Correction of Their Error as to Christ's
Immediate Coming. The Apostasy that Must
Precede It. Exhortation to
Steadfastness, Introduced with
Thanksgiving for Their Election by God.
1. Now—rather, "But"; marking the
transition from his prayers for them to entreaties to
we beseech you—or "entreat you." He
uses affectionate entreaty, rather than stern reproof, to win them over
to the right view.
by—rather, "with respect to"; as the
Greek for "of" (2Co 1:8).
our gathering together unto him—the
consummating or final gathering together of the saints to Him at His
coming, as announced, Mt 24:31; 1Th 4:17. The Greek noun is nowhere else
found except in Heb 10:25,
said of the assembling together of believers for
congregational worship. Our instinctive fears of the judgment
are dispelled by the thought of being gathered together UNTO Him ("even as the hen gathereth her chickens
under her wings"), which ensures our safety.
2. soon—on trifling grounds, without due
shaken—literally, "tossed" as ships
tossed by an agitated sea. Compare for the same image, Eph 4:14.
in mind—rather as the Greek,
"from your mind," that is, from your mental steadfastness on the
troubled—This verb applies to
emotional agitation; as "shaken" to intellectual.
by spirit—by a person
professing to have the spirit of prophecy (1Co
12:8-10; 1Jo 4:1-3). The
Thessalonians had been warned (1Th 5:20, 21) to "prove" such professed prophesyings,
and to "hold fast (only) that which is good."
by word—of mouth (compare 2Th 2:5,
15); some word or saying
alleged to be that of Paul, orally communicated. If oral tradition was
liable to such perversion in the apostolic age (compare a similar
instance, Joh 21:23),
how much more in our age!
by letter as from us—purporting to be
from us, whereas it is a forgery. Hence he gives a test by which to
know his genuine letters (2Th 3:17).
day of Christ—The oldest manuscripts
read, "day of the Lord."
is at hand—rather, "is immediately
imminent," literally, "is present"; "is instantly
coming." Christ and His apostles always taught that the day of the
Lord's coming is at hand; and it is not likely that Paul would
imply anything contrary here; what he denies is, that it is so
immediately imminent, instant, or present, as to justify
the neglect of everyday worldly duties. Chrysostom, and after him Alford, translates, "is (already) present" (compare
2:18), a kindred error. But
3:1, the same Greek
verb is translated "come." Wahl supports
this view. The Greek is usually used of actual presence; but is
quite susceptible of the translation, "is all but present."
3. by any means—Greek, "in any
manner." Christ, in Mt 24:4,
gives the same warning in connection with the same event. He had
indicated three ways (2Th 2:2) in
which they might be deceived (compare other ways, 2Th 2:9, and
Mt 24:5, 24).
a falling away—rather as the
Greek, "the falling away," or "apostasy," namely,
the one of which "I told you" before (2Th 2:5), "when I was yet with you," and of
which the Lord gave some intimation (Mt 24:10-12; Joh 5:43).
that man of sin be revealed—The
Greek order is, "And there have been revealed the man of sin."
As Christ was first in mystery, and afterwards revealed
3:16), so Antichrist (the
term used 1Jo 2:18; 4:3) is first in mystery, and afterwards
shall be developed and revealed (2Th 2:7-9). As righteousness found its embodiment
in Christ, "the Lord our righteousness," so "sin" shall have its
embodiment in "the man of sin." The hindering power meanwhile
restrains its manifestation; when that shall be removed, then this
manifestation shall take place. The articles, "the apostasy,"
and "the man of sin," may also refer to their being well
known as foretold in Da 7:8, 25,
"the little horn speaking great words against the Most High, and
thinking to change times and laws"; and Da 11:36, the wilful king who "shall exalt and
magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things
against the God of gods; neither shall he regard any god."
