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- 2 Thessalonians
by Thomas Coke
THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS.
DURING St. Paul's abode at Corinth, where he wrote his First Epistle to the Thessalonians soon after his arrival from Athens, Acts, Act 18:1 he was informed that this church, which from its first rise was cruelly persecuted, had been attacked in another and more dangerous quarter; namely, by innovations in religion, doctrines skilfully sown in the church by the devil. One of these which had found most easy admittance into the minds of the Thessalonians, and which St. Paul has more particularly opposed in this Epistle, was, that the day of judgment was very near at hand; and, whether it was in reference to what St. Paul had written on this subject to the Thessalonians in his First Epistle towards the end of the fourth chapter, or that he was supposed to have written any thing else on the same subject, this vain imagination was made to pass in the church under his name, as if it proceeded from his authority. The apostle here defends himself with all his power; Ch. 2Th 2:1-2 and thence taking occasion to discourse with the Thessalonians on a subject, with which only those to whom God was pleased to reveal himself, could be acquainted, he mentions to them an important event as yet concealed in the prescience of God, but which should be fulfilled in the church in the course of ages, and therefore must long precede the last coming of Christ. This great event St. Paul calls the mystery of iniquity, Ch. 2Th 2:7 and describes it so clearly, and accompanied with so many particular circumstances, that we must either be spiritually blind, now that most of those things are fulfilled, if we do not understand of whom the apostle speaks; or illiberal and dishonest, if we do not acknowledge that the man who possesses all the features which St. Paul has delineated in his prediction, is really the person whom he calls that man of sin,
Ch. 2 Thessalonians 2:3. If we see a man elevated to the highest dignity that subsists in the world; who has only risen to this height of power and glory by degrees, and by imperceptible means; without arms, and without victories; whose throne is fixed neither among the Heathen, nor among the Mahometans, but in the church itself; who assumes divine authority, sitting in the temple as God, 1Th 5:4 as his lieutenant and vicar; and by those titles receiving such respect and homage as the church never paid to any man: if we behold those to whom the scripture says Ye are Gods, and whom the ignorance and flattery of the people have frequently converted into divinities, namely, kings and emperors, bow the knee before him, and submit to his greatness; if, lastly, the power and authority of this domination has been strengthened from age to age by pretended miracles and lying wonders, 1 Thessalonians 5:9 if, after all this, any one should still be at a loss to know who is this man, where he holds his seat of empire, and who are the people in subjection to him, it must arise from a depth of ignorance, or from a height of obstinacy, which can only be accounted for from what the apostle calls the deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, 1 Thessalonians 5:10. St. Paul then passes a censure on certain disorderly and idle persons who dwelt at Thessalonica, Ch. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-53.3.13 and, by his manner of doing it, clearly shews what we cannot have too much on our minds, that laziness, unruly passions, and an idle and malicious curiosity, are generally found together; and he commands ministers of the gospel not to overlook or excuse these things: 1 Thessalonians 5:14.
the Second Week of Advent