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Bible Commentaries
2 Thessalonians 2

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary

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Verses 1-2

2 Thessalonians 2:1-2. Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming, &c.— Dr. Heylin has it, Now, with respect to the coming, &c. and our being assembled with him,—I desire, brethren, 2 Thessalonians 2:2 that you would not inconsiderately change your sentiments, and be alarmed by any revelation, or discourse, or letter, as from us, as if the day of Christ were to come immediately. Michaelis thinks, that the second verse relates to some epistles forged in St. Paul's name, to propagate the notion above referred to; and to certain calculations and false prophesies applied to the same purpose. The Bishop of Bristol observes, in agreement with the above translation, that "the preposition which is translated by, ought rather to be translated concerning, as it signifies in Romans 9:27. 2Co 8:23 besides other places of scripture, and as it does in other authors. Now we beseech you, brethren, concerning the coming, &c. For he does not beseech them by the coming of Christ, but the coming of Christ is the subject of which he is treating; and it is in relation to this subject that he desires them not to be disturbed or affrighted, neither by revelation, nor by message, nor by letter, as from him, as if the day of Christ's coming was at hand." (See the Reflections.) The phrase of the coming of Christ must be taken literally for his coming in glory to judge the world, as the context will evince beyond contradiction. It is used in this sense in the former epistle. From 1 Thessalonians 4:13; 1Th 4:18; 1Th 5:1-2 some had inferred, that the end of the world was now approaching, and the day of Christ was at hand: the apostle sets himself in this place to rectify that mistake; and it is with reference to this coming of Christ that he beseeches the Thessalonians, not to be shaken from their steadfastness, nor to be troubled and terrified, as if it was now at hand. Nothing then can be more evident and undeniable, than that the coming of Christ here intended, is his second coming in glory to judge the world; and of this second coming the apostle had spoken before, ch. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10. It was a point of great importance for the Thessalonians not to be mistaken in this particular; because if they were taught to believe that the coming of Christ was at hand, and he should not come according to their expectation, they might be staggered in their faith; and, finding part of their creed to be false, might be hasty enough to conclude that the whole was so. The apostle therefore cautions them in the strongest manner against this delusion, and assures them, that other memorable events will take place before the coming of the Lord.

Verses 3-4

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4. For that day shall not come, except, &c.— "The day of Christ shall not come, except there come the apostacy first." The apostacy here described is plainly not of a civil, but of a religious nature; not a revolt from the government, but a defection from the true religion and worship. In the original it is the apostacy, with an article to give it an emphasis. The article being added, signifies "that famous and before-predicted apostacy." So likewise is the man of sin, with the like article, and the like emphasis. If then the notion of the man of sin be derived from any ancient prophet, it must be derived from Daniel 7:25; Daniel 7:28. Any man may be satisfied that St. Paul alluded to Daniel's description, because he has not only borrowed the same ideas, but has even adopted some of the phrases and expressions. The man of sin may signify either a single man, or a succession of men: a succession of men being meant in Daniel, it is probable that the same was intended here also. It is the more probable, because a single man appears hardly sufficient for the work here assigned; and it is agreeable to the phraseology of scripture, and especially to that of the prophets, to speak of a body, or number of men, under the character of one. The man of sin seems to be expressed from Dan 7:24 according to the Greek translation, he shall exceed in evil all that went before him; and he may fulfil the character, either by promoting wickedness in general, or by advancing idolatry in particular, as the word sin frequently signifies in scripture. The son of perdition is also the denomination of the traitor Judas, Joh 17:12 which implies, that the man of sin should be, like Judas, a false apostle; like him betray Christ, and, like him, be devoted to destruction. Who opposeth, &c. is manifestly copied from Daniel, He shall exalt himself, &c. The features exactly resemble each other: He opposeth and exalteth himself above all; or, according to the Greek, "above every one that is called God, or that is worshipped." The Greek word for worshipped, is σεβασμα, alluding to the Greek title of the Roman emperors, σεβαστος, which signifies august or venerable. He shall oppose,—for the prophets speak of things future, as present;—"he shall oppose and exalt himself, not only above inferior magistrates, (who are sometimes called gods in holy writ,) but even above the greatest emperors, and shall arrogate to himself divine honours:—So that he as God sitteth in the temple, &c." By the temple of God, the apostle could not mean the temple of Jerusalem, because that, he knew, would be totally destroyed within a few years. After the death of Christ, the temple of Jerusalem is never called by the apostles the temple of God; and if, at any time, they make mention of the house or temple of God, they mean the church in general, or every particular believer. Whoever will consult 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. 2 Corinthians 6:16. 1 Timothy 3:15. Rev 3:12 will want no other examples to prove, that, under the gospel-dispensation, the temple of God is the church of Christ: and the man of sin's sitting, implies his ruling and presiding there; and sitting there as God, implies his claiming divine authority, in things spiritual as well as temporal; and shewing himself that he is God, implies his doing it with the utmost ostentation.