the son of perdition—a title applied
besides to Judas (the traitor, Joh 17:12), and to none else. Antichrist (the
second "beast" coming up out of the earth); therefore he shall at first
be "like a lamb, while he speaks as a dragon" (Re 13:11); "coming in peaceably and by
flatteries," "working deceitfully," but "his heart shall be against the
holy covenant" (Da 11:21, 23, 28, 30). Seeds of "the falling away" soon
appear (1Ti 4:1-3),
but the full development and concentration of these anti-Christian
elements in one person are still to appear. Contrast the King of Zion's
coming as Jesus: (1) righteous or
just; (2) having salvation; (3) lowly; whereas
Antichrist is: (1) "the man of (the embodiment of) sin; (2) the
son of perdition; (3) exalting himself above all that is
worshipped. He is the son of perdition, as consigning many to
it, and finally doomed to it himself (Re 17:8, 11). "He whose essence and inheritance is
perdition" [Alford]. As "the
kingdom of heaven" is first brought before us in the abstract,
then in the concrete, the King, the Lord Jesus; so here, first
we have (2Th
2:7) "the mystery of
iniquity," then "the iniquitous one" (2Th 2:8). Doubtless "the apostasy" of
Romanism (the abstract) is one of the greatest instances of the
working of the mystery of iniquity, and its blasphemous claims
for the Pope (the concrete) are forerunners of the final concentration
of blasphemy in the man of sin, who shall not merely, as the
Pope, usurp God's honor as vicegerent of God, but oppose
God openly at last.
4. Da 11:36, 37 is here referred to. The words used
there as to Antiochus Epiphanes, Paul implies, shall even be more
applicable to the man of sin, who is the New Testament actual
Antichrist, as Antiochus was the Old Testament typical Antichrist. The
previous world kingdoms had each one extraordinary person as its
representative head and embodiment (thus Babylon had Nebuchadnezzar,
Da 2:38, end; Medo-Persia had Cyrus;
Greece had Alexander, and Antiochus Epiphanes, the forerunner of
Antichrist); so the fourth and last world kingdom, under which we now
live, shall have one final head, the concentrated embodiment of all the
sin and lawless iniquity which have been in pagan and
papal Rome. Rome's final phase will probably be an unholy alliance
between idolatrous superstition and godless infidelity.
Who opposeth and exalteth
himself—There is but one Greek article to both
participles, implying that the reason why he opposeth himself is
in order that he may exalt himself above, &c. Alford takes the former clause absolutely, "He that
withstands (Christ)," that is,
Antichrist (1Jo 2:18). As
at the conclusion of the Old Testament period, Israel apostate allied
itself with the heathen world power against Jesus and His apostles
23:12; and at Thessalonica,
17:5-9), and was in righteous
retribution punished by the instrumentality of the world power itself
(Jerusalem being destroyed by Rome), Da 9:26, 27; so the degenerate Church (become an
"harlot"), allying itself with the godless world power (the "beast" of
Revelation) against vital religion (that is, the harlot sitting on the
beast), shall be judged by that world power which shall be finally
embodied in Antichrist (Zec 13:8, 9; 14:2; Re 17:16, 17). In this early Epistle, the
apostate Jewish Church as the harlot, and pagan Rome as the beast, form
the historical background on which Paul draws his prophetic sketch of
the apostasy. In the Pastoral Epistles, which were later, this prophecy
appears in connection with Gnosticism, which had at that time infected
the Church. The harlot (the apostate Church) is first to be judged by
the beast (the world power) and its kings (Re 17:16); and afterwards the beasts and their
allies (with the personal Antichrist at their head, who seems to rise
after the judgment on the harlot, or apostate Church) shall be judged
by the coming of Jesus Himself (Re 19:20). Anti-Christian tendencies produce
different Antichrists: these separate Antichrists shall hereafter find
their consummation in an individual exceeding them all in the intensity
of his evil character [Auberlen]. But
judgment soon overtakes him. He is necessarily a child of death,
immediately after his ascent as the beast out of the
bottomless pit going into perdition (Re 17:8, 11). Idolatry of self, spiritual
pride, and rebellion against God, are his characteristics;
as Christ-worship, humility, and dependence on God,
characterize Christianity. He not merely assumes Christ's
character (as the "false Christs," Mt 24:24), but "opposes" Christ. The
Greek implies one situated on an opposite side (compare
2:22; 2Jo 7). One who, on the
destruction of every religion, shall seek to establish his own throne,
and for God's great truth, "God is man," to substitute his own lie,
"Man is God" [Trench].
above all that is called God—(1Co 8:5). The Pope (for instance, Clement
VI) has even commanded the angels to admit into Paradise, without the
alleged pains of purgatory, certain souls. But still this is only a
foreshadowing of the Antichrist, who will not, as the Pope, act in
God's name, but against God.
