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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
2 Thessalonians 2

 

 

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Verse 1

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

Ver. 1. Now we beseech you, brethren] Christ’s spokesmen must be fair spoken, so wooing for him that they may win upon men’s hearts, leading by the hand those that are willing, and drawing after a sort those that are less willing, that they may present them as a chaste virgin to Christ, 2 Corinthians 11:2. This earnest obtestation imports that it is both easy and dangerous to be carried away by seducers; for the Scripture doth not use to "cleave straws with beetles" to be so serious in a slight matter. "We beseech you," of all loves, ερωτωμεν (from ερως, love). Brethren, womb brethren, as near in nature as is possible. {a} "By the coming of our Lord Jesus," whom you love, look and long for; "and by your gathering together," επισυναγωγη, as ever you desire and hope to hover under his wings, as the chickens under the hen’s, that the infernal kites catch you not at that day.

By the coming of our Lord] He draweth an argument from the matter underhand wherewith their hearts were now heated beforehand. It must be an elaborate speech that shall work upon the heart.

And by our gathering together unto him] In that last and great day, when all the eagles shall be gathered to that once dead, but now all-quickening carcase, Matthew 24:28; when the sign of the Son of man shall be lifted up as an ensign, and all the saints shall repair to it, as the soldiers do to their colours, Ephesians 1:10.

{a} αδελφος, from α and δελφυς uterus: fratres uterini.


Verse 2

2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

Ver. 2. That ye be not soon shaken] σαλευθηναι ( a nomine σαλος, salum). As seamen are tossed by a tempest, and even brought to their wits’ ends, Psalms 107:27. That ye be not shaken out of your wits, and put beside yourselves; so the words may be rendered. And indeed errors and heresies sanam tollunt de cardine mentem, drive men out of their little wits; as we see by woeful experience at this day.

Or be troubled] Or, terrified, θροεισθαι, as with a sudden hubbub, alarm, tumult, uproar. It imports such perturbation as ariseth from rumour, Mark 13:5-27, or relation of something troublesome.

Neither by spirit] Pretended revelations, such as was that whereby the old impostor deceived that young prophet into a lion’s mouth.

Nor by word] Traditions, unwritten verities, &c.

Nor by letter] Counterfeited, supposititious, spurious, such as were those Gospels that went under the names of St Thomas, St Bartholomew, &c. Or by wresting and writhing that passage of his former letter, 1 Thessalonians 4:17, to another meaning than ever the apostle intended it. So St Austin was served, and he foresaw it: I believe, saith he, that some of my readers will imagine me sensisse quod non sensi, aut non sensisse quod sensi, that I was in many things of another mind than ever I was indeed. And it happened accordingly; for as Baronius witnesseth, after St Austin’s death there arose up divers, Qui ex eius scriptis male perceptis complures invexerunt errores, who by mistaking of what he had written, brought in many pernicious errors, and vouched him for their author. (Baron. Annal. tom. 6.)

As that the day of Christ] Peter’s scoffers asked, "Where is the promise of his coming?" as if Christ would never come. These were afraid he would come too soon, and take them with their task undone. The devil usually tempteth by extremes, as he did our Saviour, Matthew 4:1-11, and as he did Mr Knox upon his deathbed, first to despair, by setting his sins before him; and then to presumption, by reminding him of his reformations.

Is at hand] Just now, this present year, for so the Greek ενεστηκεν signifieth. This fear racked and almost wrecked their minds, as a storm forceth a ship riding in the road to cut cable.


Verse 3

3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

Ver. 3. Except there come a falling] Gr. αποστασια, an apostasy, viz. of people from the truth, when the whole world went a wondering and a wandering after the beast, Revelation 13:3. To the fathers these prophecies of Antichrist were riddles. The prophecy is sealed to the end, Daniel 12:9, till unsealed by event. Austin saith ingenuously, he understood not this text. And herein he did better than those other of the Latin Fathers that interpreted it of the falling away of various nations from the Roman empire. Daniel set forth Antichrist typically, in that little Antichrist, Antiochus; Paul topically, in this chapter. John writeth the mystery of Antichrist, in his Revelation; Paul sets a commentary upon him, and graphically describeth him, calling him apostasy in the abstract here, as some will have it; and in the next verse, "that man of sin," that is, meram scelus, sheer wickedness, as Beza hath it.

