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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
2 Thessalonians 2

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 2

2 Thessalonians 2:2. Elz. has ἀπὸ τοῦ νοός. Instead of it, D E 43, al., Syr. Erp. Syr. p. c. ast. Sahid. Aeth. Vulg. Clar. Germ. Ambrosiast. Hier. Pel. have ἀπὸ τοῦ νοὸς ὑμῶν. An interpretation.

Instead of the Receptus μήτε θροεῖσθαι, A B D* F G א, Or. require μηδὲ θροεῖσθαι. Correctly preferred by Lachm. Tisch. Bloomfield, and Alford, for θροεῖσθαι contains a new point, intensifying the discourse.

κυρίου] Elz. Matth. read χριστοῦ. Against the preponderating authority of A B D* E (?) F G L א, min. plur. vers. and Fathers.—2 Thessalonians 2:3. Instead of the Receptus ἁμαρτίας, B א 3, al., perm. Copt. Sahid. Slav. ed. Or. ms. (bis et in edd. qu.) Cyr. hieros. Damasc. Nicephor. Tert. Ambrosiast. ed. Ambr. have ἀνομίας. But ἀνομίας is taken from ἀνομίας, 2 Thessalonians 2:7, and ἄνομος, 2 Thessalonians 2:8.—2 Thessalonians 2:4. Instead of the Receptus ὑπεραιρόμενος, F G, Or. (semel) Prosop. (ap. Niceph. semel) demand ἐπαιρόμενος. But the directly following ἐπί decides against its genuineness.

Before καθίσαι Elz. Matth. add ὡς θεόν. A gloss for the sake of strengthening. Correctly erased by Griesb. Scholz, Lachm. Tisch. and Alford, to whom also Reiche agrees, after A B D* א, min. perm. Erp. Copt. Sahid. Aeth. Arm. Vulg. Clar. Germ. Or. (ter.) Hippol. Cyr. utr. Severus, Chrys. ms. Theodoret (alic.) Polychronius, Methodius jun., Damasc. Ir. Tert. Cypr. Aug. Ambrosiast. Ruf. Primas. Cassiod. al.

Instead of the Receptus ἀποδεικνύντα, A F G, 3, 23, al., edd. Or. (semel) Cyr. utr. Theodoret (ter.) Damasc. (semel) have ἀποδεικνύοντα.—2 Thessalonians 2:8. κύριος ʼιησοῦς] Elz. Matth. Tisch. 2, Bloomfield, and Reiche read only κύριος, after B (e sit.) D*** E** K L* min. pl. Arab. in polygl. Sl. ms. Or. (semel vel bis) Macar. Cyr. hier. Theodoret (sem.) Damasc. (sem.) Oec. Vig. al. But κύριος ʼιησοῦς (received by Griesb. Scholz, Lachm. Tisch. 1 and 7, Alford) is required by A D* E* F G L** א, 17, 31, al., perm. Syr. utr. Erp. Copt. Sahid. Aeth. Arm. Slav. ed. Vulg. It. Or. (semel vel bis) Hippol. Constitut. Ath. Bas. Cyr. Ephr. Chrys. Theodoret (saepe), Damasc. Theoph. Ir. (semel) Tert. Hier. (saepe) Fulgent. Hilar. Ambros. Aug. Rufin. Ambrosiast. Primas. Pelag.

Elz. has ἀναλώσει. Lachm. and Tisch. 1 read ἀνελεῖ, after A B D* 17, 23, al., mult. Or. (semel) Hipp. Macar. Method. jun., Andreas caesar. Cyr. hieros. Chrys. ms. Damasc. Theophylact. But ἀναλώσει is the more unusual form, and ἀνελεῖ is taken from the LXX. Isaiah 11:4.—2 Thessalonians 2:10. ἀδικίας] Elz. Griesb. Matth. Scholz read τῆς ἀδικίας. The article is wanting in A B F G א* min. Or. (sexies) Cyr. hieros. The last syllable of the preceding ἀπάτῃ gave occasion to this addition.

τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις] Elz. Griesbach, Matth. Bloomfield read ἐν τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις. Against A B D* F G א* 17, 71, al., Copt. Sahid. Aeth. Vulg. It. Or. (quinquies) Cyr. hieros. Damasc. (semel) Ir. Tert. Aug. Ambrosiast. al.—2 Thessalonians 2:11. Instead of the Receptus πέμψει, A B D* F G א* 67** al., Vulg. ms. Or. (bis vel ter) Bas. Cyr. hieros. Damasc. Ir. Ambrosiast. ed. require πέμπει. Recommended by Griesb. Received by Lachm. Scholz, Tisch. and Alford. Correctly. The present only suits 2 Thessalonians 2:7, according to which the wickedness had already begun to work.—2 Thessalonians 2:12. τῇ ἀδικίᾳ] Elz. Griesb. Matth. Scholz, Tisch. 2 and 7, Bloomfield, Alford read ἐν τῇ ἀδικίᾳ, after A D*** E K L א**** min. pl. Copt. Syr. utr. al., m. Or. (bis) Chrys. Theodoret (semel), Damasc. (semel) al., Cypr. Hier. Lachm. has bracketed ἐν. It is wanting in B D* F G א* min. perm. edd. Sahid. Vulg. It. Or. (bis) Hippol. Cyr. utr. Theodoret (alic.), Damasc. Ir. Tert. Aug. Ambrosiast. al. Erased by Tisch. 1. But the addition was most natural for a N. T. writer, on account of its agreement with the Hebrew, whilst at a later period the parallel member in the first half of the verse might easily have been the occasion of its omission.—2 Thessalonians 2:13. ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς] B F G 35, al., Didym. Damasc. (comm.) Vulg. Ambr. Pel. read ἀπαρχήν. So Lachm. and Tisch. 1. Not only do A D E K 4 א, almost all min., many vers. and Fathers attest the reading of the Receptus ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, but Paul could not possibly have written ἀπαρχήν, as the Thessalonians were not the first who became believers, either generally or even in Macedonia.—2 Thessalonians 2:17. στηρίξαι] Elz. Matth. read στηρίξαι ὑμᾶς. But ὑμᾶς is wanting in A B D* E* F G א, min. mult. Syr. utr. Arm. Vulg. It. Chrys. Oec. Ambrosiast. al., and is a supplementary addition.

Instead of ἔργῳ καὶ λόγῳ Elz. and Matth. have λόγῳ καὶ ἔργῳ. Against decisive testimony (A B D E L א, min. mult. Copt. Aeth. Syr. p. Slav. ms. Vulg. It. Chrys. Theophyl. Theodoret, Oec. Ambrosiast. Vigil. al.).


Verse 1

2 Thessalonians 2:1. ʼερωτῶμεν δέ] passing from what the apostle prays for the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12) to what he requires of them. On ἐρωτᾶν, see on 1 Thessalonians 4:1.

ἀδελφοί] an affectionate and winning address.

ὑπέρ] is in the Vulgate, as well as by Pelagius, Faber Stapulensis, Bugenhagen, Clarius, Erasmus, Zwingli, Calvin, Hemming, Hunnius, Justinian, Estius, Piscator, Balduin, Aretius, Cornelius a Lapide, Beza. Fromond., Calixt, Bern. a Piconius, Nat. Alexander, and many others, understood as a form of adjuration (per adventum); and then the meaning attributed to it is either: si vobis dies ille tremendus est … obtestor vos per illum (Zwingli), or: si vobis animo carus est adventus domini, si desiderabile est vobis ad ipsum dominum colligi, etc. (Hemming), or lastly: quam vere exspectatis domini adventum, etc. (Beza). Certainly ὑπέρ, as elsewhere πρός, sometimes occurs in protestations with the genitive; comp. Hom. Il. xxiv. 466 f.

καί μιν ὑπὲρ πατρὸς καὶ μητέρος ἠϋκόμοιο | λίσσεο καὶ τέκεος, ἵνα οἱ σὺν θυμὸν ὀρίνῃς, Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 244. But (1) such a usage is entirely foreign to the N. T. (2) It is hardly conceivable that Paul should have chosen that as an object of adjuration, concerning which he was about to instruct them in what follows. Therefore Zeger, Vorstius, Grotius, Hammond, Wolf, Noesselt, Koppe, Storr, Heydenreich, Flatt, Pelt, Schott, de Wette, Winer (p. 343 [E. T. 479]), Baumgarten-Crusius, Wieseler, Bloomfield, Alford, Ewald, Bisping, Riggenbach, and others more correctly take ὑπέρ in the sense of περί, in respect of. Comp. Romans 9:27; 2 Corinthians 1:8; Passow, A 3; Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 244; Kühner, II. p. 288. Yet this does not prevent the maintenance of the special import of the preposition also here. The meaning is in the interest of the advent, namely, in order to preserve it from everything that is erroneous. When, then, the apostle says: we entreat you in the interest of the advent, the meaning of this abbreviated form of expression is: we entreat you in the interest of the advent, namely, to guard it against all misrepresentations, not to deviate from the correct view concerning it.

παρουσία τοῦ κυρίου] here also, as everywhere with Paul, is nothing else than the personal coming (return) of Christ at the completion of the kingdom of God.

ἐπισυναγωγή] points back to 1 Thessalonians 4:17, denoting the act by which all believers are caught up to Christ, or gathered together to Him, to be then eternally united to Him, following the resurrection and change.

ἡμῶν] is placed first in order to obtain a more direct contrast to κυρίου.

ἐπʼ αὐτόν] up to Him. Incorrectly Grotius, Koppe, Heydenreich, Pelt, Alford, and others, that it is equivalent to πρὸς αὐτόν.


Verses 1-12

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Dogmatic portion of the Epistle. Information, by way of correction, concerning the commencement of the advent. The day of the Lord is not yet. It will only then occur when Antichrist, whom now a preventing power hinders from appearing, will be manifested.

See on 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Noesselt, Opusc. ad interpretationem sacrarum scriptur. fascic. II., Hal. 1787, p. 257 ff.; Seger, Diss. philol. ad locum 2 Thess. ii. 1–12, Hal 1791; Tychsen in Henke’s Magazin f. Religionsphilos., Exeges. und Kirchengesch. vol. VI., Helmst. 1796, p. 171 ff.; Storr, Opusc. acad. vol. III., Tüb. 1803, p. 323 ff.; Nitzsch, De revelatione religionis externa eademque publica, Lips. 1808, p. 223 ff.; Heydenreich in the Neuen Krit. Journal der theol. Literatur, by Winer and Engelhardt, Bd. 8, Sulzb. 1828; Kern in the Tübing. Zeitschr. f. theol. 1839, Part 2, p. 145 ff.; Wieseler, Chronologie des apost. Zeitalters, Gött. 1848, p. 257 ff.; Baumgarten, die Apostelgeschichte oder der Entwickelungsgang der Kirche von Jerusalem bis Romans , 2 d ed. vol. i., Braunschw. 1859, p. 603 ff.; Schneckenburger on the Lehre vom Antichrist. Treated of by Ed. Böhmer in the Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theol. von Liebner, etc., Gotha 1859, p. 420 ff.; v. Döllinger, Christenthum u. Kirche in der Zeit der Grundlegung, Regensb. 1860, p. 277 ff., 422 ff.; Luthardt, die Lehre von den letzten Dingen, Leipz. 1861, p. 145 ff.; older literature in Wolf.