Verses 5-7

2 Thessalonians 2:5-7. Remember ye not, &c.— The apostle thought it a part of his duty, as he made it a part of his preaching and doctrine, to forewarn his new converts of the grand apostacy that would infest the church, even while he was at Thessalonica. From these verses it appears, that the man of sin was not then revealed: His time was not yet come, or the season of his manifestation. The mystery of iniquity was indeed already working;—the seeds of corruption were sown; but they were not grown up to maturity. The man of sin was yet hardly conceived in the womb; it must be some time before he could be brought forth. There was some obstacle that hindered his appearing: what this was, we cannot determine with absolute certainty at so great a distance of time; but, if we may rely upon the concurrent testimony of the fathers, it was the Roman empire. Most probably it was somewhat relating to the higher powers, because the apostle observes such caution: he mentioned it in discourse, but would not commit it to writing. See 2 Thessalonians 2:15. Tertullian says, (Apolog. p. 31.) "We Christians are under a particular necessity of praying for the emperors, and for the continued state of the empire; because we know that that dreadful power which hangs over the whole world, and the conclusion of the age which threatens the most horrible evils, is retarded by the continuance of the time appointed for the Roman empire. This is what we would not experience. And, while we pray that it may be deferred, we hereby shew our good will to the perpetuity of the Roman state."

Verse 8

2 Thessalonians 2:8. Then shall that Wicked be revealed, &c.— When the obstacle mentioned in the preceding verse should be removed, then shall that Wicked, &c. Nothing can be plainer than that the lawless (ο ανομος ), as the Greek signifies,—the wicked one here mentioned, and the man of sin, must be one and the same person. The apostle was speaking before of what hindered that he should be revealed, and would continue to hinder, till it was taken away; "and then shall that wicked one, &c." Not that he should be consumed immediately after he was revealed; but the apostle, to comfort the Thessalonians, no sooner mentions his revelation, than he foretels also his destruction, even before he describes his other qualifications. His other qualifications should have been described first in order of time; but the apostle hastens to what was first and warmest in his thoughts and wishes, "Whom the Lord shall consume, &c." If these two clauses refer to two distinct and different events, the meaning manifestly is, That the Lord Jesus shall gradually consume him with the free preaching and publication of his word; and shall utterly destroy him at his second coming in the glory of his Father, with all his holy angels. If these two clauses relate to one and the same event, it is a pleonasm very usual in the sacred, as well as other Oriental writings; and the purport plainly is, that the Lord Jesus shall destroy him with the greatest facility, when he shall be revealed from heaven; as the apostle has expressed it in the preceding chapter, 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8. But I prefer the former interpretation.

