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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
2 Thessalonians 2



Other Authors
Verse 1

Touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (υπερ της παρουσιας του Κυριου ̔ημων̓ Ιησου Χριστουhuper tēs parousias tou Kuriou ‛hēmōn' Iēsou Christou). For ερωτωμενerōtōmen to beseech, see note on 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:12. υπερHuper originally meant over, in behalf of, instead of, but here it is used like περιperi around, concerning as in 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:10, common in the papyri (Robertson, Grammar, p. 632). For the distinction between Παρουσια ΕπιπανειαParousiaΑποκαλυπσιςEpiphaneia (Epiphany), and ΠαρουσιαApokalupsis (Revelation) as applied to the Second Coming of Christ see Milligan on Thessalonian Epistles, pp. 145-151, in the light of the papyri. επιπανειαParousia lays emphasis on the presence of the Lord with his people, αποκαλυπσιςepiphaneia on his manifestation of the power and love of God, και ημων επισυναγωγης επ αυτονapokalupsis on the revelation of God‘s purpose and plan in the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus.

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

Verse 2

To the end that (εις τοeis to). One of Paul‘s favourite idioms for purpose, εις τοeis to and the infinitive.

Ye be not quickly shaken (μη ταχεως σαλευτηναι υμαςmē tacheōs saleuthēnai humas). First aorist passive infinitive of σαλευωsaleuō old verb to agitate, to cause to totter like a reed (Matthew 11:7), the earth (Hebrews 12:26). Usual negative μηmē and accusative of general reference υμαςhumas with the infinitive.

From your mind (απο του νοοςapo tou noos). Ablative case of nous, mind, reason, sober sense, “from your witte” (Wycliffe), to “keep their heads.”

Nor yet be troubled (μηδε τροεισταιmēde throeisthai). Old verb τροεωthroeō to cry aloud (from τροοςthroos clamour, tumult), to be in a state of nervous excitement (present passive infinitive, as if it were going on), “a continued state of agitation following the definite shock received (σαλευτηναιsaleuthēnai)” (Milligan).

Either by spirit (μητε δια πνευματοςmēte dia pneumatos). By ecstatic utterance (1 Thessalonians 5:10). The nervous fear that the coming was to be at once prohibited by μηδεmēde Paul divides into three sources by μητε μητε μητεmēte, μητε δια λογουmēteμητε δι επιστολης ως δι ημωνmēte No individual claim to divine revelation (the gift of prophecy) can justify the statement.

Or by word (ως οτι ενεστηκεν η ημερα του κυριουmēte dia logou). Oral statement of a conversation with Paul (Lightfoot) to this effect as from us. An easy way to set aside Paul‘s first Epistle by report of a private remark from Paul.

Or by epistle as from us (ενιστημιmēte di' epistolēs hōs di' hēmōn). In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:3 Paul had plainly said that Jesus would come as a thief in the night and had shown that the dead would not be left out in the rapture. But evidently some one claimed to have a private epistle from Paul which supported the view that Jesus was coming at once, as that the day of the Lord is now present (τα ενεστωταhōs hoti enestēken hē hēmera tou kuriou). Perfect active indicative of τα μελλονταenistēmi old verb, to place in, but intransitive in this tense to stand in or at or near. So “is imminent” (Lightfoot). The verb is common in the papyri. In 1 Corinthians 3:22; Romans 8:38 we have a contrast between ως οτιta enestōta the things present, and ta mellonta the things future (to come). The use of hōs hoti may be disparaging here, though that is not true in 2 Corinthians 5:19. In the Koiné{[28928]}š it comes in the vernacular to mean simply “that” (Moulton, Proleg., p. 212), but that hardly seems the case in the N.T. (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1033). Here it means “to wit that,” though “as that” or “as if” does not miss it much. Certainly it flatly denies that by conversation or by letter he had stated that the second coming was immediately at hand. “It is this misleading assertion that accounts both for the increased discouragement of the faint-hearted to encourage whom Paul writes 1:3-2:17, and for the increased meddlesomeness of the idle brethren to warn whom Paul writes 3:1-18” (Frame). It is enough to give one pause to note Paul‘s indignation over this use of his name by one of the over-zealous advocates of the view that Christ was coming at once. It is true that Paul was still alive, but, if such a “pious fraud” was so common and easily condoned as some today argue, it is difficult to explain Paul‘s evident anger. Moreover, Paul‘s words should make us hesitate to affirm that Paul definitely proclaimed the early return of Jesus. He hoped for it undoubtedly, but he did not specifically proclaim it as so many today assert and accuse him of misleading the early Christians with a false presentation.