Verse 2

2 Thessalonians 2:2. A statement of the object of the whole sentence, 2 Thessalonians 2:1.

σαλεύεσθαι] from σάλος, which is especially used of the sea agitated by a storm (comp. Luke 21:25), denotes being placed in a state of commotion and vacillation. It is spoken both in a natural sense of circumstances in the external world (comp. Matthew 11:7; Acts 4:31; Acts 16:26; Hebrews 12:26, etc.), and also transferred to mental conditions (comp. Acts 17:13). σαλευθῆναι ἀπὸ τοῦ νοός is a pregnant construction, including two ideas: to be put in a state of mental commotion away from the νοῦς, i.e. so that the νοῦς goes astray, does not attain to its proper function. Comp. Romans 9:3 : ἀνάθεμα εἶναι ἀπὸ τοῦ χριστοῦ.

νοῦς] is to be taken quite generally. It denotes the reasonable, sober, and considerate state of mind, mentis tranquillitas (Turretin). Others, contrary to the meaning of the word, understand by νοῦς the more correct view or conviction, received by the personal instruction of the apostle concerning the advent, from which the Thessalonians were not to suffer themselves to be removed. So Hemming, Bullinger, Estius, Lucius Osiander, Piscator, Cornelius a Lapide, Grotius, Fromond., Bern. a Piconius, Nat. Alexander, Moldenhauer, Flatt, Heydenreich, and many others; whilst, in an equally erroneous manner, Wolf interprets the expression of the “sensus verborum Pauli, de hoc argumento in superiore epistola traditorum.”

μὴ ταχέως] not suddenly. This does not import, “so soon after my departure” (Joachim Lange), or so shortly after the instructions received from us (Piscator, Calovius, Olshausen, and others), but: suddenly, so soon after the matter in question was spoken of.

μηδὲ θροεῖσθαι] nor yet be frightened. A new and stronger point, which is more definitely described or divided by the following μήτε, according to a threefold statement of the cause. See on this distinction between μηδέ and μήτε, Winer, p. 432 [E. T. 611].

μήτε διὰ πνεύματος] neither by inspiration. Falsely-understood prophecies of the O. T. (Krause), or signa quasi per spiritum facta (Pelagius), or deceitful revelations by spiritual appearances (Ernest Schmid, Schrader), or by dreams (Schrader), are not meant; but inspired prophetical discourses, delivered by the members of the church in Christian assemblies, and whose contents were falsely given out as divine revelations. To understand, with Chrysostom, Bugenhagen, Vatablus, Koppe, Storr, Bolten, Heydenreich, and others (Flatt and de Wette give the alternative), πνεῦμα as an abstract noun, instead of the concrete πνευματικός, so that the persons who delivered the inspired discourses are to be understood, although not without analogy, is yet objectionable in itself, and has the want of harmony occasioned by it with the following λόγου and ἐπιστολῆς against it.

μήτε διὰ λόγου] is by Baumgarten-Crusius referred to a traditional (falsified) word of Jesus, more specifically by Noesselt to the prophecy of Christ in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21. But if Paul had in view a saying of Christ, he would have indicated it (perhaps by μήτε διὰ λόγου ὡς κυρίου, or something similar). Others, as Michaelis and Tychsen, translate λόγος by “reckoning,” and suppose that one made a reckoning of the times on the ground of the Book of Daniel, and in consequence inferred that the advent of Christ was directly at hand. But λόγου by itself certainly does not justify such an artificial hypothesis. Lastly, others, in distinction from prophecy delivered by inspiration, take λόγος in the sense of a calm and didactic discourse, whether aiming at conviction or seduction. So, after the example of Chrysostom, Oecumenius ( διὰ πιθανολογίας), Theophylact ( διὰ διδασκαλίας ζώσῃ φωνῇ γινομένης), Clarius (oratione persuasoria), Zeger (per doctrinam viva voce prolatam), Ewald (“by word; that is, by discourse and doctrine [ διδαχή, 1 Corinthians 14:26]; whilst one sought to prove the error in a learned manner by a clever discourse, perhaps from the Holy Scriptures”), Hofmann, Riggenbach, and many others. However, from the parallel arrangement in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, which opposes the true to the false expressed in 2 Thessalonians 2:2, it is evident that διὰ λόγου and διʼ ἐπιστολῆς are closely connected ideas, of which the first denotes the oral, and the second the written statement. It is accordingly most natural to construe διὰ λόγου not by itself, but to unite ὡς διʼ ἡμῶν, as proceeding from us, both with διὰ λόγου and with διʼ ἐπιστολῆς; and to understand the first of oral expressions which were imputed to the apostle,(43) and the latter of written expressions which were imputed to him by means of a forged epistle. On the other hand, with Erasmus, to refer ὡς διʼ ἡμῶν also to διὰ πνεύ΄ατος is impossible; as, although λόγοι and ἐπιστολαί may be placed in the category of those things which proceed from one absent, yet this cannot be the case with inspired prophetical discourses, as with these the personal presence of the speaker was requisite. Correctly Theodoret: παρεγγυᾷ τοίνυν θεῖος ἀπόστολος, ΄ὴ πιστεύειν τοῖς λέγουσιν ἐνεστηκέναι τὸν τῆς συντελείας καιρόν, καὶ παραυτίκα τὸν κύριον ἐπιφανήσεσθαι, ΄ήτε εἰ προσποιοῖντο χρησ΄ῳδεῖν καὶ προφητεύειν· τοῦτο γὰρ λέγει ΄ήτε διὰ πνεύ΄ατος· ΄ήτε εἰ πλασά΄ενοι ὡς ἐξ αὐτοῦ γραφεῖσαν ἐπιστολὴν προφέροιεν, ΄ήτε εἰ ἀγράφως αὐτὸν εἰρηκέναι λέγοιεν.

ὡς διʼ ἡ΄ῶν] simply denies that such a saying or letter, containing such an assertion, arose from Paul and his two companions, or proceeded from them. The apostle accordingly supposes, that as there were actually in Thessalonica prophetical announcements ( πνεῦμα) which had the assertion which follows as their contents, so there were also actually present a λόγος and an ἐπιστολή containing the contents here stated. Accordingly, it is a completely arbitrary assumption when Kern, p. 149 f.; Reuss, Gesch. der heil. Schriften N. T., 4th edit., Braunschw. 1864, p. 71; Bleek, Einleit. in d. N. T., Ber. 1862, p. 385 f.; and Hilgenfeld, in d. Ztschr. f. wiss. Theol., Halle 1862, p. 249, after the example of Beza (but he not decidedly), Hammond, and Krause, refer the ἐπιστολή to the apostle’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians, which was wrongly understood, or, as Hilgenfeld thinks, from which an inference suggested by it was drawn.

ὡς ὅτι ἐνέστηκεν ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου] as if, or, like as if the day of the Lord is already present, or, is even on the point of commencing(44) (comp. Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 3:22; 1 Corinthians 7:26; Galatians 1:4), gives the contents of the communications unsettling and terrifying them. ὡς placed before ὅτι brings into prominence the fact that this notion was completely unfounded and purely imaginary. Comp. also 2 Corinthians 11:21, and Winer, p. 544 [E. T. 771]. Completely erroneous Hofmann: ὡς ὅτι is equivalent to ὡς ἐάν, 1 Thessalonians 2:7.

When, moreover, the apostle says that these illusions unsettled and terrified the Thessalonians, this effect might be produced both on those who regarded the advent with longing desire and on those who regarded it with fear. For what is eagerly expected puts a man in a state of excitement, and if it is something decisive of his fate, into a state of fear, as soon as he believes that the moment of its realization has come.


Verse 3-4

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4. An emphatically-repeated exhortation, and the reason of it. The readers were by no means to be misled into the fancy, that the day of the Lord was now to dawn; for the apostasy and the appearance of Antichrist must precede it.

ἐξαπατᾶν] does not precisely convey the idea of a deceit occurring from wicked intention, whilst it may be correctly imagined that nothing evil was seen in the mode of deception mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:2—rather it was considered as an excusable vehicle for the diffusion of views which were believed to be recognised as true; only the idea of delusion, i.e. of being misled into a false and incorrect mode of contemplation, is expressed by the verb.

When, then, the apostle says, Let no man befool you, it is, similar to a form of representation usual to him, in the meaning of suffer yourselves to be befooled by no one. Comp. Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 2:16; Colossians 2:18.

κατὰ μηδένα τρόπον] not only recapitulates the three modes of misleading mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:2 (Bengel, Baumgarten-Crusius), but is an absolute expression, so that accordingly it may be supposed that some other mode of deception might be employed.

The sentence 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 is grammatically incomplete. The finite verb to ὅτι is wanting, which Paul intended to accompany the conjunction, but easily forgot as he added to ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁμαρτίας a longer description. It is perfectly clear from the connection that οὐκ ἐνέστηκεν ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου from 2 Thessalonians 2:2 is to be supplied to ὅτι. In a very forced manner Knatchbull attempts to remove the incompleteness of the construction by placing a comma after ὅτι, supplying ἐνέστηκεν to ὅτι, and uniting it with μή τιςτρόπον into one sentence. “Suffer yourselves to be deceived by no one that (the day of the Lord is at the door), unless first there shall have come,” etc. To maintain this meaning ἐνέστηκεν must necessarily be added to ὅτι. But still more arbitrary is the attempt of Storr and Flatt to remove the ellipsis by explaining ἐὰν μή as analogous (!) to the Hebrew אִם לֹא, in the sense of most certainly, most positively.

ὅτι] is to be separated from the preceding by a colon, and does not denote indeed (Baumgarten-Crusius), but for.

ἀποστασία] a later Greek form for the older ἀπόστασις. See Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 528. The expression is to be left in its absoluteness, not, with Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Augustin (de civitate dei, xx. 21), and Bolten, to be taken as abstractum pro concreto, so that Antichrist himself is to be understood. But not apostasy in the political sense, but entirely religious apostasy—that is, a falling away from God and true religion—can have been meant by ἀποστασία. (1) What is said of the ἄνθρωτος τῆς ἁμαρτίας in direct internal connection with the apostasy, (2) the characteristic of the ἀποστασία, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, by ἀνομία, 2 Thessalonians 2:7, and (3) the constant biblical usage, constrain us to this view. Comp. LXX. 2 Chronicles 29:19; Jeremiah 2:19; 1 Maccabees 2:15, etc.; Acts 21:21; 1 Timothy 4:1. Accordingly, also, Kern’s view (comp. already Aretius and Vorstius) is to be rejected as inadmissible, that we are to think of a mixture of political and religious apostasy.