Verses 9-12

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. Whose coming is after, &c.— The apostle was eager to foretel the destruction of the man of sin; and for this purpose, having broken in upon his subject, he now returns to it again, and describes the other qualifications by which this wicked one should advance and establish himself in the world. He should rise to credit and authority by the most diabolical methods; should pretend to supernatural powers, and boastofrevelations,visions,and miracles, false in themselves, and applied to promote false doctrines; 2 Thessalonians 2:9. He should likewise practise all other wicked arts of deceit; should be guilty of the most impious frauds and impositions upon mankind; but should prevail essentially only among those who are destitute of a sincere affection for the truth, whereby they might attain eternal salvation; 2 Thessalonians 2:10. And indeed, it is a just and righteous judgment of God, to give them over to vanities and lies in this world, and to condemnation in the next, who have no regard for truth and holiness, but delight in falsehood and wickedness; 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12.

Upon this survey there appears little room to doubt of the genuine sense and meaning of the passage. The Thessalonians (as we have seen from some expressions in the former epistle,) were alarmed, as if the end of the world was at hand. The apostle, to correct their mistakes, and dissipate their fears, assures them, that a great apostacy or defection of the Christian, or visible church, from the true faith and worship, must happen before the coming of Christ. This apostacy all the concurrent marks and characters will justify us in charging upon the church of Rome. The true Christian worship is, the worship of the Three-One God, through the one only Mediator, the man Christ Jesus; and from this worship the church of Rome has notoriously departed, by substituting other mediators, and invocating and adoring saints and angels. Nothing is apostacy, if idolatry be not: and are not the members of the church of Romeguilty of idolatry in the worship of images, in the adoration of the host, in the invocation of angels and saints, and in the oblation of prayers and praises to the Virgin Mary, as much or more than to God blessed for ever? This is the grand corruption of the Christian church: this is The apostacy, as it is emphatically called, and deserves to be called; which was not only predicted by St. Paul, but by the prophet Daniel likewise. If the apostacy be rightly charged upon the church of Rome, it follows of consequence, that the man of sin is the Pope; not meaning any pope in particular, but the Pope in general, as the chief head and supporter of this apostacy. He is properly the man of sin, not only on account of the scandalous lives of many popes, but by reason of their most scandalous doctrines and principles; dispensing with the most necessary duties, and granting, or rather selling, pardons and indulgences to the most abominable crimes. Or, if by sin be meant idolatry particularly, as frequently inthe Old Testament, it is evident how he has perverted the worship of God to superstition and idolatry of the grossest kind.He also, like the false apostle Judas, is the son of perdition; whether actively, as being the cause of destruction to others, or passively, as being devoted to destruction himself. He opposeth;—he is the great adversary to God and man; persecuting and destroying byCroisadoes, inquisitions, and massacres, those Christians who prefer the word of God to the authority of men. The heathen emperor of Rome may have slain his thousands of innocent Christians; but the Christian bishop of Rome has slain his ten thousands. He exalteth himself above all that is called God, or is worshipped; not only above inferior magistrates, but likewise above all bishops; not only above all bishops,butlikewiseabovekingsandemperors;deposingsome,obligingthem to kiss his toe, to hold his stirrup, treading even upon the neck of a king, and kicking off the imperial crown with his foot; nay, not only above kings and emperors, but likewise above Christ himself;—making even the word of God of none effect by his traditions; forbidding what God hath commanded; as marriage, the use of the scriptures, &c.—and also commanding or allowing what God hath forbidden; as idolatry, persecution, &c. So that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, &c. He is therefore in profession a Christian, and a Christian bishop: His sitting in the temple of God, plainly implies his having a seat, or cathedra, in the Christian church: and he sits there as God, especially at his inauguration, when he sits upon the high altar in St. Peter's church, and makes the table of the Lord his footstool, and, in that position, receives adoration. At all times he exercisesdivine authority in the church,—shewing himself that he is God; affecting divine titles, and asserting that his decrees are of the same or greater authority than the word of God. So that the pope is evidently, according to the titles given him in the public decretals, "The God upon earth;" at least, there is no one like him, who exalteth himself above every God; no one like him, who sitteth as God in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. The foundations of popery were laid in the apostle's days, but the superstructure was raised by degrees; and several ages passed before the building was completed, and the man of sin revealed in full perfection. The tradition which generally prevailed was, that what hindered was the Roman empire: this tradition might have been derived even from the apostle himself; and therefore the primitive Christians, in the public offices of the church, prayed for its peace and welfare; as knowing that, when the Roman empire should be dissolved and broken into pieces, the empire of the man of sin would be raised upon its ruins. In the same proportion as the power of the empire decreased, the authority of the church increased, and the latter at the expence and ruin of the former; till, at length, the pope grew up above all, and the wicked, or lawless one, was fully manifested and revealed. His coming is after the energy of Satan, &c.; and does it require any particular proof, that the pretensions of the pope, and the corruptions of the church of Rome, are all supported and authorized by feigned visions and miracles, by pious frauds, and impositions of every kind?—But how much soever the man of sin may be exalted, and how long soever he may reign, yet, at last, the Lord shall consume him, &c. This is partly taken from Isaiah 11:4. [And with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked;] where the Jews put an emphasis upon the words the wicked one, as appears from the Chaldee, which renders it, "He shall destroy the wicked Roman." If the two clauses (as said in the note on 2 Thessalonians 2:8.) relate to two different events, the meaning is, "That the Lord Jesus shall gradually consume him with the free preaching of the gospel, and shall utterly destroyhim at his second coming in the glory of the Father." The former began to take effect at the reformation, and the latter will be accomplished in God's appointed time. JustinMartyr,Tertullian,(asabove,)Origen,Lactantius,CyrilofJerusalem,Ambrose, Hilary, Jerome,Augustine,andChrysostom,give much the same interpretation which has here been given of the whole passage: and it must be owned, that this is the genuine meaning of the apostle; that this only is consistent with the context; that every other interpretation is forced and unnatural; that this is liable to no material objection; that it coincides perfectly with Daniel; that it is agreeable to the tradition of the primitive church, and that it has exactly been fulfilled in almost all its particulars;—which cannot be said of any other interpretation whatever. Such a prophesy as this, is an illustrious proof of divine revelation, and an excellent antidote to the poison of popery.