Verse 3

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

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

Except the falling away come first (εαν μη ελτηι η αποστασια πρωτονean mē elthēi hē apostasia prōton). Negative condition of the third class, undetermined with prospect of determination and the aorist subjunctive. ΑποστασιαApostasia is the late form of αποστασιςapostasis and is our word apostasy. Plutarch uses it of political revolt and it occurs in 1 Maccabees 2:15 about Antiochus Epiphanes who was enforcing the apostasy from Judaism to Hellenism. In Joshua 22:22 it occurs for rebellion against the Lord. It seems clear that the word here means a religious revolt and the use of the definite article (ηhē) seems to mean that Paul had spoken to the Thessalonians about it. The only other New Testament use of the word is in Acts 21:21 where it means apostasy from Moses. It is not clear whether Paul means revolt of the Jews from God, of Gentiles from God, of Christians from God, or of the apostasy that includes all classes within and without the body of Christians. But it is to be first (πρωτονprōton) before Christ comes again. Note this adverb when only two events are compared (cf. Acts 1:1).

And the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (και αποκαλυπτηι ο αντρωπος της ανομιασ ο υιος της απωλειαςkai apokaluphthēi ho anthrōpos tēs anomias, ho huios tēs apōleias). First aorist passive subjunctive after εαν μηean mē and same condition as with ελτηιelthēi The use of this verb αποκαλυπτωapokaluptō like αποκαλυπσινapokalupsin of the second coming in 2 Thessalonians 1:7, seems to note the superhuman character (Milligan) of the event and the same verb is repeated in 2 Thessalonians 2:6, 2 Thessalonians 2:8. The implication is that the man of sin is hidden somewhere who will be suddenly manifested just as false apostles pose as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:13.), whether the crowning event of the apostasy or another name for the same event. Lightfoot notes the parallel between the man of sin, of whom sin is the special characteristic (genitive case, a Hebraism for the lawless one in 2 Thessalonians 2:8) and Christ. Both Christ and the adversary of Christ are revealed, there is mystery about each, both make divine claims (2 Thessalonians 2:4). He seems to be the Antichrist of 1 John 2:18. The terrible phrase, the son of perdition, is applied to Judas in John 17:12 (like Judas doomed to perdition), but here to the lawless one (ο ανομοςho anomos 2 Thessalonians 2:8), who is not Satan, but some one definite person who is doing the work of Satan. Note the definite article each time.

Verse 4

He that opposeth and exalteth himself (ο αντικειμενος και υπεραιρομενοςho antikeimenos kai huperairomenos). Like John‘s Antichrist this one opposes (αντιanti̇) Christ and exalts himself (direct middle of υπεραιρωhuperairō old verb to lift oneself up above others, only here and 2 Corinthians 12:7 in N.T.), but not Satan, but an agent of Satan. This participial clause is in apposition with the two preceding phrases, the man of sin, the son of perdition. Note 1 Corinthians 8:5 about one called God and Acts 17:23 for σεβασμαsebasma (from σεβαζομαιsebazomai), object of worship, late word, in N.T. only in these two passages.