Moreover, the apostle speaks of ἀποστασία (with the article), and also ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁμαρτίας κ. τ. λ., either because the readers had already been orally instructed concerning it (comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:5), or because the Old Testament prophets had already foretold the apostasy and the appearance of Antichrist. But the apostasy is not the consequence of the appearance of Antichrist, so that Paul by καὶ ἀποκαλυφθῇ κ. τ. λ. goes backwards from a statement of its effect to a specification of its author (so Pelt and de Wette, appealing to 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10); but it precedes the appearance of antichrist, so that this is the historical climax of the ἀποστασία, and serves for its completion (2 Thessalonians 2:7-10).

The apostle considers Antichrist as a parallel to Christ; therefore he here speaks of an ἀποκάλυψις (comp. 2 Thessalonians 1:7), a revelation of what was hitherto concealed, as well as, in 2 Thessalonians 2:9, of an advent of the same.

ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁμαρτίας] the man of sin, i.e. in whom sin is the principal matter, and is, as it were, incorporated—who thus forms the climax of wickedness.

υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας] the son of perdition, i.e. who on account of his wickedness falls a prey to perdition. Comp. John 17:12. See Winer, p. 213 [E. T. 298]. Schleusner and Pelt erroneously take the expression as transitive: “who will be the cause of perdition to others.” Equally erroneously Theodoret, Oecumenius, and others; also Heydenreich and Schott: the transitive sense is to be united with the intransitive.


Verse 4

2 Thessalonians 2:4. ἀντικείμενος] is not to be united by zeugma with ὑπεραιρόμενος, so that out of ἐπὶ πάντα κ. τ. λ. the dative παντὶ λεγομένῳ θεῷ σεβάσματι is to be taken (Benson, Koppe, Krause, Rosenmüller, Flat, Pelt, Bloomfield, Hofmann, Riggenbach), but is absolute, in the sense of a substantive—the opposer. It has been erroneously maintained by Pelt, that the article being only put once necessitates the assumption of a zeugma. But all that follows from the single insertion of the article is only that the two statements, ἀντικεῖσθαι and ὑπεραίρεσθαι, must contain something related to each other, which is summed up in a common general idea. This general idea is extremely evident from what follows. Accordingly, the person of whom Paul speaks was designated according to his internal nature by ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁμαρτίας, then characterized according to his ultimate fate by υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας, and now—whilst Paul in his delineation takes a step backward (comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9)—the mode and manner of his public external appearance and conduct is described.

But if ἀντικείμενος denotes simply and absolutely the opposer, the question is asked, whom does he oppose? Baumgarten and Michaelis erroneously answer: the human race; for this interpretation has no point of contact in the context, and would explain away the form so definitely brought before us by Paul by a vague generality. De Wette and others more definitely answer: God and Christ. And certainly the description that immediately follows shows that the opposer opposes himself in the highest degree to God. But this fact does not justify such a wide meaning, if another is opposed to it in the context. Now the context specially points to the opposer of Christ (thus Heydenreich, Schott, and Kern). For the man of sin stands in the closest and strictest parallelism with Christ. He is the forerunner of Christ’s advent, and has, as the caricature of Christ, like Him an advent and a manifestation: he raises the power of evil, which exalts itself in a hostile manner against Christ and His kingdom, to the highest point; his working is diametrically the opposite of the working of Christ, and it is Christ’s appearance which destroys him. Accordingly, the opponent can be none other than the Antichrist ( ἀντίχριστος, 1 John 2:18). This Antichrist is not the devil himself (Pelagius and others), for he is distinguished from him (2 Thessalonians 2:9); but according to 2 Thessalonians 2:9 he is an instrument of the devil.

In καὶ ὑπεραιρόμενος κ. τ. λ. he is further described as he who, in frivolous arrogance, exalts himself above all that is called God. With this description the delineation of Antiochus Epiphanes, in Daniel 11:36-37, was before the mind of the apostle, where it is said: καὶ βασιλεὺς ὑψωθήσεται καὶ μεγαλυνβήσεται ἐπὶ πάντα θεόν, καὶ λαλήσει ὑπέρογκακαὶ ἐπὶ πάντας θεοὺς τῶν πατέρων αὐτοῦ οὐ συνήσεικαὶ ἐπὶ πᾶν θεὸν οὐ συνήσει, ὅτι ἐπὶ πάντας μεγαλυνθήσεται Comp. Daniel 7:25 : καὶ λόγους πρὸς τὸν ὕψιστον λαλήσει.

ἐπὶ πάντα λεγόμενον θεόν] includes the true God as well as the false gods worshipped by the heathen; but λεγόμενον is a natural addition from Christian caution, as πάντα θεόν would have been a senseless and indeed blasphemous expression for a Christian.

σέβασμα] serves for a generalization of the idea θεόν. Accordingly the meaning is: or whatever else is an object of adoration, sc. of divine adoration (= numen).

ὥστε κ. τ. λ.] The arrogant wickedness of Antichrist proceeds so far that he claims divine adoration for himself.

καθίσαι] intransitive, seats himself; accordingly not αὑτόν (Grotius, Koppe, Pelt), but αὐτόν is to be written. αὐτόν is placed for the sake of emphasis: he, who has lost all reverence for the divine, in whose form he wishes to appear.

ναὸς τοῦ θεοῦ] is not, as Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Calvin, Musculus, Hunnius, Estius, Lucius and Andrew Osiander, Aretius, Vorstius, Calixt, Calovius, Wolf, Benson, Moldenhauer, Bolten, and others, also Heydenreich, Pelt, Olshausen, Bloomfield, Alford, Bisping, and Hilgenfeld (l.c. p. 253) assume, a figurative representation of the Christian church, but, on account of the definite expression καθίσαι, cannot be otherwise understood than in its proper sense. But on account of the repetition of the article can only one definite temple of one definite true God—that is, the temple of Jerusalem—be meant (Grotius, Clericus, Schöttgen, Whitby, Kern, de Wette, Wieseler, v. Döllinger, l.c. p. 282).(45)

ἀποδεικνύντα ἑαυτὸν ὅτι ἐστὶν θεός] exhibiting himself that he is a god, i.e. whilst he not only actually takes possession of the temple of the only true God as his own, as a dwelling-place belonging to him, but also publicly predicates of himself divine dignity, and accordingly requires to be adored. The interpretation of Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, and others, also Heydenreich, Schott, Olshausen, de Wette, Bisping, and Riggenbach: “who shows himself or seeks to show himself as a god by deceitful miracles” (2 Thessalonians 2:9), agrees not with the preceding καθίσαι.


Verse 5

2 Thessalonians 2:5. Estius: “Est … tacita objurgatio, quasi dicat: quum haec vobis praesens dixerim, non debebatis commoveri rumoribus aliquorum dicentium instare diem domini.”

On πρὸς ὑμᾶς] see on 1 Thessalonians 3:4.

ταῦτα] namely, the contents of 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4. To assume, however, a parenthesis from 2 Thessalonians 2:5 to οἴδατε in 2 Thessalonians 2:6 (so Heinsius) is arbitrary.


Verse 6

2 Thessalonians 2:6. τὸ κατέχον] is that which keeps back, that which hinders ( τὸ κωλύον, Chrysostom). But it does not denote, as Heinsius thinks (here and in 2 Thessalonians 2:7), that which hinders the apostle from speaking freely of Antichrist;(46) also not that which hinders the commencement of the advent of Christ (Noack, der Ursprung des Christenthums, Bd. 2, Leipz. 1857, p. 315), but that which hinders the appearance of Antichrist. This follows from the additional sentence εἰς τὸ κ. τ. λ., in which (1) αὐτόν can only be referred to the ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁ΄αρτίας, and (2) ἀποκαλυφθῆναι ἐν τῷ ἑαυτοῦ καιρῷ forms a contrast to the idea of keeping back contained in κατέχον. τὸ κατέχον is therefore, according to its objective side, to be completed by τὸ τὸν ἄνθρωπον τῆς ἁμαρτίας κατέχον. What, on the other hand, the apostle supposes to be the subject of this preventing power can only be explained at the conclusion of this section.

εἰς τὸ κ. τ. λ.] not donec, usque dum, but in order that (the aim of God in the κατέχειν).

ἐν τῷ ἑαυτοῦ καιρῷ] in his time, i.e. in the time appointed for him by God. More difficult than these determinations is the solution of the question, In what connection this verse is conjoined to the preceding by means of καὶ νῦν. Storr, with whom Flatt agrees, finds in νῦν a contrast to ἔτι, 2 Thessalonians 2:5. The thought would then be, that the advent cannot commence until Antichrist appears, this I have told you by word of mouth; but now, after my written declaration (2 Thessalonians 2:3), you know also why the appearance of Antichrist is still delayed, namely, by the circumstance that the ἀποστασία must precede his appearance. But if Paul had actually wished to have expressed this contrast, he would have been obliged to write in 2 Thessalonians 2:5, ὅτι ταῦτα ΄ὲν ἔτι ὢν πρὸς ὑ΄ᾶς ἔλεγον ὑ΄ῖν, and in 2 Thessalonians 2:6, νῦν δὲ καὶ τὸ κατέχον οἴδατε. Related to Storr’s view is the interpretation of Kern, with whom Hilgenfeld (l.c. p. 247) agrees: “That the advent of Christ does not take place until the man of sin be revealed, is already known to you: and now, in reference to what the present presents to you, ye know also that which hinders.” The same objection is decisive against this view. Further, according to Hofmann, who considers 2 Thessalonians 2:5-6 as “two halves of one question united with καί,” νῦν stands not, indeed, in opposition to ἔτι, 2 Thessalonians 2:5, but must express “the present in reference to that future which was known to the readers,” that they know that in the present by which its commencement is still hindered. But the temporal νῦν can never form a contrast to ταῦτα in 2 Thessalonians 2:5; and to assume that the words in 2 Thessalonians 2:6 are still contained in the question in 2 Thessalonians 2:5 is entirely erroneous, because in this case καὶ νῦν κ. τ. λ. could only be considered as dependent on ὅτι,(47) but it is not necessary to recall to mind what is actually known in the present.