or that is worshipped—Rome here again
gives a presage of Antichrist. The Greek is Sebasma; and
Sebastus is the Greek for Augustus, who was worshipped as
the secular ruler and divine vicegerent. The papacy has risen on the
overthrow of Cæsar's power. Antichrist shall exalt himself
above every object of worship, whether on earth as the
Cæsar, or in heaven as God. The various prefigurations of
Antichrist, Mohammed, Rome, Napoleon, and modern infidel secularism,
contain only some, not all, his characteristics. It is
the union of all in some one person that shall form the full
Antichrist, as the union in one Person, Jesus, of all the types and
prophecies constituted the full Christ [Olshausen].
in the temple of God … that he is
God—"He will reign a time, times, and half a time" (Da 7:25), that is, three and a half years,
and will sit in the temple at Jerusalem: then the Lord shall
come from heaven and cast him into the take of fire and shall bring to
the saints the times of their reigning, the seventh day of hallowed
rest, and give to Abraham the promised inheritance" [Irenæus, Against Heresies, 30.4].
showing himself—with blasphemous and
arrogant DISPLAY (compare a type, Ac
12:21-23). The earliest
Fathers unanimously looked for a personal Antichrist. Two objections
exist to Romanism being regarded the Antichrist, though probably
Romanism will leave its culmination in him: (1) So far is
Romanism from opposing all that is called God, that adoration of
gods and lords many (the Virgin Mary and saints) is a leading feature
in it; (2) the papacy has existed for more than twelve centuries, and
yet Christ is not come, whereas the prophecy regards the final
Antichrist as short-lived, and soon going to perdition through the
coming of Christ (Re 17:8, 11). Gregory the Great declared against the
patriarch of Constantinople, that whosoever should assume the title of
"universal bishop" would be "the forerunner of Antichrist." The papacy
fulfilled this his undesigned prophecy. The Pope has been called by his
followers, "Our Lord God the Pope"; and at his inauguration in St.
Peter's, seated in his chair upon the high altar, which is treated as
his footstool, he has vividly foreshadowed him who "exalteth himself
above all that is called God." An objection fatal to interpreting
the temple of God here as the Church (1Co 3:16, 17;
6:19) is, the apostle would
never designate the apostate anti-Christian Church "the temple
of God." It is likely that, as Messiah was revealed among the
Jews at Jerusalem, so Antimessiah shall appear among them when restored
to their own land, and after they have rebuilt their temple at
Jerusalem. Thus Da 11:41, 45 (see on Da 11:41;
Da 11:45), corresponds, "He shall enter the
glorious land (Judea), and he shall plant the tabernacles of his
palaces between the seas in the glorious holy mountain"; and
12:1) "Michael, the great
prince, shall stand up" to deliver God's people. Compare Note,
see on Da 9:26, 27. Also the king of Assyria,
type of Antichrist (Isa 14:12-14). "Lucifer" (a title of Messiah, assumed
by Antichrist, Re 22:16);
"I will exalt my throne above the stars of God." "I will sit upon the
mount of the congregation (that is, God's place of meeting His
people of old, the temple), in the sides of the north (Ps 48:2); I will be like the Most High."
2, "The temple of God …
the holy city" (namely, Jerusalem, Mt 4:5), compare Ps 68:18, 29, referring to a period since Christ's
ascension, therefore not yet fulfilled (Isa
2:1-3; Eze 40:1-44:31; Zec 14:16-20; Mal 3:1). "In the temple of God," implies that
it an internal, not an external, enemy which shall assail the
Church. Antichrist shall, the first three and a half years of the
prophetical week, keep the covenant, then break it and usurp divine
honors in the midst of the week. Some think Antichrist will be a Jew.
At all events he will, "by flatteries," bring many, not only of the
Gentiles, but also of "the tribes" of Israel (so the Greek for
"kindreds," Re 11:8, 9), to own him as their long-looked-for
Messiah, in the same "city where our Lord was crucified." "Sitteth"
here implies his occupying the place of power and majesty in opposition
to Him who "sitteth on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb 1:3), and who shall come to "sit"
there where the usurper had sat (Mt 26:64). See on Da 9:27;
11:2, 3, 9, 11. Compare Eze 38:2, 3, 6, 9, 10, 13, 14,
16, as to Tyre, the type of
Antichrist, characterized by similar blasphemous arrogance.
5. Remember, &c.—confuting those who
represent Paul as having labored under error as to Christ's immediate
coming when writing his first Epistle, and as now correcting that
I told you—more than once, literally,
"I was telling," or "used to tell."