And that man of sin] That breathing devil, so portentously, so peerlessly vicious, Ut eius nomen non hominis, sed vitii esse videatur (as Lipsius saith of one Tubulus, a Roman praetor), that sin itself can hardly be more sinful.

The son of perdition] Destined to destruction, even to be cast alive into the "lake of fire burning with brimstone," Revelation 19:20. Well might Pope Marcellus II strike his hand upon the table, and say, Non video quomodo qui locum hunc altissimum tenent, salvari possunt, I see not how any pope can be saved. (Onuph. in Vita.) When I was first in orders (said Pope Pius Quintus) I had some good hopes of salvation; when I was made a cardinal, I doubted; but now that I am pope, I do almost despair. (Cornel. a Lapide in Numbers 11:11)


Verse 4

4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

Ver. 4. Who opposeth himself] αντικειμενος, who standeth in full opposition to Christ, as a counter-christ. The enemy and adversary is this wicked Haman, Ezra 7:6, so this "man of sin" that Antichrist of Rome. When the pope sets forth any bulls, commonly he thus concludes, Non obstantibus constitutionibus Apostolicis, caeterisque contrariis quibuscunque, The constitutions and ordinances of the apostles, and all things else to the contrary notwithstanding. The pope’s interpretation of Scripture, though it never so much cross the text, yet it is to be esteemed the very word of God, saith Hosius: Tamen est ipsissimum Dei verbum.

And exalteth himself] Perfrica frontem, said Calvus to Vatinius, et digniorem te dic qui Praetor fieres quam Catonem. Pope Boniface III set a good face upon it, and arrogated the title of Universal Bishop. The ancient Romans painted Pride with three crowns on her head. On the first was inscribed Transcendo, I transgress, on the second, Non obedio, I do not obey, on the third, Perturbo. I through into confusion, The modern Romans see all this daily acted by their bishop.

Above all that is called god] In the year 1540 Pope Paul III suffered himself to be thus blasphemously flattered, Paulo tertio optimo maximo in terris Deo, to Paul III, the greatest and best God in the world. In the year 1610, books were printed at Bonony and at Naples, with this inscription, Paulo V vice-deo, Christianae reipublicae monarchae invictissimo, Pontificiae omnipotentiae conservatori acerrimo: To Paul V, vice-god, most invincible monarch of Christendom, most stout defender of the papal omnipotency. The pope can do all that Christ can do, and is more than God, saith Hostiensis the canonist, and after him Zabarel: Of wrong he can make right, of vice virtue, of nothing something, saith Bellarmine. (Lib. i. de Pontif. Rom.) He is lifted above the angels, so that he can excommunicate them; he can dispense against not only the law of nature, but against all the evangelists, prophets, and apostles, saith Pope John XXIII in extrav.; one of his parasites clawed him thus,

" Oraclis vocis mundi moderaris habenas:

Et merito in terris diceris esse Deus."

Or that is worshipped] σεβασμα. Or, that is august, above princes and potentates. He is cried up for "Lord of lords and King of kings," one that hath both the swords throughout the world, and an illimited empire over all reasonable creatures, Dulia adorandus, &c. How he trod upon the emperor of Germany, and how he lashed Henry II of England, and Henry IV of France till the blood followed, is better known than that I need here to relate. Sed exorto Evangelii iubare sagaciores (ut spero) principes ad nutum Romani Orbilii non solvent subligacula, saith one. Our Richard I, going for the Holy Land, had conference with one Joachim, a Cistercian abbot, being then in Calabria, near Sicily; whom, at his coming, he heard preaching and expounding the Apocalypse touching the afflictions of the Church, and concerning Antichrist, which (said he) was then born and in the city of Rome, and shall be advanced to the see apostolic; of whom the apostle said, "He shall extol himself above all that is called God;" and that the seven crowns were the kings and princes of the earth, that obeyed him: (Hoveden.) Much about the same time, Pope Celestine crowned the emperor Henry and his empress Constantia at Rome with his feet, and kicked off the same crown again. (Speed.)