νῦν is also understood as a particle of time, by Whitby, Macknight, Heydenreich, Schrader, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, Wieseler, and Bisping, but they do not connect it with οἴδατε, but with τὸ κατέχον: “and ye know that which at present hinders.” But only a grammatical impropriety would be expressed thereby, as καὶ τὸ νῦν κατέχον would be required. For it is inconceivable that an adverb, whose proper place is between the article and the participle, should by a hyperbaton be placed first, because it has already in its natural position the same emphasis which it would receive by its being placed first. The passages appealed to, as 2 Thessalonians 2:7, 1 Corinthians 7:17, Romans 12:3, etc., are not analogous. And as little do the temporal particles ἄρτι and ἤδη, 2 Thessalonians 2:7, decide for this construction. For the emphasis lies not on ἄρτι, but on κατέχων, so that ἄρτι might be omitted without injury to the sense; and ἤδη is not put in exchange for νῦν, but for ἐν τῷ ἑαυτοῦ καιρῷ. Likewise νῦν is understood by Schott as a temporal and consecutive particle, but καί is then taken in the sense of also: “For ye know also now (not only have ye learned it at that time when I was with you), why the appearance of Antichrist is still delayed.” But (1) τὸ οὖν κατέχον οἴδατε καὶ νῦν would require to have been written; (2) τὸ κατέχον must refer to a point formerly already explained; but it is entirely a new point, as in what goes before what hindered the appearance of Christ, but not what hindered the appearance of Antichrist, was spoken of; (3) lastly, to what an idle, dragging, and trivial addition would 2 Thessalonians 2:6 be degraded! The only correct view is to take καὶ νῦν in a logical sense, but not, with Koppe and Krause, as an inferential particle (“and accordingly”), but with de Wette, Alford, and Ewald, as a particle of transition to a new communication: and now, comp. Acts 7:34; Acts 10:5; Acts 13:11; Acts 20:25, etc.; Hartung, Partikellehre, II. p. 26. Accordingly, the emphasis does not lie on νῦν, but on κατέχον. The meaning is: and now—to pass on to a further point—ye know what hindereth, namely, wherein it consists, and why the appearance of Antichrist is still prevented, that it should be revealed in its appointed time, marked out by God. The Thessalonians knew this point from the apostle’s oral instructions, so that they required only to be reminded of it.


Verse 7

2 Thessalonians 2:7.(48) An explanatory justification of εἰς τὸ ἀποκαλυφθῆναι αὐτὸν ἐν τῷ ἑαυτοῦ καιρῷ, but not a parenthesis (Hemming). The mystery of wickedness is certainly even now active, but Antichrist cannot be manifest until the power preventing him be overcome.

μυστήριον] is contrasted with ἀποκαλυφθῆναι, and ἤδη with ἐν τῷ ἑαυτοῦ καιρῷ. But the chief emphasis of the sentence lies on μυστήριον, which on that account is not only placed first, but is besides separated from its further definition τῆς ἀνομίας by the verb and adverb. Comp. Galatians 2:6; Galatians 2:9; Arrian, Exp. Al. i. 7. 16: καὶ εὑρέσθαι συγγνώμην τῷ πλήθει τῶν θηβαίων τῆς ἀποστάσεως.

ἀνομία] means lawlessness, then ungodliness or wickedness generally. The expression corresponds to ἀποστασία, 2 Thessalonians 2:3. For the ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁμαρτίας was mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 as the historical crown of the ἀποστασία; whilst here, in like manner, ἀνομία appears as its forerunner ( ἤδη). The genitive τῆς ἀνομίας is not a genitive of the working cause—wickedness, which lays its concealed snares (Theodoret), or which works under the appearance of good intentions, but uses secret unworthy means for its object (Flatt); or the plan of ungodliness (Baumgarten-Crusius); or the secret counsel of the supernatural power of darkness ( κατʼ ἐνέργειαν τοῦ σατανᾶ, 2 Thessalonians 2:9), which is placed in parallelism with God’s eternal counsel or μυστήριον in reference to Christ and His kingdom (Kern); but is the genitive of apposition. But neither is Antichrist himself meant, who, as Christ, because God manifest in the flesh, is called in 1 Timothy 3:16 : τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας μυστήριον, is likewise named τὸ μυστήριον τῆς ἀνομίας, because he is an incarnation of the devil (Olshausen); nor is μυστήριον a mere intensification of the idea ἀνομία, so that a hitherto unheard of, unexampled godlessness was designated (Krebs, Hofmann, comp. also Heydenreich, p. 41, and Schott, p. 22).(49) Rather, taking into consideration the emphatic antithesis which ΄υστήριον forms to ἀποκαλυφθῆναι, the natural meaning of the words can only be the mystery of wickedness, i.e. wickedness in so far as it is still a mystery, something concealed, not yet publicly brought to light. Paul thinks on the detached traces of wickedness, recognisable in their true import only to a few as to himself, which already appeared, but which only at a later period will concentrate themselves, and reach their climax in Antichrist.

ἐνεργεῖται] is not passive, as Estius, Grotius, Kypke, Nösselt, Storr, Schott, Bloomfield, and others assume, but middle, is active, begins to bestir itself or to develope its activity. The subject of ἐνεργεῖται is τὸ ΄υστήριον, not Antichrist, as Zeger thinks.

΄όνον] is still by Heinsius(50) and Kypke connected with the preceding, and separated from what follows by a comma. Erroneously, as μόνον is irreconcilable with ἤδη in the same clause. But also ΄όνον does not begin a protasis to which καὶ τότε, 2 Thessalonians 2:8, introduces the apodosis (Koppe). Rather a comma is to be put after ἀνο΄ίας, and a colon after γένηται. Accordingly 2 Thessalonians 2:7 is divided into two halves, of which the first forms a concession, and the second a limitation. The meaning is: as a mystery wickedness certainly works even now, only, before Antichrist can be manifested, we must wait until, etc.

ἕως] until that, should properly stand before κατέχων; but it is placed after, in order to bring forward more emphatically κατέχων as the chief idea. Comp. Galatians 2:10 : μόνον τῶν πτωχῶν ἵνα μνημονεύωμεν. See Winer, p. 485 [E. T. 688]. Erroneously Tychsen: the construction is “somewhat distorted;” it should have been ΄όνον κατέχων ἕως ἄρτι. Others, equally erroneously, assume that for the completion of the sentence an additional verb is to be taken from the participle κατέχων. Thus, in conformity with the Vulgate (tantum ut qui tenet nunc, teneat, donec de medio fiat), Nicolas de Lyra, Erasmus, Zwingli, Zeger, Camerarius, Estius, Lucius and Andrew Osiander, Balduin, Menochius, Cornelius a Lapide, and others, who supply κατεχέτω; Jac. Cappellus, Beza, Calixt, Joachim Lange, Whitby, who supply καθέξει; Bengel, Storr, Pelt, who supply κατέχει. Not less arbitrarily do Knatchbull, Benson, and Baumgarten proceed, who would add ἐστίν after ΄όνον. For not the mere copula ἐστίν, but the emphatic and independent ἔστιν, would warrant the sense assumed by them; but a word which has the emphasis cannot be left out.

κατέχων] must be essentially the same as what was designated in 2 Thessalonians 2:6 by the neuter τὸ κατέχον. For the same function is ascribed to both, whilst in a similar manner as τὸ κατέχον formerly, so now also κατέχων (comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:8) appears as that by which the ἀποκάλυψις of Antichrist is still delayed. The restraining power, on which Paul thought, must accordingly have been so constituted that it can be brought under a twofold form of description, and be represented both as a thing and as a person. To make κατέχων denote the ruling power (qui obtinet, i. e. rerum potitur, Beza, and so also Whitby, Noesselt, and others) is as contrary to the context as it would be to supply fidem as an accusative to it (Nicolas de Lyra: “qui tenet nunc fidem catholicam, teneat eam firmiter”), or fidem atque caritatem (Zeger), or Christum et veram ejus religionem (Estius), or Christi adventum (Vatablus), or τὴν ἀνομίαν (Flatt, Heydenreich, Schott), and the like.

ἄρτι] is closely connected with κατέχων, and brings specially forward the reference already contained in the present participle to the immediate present time of the writer. Schott, after Flatt and Pelt, thinks that if ἄρτι is to be limited to the time of the speaker, it is not suitable to the view of the apostle (see on 1 Thessalonians 4:15); that it may accordingly be understood generally: “tempus efficientiae τοῦ κατέχοντος opportunum, quod porro elapsurum sit ad initium usque temporis illi oppositi i. e. donec, remoto τῷ κατέχοντι, palam sit proditura ἀποστασία.

ἐκ ΄έσου γίνεσθαι] is not necessarily to be considered of death or violence (Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius). It can denote any removal or being taken out of the way, however it may happen. Comp. 1 Corinthians 5:2; Colossians 2:14; Plutarch, Timol. p. 238: ἔγνω ζῆν καθʼ ἑαυτὸν ἐκ μέσου γενόμενος. The opposite of ἐκ ΄έσου γίνεσθαι or αἴρεσθαι is ἐν ΄έσῳ εἶναι, to be in the way, or to be obstructive. Comp. Xenoph. Cyrop. v. 2. 26: καὶ σφόδρʼ ἂν εἴ πῃ γε δύναιντο συμμίξαι. τί δʼ ἐν μέσῳ, ἔφη, ἐστὶ τοῦ συμμίξαι; ἀσσύριοι, ἔφασαν, τὸ αὐτὸ ἔθνος, διʼ οὗπερ νῦν πορεύῃ.


Verse 8

2 Thessalonians 2:8. What was left to the readers themselves to supply to μόνον, 2 Thessalonians 2:7, from the conclusion of 2 Thessalonians 2:6, is now, in its essence, although in an altered form, expressly indicated by καὶ τότε ἀποκαλυφθήσεται ἄνομος.

καὶ τότε] and then, namely, as soon as the κατέχων is taken out of the way. The emphasis is on καὶ τότε, not on ἄνομος (Grotius), nor on ἀποκαλυφθήσεται.

ἄνομος] the lawless one, is not a different person from ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁμαρτίας (Grotius), but identical with him. For καὶ τότε ἀποκαλυφθήσεται points back to μόνον, 2 Thessalonians 2:7, and by this to ἀποκαλυφθῆναι αὐτόν, 2 Thessalonians 2:6. The expression ἀνομία, just used, afforded the easily explained occasion for calling Antichrist ἄνομος.

With the relative sentence ὃν κύριοςπαρουσίας αὐτοῦ (which is incorrectly enclosed in a parenthesis by Benson, Moldenhauer, Schott, and Kern) the apostle immediately adds the ultimate fate which Antichrist has to expect. That Paul so directly passes over to this, although he has it yet in view to speak of the working of Antichrist before his destruction (comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10), is an involuntary impulse of his Christian heart which causes him immediately to resolve the horror which the announcement of such an event as the ἀποκάλυψις τοῦ ἀνόμου has into comfort and consolation, as a discord into harmony, comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.

In a soaring and poetical form of expression, the members of which have their Hebrew parallels, Paul describes the fate of Antichrist. Not improbably Isaiah 11:4 was present to his mind, where it is declared of the promised Deliverer of the seed of Jesse: καὶ πατάξει λῆν τῷ λόγῳ τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐν πνεύματι διὰ χειλέων ἀνελεῖ ἀσεβῆ.

ἀναλίσκειν] to consume, to destroy.

τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ] describes the power and irresistible might of the reappearing Christ, the breath of whose mouth suffices to bring His opponents to nothing. More definite interpretations, as the sentence of condemnation (Vatablus, Cornelius a Lapide), or a command or address (Theodoret: φθέγξεται μόνον; Theodore Mopsuestia, ed. Fritzsche, p. 148: μόνον ἐπιβοήσαςτοῦτο γὰρ λέγει τὸ τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ ἀντὶ τοῦ τῇ φωνῇ, ἀπὸ τοῦ παρʼ ἡμῖν αὐτὸ εἰρηκώς, ἐπειδὴ ἡμεῖς τῷ πνεύματι συνεργῷ κεχρήμεθα πρὸς τὴν ἔναρθρον λαλιάν), are to be rejected; for they destroy or weaken the picturesque directness and strength of the figure. Comp. moreover, Eurip. Med. 588: ἓν γὰρ οὖν κτενεῖ σʼ ἔπος.