Verse 13

2 Thessalonians 2:13. Because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, &c.— The apostle saw the full evidences of God's intention of mercy and goodness towards them. The original word ειλετο signifies a voluntary favourable designation, appointment, and choice of a person to any particular purpose and end; not such a choice as necessarily secures the end, or is inconsistent with the refusal of the person so chosen to accept the favour intended him. In this sense one of the historians* uses the word, where he tells us "that when Antonine, the son of Severus the Roman emperor, was killed, the soldiers chose (the word the apostle here uses) Audentius for emperor; butthat he, alleging old age in excuse, refused to accept the empire: they offered him the honour, but he would not accept of it." Thus God chose the Thessalonians to the gospel salvation, offered them the benefit of it, and called them to the means of it, and made it fully appear that he intended and designed them this invaluable favour. The choice here spoken of, is evidently such a one, as had grounds of certainty attending it; for the apostle speaks of it with full assurance, as a matter that he knew, and for which he was bound in duty to return thanks to God: and by consequence cannot relate to any such absolute and eternal choice of every one of the Thessalonian converts to eternal salvation, as should necessarily, and infallibly, and finally secure that event. This the word never signifies; nor could St. Paul know it without such a revelation from God, as we have no ground to think he was ever favoured with. The choice of God therefore here spoken of, is such a free and gracious designation and appointment of them to the gospel salvation, as carried its own certainty and proof with it, and, according to the proper meaning of the original word, implies only his graciously making the offers of it; giving them the choice of it; calling them to the means of obtaining it, and making it fully appear to them that he intended them this invaluable blessedness; a benefit they could never have expected or obtained, but from the merciful assurance and voluntary offer of God:and this they had from the beginning; he hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation; that is to say, "not from eternity, which has no beginning, but from the beginning of my preaching the gospel among you, and your being called by it to the knowledge and belief of the truth." Thus St. John, 1 John 2:7. I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning: and again, 1 John 2:24. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning; that is to say, "from the first publication of the gospel doctrine:" so here, God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation: "It appears from the time of my first entrance among you, and preaching the gospel to you, that God intended you the benefit of this great salvation, and chose you by his mercy to this invaluable favour." But how did this appear? How did God choose them to this great salvation?—Through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth. This was both the means and the evidence of that choice; so that this choice cannot possibly refer to any eternal secret choice of God, but to the actual choice of them, by the gift of the Spirit, and their belief of the gospel truth.

