings of the heart. This can be done by cherishing the word of God in the heart and seeking to have it permeate our whole being.

Verse 14

2Th 2:14

whereunto he called you through our gospel,—God called all who believed the gospel that he might sanctify and purify and fit them to obtain the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.—They were called by the gospel to school and fit them to share the glorious inheritance of the saints in light. [The glory of the saints will be complete and secure in the completeness of his glory.—’’We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is.” (1 John 3:2.)]

Verse 15

2Th 2:15

So then, brethren, stand fast,—Because they had been called by the gospel to this glorious end, he exhorts them to stand fast in the faith, and hold to the teaching they had re­ceived from him.

and hold the traditions which ye were taught,—Traditions were handed down from one to another or taught, and is used in both a good and a bad sense in the Scriptures. The people were warned against the traditions of the elders which dis­placed and made void the commandments of God. Jesus said: “Ye leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradi­tion of men.” (Mark 7:8.) The traditions that they had been taught by Paul, by word or letter, were the commandments which he had given to them.

whether by word, or by epistle of ours.—[Traditions as used in this passage are the teachings and precepts which the in­spired men taught as the precepts of God, whether they taught them by the word of mouth or by writing. Paul draws no distinction between oral and written tradition as was done later. The worth of tradition lies not in the form, but in the source and quality of the thing. Paul says: "For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24.) In this he was communicating to the church by epistle and stamps it with the authority of his spoken word. The sentence asserts the claim of the true apostolic teaching as against any who would beguile the church away from it. “Now I praise you that ye remember me in all things, and hold fast the traditions, even as I delivered them to you.” (1 Corinthians 11:2.)]

Verse 16

2Th 2:16

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father who loved us—Paul commends them to God that they might be by him directly cheered and maintained in the evil day. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.” (1 John 4:10.) “Even when we were dead through our tres­passes, made us alive together with Christ . . . and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:5-6.) “Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us.” (1 John 3:16.)

and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,—Freely, not in discharge of obligation, but without restraint of any kind. Hope here describes the happy anticipation of good. The element of uncertainty with the consequent dis­appointment, which is the essence of all hope among men of the world, has no place in the hope of the faithful Christian. “Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is.” (1 John 3:2.)

Verse 17

2Th 2:17

comfort your hearts—Comfort implies more than the merely external condition of enjoyment, exemption from an­noyance, or even relief from affliction; these are later and lesser meanings. To comfort was originally to impart strength, fortitude, cheerful energy, and in the passages in the New Testament, the word should be understood in this sense. When we come thus to understand the word, it invests it with fresh significance.

and establish them in every good work and word.—[Bring your Christian life to maturity and strength. The order is significant; practice should precede precept “that ye may be­come blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye are seen as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.” (Philippians 2:15-16.) The phrase comprehends the whole Christian conduct, private and public.]

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/2-thessalonians-2.html.
 
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