6. now ye know—by my having told you.
The power must have been one "known" to the Thessalonians.
what withholdeth—that which
holds him back; "keeps him in check": the power that has
restrained the man of sin from his full and final development, is
the moral and conservative influence of political states [Olshausen]: the fabric of human polity
as a coercive power; as "he who now letteth" refers to those
who rule that polity by which the great upbursting of godlessness
is kept down [Alford]. The "what
withholdeth" refers to the general hindrance; "he who now
letteth," to the person in whom that hindrance is summed up.
Romanism, as a forerunner of Antichrist, was thus kept in check by
the Romanemperor (the then representative of the coercive power)
until Constantine, having removed the seat of empire to Constantinople,
the Roman bishop by degrees first raised himself to precedency, then to
primacy, and then to sole empire above the secular power. The
historical fact from which Paul starts in his prediction was probably
the emperor Claudius' expulsion of the Jews, the representative of the
anti-Christian adversary in Paul's day, from Rome, thus "withholding"
them in some degree in their attacks on Christianity; this suggested
the principle holding good to the end of time, and about to find its
final fulfilment in the removal of the withholding person or
authority, whereupon Antichrist in his worst shape shall start
that he might be—Greek, "in
order that": ye know that which keeps him back, in God's purposes, from
being sooner manifested, "in order that he may be
revealed in his own time" (that is, the time appointed by God to
him as his proper time for being manifested), not sooner (compare Da 11:35). The removal of the withholding
power will be when the civil polity, derived from the Roman empire,
which is to be, in its last form, divided into ten kingdoms (Re 17:3,
11-13), shall, with its
leading representative head for the time being ("he who now letteth,"
Greek, "withholdeth," as in 2Th 2:6), yield to the prevalent godless
"lawlessness" with "the lawless one" as its embodiment. The elect
Church and the Spirit cannot well be, as De Burgh suggests, the withholding power
meant; for both shall never be wholly "taken out of the way"
28:20). However, the
testimony of the elect Church, and the Spirit in her, are
the great hindrance to the rise of the apostasy; and it is possible
that, though the Lord shall have a faithful few even then, yet the full
energy of the Spirit in the visible Church, counteracting the
energy or "working" of "the mystery of lawlessness" by the testimony of
the elect, shall have been so far "taken out of the way," or set
aside, as to admit the manifestation of "the lawless one"; and so
De Burgh's'S view may be right (Lu
18:8; Re 11:3-12). This was a
power of which the Thessalonians might easily "know" through Paul's
7. the mystery of iniquity—the
counterwork to "the mystery of godliness" (1Ti 3:16). Anti-Christianity latently
working, as distinguished from its final open manifestation.
"Mystery" in Scripture means, not what remains always a secret, but
that which is for a while hidden, but in due time manifested (compare
5). Satan will resort to a
mode of opposition more conformed to the then imminent "appearing" and
"presence" of the Saviour, and will anticipate Him with a last effort
to maintain the dominion of the world [De
Burgh], just as at His first advent he rushed into open
opposition, by taking possession of the bodies of men. "Iniquity,"
Greek, "lawlessness"; defiant rejection of God's
law (compare Note, see on Zec 5:9,
(translated by the Septuagint by the same Greek, meaning
"lawlessness," which Paul employs here), embodied there as a woman,
answers to "the mystery of iniquity," here embodied finally in "the man
of sin": as the former was ultimately banished for ever from the Holy
Land to her own congenial soil, Babylon, so iniquity and the man of sin
shall fall before Michael and the Lord Himself, who shall appear as the
Deliverer of His people (Da 12:1-3; Zec 14:3-9). Compare Mt 12:43. The Jewish nation dispossessed of the
evil spirit, the demon of idolatry being cast out through the
Babylonian captivity, receives ultimately a worse form of the evil
spirit, Christ-opposing self-righteousness. Also, the Christian Church
in course of time taken possession of by the demon of Romish idolatry,
then dispossessed of it by the Reformation, then its house "garnished"
by hypocrisy, secularity, and rationalism, but "swept empty" of living
faith, then finally apostatizing and repossessed by "the man of sin,"
and outwardly destroyed for a brief time (though even then
Christ shall have witnesses for Him among both the Jews, Zec 13:9, and Gentiles, Mt 28:20), when Christ shall suddenly come (Da
11:32-45; Lu 18:7, 8).
already—(2Jo 9, 10; Col 2:18-23; 1Ti 4:1); compare "even now already" (1Jo 2:18;
4:3) as distinguished from
"in his own time" of being revealed hereafter. Antiquity, it
appears from hence, is not a justification for unscriptural usages or
dogmas, since these were "already," even in Paul's time, beginning to
spring up: the written word is the only sure test. "Judaism infecting
Christianity is the fuel; the mystery of iniquity is the spark." "It is
one and the same impurity diffusing itself over many ages" [Bengel].
only he who now letteth will
let—The italicized words are not in the Greek.