καταργεῖν] to overthrow, to annihilate. On account of Revelation 19:20, Calovius and Olshausen interpret the verb of a mere “rendering inefficient,” depriving Antichrist of his influence; but the parallel ἀναλώσει decides against this meaning, and a comparison of the Pauline form of expression with that of the Apocalypse is useless labour.

τῇ ἐπιφανείᾳ τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ] by the appearance of His presence. The majestic brightness of the advent is not described by ἐπιφάνεια (Musculus, Hemming, Bullinger, Heinsius, Andrew Osiander, Cornelius a Lapide, Erasmus Schmid, Calixt, Clericus, Bernard a Piconius, Sebastian Schmid, Schoettgen, Turretin, Whitby, Benson, Macknight, Koppe, Krause, Bolten, Heydenreich, Pelt, Schott, Kern, Wieseler, and others); also παρουσία and ἐπιφάνεια are not to be distinguished, as Olshausen strangely thinks, as objective and subjective, i.e. as “the actual fact of the appearance of Christ,” and “the contemplation of it on the part of man, the consciousness of His presence;” but the placing the two together has the same design as formerly, τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ, namely, vividly to represent the power of Christ, inasmuch as the mere advent of His presence suffices to annihilate His adversaries. Comp. Bengel: “apparitio adventus ipso adventu prior est, vel certe prima ipsius adventus emicatio, uti ἐπιφάνεια τῆς ἡμέρας.”


Verse 9-10

2 Thessalonians 2:9-10. The apostle has in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 not only said when Antichrist will appear, but he has also immediately added what fate awaits him. He now goes backward in point of time, whilst in addition he describes the character of the working which Antichrist will develope before his destruction, brought about by the appearance of Christ.

οὗ] sc. τοῦ ἀνόμου. Parallel with ὅν, 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

ἐστίν] the present describes the certainty of the coming in the future. See Winer, p. 237 [E. T. 331]. Incorrectly Koppe, it imports: “jam agit et mox apertius majoreque cum vi aget.”

κατʼ ἐνέργειαν τοῦ σατανᾶ] does not belong as an independent statement to ἐστίν (so Hofmann, as before him already Georgii, in Zeller’s theol. Jahrb. 1845, Part 1, p. 8, who gives the meaning that the act of the appearing of the ἄνομος will itself be a work of Satan), but is a subsidiary statement to the principal clause ἐστὶν ἐν κ. τ. λ., assigning the reason of it. It does not import “after the example of the working of the devil” (similiter ac si satanas ageret, Michaelis), but in conformity with it, that an ἐνέργεια τοῦ σατανᾶ is its characteristic, that is, that the devil works in and through him.

εἶναι ἔν τινι] to consist in something, to prove or make itself known in something. Against Hofmann, who arbitrarily denies this use of the phrase, comp. Winer, p. 345 [E. T. 482].

δυνάμει καὶ σημείοις καὶ τέρασιν] a rhetorical enumeration, as in Acts 2:2, for the exhaustion of the idea. But as πάσῃ (see Winer, p. 466 [E. T. 660]), so also ψεύδους belongs to all three substantives. The genitive may import: in every kind of power, and in all signs and wonders whose nature is falsehood, or which proceed from falsehood, or which lead to falsehood, whose aim is falsehood. The last meaning is, with Aretius, de Wette, and others, to be preferred, as Antichrist is indeed the first to bring evil to its climax.

ψεῦδος] falsehood, belongs to the essential nature of the devil (comp. John 8:44). It represents evil as the counterpart of divine truth (the ἀλήθεια).


Verse 10

2 Thessalonians 2:10. καὶ ἐν πάσῃ ἀπάτῃ ἀδικίας] and in every deceit which leads to or advances unrighteousness, i.e. ungodliness (Estius, Aretius, Grotius, de Wette, and others).

But this energetic working of Antichrist by no means describes his power as irresistible; only the ἀπολλύμενοι succumb under it. Theodoret: οὐ γὰρ πάντων κρατήσει, ἀλλὰ τῶν ἀπωλείας ἀξίων, οἳ καὶ δίχα τῆς τούτου παρουσίας σφᾶς αὐτοὺς τῆς σωτηρίας ἐστέρησαν.

τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις] is dativus incommodi, and belongs not only to ἐν πάσῃ ἀπάτῃ ἀδικίας (Heydenreich, Flatt, Hofmann), but to the whole sentence from 2 Thessalonians 2:9 onwards.

οἱ ἀπολλύμενοι] are they who perish, who fall into eternal ἀπώλεια (comp. 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:15; 2 Corinthians 4:3), and the present participle characterizes this future fate as already decided. Comp. Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 371. But the addition ἀνθʼ ὧν κ. τ. λ. denotes that this was occasioned by their own fault.

ἀνθʼ ὧν τὴν ἀγάπην τῆς ἀληθείας οὐκ ἐδέξαντο] in requital for this (comp. Luke 1:20; Luke 19:44; Acts 12:23; LXX. 1 Kings 11:11; Joel 3:5; Xen. Anab. i. 3. 4, ibid. v. 5. 14), that they have not received in themselves the love of the truth. To interpret, with Bolten: τὴν ἀγάπην τῆς ἀληθείας, “the loveable and true religion,” is naturally as impossible as, with Chrysostom, Theodoret,(51) Oecumenius, and Theophylact, to find therein a circumlocution for Christ Himself. ἀλήθεια denotes moral and religious truth generally, not, as is usually supposed, Christian truth specially. Thus every objection which Kern (p. 212) takes to it vanishes, that τὴν ἀγάπην τῆς ἀληθείας οὐκ ἐδέξαντο was written instead of the simple τὴν ἀλήθειαν οὐκ ἐδέξαντο. For in a similar manner, as the apostle in Galatians 5:5, instead of the simple δικαιοσύνην ἀπεκδεχόμεθα, which one would expect, put the apparently strange ἐλπίδα δικαιοσύνης ἀπεκδεχόμεθα, but did so designedly, in order to oppose to the arrogant feeling of the legally righteous the humble feeling of the true Christian; so here the expression τὴν ἀγάπην τῆν ἀληθείας οὐκ ἐδέξαντο is designedly chosen to bring forward the high degree of guilt. Not only have they not received the Christian truth presented to them; for it might be still conceivable that they highly esteemed the truth itself and felt themselves drawn to it, although in consequence of spiritual blindness they had not known and recognised Christianity as an embodiment and full expression of the truth; but they have not even received into their hearts the love of the truth under whatever form it may be presented to them; they have rendered themselves entirely unsusceptible of the truth, they have hardened themselves against it.

εἰς τὸ σωθῆναι αὐτούς] in order that they might be saved, brings still more prominently forward this hardness. They ought to have received that ἀγάπη τῆς ἀληθείας, to the end that they might receive σωτηρία, eternal salvation. But the attainment of such an end did not trouble them, was something indifferent to them.


Verse 11

2 Thessalonians 2:11. καὶ διὰ τοῦτο] and on this account, refers to ἀνθʼ ὧν τὴν ἀγάπην τῆς ἀληθείας οὐκ ἐδέξαντο, 2 Thessalonians 2:10, and καί serves to bring forward the reciprocal relation between cause and effect.

πέμπει αὐτοῖς θεός] the present is chosen, because according to 2 Thessalonians 2:7 the beginnings of lawlessness even now appeared. But the verbal idea is not, with Theodoret, John Damascenus, Theodore Mopsuestius, p. 148, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Pelagius, Nicolas de Lyra, Hunnius, Justinian, Wolf, Turretin, Whitby, Moldenhauer, Koppe, Heydenreich, Flatt, and others, to be weakened into the idea of the divine permission, but must be taken in its proper sense. For according to the Pauline view it is a holy ordinance of God that the wicked by their wickedness should lose themselves always the more in wickedness, and thus sin is punished by sin. But what is an ordinance of God is also accomplished by God Himself. See Meyer on Romans 1:24.

ἐνέργειαν πλάνης] active power of seduction. On πλάνη, see on 1 Thessalonians 2:3.

εἰς τὸ πιστεῦσαι κ. τ. λ.] not a statement of the consequence (Macknight and others), but of the design of God. In a forced manner, Hofmann: εἰς τὸ πιστεῦσαι belongs to ἐνέργειαν.


Verse 12

2 Thessalonians 2:12. ἵνα] dependent on εἰς τὸ πιστεῦσαι κ. τ. λ., not on πέμπει, as Hofmann thinks. A statement of the further or higher design.

ἵνα κριθῶσι] in order that they may be judged, i.e. according to the context, condemned.

The truth is the Christian truth, and the unbelief, shown against it, is the consequence of the love for the truth in general being wanting (2 Thessalonians 2:10).

CONCLUDING REMAEKS ON CHAP. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

The apocalyptic teaching of the apostle in chap. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 has occupied Christians of all times, and has been very variously interpreted. A chief distinction in the interpretations consists in this, that this Pauline prediction may be considered either as that which will be fulfilled in the near or more distant future, or as having already received its fulfilment.

I. The Church Fathers belong to the representatives of the first view (Irenaeus, adv. haer. v. 25, 29, 30; Tertullian, de resur. carn. c. 24; Chrysostom in loco; Cyril. Hierosolym. Catech. 15; Augustine, de civit. dei, xx. 19; Theodoret in loco, and epit. decret. div. c. 23; Theodorus Mopsuestius, and others). They correctly agree in considering that by the advent (2 Thessalonians 2:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:8), or the day of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:2), is to be understood the personal advent of Christ for the last judgment and for the completion of the Messianic kingdom. Also it is correctly regarded as proved, that the Antichrist here described is to be considered as an individual person, in whom sin will embody itself. Yet Augustin already remarks, that “nonnulli non ipsum principem, sed universum quodam modo corpus ejus i. e. ad eum pertinentem hominum multitudinem simul cum ipso suo principe hoc loco intelligi Antichristum volunt.” The restraining power by which the appearance of Antichrist is delayed, is usually considered to be the continuance of the Roman Empire ( τὸ κατέχον) and its representative the Roman emperor ( κατέχων). Some, however, as Theodorus Mopsuestius and Theodoret, understand by it τοῦ θεοῦ τὸν ὅρον, i.e. more exactly, the counsel of God to keep back the appearance of Antichrist until the gospel is proclaimed throughout the earth. This latter interpretation is certainly unsuitable enough. For although the difference of gender τὸ κατέχον and κατέχων may be to distinguish God’s counsel and God Himself, yet ἐκ μέσου γίνεσθαι is not reconcilable with the masculine κατέχων. Chrysostom chooses a third interpretation, that by the restraining power is meant the continuance of the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit. But he directly refutes this by the fact that if so, Antichrist must have already appeared, as those gifts have long since disappeared in the Christian church. The temple of God, in which Antichrist will place himself, is referred either to the Christian church (so Chrysostom, Theodoret, Augustin), the expression being taken figuratively, or to the actual temple of Jerusalem (so Irenaeus and Cyril); in which latter case the objection, that this temple was already destroyed, is met by the shift that a new temple rebuilt in place of the old one by Antichrist is to be thought on. Lastly, some, as Chrysostom,(52)—although in contradiction to the chronology of the Epistle,—interpret the ΄υστήριον τῆς ἀνο΄ίας, which already begins to work, of Nero, the forerunner and type of Antichrist in St. Paul’s time; and others, as Theodoret, of the outbreak of heresies.