[ * Herod. iv. 14. 3, 4.]

Verse 15

2 Thessalonians 2:15. The traditions This probably refers to the prophesy concerning the man of sin in the preceding verses, and to the explication which the apostle had given of some particulars respecting it by word of mouth.

Inferences.—With humble reverence let us behold the depths of the divine counsels and judgments: God hath been pleased to suffer the craft of Satan to display itself, in reducing from his allegiance a great part of the Christian world: yet has he taken the wise in his own craftiness, so far, as to make that very apostacy from Christianity an additional proof of its divine original. Who, that had only examined the genius of that holy religion, could have imagined that such a mystery of iniquity should have arisen in it, and that man of sin have been revealed? Surely, when the particulars of the description come to be compared with the accomplishment, it may seem owing to some wonderful infatuation, that men of deep policy and great penetration, with this very passage of scripture in their hands, should have suffered the marks of Antichrist to be so very apparent, even, in many instances, beyond what might have seemed absolutely necessary for establishing that secular kingdom which they sought: particularly that the pope, on high days, should set himself on a high throne, in the temple of God, to be there solemnly adored, and should have permitted his parasites so expressly to boast that he is God, and to give him, in some of their licensed and authorised works, divine titles!

The scandalous and extravagant pretences which the followers of the papacy have made to miracles,—exceeding in number, and some of them in wonderful circumstances, those of Christ and his apostles,—plainly display the energy of Satan, that father of frauds, whether pious or impious. And the most incredible lies, which they have by solemn and irrevocable acts made essential to their faith, shew the strength of delusion, beyond what could have been imagined, had not fact led us into the theory. How dreadful is it to think of some of those expressions which the Spirit itself uses, when speaking of these artificers of deceit? that they should be abandoned by God to believe a lie; that they may all be damned, who have pleasure in unrighteousness;—that they might bring upon themselves eternal aggravated damnation!

Who would not tremble, who would not grieve, for so many of our fellow-creatures, yea, of those, who, degenerate as their form of Christianity is, we must yet call our fellow christians, who are thus dishonoured, endured, endangered?—The Lord grant that they may nor be utterly undone!—Let them despise us; let them, by most solemn execrations, annually repeated, devote us to destruction, and prepare against us all the instruments of it in their power; yet still we will pray for them. God grant that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. 2 Timothy 2:26. Let us recommend to divine compassion the souls drawn after artful and wicked leaders, in the simplicity of their hearts; and take comfort in this thought,—that the time is approaching, when the Lord shall destroy this son of perdition with the breath of his mouth, and the brightness of his coming. May the remnant of God's people among them take the alarm, and come out from them in time, and be separate, that they may not be partakers with them in their plagues, Revelation 18:4.

How wisely and happily does the apostle unite the views of the grace of God and the duties of men, while he represents our choice of salvation in a light so worthy of God,—since this salvation is still to be obtained through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth. Our spirits must be sanctified by the operation of the divine Spirit: the truth must be not only speculatively, but powerfully, and practically believed, or all our hopes will be vain.—But surely, were it possible that salvation could any other way be obtained, it would be less desirable; or rather, that which did not imply a sanctified spirit, and a heart open to receive and obey the truth, would not deserve the name of salvation.