So that he sitteth in the temple of God (ωστε αυτον εις τον ναον του τεου κατισαιhōste auton eis ton naon tou theou kathisai). Another example of the infinitive with ωστεhōste for result. Caius Caligula had made a desperate attempt to have his statue set up for worship in the Temple in Jerusalem. This incident may lie behind Paul‘s language here.

Setting himself forth as God (αποδεικνυντα εαυτον οτι εστιν τεοςapodeiknunta heauton hoti estin theos). Present active participle (μιmi form) of αποδεικνυμιapodeiknumi agreeing in case with αυτονauton showing himself that he is God. Caligula claimed to be God. Moffatt doubts if Paul is identifying this deception with the imperial cultus at this stage. Lightfoot thinks that the deification of the Roman emperor supplied Paul‘s language here. Wetstein notes a coin of Julius with τεοςtheos on one side and ΤεσσαλονικεωνThessalonikeōn on the other. In 1 John 2:18 we are told of “many antichrists” some of whom had already come. Hence it is not clear that Paul has in mind only one individual or even individuals at all rather than evil principles, for in 2 Thessalonians 2:6 he speaks of το κατεχονto katechon (that which restraineth) while in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 it is ο κατεχωνho katechōn (the one that restraineth). Frame argues for a combination of Belial and Antichrist as the explanation of Paul‘s language. But the whole subject is left by Paul in such a vague form that we can hardly hope to clear it up. It is possible that his own preaching while with them gave his readers a clue that we do not possess.

Verse 5

When I was yet with you (ετι ων προς υμαςeti ōn pros humas). The present participle takes the time of the verb ελεγονelegon (imperfect active), I used to tell you these things. So Paul recalls their memory of his words and leaves us without the clue to his idea. We know that one of the charges against him was that Jesus was another king, a rival to Caesar (Acts 17:7). That leads one to wonder how far Paul went when there in contrasting the kingdom of the world of which Rome was ruler and the kingdom of God of which Christ is king. Frame notes Paul‘s abrupt question here “with an unfinished sentence behind him” (2 Thessalonians 2:3.), even “with a trace of impatience.”

Verse 6

That which restraineth (το κατεχονto katechon).

And now you know (και νυν οιδατεkai nun oidate), says Paul in this cryptic apocalyptic passage. Unfortunately we do not know what Paul means by that which restrains (holds back, κατεχονkatechon), neuter here and masculine in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 ο κατεχωνho katechōn “This impersonal principle or power is capable also of manifesting itself under a personal form” (Milligan). “He is Satan‘s messiah, an infernal caricature of the true Messiah” (Moffatt). Warfield (Expositor, III, iv, pp. 30ff.) suggested that the man of lawlessness is the imperial line with its rage for deification and that the Jewish state was the restraining power. But God overrules all human history and his ultimate purpose is wrought out.

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

In his own season (εν τωι αυτου καιρωιen tōi autou kairōi). Note αυτουautou (his), not εαυτουheautou (his own), revealed in his time, in the time set him by God.

Verse 7

For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work (το γαρ μυστηριον ηδη ενεργειται της ανομιαςto gar mustērion ēdē energeitai tēs anomias). See note on 1 Thessalonians 2:13 for ενεργειταιenergeitai The genitive της ανομιαςtēs anomias (lawlessness) describes το μυστηριονto mustērion (note emphatic position of both). This mystery (μυστηριονmustērion secret, from μυστηςmustēs an initiate, μυεωmueō to wink or blink) means here the secret purpose of lawlessness already at work, the only instance of this usage in the N.T. where it is used of the kingdom of God (Matthew 13:11), of God (1 Corinthians 2:1) and God‘s will (Ephesians 1:9), of Christ (Ephesians 3:4), of the gospel (Ephesians 6:9), of faith (1 Timothy 3:9), of godliness (1 Timothy 3:16), of the seven stars (Revelation 1:20), of the woman (Revelation 17:7). But this secret will be “revealed” and then we shall understand clearly what Paul‘s meaning is here.

