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Bible Commentaries
2 Thessalonians 2

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

Touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (υπερ της παρουσιας του Κυριου (ημων) Ιησου Χριστου). For ερωτωμεν, to beseech, see on 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:12. Hυπερ originally meant over, in behalf of, instead of, but here it is used like περ, around, concerning as in 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:10, common in the papyri (Robertson, Grammar, p. 632). For the distinction between Παρουσια, Επιφανεια (Epiphany), and Αποκαλυψις (Revelation) as applied to the Second Coming of Christ see Milligan on Thessalonian Epistles, pp. 145-151, in the light of the papyri. Παρουσια lays emphasis on the

presence of the Lord with his people, επιφανεια on his

manifestation of the power and love of God, αποκαλυψις on the

revelation of God's purpose and plan in the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus.

And our gathering together unto him (κα ημων επισυναγωγης επ' αυτον). A late word found only in II Macc. 2:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; Hebrews 10:25 till Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, p. 103) found it on a stele in the island of Syme, off Caria, meaning "collection." Paul is referring to the rapture, mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, and the being forever with the Lord thereafter. Cf. also Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:27.

Verse 2

To the end that (εις το). One of Paul's favourite idioms for purpose, εις το and the infinitive.

Ye be not quickly shaken (μη ταχεως σαλευθηνα υμας). First aorist passive infinitive of σαλευω, old verb to agitate, to cause to totter like a reed (Matthew 11:7), the earth (Hebrews 12:26). Usual negative μη and accusative of general reference υμας with the infinitive.

From your mind (απο του νοος). Ablative case of nous, mind, reason, sober sense, "from your witte" (Wyclif), to "keep their heads."

Nor yet be troubled (μηδε θροεισθα). Old verb θροεω, to cry aloud (from θροος, clamour, tumult), to be in a state of nervous excitement (present passive infinitive, as if it were going on), "a continued state of agitation following the definite shock received (σαλευθηνα)" (Milligan).

Either by spirit (μητε δια πνευματος). By ecstatic utterance (1 Thessalonians 5:10). The nervous fear that the coming was to be at once prohibited by μηδε Paul divides into three sources by μητε, μητε, μητε. No individual claim to divine revelation (the gift of prophecy) can justify the statement.

Or by word (μητε δια λογου). Oral statement of a conversation with Paul (Lightfoot) to this effect

as from us . An easy way to set aside Paul's first Epistle by report of a private remark from Paul.

Or by epistle as from us (μητε δι' επιστολης ως δι' ημων). In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5 Paul had plainly said that Jesus would come as a thief in the night and had shown that the dead would not be left out in the rapture. But evidently some one claimed to have a private epistle from Paul which supported the view that Jesus was coming at once,

as that the day of the Lord is now present (ως οτ ενεστηκεν η ημερα του κυριου). Perfect active indicative of ενιστημ, old verb, to place in, but intransitive in this tense to stand in or at or near. So "is imminent" (Lightfoot). The verb is common in the papyri. In 1 Corinthians 3:22; Romans 8:38 we have a contrast between τα ενεστωτα, the things present, and τα μελλοντα, the things future (to come). The use of ως οτ may be disparaging here, though that is not true in 2 Corinthians 5:19. In the Koine it comes in the vernacular to mean simply "that" (Moulton, Proleg., p. 212), but that hardly seems the case in the N.T. (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1033). Here it means "to wit that," though "as that" or "as if" does not miss it much. Certainly it flatly denies that by conversation or by letter he had stated that the second coming was immediately at hand. "It is this misleading assertion that accounts both for the increased discouragement of the faint-hearted to encourage whom Paul writes 2 Thessalonians 1:3-2, and for the increased meddlesomeness of the idle brethren to warn whom Paul writes 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18" (Frame). It is enough to give one pause to note Paul's indignation over this use of his name by one of the over-zealous advocates of the view that Christ was coming at once. It is true that Paul was still alive, but, if such a "pious fraud" was so common and easily condoned as some today argue, it is difficult to explain Paul's evident anger. Moreover, Paul's words should make us hesitate to affirm that Paul definitely proclaimed the early return of Jesus. He hoped for it undoubtedly, but he did not specifically proclaim it as so many today assert and accuse him of misleading the early Christians with a false presentation.