The common and grave error in the explanations of the Fathers, by means of which they run counter to the Pauline representation, consisted in their not doing sufficient justice to the point of nearness of the event predicted by Paul. It is incontestable, as the result of correct exegesis, that Paul not only considered Antichrist as directly preceding the advent, but also regarded the advent as so near, that he himself might then be alive. It was natural that the Fathers, as the prophecy of the apostle had not been fulfilled in their times, should disregard this point; but they held that in this prophecy a picture of the last things, fully corresponding to the reality in the future, must have been given. They therefore satisfied themselves with the consideration that the prediction had already begun to be fulfilled in the apostolic times, but that the apostle could not possibly give an exact statement of time, as he only says that Antichrist will be revealed in his appointed time.(53)

The view of the Fathers remained in the following ages the prevalent one in the Christian church. It was necessary, however, partially to change and transform it, the relation of Christianity to the Roman state having altered, as the Christian church, instead of being exposed to renewed hostilities from the secular power, had obtained the sovereignty of the state, and, penetrating larger portions of the world, represented itself as the kingdom of God on earth, and an imposing hierarchy was placed at its head. Whilst, accordingly, the idea of the advent stepped more and more into the background in the church generally, and especially with the hierarchy, on the other hand, those who had placed themselves in opposition to the hierarchy believed themselves obliged to apply to it the description of the apostle, as well as the figures in the Apocalypse of St. John. Thus arose—whilst the early view concerning the παρουσία τοῦ κυρίου was held with only the modification that its entrance was to be expected in the distant future—the view, first in the eleventh century, that the establishment and growing power of the Papacy is to be considered as the Antichrist predicted by Paul. At first this view was expressed in the conflict between the emperors and the popes by the partisans of the imperial power; but was then repeated by all those who had placed themselves in opposition with the hierarchy, because they wished, instead of the rigid ecclesiastical power, a freer spirit of Christianity to rule; thus by the Waldenses, the Albigenses, and the followers of Wickliffe and Huss. The empire—which was regarded as nothing else than a revival and renewal of the old Roman Empire—was considered as the restraining power which still delayed the destruction of the Papacy.

This reference(54) of Antichrist to the papal hierarchy became specially prevalent toward the time of the Reformation, and after that event was almost regarded as a dogma in the evangelical church. It is found in Bugenhagen, Zwingli, Calvin, Victorin Strigel, Hemming, Hunnius, Lucius and Andrew Osiander, Camero, Balduin, Aretius, Er. Schmid, Beza, Quistorp, Calixt, Calovius, Newton, Wolf, Joachim Lange, Turretin, Benson, Bengel, Macknight, Zachariae, Michaelis, and others. Accordingly it is expressed in the Lutheran symbolical books; comp. Articul. Smalcald. II. 4 (ed. Meyer, p. 189 f.): Haec doctrina praeclare ostendit, papam esse ipsum verum Antichristum, qui supra et contra Christum sese extulit et evexit, quandoquidem Christianos non vult esse salvos sine sua potestate, quae tamen nihil est, et a deo nec ordinata nec mandata est. Hoc proprie loquendo est se efferre supra et contra deum, sicut Paulus 2 Thessalonians 2 loquitur.

De pot. et prim. pap. (p. 210): Constat autem, Romanos pontifices cum suis membris defendere impiam doctrinam et impios cultus. Ac plane notae Antichristi competunt in regnum papae et sua membra. Paulus enim ad Thessalonicenses describens Antichristum, vocat eum adversarium Christi, extollentem se super omne, quod dicitur aut colitur deus, sedentem in templo dei tanquam deum. Also Luther’s powerful treatise against the papal bull bore the title: “Adversus exsecrabilem bullam Antichristi.” It was thought that the Papacy would go on more and more developing what was anti-Christian in it, and that then the last judgment would overtake it. The ἀποστασία was the falling away from the pure gospel to the traditions of men. The singular ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁ΄αρτίας κ. τ. λ. is to be understood collectively as a series et successio hominum, inasmuch as the question is concerning an imperium monarchicum which remains one and the same, although its temporal head may be changed. The godlessness of Antichrist, described in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, is historically proved by the pope placing himself above all human and divine authority, the words πάντα λεγόμενον θεὸν κ. τ. λ., in accordance to biblical usage, being referred to the princes and great men of the world, and an allusion being discovered in σέβασ΄α to the Roman imperial title σεβαστός. The objection, that there have been pious popes, is removed by the proverb: “a potiori fit denominatio.ναὸς τοῦ θεοῦ is referred to the Christian church, and the καθίσαι to the tyrannical power usurped over it. By τὸ κατέχον is nearly universally understood the Roman Empire, and by κατέχων the Roman emperor, for which proof is deduced from history, that the papal power sprang from the ruins of the Roman Empire, whilst in reference to the continuation of the empire in Germany, it is observed that praeter titulum nihil fere remains. The declaration τὸ μυστήριον ἤδη ἐνεργεῖται τῆς ἀνομίας, 2 Thessalonians 2:7, is considered as justified by the fact that at least the semina erroris et ambitionis, which paved the way for the Papacy, were present in the time of the apostle; for which Camero appeals to Galatians 1, 2, and others to other proofs. For an enumeration of τέρατα ψεύδους, 2 Thessalonians 2:9, relics, transubstantiation, purgatory, etc., afford rich material. The annihilation of Antichrist by the πνεῦ΄α τοῦ στό΄ατος of the Lord, is understood to denote the annihilation of his importance in the minds of men by the divine word of Scripture being again opened up and diffused in its purity by means of the Reformation; whilst the καταργήσει τῇ ἐπιφανείᾳ τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ denotes the final and material destruction of Antichrist by the coming of Christ to judgment.

In the presence of such polemics used against them, the Catholics are certainly not to be blamed that in retaliation they interpreted ἀποστασία as the defection from the Roman church and from the pope, and Antichrist as the heretics, especially Luther and the evangelical church. Comp. Estius, Fromond., Bern. a Piconio.

Yet even before the reference of Antichrist to Popery was maintained, Mohammed(55) was already regarded by the divines of the Greek church (latterly by Faber Stapulensis and others) as the Antichrist predicted by Paul, and in the ἀποστασία was seen the defection of several Oriental and Greek churches from Christianity to Mohammedanism. This interpretation at least so far exercised an influence on the evangelical church, that some of its theologians have assumed a double Antichrist—one Oriental, viz. Mohammed and the Turkish power, and the other Western, viz. the pope and his power. So Melancthon, Bucer, Musculus, Bullinger, Piscator, and Vorstius.

Related to this whole method of interpretation is the assumption,(56) made in our own century, that by the apostasy is to be understood the enormities of the French Revolution; by Antichrist, Napoleon; and by him that restraineth, the continuation of the German Empire—an interpretation which the extinction of the German Empire in 1806 has already condemned.

In recent times it has often been considered as objectionable to determine exactly the individual traits of the imagery used by Paul. Accordingly the representation of the apostle has been interpreted in a general, ideal, or symbolical sense. To this class of interpreters belongs Koppe, according to whom Paul, founding on an old national Jewish oracle, supported especially by Daniel, would describe the ungodliness preceding the last day, which already worked, but whose full outbreak was only to take place after the death of the apostle; so that Paul himself was the κατέχων.(57) Similarly Storr (l.c.), who understands by the ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁμαρτίας “potestas aliqua, deo omnique religioni adversaria, quae penitus incognita et futuro demum tempore se proditura sit,” and by the preventing power the “copia hominum verissimo amore inflammatorum in christianam religionem.”

Further, Nitzsch (l.c.) thinks on the power of atheism first come to have public authority, or the contempt of all religion generally. Further, the opinion of Pelt is entirely peculiar, who in His Commentary, p. 204,(58) sums up his views in the following words: “Mihi … adversarius illi principium esse videtur sive vis spiritualis evangelio contraria, quae huc usque tamen in Pontificiorum Romanorum operibus ac serie luculentissime sese prodidit, ita tamen, ut omnia etiam mala, quae in ecclesia compareant, ad eandem Antichristi ἐνέργειαν sint referenda. Ejus vero παρουσία i. e. summum fastigium, quod Christi reditum qui nihil aliud est, nisi regni divini victoria,(59) antecedet, futurum adhuc esse videtur, quum illud tempus procul etiamnum abesse putemus, ubi omnes terrae incolae in eo erunt, ut ad Christi sacra transeant. κατέχον vero cum Theodoreto putarim esse dei voluntatem illud Satanae regnum cohibentem, ne erumpat, et, si mediae spectantur causae, apostolorum tempore maxime imperii Romani vis, et quovis aevo illa resistentia, quam malis artibus, quae religionem subvertere student, privati commodi et honoris augendorum cupiditas opponere solet.” Pelt thinks that the symptoms of the future corruption of the Christian church were already present in the apostolic age in the danger of falling away from Christian freedom into Jewish legalism, in the mingling of heathenism with Christianity, in the false gnosis and asceticism, in the worship of angels, and in the fastus a religione Christiana omnino alienus. To the same class belongs Olshausen,(60) who considers the Pauline description only as a typical representation of future events. According to him, the chief stress lies on τὸ ΄υστήριον ἤδη ἐνεργεῖται τῆς ἀνο΄ίας. Antichrist is a union of the individuality and spiritual tendency in masses of individuals. The revolt of the Jews from the Romans, and the fearful divine punishment in the destruction of Jerusalem, Nero, Mohammed and his spiritual devastating power, the development of the Papacy in the Middle Ages, the French Revolution of 1789, with the abrogation of Christianity, and the setting up of prostitutes on altars for worship, in the external world, as well as the constantly spreading denial of the fundamentals of all religious truth and morality, of the doctrines of God, freedom, and immortality, and likewise the self-deification of the ego in the internal world,—all these phenomena are the real precursors of Antichrist; but they contain only some of his characteristics, not all; it is the union of all these characteristics which shall make the full Antichrist. The preventing power is to be understood of the preponderance of the Christian world in its German and Roman constituents over the earth; i.e. of the whole political condition of order, with which, on the one hand, there is the constant repression of all ἀποστασία and ἀνο΄ία, and on the other hand, the continued and peaceful development of Christianity. Of this condition the Roman Empire, as the strongest and most orderly secular organization which history knows, is the natural type. Baumgarten-Crusius is also here to be named. According to him, the Pauline prediction contains no new teachings peculiar to the apostle, but only representations from the old Messianic pictures in the prophets, especially in Daniel. The apostle’s design is practical, to make the Thessalonians calmly observant, attentive to the times, prepared and strong for the future; the passage has a permanent value in this reference, and in the chief thought that the development and determination of these things can only gradually take place. The passage is indeed historical and for the near future, but Paul has no definite or personal manifestations, whether present or future, in view, at least not in ἀντικεί΄ενος, which he describes as still entirely concealed; and it is even doubtful whether he understood by it an individual person. Only τὸ κατέχον has a definite reference, but not to a person; on the contrary, the new spirit of Christianity is meant. The difference in gender, κατέχων and τὸ κατέχον, is used either only to correspond with ἀντικεί΄ενος, or Paul thinks on χριστὸς ἐν αὐτοῖς, Colossians 1:27! Lastly, to the same class belong Bloomfield and Alford.(61) According to the former, the μυστήριον τῆς ἀνομίας is something still continuing; the prediction of the apostle will obtain its complete fulfilment only at the end of time, when only then the preventing power—which is most probably to be understood, with Theodoret, of the council of divine Providence—will be removed. According to the latter (see Proleg. p. 67 ff.), we stand, though 1800 years later, with regard to the ἀνομός where the apostle stood; the day of the Lord not present, and not to arrive until the man of sin be manifested; the ΄υστήριον τῆς ἀνο΄ίας still working, and much advanced in his working; the preventing power not yet taken out of the way. All this points to a state in which the ἀνο΄ία is working on underground, under the surface of things, gaining an expansion and power, although still hidden and unconcentrated. It has already partially embodied itself in Popery, in Nero and every Christian persecutor, in Mohammed and Napoleon, in Mormonism, and such like. The κατέχον and the κατέχων are to be understood of the fabric of human polity and those who rule that polity, by which hitherto all outbursts of godlessness have been suppressed and hindered in their course and devastations.