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

Verse 8

And then (και τοτεkai tote). Emphatic note of time, then when the restraining one (ο κατεχωνho katechōn) is taken out of the way, then τε λαωλεσς ονεthe lawless one (ο ανομοςho anomos), the man of sin, the man of perdition, will be revealed.

Whom the Lord [Jesus] shall slay (ον ο κυριος Ιησουσ ανελειhon ho kurios ̣Iēsouš anelei). Whether Jesus is genuine or not, he is meant by Lord. ΑνελειAnelei is a late future from αναιρεωanaireō in place of αναιρησειanairēsei Paul uses Isaiah 11:4 (combining by the word of his mouth with in breath through lips) to picture the triumph of Christ over this adversary. It is a powerful picture how the mere breath of the Lord will destroy this arch-enemy (Milligan).

And bring to naught by the manifestation of his coming (και καταργησει τηι επιπανειαι της παρουσιας αυτουkai katargēsei tēi epiphaneiāi tēs parousias autou). This verb καταργεωkatargeō (κατα αργοςkataεπιπανειαargos) to render useless, rare in ancient Greek, appears 25 times in Paul and has a variety of renderings. In the papyri it has a weakened sense of hinder. It will be a grand fiasco, this advent of the man of sin. Paul here uses both επιπανψepiphaneia (παρουσιαepiphany elsewhere in N.T. in the Pastorals, familiar to the Greek mind for a visit of a god) and parousia (more familiar to the Jewish mind, but common in the papyri) of the second coming of Christ. “The apparition of Jesus heralds his doom” (Moffatt). The mere appearance of Christ destroys the adversary (Vincent).

Verse 9

Whose coming is (ου εστιν η παρουσιαhou estin hē parousia). Refers to ονhon in 2 Thessalonians 2:8. The Antichrist has his παρουσιαparousia also. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, pp. 374, 378) notes an inscription at Epidaurus in which “Asclepius manifested his ΠαρουσιαParousia Antiochus Epiphanes is called the manifest god (3 Maccabees 5:35). So the two Epiphanies coincide.

Lying wonders (τερασιν πσευδουςterasin pseudous). “In wonders of a lie.” Note here the three words for the miracles of Christ (Hebrews 2:4), power (δυναμιςdunamis), signs (σημειαsēmeia), wonders (τεραταterata), but all according to the working of Satan (κατα ενεργειαν του Σαταναkata energeian tou Satana the energy of Satan) just as Jesus had foretold (Matthew 24:24), wonders that would almost lead astray the very elect.

Verse 10

With all deceit of unrighteousness (εν πασηι απατηι αδικιαςen pasēi apatēi adikias). This pastmaster of trickery will have at his command all the energy and skill of Satan to mislead and deceive. How many illustrations lie along the pathway of Christian history.

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

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

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

That they might be saved (εις το σωτηναι αυτουςeis to sōthēnai autous). First aorist passive infinitive of σωζωsōzō with εις τοeis to again, epexegetic purpose of the truth if they had heeded it.

Verse 11

And for this reason God sendeth them (και δια τουτο πεμπει αυτοις ο τεοςkai dia touto pempei autois ho theos). Futuristic (prophetic) present of the time when the lawless one is revealed. Here is the definite judicial act of God (Milligan) who gives the wicked over to the evil which they have deliberately chosen (Romans 1:24, Romans 1:26, Romans 1:28).

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

That they should believe a lie (εις το πιστευσαι αυτους τωι πσευδειeis to pisteusai autous tōi pseudei). Note εις τοeis to again and τωι πσευδειtōi pseudei (the lie, the falsehood already described), a contemplated result. Note Romans 1:25 “who changed the truth of God into the lie.”

Verse 12

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

Verse 13

See note on 2 Thessalonians 1:3 for same beginning.

Beloved of the Lord (ηγαπημενοι υπο κυριουēgapēmenoi hupo kuriou). Perfect passive participle of αγαπαωagapaō with υποhupo and the ablative as in 1 Thessalonians 1:4, only here κυριουkuriou instead of τεουtheou the Lord Jesus rather than God the Father.