Therefore, translate rather, "only (that is, the continuance of
the MYSTERY of
iniquity-working will be only) until he who now
withholdeth (the same Greek as in 2Th 2:6) be taken out of the way." "Only
(waiting, Heb 10:13)
until he," &c. Then it will work no longer in mystery, but
in open manifestation.
8. Translate, "the lawless one"; the
embodiment of all the godless "lawlessness" which has been working in
"mystery" for ages (2Th 2:7): "the
man of sin" (2Th 2:3).
whom the Lord—Some of the oldest
manuscripts read, "the Lord Jesus." How awful that He whose very
name means God-Saviour, should appear as the Destroyer; but the
salvation of the Church requires the destruction of her foe. As
the reign of Israel in Canaan was ushered in by judgments on the
nations for apostasy (for the Canaanites were originally
worshippers of the true God: thus Melchisedek, king of Salem, was the
"priest of the most high God," Ge 14:18: Ammon and Moab came from righteous
Lot), so the Son of David's reign in Zion and over the whole earth, is
to be ushered in by judgments on the apostate Christian world.
consume … and … destroy—So
Da 7:26, "consume and destroy"; Da 11:45. He shall "consume" him by His
mere breath (Isa 11:4; 30:33): the sentence of judgment being the
sharp sword that goeth out of His mouth (Re 19:15, 21). Antichrist's manifestation and
destruction are declared in the same breath; at his greatest height he
is nearest his fall, like Herod his type (Isa
1:24-27; Ac 12:20-23). As the
advancing fire, while still at a distance consumes little insects
[Chrysostom] by its mere heat, so
Christ's mere approach is enough to consume Antichrist. The mere
"appearance of the coming" of the Lord of glory is sufficient to show
to Antichrist his perfect nothingness. He is seized and "cast alive
into the take of fire" (Re 19:20).
So the world kingdoms, and the kingdom of the beast, give place to that
of the Son of man and His saints. The Greek for "destroy" means
"abolish" (the same Greek is so translated, 2Ti 1:10); that is, cause every vestige of him to
disappear. Compare as to Gog attacking Israel and destroyed by Jehovah
38:1-39:29), so as not to
leave a vestige of him.
with the brightness of his
coming—Greek, "the manifestation, (or
appearance) of His presence": the first outburst of His
advent—the first gleam of His presence—is enough to
abolish utterly all traces of Antichrist, as darkness disappears
before the dawning day. Next, his adherents are "slain with the sword
out of His mouth" (Re 19:21).
Bengel's distinction between "the
appearance of His coming" and the "coming" itself is not justified by
1Ti 6:14; 2Ti 1:10; 4:1, 8; Tit 2:13, where the same Greek for
"appearing" (English Version, here "the brightness")
plainly refers to the coming itself. The expression,
"manifestation (appearing) of His presence," is used in awful
contrast to the revelation of the wicked one in the beginning of
9. whose coming—The same Greek as
was used for the Lord's coming (2Th 2:8) or personal "presence."
is—in its essential character.
after—according to the working
("energy") of Satan, as opposed to the energy or working
of the Holy Spirit in the Church (see on Eph
1:19). As Christ is related to God, so is Antichrist to Satan, his
visible embodiment and manifestation: Satan works through him. Re 13:2, "The dragon gave him (the beast)
his power … seat … great authority."
lying wonders—literally, "wonders" or
"prodigies of falsehood." His "power, signs, and wonders," all have
falsehood for their base, essence, and aim (Joh 8:44), [Alford]. In Mt 24:24 Jesus implies that the miracles shall be
real, though demoniac, such mysterious effects of the powers of
darkness as we read of in the case of the Egyptian sorcerers, not such
as Jesus performed in their character, power, or aim; for they are
against the revealed Word, and therefore not to be accepted as
evidences of truth; nay, on the authority of that sure Word of prophecy
(here, and Mt 24:24),
to be known and rejected as wrought in support of falsehood
(De 13:1-3, 5; Ga 1:8, 9; Re 13:11-15;
19:20). The same three
Greek words occur for miracles of Jesus (Ac 2:22; Heb
2:4); showing that as the
Egyptian magicians imitated Moses (2Ti 3:1-8), so Antichrist will try to imitate
Christ's works as a "sign," or proof of divinity.