It is evident that all these explanations are arbitrary. The Pauline description is so definitely and sharply marked, and has for its whole compass so much the idea of nearness for its supposition, that it can by no means be taken generally, and in this manner explained away.

II. Others have regarded the apocalyptic instruction of the apostle as a prophecy already fulfilled. Thus Grotius, Wetstein, Hammond, Clericus, Whitby, Schoettgen, Noesselt, Krause, and Harduin.(62) The reference of the παρουσία τοῦ κυρίου to the coming of the Lord in judgment at the destruction of Jerusalem, is common to all these writers. In reference to the other chief points of the Pauline representation they differ as follows:—

Grotius(63) understands by Antichrist the Emperor Caius Caligula, notorious for his ungodliness, who, according to Suetonius, Caligul. xxii. 33, ordered universal supplication to himself as the supreme God, and according to Joseph. Antiq. xviii. 8, and Philo, legat. ad Caj. p. 1022, wished to set up his colossal statue in the temple of Jerusalem; by the κατέχων, L. Vitellius, the proconsul of Syria and Judea, who dissuaded from the erection of the statue; and by the ἄνομος, Simon Magus.

This opinion is sufficiently contradicted, partly by the impossibility of distinguishing the ἄνομος from ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁ΄αρτίας as a separate person, and partly by its incongruity with the period of the composition of the Epistle. See sec. 2 of the Introduction.

According to Wetstein, the ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁμαρτίας is Titus, whose army, according to Joseph. de bello Jud. vi. 6. 1, brought idols into the captured temple of Jerusalem, sacrificed there, and saluted Titus as imperator. The κατέχων is Nero, whose death must precede the rule of Titus; and the ἀποστασία is the rebellion and murder of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius. But how can Titus, the ornament of the Roman emperors, pass for Antichrist; and Nero, that monster in human form, the power which hinders the outburst of Antichrist?

Hammond(64) understands by the man of sin Simon Magus and the Gnostics, whose head he was. The ἐπισυναγωγὴ ἐπʼ αὐτόν, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, is the “major libertas coeundi in ecclesiasticos coetus ad colendum Christum;” the ἀποστασία is the falling away of Christians to the Gnostics (1 Timothy 4:1); ἀποκαλυφθῆναι denotes the casting off the mask of Christianity; 2 Thessalonians 2:4 refers to the fact that Simon Magus “se dictitaret summum patrem omnium rerum, et qui ipsum Judaeorum deum creaverat.” τὸ κατέχον is the circumstance that the apostles and orthodox Christians still preserved union with the Jews, and had not yet turned themselves to the Gentiles. The neuter κατέχον and the masculine κατέχων are equivalent; or if a distinction is to be maintained, κατέχων must be regarded as the same as νό΄ος. The ΄υστήριον τῆς ἀνο΄ίας is the “duplicis generis scelera horum hominum, libidines nefariae et odium in Christianos.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8 refers to the contest of Peter and Paul with Simon Magus in Rome, which ended in the death of the latter.

The exegetical and historical monstrosity of this interpretation is at present universally acknowledged.

The interpretations of Clericus, Whitby, Schoettgen, Noesselt, Krause, and Harduin have a greater resemblance between them.

According to Clericus,(65) the apostasy is the rebellion of the Jews against the Roman yoke; the man of sin is the rebellious Jews, and especially their leader, Simon the son of Giora, of whose atrocities Josephus informs us. πᾶς λεγόμενος θεὸς κ. τ. λ. denotes the government. τὸ κατέχον is whatever hindered the open outbreak of the rebellion, partly the fear of the proceres Judaeae gentis, who mistrusted the war because they expected no favourable result, partly the fear of the Roman army; κατέχων on the one side “praeses Romanus,” on the other side “gentis proceres, rex Agrippa et pontifices plurimi.” The ΄υστήριον τῆς ἀνο΄ίας which already works consists in the rebellious ambition which conceals itself under the pretext of the independence of the Jewish people, yea, under the cloak of a careful observance of the Mosaic law, until at length what strives in secret is openly manifested.

Whitby(66) considers the Jewish people as Antichrist, and finds in the apostasy the rebellion against the Romans, or also the falling away from the faith; and in the κατέχων the Emperor Claudius, during whose life the Jews could not possibly think of a rebellion, as he had shown himself favourable to them.

According to Schoettgen, the Jewish Pharisees and Rabbis are Antichrist. The ἀποστασία is the rebellion excited by them, of the Jews against the Romans; πᾶς λεγόμενος θεός refers likewise to the rulers; τὸ κατέχον and κατέχων are probably the Christians who by their prayers effected a respite from the catastrophe, until, in consequence of a divine oracle, they left Jerusalem, and betook themselves to Pella; μυστήριον τῆς ἀνομίας denotes ipsa doctrina perversa.

Noesselt, whom Krause follows, understands Antichrist of the Jewish zealots, but interprets the preventing power, as Whitby does, of the Emperor Claudius.

Lastly, Harduin explains the ἀποστασία of the falling off of the Jews to heathenism. He considers the high priest Ananias (Acts 23:2) as the ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁμαρτίας, and his predecessor in office as the κατέχων, who must first be removed by death in order to make place for Ananias. At the beginning of his high-priesthood the ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἁμαρτίας will appear as a deceitful prophet, and be destroyed at the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus.

All these interpretations of the second class avoid, it is true, the common error of the interpretations of the first class, as they give due prominence to the point of the nearness of the catastrophe described by Paul; but, apart from many and strong objections which may be brought against each, they are all exposed to this fatal objection, the impossibility of understanding the coming of the Lord, mentioned by Paul, of the period of the destruction of Jerusalem.

Tychsen (l.c.) has endeavoured to divest the Pauline representation of its prophetic character, by assuming that the apostle follows step by step the course of an Epistle received from Thessalonica, from which he perceived that the church had been led astray into the erroneous notion that the advent of Christ was already at hand. The apostle cites passages from that writing, and adds each time his refutation. For the statement of this opinion, which only claims attention on account of its strangeness, it will be sufficient to give the translation from 2 Thessalonians 2:3 and onwards, in which Tychsen (p. 184 f.) sums up the view he has already stated at length. It is as follows: “You certainly wrote to me, ‘This day cannot come until the great apostasy will occur; when a thoroughly lawless and corrupt man will publicly appear, who in hostile pride exalts himself above all that man calls divine and honourable, who also intrudes even into the temple of God, and gives himself out as a god.’ But do you not remember that I, when I was with you, told you something of this? and besides, you know what is in the way of that lawless one, so that he can only appear in his time, not yet at present. ‘This wickedness,’ you say further, ‘even now secretly works.’ Only that hindrance must first be removed out of the way! ‘And when this is removed,’ ye think, ‘the wicked one will soon fearlessly show himself.’ Now let him do it! The Lord Jesus will annihilate him with His divine power, and destroy him by His solemn appearance. ‘When this lawless one comes,’ ye continue, ‘so will his appearance be accompanied by the assistance of Satan with deceiving miracles, delusions, and everything which can lead to blasphemy.’ Yet all this cannot seduce you, but only those unhappy persons who have no love for true religion, and accordingly are helplessly lost by their own fault. God for a punishment to them permitted seducers to rise up, that they might believe the lie. A merited punishment for all friends of vice who are prepossessed against true doctrine!”

For a correct judgment of the apocalyptic instruction of the apostle, it is firmly to be maintained that Paul could not possibly wish to give a representation of the distant future. On the contrary, the events which he predicted were for him so near, that he himself even thought that he would survive them. He hoped to survive even to the personal return of the Lord for judgment and for the completion of His kingdom; His return shall be preceded by the appearance of Antichrist, whom he considered not as a collective idea, but as an individual person, and not in the political, but in the religious sphere, and specially as a caricature of Christ and the culmination of ungodliness; but Antichrist can only appear when the preventing power, which at present hinders his appearance, will be removed. As, now, these circumstances, which Paul thinks were to be realized in the immediate future, have not actually taken place, so it is completely arbitrary to expect the fulfilment of the prophecy only in a distant future; rather it is to be admitted, that although, as the very kernel of Paul’s representation, the perfectly true idea lay at the bottom, that the return of the Lord for the completion of the kingdom of God was not to be expected until the moral process of the world had reached its close by the complete separation of the susceptible and the unsusceptible, and accordingly also until the opposition to Christ had reached its climax, yet Paul was mistaken concerning the nearness of the final catastrophe, and, carried along by his idiosyncrasy, had wished to settle more exactly concerning its circumstances and moral conditions than is allotted to man in general to know, even although he should be the apostle, the most filled with the Spirit of Christ. Comp. Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32; Acts 1:7.

We can thus only determine the meaning and interpretation which Paul himself connected with his prophecy, and how he came to the assertion of such a prophecy. It rests on the apocalyptic views of the Jews. It was a prevalent opinion of the Jews in the time of Christ, that a time of tribulation and travail and an Antichrist were to precede the appearance of the Messiah. Comp. Gfrörer, das Jahrhundert des Heils, Part 2, p. 256 ff., 300 ff., 405 ff. The description of Antiochus Epiphanes in Daniel 8:23 ff; Daniel 11:36 ff., and the apocalyptic representation of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38, 39, were esteemed as types of Antichrist. From these passages it is further explicable how Paul conceived Antichrist as a personality, as an individual.