Blessed be God, who in this view has called us to obtain salvation and glory by Jesus Christ, even God our Father who hath loved us. From him do these divine consolations flow: It is by his blessed and gracious operation, that we are strengthened and established in every good word and work. His fidelity stands engaged to do it, if we humbly commit ourselves to him, and wait upon him: in such case, the prayers of the apostles, dictated no doubt from above, concur with the promises to encourage our hopes, that he will direct our hearts into the love of God, and the patience of Christ. On the exercise of that love, and that patience, does the happiness of life chiefly depend. Too ready are our weak hearts to wander from it, and to faint under the difficulties which lie in our way. Let us then call on him to preserve and maintain the graces which he has implanted, that they may be exerted with growing vigour and constancy even unto the end.

Unreasonable and wicked men will naturally oppose the progress of the gospel, which has so powerful a tendency to promote holiness and comfort: and, as there are those who have not faith, they will be ready to labour for its destruction: but when the prayers of Christians are frequently engaged, that the word of God may run and be glorified, there is good reason to hope, that much of their perverse opposition may be overruled to the most contrary purposes; so that the wrath of man shall praise him, and the remainder of that wrath be restrained. Psalms 76:10.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, An error of a dangerous tendency had, it seems, crept into the church of the Thessalonians, that the coming of Christ to judge the world would be in their days. Whether this arose from their mistake of what the apostle had mentioned in his former epistle, or was propagated by some who vouched his authority to support what they advanced, he sets himself to confute the assertion, and to rectify their judgment in this matter.

1. He solemnly warns them not to be troubled with needless fears and apprehensions. Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him; by all the hopes you entertain of meeting him with joy in that day, I adjure you, that ye be not soon shaken in mind from the gospel which you have embraced, and tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine; or be troubled by any assertions which may be advanced, or misconstructions which may arise; neither by spirit, by those who pretend to speak under divine inspiration; nor by word, however confidently any may advance this notion; nor by letter as from us, either counterfeiting our hand, or perverting our meaning; as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: the consequences of such a persuasion would be dangerous; and when you found yourselves disappointed of your vainly raised expectations, it might shake your faith in the truth of the whole gospel revelation. Note; (1.) One way in which the arch deceiver strikes at the faith of God's people, is by endeavouring, through his emissaries pretending to revelation, or a knowledge of the prophetic word, to raise groundless hopes in their minds, and from the disappointment of them to suggest that the whole may be a delusion. (2.) Though we cannot fix the time of Christ's coming, yet nothing is more certain, than that he that cometh shall come, and will not tarry: may we without fear or dismay be ready to meet him! (3.) However dispersed God's faithful saints now may be in different regions, and living in different ages, they shall one day be gathered together around the throne of Jesus, and so shall be ever with the Lord.

2. He confutes the error which was propagated, by shewing, that many events which would require much time to fulfil them, must precede the second coming of Christ.
(1.) There must be first a general apostacy. For that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first from the doctrines of the gospel, and the practice of godliness, which shall usher in the reign of antichrist.

(2.) The rise of the antichristian power is described, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10. To whom what is here spoken belongs, has been a matter of much dispute: but I must declare, with the best protestant commentators, my full conviction, that the Popish hierarchy is the subject of this prophesy; wherein we have,

[1.] The names of the person, or rather state, here spoken of—The man of sin, the son of perdition, that wicked one; which do not point out any individual, but a succession of men, carrying on the same destructive designs.

[2.] When that man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, he may be known by these characters: Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; assuming all power in heaven and in earth; undertaking to enact laws contrary to God's word and will; and setting up himself above kings and emperors: so that he as God, arrogating divine perfections, sitteth in the temple of God, the church, where he has erected his unhallowed throne; shewing himself that he is God; assuming the blasphemous titles of, our God the pope, God upon earth, &c. usurping divine authority over the bodies and consciences of men, and pretending to pardon sin by his own power. Remember ye not, says the apostle, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things.