Verse 3

Let no man beguile you in any wise (μη τις υμας εξαπατηση κατα μηδενα τροπον). First aorist active subjunctive of εξαπαταω (old verb to deceive, strengthened form of simple verb απαταω) with double negative (μη τισ, μηδενα) in accord with regular Greek idiom as in 1 Corinthians 16:11 rather than the aorist imperative which does occur sometimes in the third person as in Mark 13:15 (μη καταβατω). Paul broadens the warning to go beyond conversation and letter. He includes "tricks" of any kind. It is amazing how gullible some of the saints are when a new deceiver pulls off some stunts in religion.

For it will not be (οτ). There is an ellipse here of ουκ εστα (or γενησετα) to be supplied after οτ. Westcott and Hort make an anacoluthon at the end of verse 2 Thessalonians 2:4. The meaning is clear. Hοτ is causal, because, but the verb is understood. The second coming not only is not "imminent," but will not take place before certain important things take place, a definite rebuff to the false enthusiasts of verse 2 Thessalonians 2:2.

Except the falling away come first (εαν μη ελθη η αποστασια πρωτον). Negative condition of the third class, undetermined with prospect of determination and the aorist subjunctive. Αποστασια is the late form of αποστασις and is our word apostasy. Plutarch uses it of political revolt and it occurs in I Macc. 2:15 about Antiochus Epiphanes who was enforcing the apostasy from Judaism to Hellenism. In Joshua 22:22 it occurs for rebellion against the Lord. It seems clear that the word here means a religious revolt and the use of the definite article (η) seems to mean that Paul had spoken to the Thessalonians about it. The only other New Testament use of the word is in Acts 21:21 where it means apostasy from Moses. It is not clear whether Paul means revolt of the Jews from God, of Gentiles from God, of Christians from God, or of the apostasy that includes all classes within and without the body of Christians. But it is to be

first (πρωτον) before Christ comes again. Note this adverb when only two events are compared (cf. Acts 1:1).

And the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (κα αποκαλυφθη ο ανθρωπος της ανομιασ, ο υιος της απωλειας). First aorist passive subjunctive after εαν μη and same condition as with ελθη. The use of this verb αποκαλυπτω, like αποκαλυψιν of the second coming in 2 Thessalonians 1:7, seems to note the superhuman character (Milligan) of the event and the same verb is repeated in verses 2 Thessalonians 2:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:8. The implication is that

the man of sin is hidden somewhere who will be suddenly manifested just as false apostles pose as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:13), whether the crowning event of the apostasy or another name for the same event. Lightfoot notes the parallel between the man of sin, of whom sin is the special characteristic (genitive case, a Hebraism for the lawless one in verse 2 Thessalonians 2:8) and Christ. Both Christ and the adversary of Christ are revealed, there is mystery about each, both make divine claims (verse 2 Thessalonians 2:4). He seems to be the Antichrist of 1 John 2:18. The terrible phrase, the son of perdition, is applied to Judas in John 17:12 (like Judas doomed to perdition), but here to the lawless one (ο ανομος, verse 2 Thessalonians 2:8), who is not Satan, but some one definite person who is doing the work of Satan. Note the definite article each time.

Verse 4

He that opposeth and exalteth himself (ο αντικειμενος κα υπεραιρομενος). Like John's Antichrist this one opposes (αντι-) Christ and exalts himself (direct middle of υπεραιρω, old verb to lift oneself up

above others, only here and 2 Corinthians 12:7 in N.T.), but not Satan, but an agent of Satan. This participial clause is in apposition with the two preceding phrases, the man of sin, the son of perdition. Note 1 Corinthians 8:5 about one called God and Acts 17:23 for σεβασμα (from σεβαζομα), object of worship, late word, in N.T. only in these two passages.

So that he sitteth in the temple of God (ωστε αυτον εις τον ναον του θεου καθισα). Another example of the infinitive with ωστε for result. Caius Caligula had made a desperate attempt to have his statue set up for worship in the Temple in Jerusalem. This incident may lie behind Paul's language here.