Accordingly, it remains only still to determine, for the explication of the Pauline prophecy, what is to be understood by the preventing power, which still delayed the appearance of Antichrist. Without doubt, the Fathers have already correctly recognised by τὸ κατέχον the Roman Empire, and—in another form of expression for it—by κατέχων the Roman emperor, as the representative of the empire. This is the more probable as, according to the Book of Daniel, the whole history of the world was to fall within the four monarchies of the world, but the fourth was by Josephus and others regarded as the Roman Empire, whose impending ruin the apostle might not without reason think himself justified in inferring from many symptoms.


Verse 13

2 Thessalonians 2:13. ἡμεῖς δέ] but we, namely, I, Paul, together with Silvanus and Timotheus, in contrast to the persons described in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.

ὀφείλομεν] denotes here, as in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, the subjective obligation, an internal impulse.

ἀδελφοὶ ἠγαπημένοι ὑπὸ κυρίου] comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:4. The κύριος here is Christ, because τῷ θεῷ directly precedes and θεός directly follows, consequently another subject was evidently thought on by the apostle.

ὅτι εἵλατο ὑμᾶς κ. τ. λ.] the material object of εὐχαριστεῖν for the purpose of a further statement of the personal object περὶ ὑμῶν, that, namely, etc.

αἱρεῖσθαι] in the sense of divine election (Deuteronomy 26:18; Deuteronomy 7:6-7; Deuteronomy 10:15), does not elsewhere occur with Paul. He uses ἐκλέγεσθαι (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Corinthians 1:27-28), or προγινώσκειν (Romans 8:29; Romans 11:2), or προορίζειν (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:11). αἱρεῖσθαι is found in Philippians 1:22 in the related sense of “to choose between two objects the preferable.”

ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς] from the beginning, i.e. from eternity. Comp. 1 John 1:1; 1 John 2:13. The following forms are analogous: ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων, Ephesians 3:9; ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν γενεῶν, Colossians 1:26; πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων, 1 Corinthians 2:7; πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, Ephesians 1:4; πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων, 2 Timothy 1:9. Others, as Vorstius and Krause, interpret ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς of the beginning of the publication of the gospel, so that the Thessalonians were reckoned as the first who embraced the gospel in Macedonia. But this does not suit εἵλατο, for the election on the part of God belongs to the region of eternity; the calling (2 Thessalonians 2:14) is its realization in time. Besides, an addition would be necessary to ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, as Philippians 4:15 proves, ἐν ἀρχῇ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου. Lastly, the objection of Vorstius: “absurdum est, per principium intelligere aeternitatem, quippe in qua nullum est principium,” overlooks the fact that ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς is nothing more than a popular expression.(67)

εἰς σωτηρίαν] is by Flatt referred to salvation in this life, whilst he considers included therein the forgiveness of sins, the assurance of God’s peculiar love, and the freedom from the dominion of sinful inclinations. Incorrect on this account, because the σωτηρία of the Thessalonians is in undeniable contrast with the condemnation of the ungodly (2 Thessalonians 2:12), and thus likewise must be referred to the result to be expected at the advent of Christ, accordingly must denote eternal salvation.

ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος καὶ πίστει ἀληθείας] belongs neither to σωτηρίαν alone (Koppe, Flatt, Schott, Baumgarten-Crusius, Hofmann, Riggenbach), nor to εἵλατο alone (de Wette), but to the whole idea εἵλατο εἰς σωτηρίαν, and states the means by which the election, which has taken place to eternal salvation, was to be realized.(68) To assume, with de Wette, that ἐν is placed for εἰς, and to find the next aim denoted by ἐν ἁγιασμῷ κ. τ. λ., is unmaintainable. For if εἰς σωτηρίαν and ἐν ἁγιασ΄ῷ were co-ordinates, then (1) εἰς σωτηρίαν, because the highest aim, would be put not in the first, but in the second place; and (2) the sudden transition from a preposition of motion to one of rest would be inexplicable. πνεῦ΄α is not the spirit of man, to which the being sanctified was to be referred (genitive of the object: “by the improvement of the spirit,” Koppe, Krause, Schott), but the Holy Spirit, from whom the sanctification of the whole man is to proceed, or by whom it is to be effected (genitive of origin). Accordingly it is also evident wherefore the apostle mentions the belief in the Christian truth only after ἁγιασμός, although otherwise the sanctification of man follows only on his reception of the divine word. For Paul considers a twofold means of the realization of the divine election—first, the influence of the Holy Spirit upon man, and secondly, man’s own reception. But the former already precedes the latter.


Verses 13-17

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17. Exhortation to the readers to hold fast to the Christianity delivered to them (2 Thessalonians 2:15), grounded on the comfortable fact that they belonged not to those who perish, but were fore-ordained by God to salvation, and called to it by the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14), and united with a pious wish that Christ and God Himself would comfort their minds, and strengthen them to all goodness (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).


Verses 13-15

2 Thessalonians 2:13 to 2 Thessalonians 3:15. Hortatory portion of the Epistle.


Verse 14

2 Thessalonians 2:14. εἰς ] to which. Incorrectly, Olshausen: therefore. εἰς does not refer to πίστει (Aretius), also not to ἐν ἁγιασμῷ καὶ πίστει (Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, Fromond., Nat. Alexander, Moldenhauer, Koppe, Flatt, Schott, Schrader, de Wette, Hofmann), still less to the “electio” and the “animus, quo eadem digni evadimus” (Pelt), but to εἰς σωτηρίαν ἐν ἁγιασμῷ κ. τ. λ.; whilst to the aim of the election, and to the means by which it was to be realized according to God’s eternal counsel, is added the actual call of the readers occurring in time. Accordingly, εἰς is to be completed by εἰς τὸ σωθῆναι ὑμᾶς διʼ ἁγιασμοῦ πνεύματος καὶ πίστεως ἀληθείας.

διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου ἡμῶν] through our publication of the gospel. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:5. The historical condition of πίστις.

εἰς περιποίησιν δόξης τοῦ κυρίου] an appositional resumption of εἰς σωτηρίαν, in order further to characterize the salvation, whose reception God had predetermined to the readers, as an acquisition (see on 1 Thessalonians 5:9) of the glory which Christ possesses. So in essentials, Pelagius, Musculus, Hunnius, Piscator, Vorstius, Grotius, Wolf, Schott, Olshausen, de Wette, Alford, Ewald, Bisping, Riggenbach, and others. Less suitably, because weakening the force and the important contents of the expression, Luc. Osiander, Benson, Moldenhauer, and Pelt explain δόξα τοῦ κυρίου of the glory, of which Christ is the source or bestower. Against the reference to God as the subject in περιποίησιν, and to Christ as the receiver of the δόξα (Oecumenius: ἵνα δόξαν περιποιήσῃ τῷ υἱῷ αὐτοῦ; Theophylact, Vatablus, Cornelius a Lapide), is the circumstance, that although εἰς περιποίησιν might stand instead of εἰς τό with the infinitive, yet the dative τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν would require to be placed instead of the genitive τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν. Lastly, the passive signification of περιποίησις: “ut essetis gloriosa possessio domini nostri Jesu Christi” (Menochius, Harduin; also Luther: “to the glorious inheritance,” and Calvin), has against it the weakening of the substantive δόξης into an adjective, and the parallel passage in 1 Thessalonians 5:9. Besides, the context decides against the two last-mentioned views. For the object of 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 is to bring forward the glory of the lot which is assigned to the Thessalonians, in order thereby to lead to the exhortation in 2 Thessalonians 2:15.


Verse 15

2 Thessalonians 2:15. ἄρα οὖν] wherefore then, as such an end awaits you.

στήκετε] stand fast, comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:8. The opposite of σαλευθῆναι, 2 Thessalonians 2:2.

καὶ κρατεῖτε τὰς παραδόσεις] and hold fast to the traditions, instructions in Christianity. As κρατεῖν here (comp. Mark 7:3), so does κατέχειν τὰς παραδόσεις stand in 1 Corinthians 11:2.

ἃς ἐδιδάχθητε] See Winer, p. 204 [E. T. 284].

εἴτε διὰ λόγου] whether by oral discourse.

διʼ ἐπιστολῆς] refers to the First Epistle to the Thessalonians.


Verse 16-17

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17. The apostle rises from his evangelical activity (2 Thessalonians 2:15) up to Christ, the Lord and Ruler of the Christian church, and concludes with the mention of God, who is the final reason and contriver of the Christian salvation. The unusual (2 Corinthians 13:13) naming of Christ first and of God second, is sufficiently explained from the fact that Christ is the Mediator between God and man.

On the union of the two nominatives, Christ and God, with a verb in the singular, see on 1 Thessalonians 3:11.

ἀγαπήσας ἡμᾶς καὶ δοὺς παράκλ. κ. τ. λ.] a fittingly-selected characteristic, in order to mark the confidence with which Paul expects the hearing of his supplications.

ἀγαπήσας ἡμᾶς καὶ δούς] refers exclusively to θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ ἡμῶν. Baumgarten-Crusius incorrectly refers only the second participle to God, and the first to Christ. But the participle aorist ἀγαπήσας must not be weakened into “qui nos amat et quovis tempore amavit” (so Schott, after Flatt and Pelt), but refers to the divine proof of love already belonging to the past,—accomplished, i.e. to the fact by which the love of God to mankind is κατʼ ἐξοχήν proved,—to the mission of His Son in order to rescue sinners from destruction.

καὶ δούς] and has thereby communicated to us.

παράκλησιν] comfort. This is called eternal,(69) not, perhaps, on account of the blessings of eternal life which Christians have to expect (Chrysostom, Estius, Vorstius, Grotius, Fromond., and others), but because Christians have become the sons of God, and as such are filled with indestructible confidence that all things, even the severest affliction which may befall them, infallibly serves for their good, because God has so ordained, and that nothing in the world will be able to separate them from the love of God in Christ; comp. Romans 8:28; Romans 8:38 f. The opposite of this eternal consolation is the fleeting and deceptive consolation of the world (Olshausen). παράκλησις accordingly refers to the present. On the other hand (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14), ἐλπὶς ἀγαθή refers to the blessedness and glory to be expected in the future.

ἐν χάριτι] in grace, i.e. by means of a gracious appointment, belongs not to ἐλπίδα, but to the participles. The opposite is man’s own merit.

παρακαλέσαι] may comfort or calm, refers particularly to the disquiet of the readers in reference to the advent (2 Thessalonians 2:2).

καὶ στηρίξαι] sc. ὑμᾶς (see critical remarks), which is in itself evident from the preceding ὑμῶν.

ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ καὶ λόγῳ ἀγαθῷ] in every good work and word. Grotius incorrectly takes it in the sense of εἰς πᾶν ἔργον καὶ πάντα λόγον ἀγαθόν. But, with Chrysostom, Calvin, Turretin, Bolten, Flatt, and others, to limit λόγος to teaching is erroneous, on account of the universal παντί and its being placed along with ἔργῳ. The apostle rather wishes an establishment in every good thing, whether manifested in works or in words.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/2-thessalonians-2.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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