Sitteth in the temple of God] Sitting is a style proper to the pope; who is said not to reign, but to sit so many years or months; and his place of dominion is called his "see," or "seat." Robert Grossetete, bishop of Lincoln, called him in a letter, "heretic, Antichrist sitting in the chair of pestilence, and next to Lucifer himself." Benedictus the Sorbonist affirmeth that the ass in the history of Balaam signifieth the Church. An quia Pontifex Balaam est qui ei insidet? saith Dr Raynolds, i.e. Doth he not mean by it, that the pope is Balaam that sitteth upon that ass? (De Idolol. Rom.) England was once called the "pope’s ass," for bearing his burdens, and obeying his mandates. But beside the present Reformation (which is such as ages past despaired of, the present admire, and the future shall stand amazed at), in the year 1245 (lo, so long since) the pope was denied entrance into England; it being said that he was but like a "mouse in a satchel," or a snake in one’s bosom, who did but ill repay their hosts for their lodging. (Scultet. Annal.)


Verse 5

5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

Ver. 5. Remember ye not] Satan usually hides from us that which should help us. But as the soul should be as it were a holy ark; so should the memory be as the pot of manna, preserving holy truth for constant use.


Verse 6

6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

Ver. 6. What withholdeth, &c.] viz. The Roman empire, which had its rise, reign, and ruin, whereupon the popedom was founded, and grew to that excessive greatness, that it laboured with nothing more than with the weightiness of itself.


Verse 7

7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

Ver. 7. For the mystery of iniquity] Policy palliated with the name of piety; dissembled sanctity, which is double iniquity. The Council of Trent (where Popery was established by a law in all parts of it, and a divorce sued out from Christ) was carried by the pope and his complices with such infinite guile and craft, as that themselves will even smile in the triumphs of their own wits (when they hear it but mentioned) as at a master stratagem, a very mystery of iniquity. (Spec. Europ.)

Doth already work] In those ancient apostates and antichrists St John complaineth of. Tertullian condemneth the bishop’s sprouting ambition in these words, I hear that there is a peremptory edict set forth lately, Pontifex scilicet maximus. Episcopus episcoporum dicit, &c. Thus saith the chief priest, the bishop of bishops, &c. Odi fastum illius Ecclesiae, saith Basil, I hate the pride of that Western Church. {a} Ammianus Marcellinus (a heathen historian) sharply taxed the Roman bishops of his time for their pride and prodigality. How stiffly did Gregory the Great oppose John of Constantinople for affecting the title of universal bishop; and yet how basely did the same Gregory collogue with Phocas the emperor, that himself might be so styled. This Phocas, a wild, drunken, bloody, adulterous tyrant, advanced the bishop of Rome (Gregory’s successor) to the primacy, and was therefore slaughtered by Heraclius, who cut off his wicked hands and feet, and then his genitals by piece-meal. (Zonaras.)

Until he be taken out of the way] That is, the Roman emperor have removed his seat to Constantinople, that Rome may become the nest of Antichrist. Joannes de Columna writeth, that Otho, emperor of Germany, thought to have seated himself at Rome (as former emperors had done), and began to build him there a stately palace. But at the earnest importunity of the Romans he gave over that design. The like had been attempted 300 years before by Constans, nephew to Heraclius, but could never be ejected. This was a singular providence of God (saith Genebrard, a Popish chronologer) that the kingdom of the Church prophesied of by Daniel might have its seat at Rome. If he had said, that the kingdom of Antichrist, prophesied of by St Paul and St John, might have its seat in that city seated upon seven hills, he had said the very truth, he had hit the nail on the head.

{a} This he called οφρυν δυτικην. Vehiculis insidentes circumspecte vestiti, epulas curantes profusas, &c.


Verse 8

8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

Ver. 8. And then shall that wicked] Gr. ανομος, that lawless, yokeless, masterless monster to whom in the Council of Lateran, 1516 (one year only before Luther stood up to reform), there was granted plenary power over the whole Church; which was never settled upon him in any former Council. Pope Nicholas I said, that he was above law, because Constantine had styled the pope God. But the very gloss derides him for this inference.

With the spirit of his mouth] i.e. With the evidence of his word in the mouths of his faithful ministers. Vide catalogum testium veritatis. Bellarmine confesseth to his great grief, that ever since the Lutherans have declared the pope to be Antichrist., his kingdom hath not only not increased, but every day more and more decreased and decayed. (Lib. iii. de Papa Rom. cap. 21.) What long hath been the opinion and fear of some not unconsiderable divines, that Antichrist before his abolition, shall once again overflow the whole face of the west, and suppress the true Protestant Churches, I pray God to avert.