Because that God chose you (οτι ειλατο υμας ο τεοςhoti heilato humas ho theos). First aorist middle indicative of αιρεωhaireō to take, old verb, but uncompounded only in N.T. here, Philemon 1:22; Hebrews 11:25, and here only in sense of choose, that being usually εχαιρεομαιexaireomai or προοριζωproorizō

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

Unto salvation (εις σωτηριανeis sōtērian). The ultimate goal, final salvation.

In sanctification of the Spirit (εν αγιασμωι πνευματοςen hagiasmōi pneumatos). Subjective genitive πνευματοςpneumatos sanctification wrought by the Holy Spirit.

And belief of the truth (και πιστει αλητειαςkai pistei alētheias). Objective genitive αλητειαςalētheias belief in the truth.

Verse 14

Whereunto (εις οeis ho). The goal, that is the final salvation (σωτηριαsōtēria). Through our gospel (δια του ευαγγελιου ημωνdia tou euaggeliou hēmōn). God called the Thessalonians through Paul‘s preaching as he calls men now through the heralds of the Cross as God chose (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:24).

To the obtaining (εις περιποιησινeis peripoiēsin). Probably correct translation rather than possession. See note on 1 Thessalonians 5:9, there of salvation, here of glory (the shekinah glory of Jesus).

Verse 15

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

Stand fast (στηκετεstēkete). Present imperative active of the late present στηκοstēko from εστηκαhestēka (perfect active of ιστημιhistēmi). See note on 1 Thessalonians 3:8.

Hold the traditions (krateite tas paradoseis). Present imperative of krateō old verb, to have masterful grip on a thing, either with genitive (Mark 1:31) or usually the accusative as here. κρατειτε τας παραδοσειςParadosis (tradition) is an old word for what is handed over to one. Dibelius thinks that Paul reveals his Jewish training in the use of this word (Galatians 1:14), but the word is a perfectly legitimate one for teaching whether oral, by word (κρατεωdia logou), or written, by epistle of ours (Παραδοσιςdi' epistolēs hēmōn). Paul draws here no distinction between oral tradition and written tradition as was done later. The worth of the tradition lies not in the form but in the source and the quality of the content. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:23 says: “I received from the Lord what I also handed over (δια λογουparedōka) unto you.” He praises them because ye “hold fast the traditions even as I delivered them unto you.” The tradition may be merely that of men and so worthless and harmful in place of the word of God (Mark 7:8; Colossians 2:6-8). It all depends. It is easy to scoff at truth as mere tradition. But human progress in all fields is made by use of the old, found to be true, in connection with the new if found to be true. In Thessalonica the saints were already the victims of theological charlatans with their half-baked theories about the second coming of Christ and about social duties and relations.

Which ye were taught (δι επιστολης ημωνhas edidachthēte). First aorist passive indicative of παρεδωκαdidaskō to teach, retaining the accusative of the thing in the passive as is common with this verb like doceo in Latin and teach in English.

Verse 16

And God our Father (και ο τεος ο πατηρ ημωνkai ̣hǒ theos ho patēr hēmōn). It is uncertain whether the first article οho is genuine as it is absent in B D. Usually Paul has the Father before Christ except here, 2 Corinthians 13:13; Galatians 1:1.

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

Eternal comfort (παρακλησιν αιωνιανparaklēsin aiōnian). Distinct feminine form of αιωνιοςaiōnios here instead of masculine as in Matthew 25:46.

Verse 17

Comfort and stablish (παρακαλεσαι και στηριχαιparakalesai kai stērixai). First aorist active optative of wish for the future of two common verbs παρακαλεωparakaleō (see 1 Thessalonians 3:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:14) and στεριζωsterizō (see 1 Thessalonians 3:2, 1 Thessalonians 3:13). God is the God of comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-7) and strength (Romans 1:11; Romans 16:25).


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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