[3.] His rise is pointed out. And now ye know, if you reflect upon what I told you formerly, what withholdeth, that the man of sin does not immediately appear, even the power of the heathen Roman emperors. During their rule, the bishops of Rome were prevented from rising above their fellows; but this empire would in process of time moulder away, when he should be revealed in his time—when God would permit the antichristian power to rear its head. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work, and the seeds of pride, dissention, and worldly ambition, have begun to be sown: but he that letteth, the Roman emperors, will let, until he be taken out of the way, their power declining, and the seat of empire being removed from Rome; and then shall that Wicked one be revealed, and the mystery of iniquity and the tyranny of the popish power soon arrive at their height.

[4.] His ruin is as certain as his rise. Whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming; raising up a noble army of preachers, who by the word of truth, accompanied with the Spirit's power, shall cut in sunder the fetters wherewith superstition has enslaved the minds of men: and as the kingdom of antichrist shall be overturned hereby, so shall he and all who enter into his spirit perish at last in the lake of fire.

[5.] The way in which this wicked one shall maintain his usurped dominion, is described. Whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders; with all Satanical influence and wiles, pretending to work miracles in support of his cause, and by a system of frauds deluding the nations of the earth, with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, deceiving the souls of men to their eternal ruin; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved, but wilfully turned aside to the greatest errors, and wilfully chose their own delusions. And for this cause, in just judgment upon them, God shall send them strong delusion; abandoning them to their own hearts, and giving them up to judicial blindness; that they should believe a lie; all those absurd legends, forgeries, and falsehoods, with which the church of Rome abounds: that they all might be damned, who believed not the truth, wilfully rejecting Christ and his gospel; but had pleasure in unrighteousness, delighting in their errors, superstitions, and bloody persecutions, to fill up the measure of their iniquities. Note; It is just in God to abandon obstinate sinners to their own delusions, and to leave them to the damnation which themselves have chosen.

2nd, The apostle,
1. Expresses his thankfulness to God for his love. Such corruptions as the above mentioned will at length arise in the church; and we have hinted that something of this spirit is already beginning to work. But blessed be God that so little of it appears among you; on the contrary, we are sensible that we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, whom we have great reason to address as beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning [of our ministry] chosen you to salvation; for a participation of which you are prepared by that sanctification, which is the work of the Holy Spirit on your hearts, and that belief of the truth, which has so effectual a tendency to promote it. This is God's appointed way of obtaining an interest in this salvation, to which he hath called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ; that glory which his mercy hath prepared for all his persevering saints, and to which his faithful care shall at length conduct them; in which they shall fully enjoy the rich provisions of his love, and be made like him in holiness and happiness.

[ See the Annotations, where this text is fully considered.]
2. He exhorts them to be faithful. Therefore, brethren, let me exhort you to stand fast, and strongly to retain the instructions which you have learned of us, whether by word or by our former letter, as you may be assured you have there a genuine representation of the contents of those important doctrines with which we are intrusted. Note; God's word is our only rule of duty; thereunto we must cleave.

3. He closes with a fervent prayer for them. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, who alike are the objects of our worship, and are one in the glory of the same undivided godhead; who hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation, the foretastes of those joys which will hereafter be uninterrupted and eternal to all the faithful saints; and good hope through grace, built on the merit of his blood and our interest in him, comfort your hearts with a clearer knowledge of your invaluable privileges, and a brighter manifestation of his love to your souls, amidst all your trials and sufferings; and stablish you in every good word and work, that you may approve yourselves faithful, and unto death persevere immoveably in the doctrine and practice of the blessed gospel. Note; It is the Lord's work to comfort and stablish our hearts; and while we are waiting upon him, we shall assuredly renew our strength.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/2-thessalonians-2.html. 1801-1803.
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