With the brightness of his coming] At the last day. The holy city shall they tread underfoot forty and two months, Revelation 11:2, that is (as some compute it) till the year of grace 1866. But that is but a conjecture. No more is that other, that Solomon’s temple was finished in the year of the world 3000; and was destroyed, together with the city, by the Romans, in the year of the world exactly 4000, therefore the spiritual temple shall be consummated in 3000, or perhaps in 4000 more. (Lightfoot’s Harm. 206.)


Verse 9

9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

Ver. 9. After the working of Satan] Who (as God’s ape) works effectually in his and by his agents upon others. By corrupt teachers Satan catcheth men, as a cunning fisher by one fish catcheth another, that he may feed upon both.

And lying wonders] The devil is ashamed (saith the Jesuit Gretser) to confirm Luther’s doctrine by miracles. But he that now requireth miracles to make him to believe, is himself a great miracle, saith Austin.


Verse 10

10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

Ver. 10. And with all deceiveableness] Popery is nothing else but a great lie, a grand imposture, a farrago of falsities and heresies. It is not without cause that the Centurists say, "That all the old heretics fled, and hid themselves in the Popish clergy." (Cent. x. c. 11.)

Because they received not the love] This is the great gospel sin, punished by God with strong delusions, vile affections, just damnation. Infatuati seducentur, seducti iudicabuntur. Given up by God they shall be seduced, and being seduced they shall be condemned. It is Austin’s note upon this text.


Verse 11

11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

Ver. 11. Strong delusion] Gr. the efficacy of error. As in those at Genoa, that show the ass’s tail whereupon our Saviour rode, for a holy relic, and perform divine worship to it. (Wolph. Mem. Lect.) And in those that wear out the marble crosses graven in the pavements of their churches, with their often kissing them. (Spec. Europ.) The crucifix which is in the city of Burgos, the priests show to great personages, as if it were Christ himself; telling them that his hair and nails do grow miraculously, which they cut and pare monthly, and give to noblemen, as holy relics. The Jesuits confess that the legend of miracles of their saints is for the most part false; but it was made for good intention: and herein, that it is lawful and meritorious to lie, and write such things, to the end the common people might with greater zeal serve God and his saints; and especially to draw the women to good order, being by nature facile and credulous, addicted to novelties and miracles. (Spanish Pilgr.)


Verse 12

12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Ver. 12. That they all might be damned] Heresy is the leprosy in the head, Leviticus 13:29, which is utterly incurable, and destroys the soul. See Revelation 19:21.

Had pleasure in unrighteousness] These are delivered up to that dead and dedolent disposition, Ephesians 4:19, losing at length all passive power also of awakening out of the snare of the devil, who taketh them alive at his pleasure, 2 Timothy 2:26.


Verse 13

13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

Ver. 13. But we are bound, &c.] Lest they should be discouraged with the former discourse, the apostle tells them, that being elect they cannot be finally deceived. So the author to the Hebrews, Hebrews 6:9. Zuinglius, after that he had terrified the wicked, was wont to come in with Bone vir, hoc nihil ad te: This is nothing to thee, thou faithful Christian. We cannot beat the dogs, but the children will cry, and must therefore be stilled and cheered up.

And belief of the truth.] That is, of Christ the object, in the glass of the gospel.


Verse 14

14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ver. 14. To the obtaining of the glory] This is the end of faith, as faith is of effectual calling.


Verse 15

15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

Ver. 15. Stand fast] Though never so many fall from the faith. Falling stars were never but meteors. God also will have the tree of his Church to be shaken sometimes, that rotten fruit may fall off; and that there may be a shedding of the good from temporaries.

Hold the traditions] Hold fast by these, that ye may stand the faster.


Verse 16

16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,

Ver. 16. And good hope] The fruit of everlasting consolation, Romans 15:4. And well called good, because it hath for its object the greatest good, and that which is of greatest certainty, Hebrews 11:1.


Verse 17

17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

Ver. 17. Stablish you] Taking you by the hand, and laying hold on you, like as ye lay hold upon his word, 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-thessalonians-2.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, August 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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