Setting himself forth as God (αποδεικνυντα εαυτον οτ εστιν θεος). Present active participle (μ form) of αποδεικνυμ, agreeing in case with αυτον,

showing himself that he is God . Caligula claimed to be God. Moffatt doubts if Paul is identifying this deception with the imperial cultus at this stage. Lightfoot thinks that the deification of the Roman emperor supplied Paul's language here. Wetstein notes a coin of Julius with θεος on one side and Θεσσαλονικεων on the other. In 1 John 2:18 we are told of "many antichrists" some of whom had already come. Hence it is not clear that Paul has in mind only one individual or even individuals at all rather than evil principles, for in verse 2 Thessalonians 2:6 he speaks of το κατεχον (that which restraineth) while in verse 2 Thessalonians 2:7 it is ο κατεχων (the one that restraineth). Frame argues for a combination of Belial and Antichrist as the explanation of Paul's language. But the whole subject is left by Paul in such a vague form that we can hardly hope to clear it up. It is possible that his own preaching while with them gave his readers a clue that we do not possess.

Verse 5

When I was yet with you (ετ ων προς υμας). The present participle takes the time of the verb ελεγον (imperfect active),

I used to tell you these things . So Paul recalls their memory of his words and leaves us without the clue to his idea. We know that one of the charges against him was that Jesus was another king, a rival to Caesar (Acts 17:7). That leads one to wonder how far Paul went when there in contrasting the kingdom of the world of which Rome was ruler and the kingdom of God of which Christ is king. Frame notes Paul's abrupt question here "with an unfinished sentence behind him" (verses 2 Thessalonians 2:3), even "with a trace of impatience."

Verse 6

That which restraineth (το κατεχον).

And now you know (κα νυν οιδατε), says Paul in this cryptic apocalyptic passage. Unfortunately we do not know what Paul means by

that which restrains (holds back, κατεχον), neuter here and masculine in verse 2 Thessalonians 2:7 ο κατεχων. "This impersonal principle or power is capable also of manifesting itself under a personal form" (Milligan). "He is Satan's messiah, an infernal caricature of the true Messiah" (Moffatt). Warfield (Expositor, III, iv, pp. 30ff.) suggested that the man of lawlessness is the imperial line with its rage for deification and that the Jewish state was the restraining power. But God overrules all human history and his ultimate purpose is wrought out.

To the end that (εις το). Another example of εις το and the infinitive for purpose.

In his own season (εν τω αυτου καιρω). Note αυτου (his), not εαυτου (his own),

revealed in his time , in the time set him by God.

Verse 7

For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work (το γαρ μυστηριον ηδη ενεργειτα της ανομιας). See 1 Thessalonians 2:13 for ενεργειτα. The genitive της ανομιας (lawlessness) describes το μυστηριον (note emphatic position of both). This mystery (μυστηριον secret, from μυστης, an initiate, μυεω, to wink or blink) means here the secret purpose of lawlessness already at work, the only instance of this usage in the N.T. where it is used of the kingdom of God (Matthew 13:11), of God (1 Corinthians 2:1) and God's will (Ephesians 1:9), of Christ (Ephesians 3:4), of the gospel (Ephesians 6:9), of faith (1 Timothy 3:9), of godliness (1 Timothy 3:16), of the seven stars (Revelation 1:20), of the woman (Revelation 17:7). But this secret will be "revealed" and then we shall understand clearly what Paul's meaning is here.

Until he be taken out of the way (εως εκ μεσου γενητα). Usual construction with εως for the future (aorist middle subjunctive, γενητα). Note absence of αν as often in N.T. and the Κοινη. Paul uses εως only here and 1 Corinthians 4:5. When the obstacle is removed then the mystery of lawlessness will be revealed in plain outline.

Verse 8

And then (κα τοτε). Emphatic note of time,

then when the restraining one (ο κατεχων) is taken out of the way, then θε λαwλεσς ονε (ο ανομος), the man of sin, the man of perdition, will be revealed.

Whom the Lord [Jesus] shall slay (ον ο κυριος [Ιησουσ] ανελε). Whether Jesus is genuine or not, he is meant by Lord. Ανελε is a late future from αναιρεω, in place of αναιρησε. Paul uses Isaiah 11:4 (combining

by the word of his mouth with

in breath through lips ) to picture the triumph of Christ over this adversary. It is a powerful picture how the mere breath of the Lord will destroy this arch-enemy (Milligan).

And bring to naught by the manifestation of his coming (κα καταργησε τη επιφανεια της παρουσιας αυτου). This verb καταργεω (κατα, αργος) to render useless, rare in ancient Greek, appears 25 times in Paul and has a variety of renderings. In the papyri it has a weakened sense of hinder. It will be a grand fiasco, this advent of the man of sin. Paul here uses both επιφανεια (επιφανψ, elsewhere in N.T. in the Pastorals, familiar to the Greek mind for a visit of a god) and παρουσια (more familiar to the Jewish mind, but common in the papyri) of the second coming of Christ. "The apparition of Jesus heralds his doom" (Moffatt). The mere appearance of Christ destroys the adversary (Vincent).

Verse 9

Whose coming is (ου εστιν η παρουσια). Refers to ον in verse 2 Thessalonians 2:8. The Antichrist has his παρουσια also. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, pp. 374, 378) notes an inscription at Epidaurus in which "Asclepius manifested his Παρουσια." Antiochus Epiphanes is called the manifest god (III Macc. 5:35). So the two Epiphanies coincide.

Lying wonders (τερασιν ψευδους). "In wonders of a lie." Note here the three words for the miracles of Christ (Hebrews 2:4), power (δυναμις), signs (σημεια), wonders (τερατα), but all according to the working of Satan (κατα ενεργειαν του Σατανα, the energy of Satan) just as Jesus had foretold (Matthew 24:24), wonders that would almost lead astray the very elect.

Verse 10

With all deceit of unrighteousness (εν παση απατη αδικιας). This pastmaster of trickery will have at his command all the energy and skill of Satan to mislead and deceive. How many illustrations lie along the pathway of Christian history.

For them that are perishing (τοις απολλυμενοις). Dative case of personal interest. Note this very phrase in 2 Corinthians 2:15; 2 Corinthians 4:3. Present middle participle of αππολλυμ, to destroy, the dreadful process goes on.

Because (ανθ' ον). In return for which things (αντ and the genitive of the relative pronoun). Same idiom in Luke 1:20; Luke 12:3; Luke 19:44; Acts 12:23 and very common in the LXX.

The love of the truth (την αγαπην της αληθειας). That is the gospel in contrast with lying and deceit.

That they might be saved (εις το σωθηνα αυτους). First aorist passive infinitive of σωζω with εις το, again, epexegetic purpose of

the truth if they had heeded it.

Verse 11

And for this reason God sendeth them (κα δια τουτο πεμπε αυτοις ο θεος). Futuristic (prophetic) present of the time when the lawless one is revealed. Here is the definite judicial act of God (Milligan) who gives the wicked over to the evil which they have deliberately chosen (Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26; Romans 1:28).

A working of error (ενεργειαν πλανης). Terrible result of wilful rejection of the truth of God.

That they should believe a lie (εις το πιστευσα αυτους τω ψευδε). Note εις το again and τω ψευδε (the lie, the falsehood already described), a contemplated result. Note Romans 1:25 "who changed the truth of God into the lie."

Verse 12

That they all might be judged (ινα κριθωσιν παντες). First aorist passive subjunctive of κρινω, to sift, to judge, with ινα. Ultimate purpose, almost result, of the preceding obstinate resistance to the truth and "the judicial infatuation which overtakes them" (Lightfoot), now final punishment. Condemnation is involved in the fatal choice made. These victims of the man of sin did not believe the truth and found pleasure in unrighteousness.

Verse 13

See 2 Thessalonians 1:3 for same beginning.

Beloved of the Lord (ηγαπημενο υπο κυριου). Perfect passive participle of αγαπαω with υπο and the ablative as in 1 Thessalonians 1:4, only here κυριου instead of θεου, the Lord Jesus rather than God the Father.

Because that God chose you (οτ ειλατο υμας ο θεος). First aorist middle indicative of αιρεω, to take, old verb, but uncompounded only in N.T. here, Philippians 1:22; Hebrews 11:25, and here only in sense of

choose , that being usually εξαιρεομα or προοριζω.

From the beginning (απ' αρχης). Probably the correct text (Aleph D L) and not απαρχην (first fruits, B G P), though here alone in Paul's writings and a hard reading, the eternal choice or purpose of God (1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9), while απαρχην is a favourite idea with Paul (1 Corinthians 15:20; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Corinthians 16:15; Romans 8:23; Romans 11:16; Romans 16:5).

Unto salvation (εις σωτηριαν). The ultimate goal, final salvation.

In sanctification of the Spirit (εν αγιασμω πνευματος). Subjective genitive πνευματος, sanctification wrought by the Holy Spirit.

And belief of the truth (κα πιστε αληθειας). Objective genitive αληθειας, belief in the truth.

Verse 14

Whereunto (εις ο). The goal, that is the final salvation (σωτηρια). Through our gospel (δια του ευαγγελιου ημων). God called the Thessalonians through Paul's preaching as he calls men now through the heralds of the Cross as God

chose (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:24).

To the obtaining (εις περιποιησιν). Probably correct translation rather than possession. See on 1 Thessalonians 5:9, there

of salvation , here

of glory (the shekinah, glory of Jesus).

Verse 15

So then (αρα ουν). Accordingly then. The illative αρα is supported (Ellicott) by the collective ουν as in 1 Thessalonians 5:6; Galatians 6:10, etc. Here is the practical conclusion from God's elective purpose in such a world crisis.

Stand fast (στηκετε). Present imperative active of the late present στηκο from εστηκα (perfect active of ιστημ). See on 1 Thessalonians 3:8.

Hold the traditions (κρατειτε τας παραδοσεις). Present imperative of κρατεω, old verb, to have masterful grip on a thing, either with genitive (Mark 1:31) or usually the accusative as here. Παραδοσις (tradition) is an old word for what is handed over to one. Dibelius thinks that Paul reveals his Jewish training in the use of this word (Galatians 1:14), but the word is a perfectly legitimate one for teaching whether oral,

by word (δια λογου), or written,

by epistle of ours (δι' επιστολης ημων). Paul draws here no distinction between oral tradition and written tradition as was done later. The worth of the tradition lies not in the form but in the source and the quality of the content. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:23 says: "I received from the Lord what I also handed over (παρεδωκα) unto you." He praises them because ye "hold fast the traditions even as I delivered them unto you." The

tradition may be merely that of men and so worthless and harmful in place of the word of God (Mark 7:8; Colossians 2:6-8). It all depends. It is easy to scoff at truth as mere tradition. But human progress in all fields is made by use of the old, found to be true, in connection with the new if found to be true. In Thessalonica the saints were already the victims of theological charlatans with their half-baked theories about the second coming of Christ and about social duties and relations.

Which ye were taught (ας εδιδαχθητε). First aorist passive indicative of διδασκω, to teach, retaining the accusative of the thing in the passive as is common with this verb like doceo in Latin and teach in English.

Verse 16

And God our Father (κα [ο] θεος ο πατηρ ημων). It is uncertain whether the first article ο is genuine as it is absent in B D. Usually Paul has the Father before Christ except here, 2 Corinthians 13:13; Galatians 1:1.

Which loved us (ο αγαπησας ημας). This singular articular participle refers to ο πατηρ, "though it is difficult to see how St. Paul could otherwise have expressed his thought, if he had intended to refer to the Son, as well as to the Father. There is probably no instance in St. Paul of a plural adjective or verb, when the two Persons of the Godhead are mentioned" (Lightfoot).

Eternal comfort (παρακλησιν αιωνιαν). Distinct feminine form of αιωνιος here instead of masculine as in Matthew 25:46.

Verse 17

Comfort and stablish (παρακαλεσα κα στηριξα). First aorist active optative of wish for the future of two common verbs παρακαλεω (see on 1 Thessalonians 3:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:14) and στεριζω (see on 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:13). God is the God of

comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-7) and strength (Romans 1:11; Romans 16:25).

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/2-thessalonians-2.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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