10. deceivableness—rather as
Greek, "deceit of (to promote) unrighteousness" (2Th 2:12).
in—The oldest manuscripts and versions
omit "in." Translate, "unto them that are perishing"
2:15, 16; 4:3): the victims
of him whose very name describes his perishing nature, "the son
of perdition"; in contrast to you whom (2Th 2:13) "God hath from the beginning chosen to
salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief
of the truth."
because—literally, "in requital for";
in just retribution for their having no love for the truth which
was within their reach (on account of its putting a check on their bad
passions), and for their having "pleasure in unrighteousness" (2Th 2:12;
Ro 1:18); they are
lost because they loved not, but rejected, the truth which would
have saved them.
received not—Greek, "welcomed
not"; admitted it not cordially.
love of the truth—not merely love of
truth, but love of THE
truth (and of, Jesus who is the Truth, in opposition to
Satan's "lie," 2Th 2:9, 11; Joh 8:42-44), can save (Eph 4:21). We are required not merely to assent
to, but to love the truth (Ps 119:97). The Jews rejected Him who came in His
divine Father's name; they will receive Antichrist coming in his
own name (Joh 5:43).
Their pleasant sin shall prove their terrible scourge.
11. for this cause—because "they
received not the love of the truth." The best safeguard against error
is "the love of the truth."
shall send—Greek, "sends," or
"is sending"; the "delusion" is already beginning. God judicially sends
hardness of heart on those who have rejected the truth, and gives them
up in righteous judgment to Satan's delusions (Isa
6:9, 10; Ro 1:24-26, 28).
They first cast off the love of the truth, then God gives them up to
Satan's delusions, then they settle down into "believing the lie": an
awful climax (1Ki 22:22, 23; Eze 14:9;
Job 12:16; Mt 24:5, 11; 1Ti 4:1).
strong delusion—Greek, "the
powerful working of error," answering to the energizing "working of
2:9); the same expression as
is applied to the Holy Ghost's operation in believers: "powerful" or
"effectual (energizing) working" (Eph 1:19).
believe a lie—rather, "the lie"
which Antichrist tells them, appealing to his miracles as proofs of it
12. they all … damned—rather as
Greek, "that all," &c. He here states the general
proposition which applies specially to Antichrist's adherents. Not all
in the Church of Rome, or other anti-Christian systems, shall be
damned, but only "all who believed not the truth," when offered to
them, "but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (Ro 1:32; 2:8). Love of unrighteousness
being the great obstacle to believing the truth.
13. But—In delightful contrast to the
damnation of the lost (2Th 2:12)
stands the "salvation" of Paul's converts.
are bound—in duty (2Th 1:3).
thanks … to God—not to
ourselves, your ministers, nor to you, our converts.
beloved of the Lord—Jesus (Ro 8:37; Ga 2:20; Eph 5:2, 25). Elsewhere God the Father is
said to love us (2Th 2:16; Joh 3:16; Eph 2:4; Col
3:12). Therefore Jesus and
the Father are one.
from the beginning—"before the
foundation of the world" (Eph 1:4;
compare 1Co 2:7; 2Ti 1:9); in contrast to those that shall
"worship the beast, whose names are not written in the book of life of
the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Re 13:8). Some of the oldest manuscripts read as
English Version, but other oldest manuscripts and Vulgate
read, "as first-fruits." The Thessalonians were among the first
converts in Europe (compare Ro 16:5; 1Co 16:15). In a more general sense, it occurs in
1:18; Re 14:4; so I
understand it here including the more restricted sense.
chosen you—The Greek, is not
the ordinary word for "elected," implying His eternal selection;
but taken for Himself, implying His having adopted them
in His eternal purpose. It is found in the Septuagint (De 7:7;
through—rather as Greek,
"in sanctification" as the element in which the choice to
salvation had place (compare 1Pe 1:2), standing in contrast to the
"unrighteousness," the element in which Antichrist's followers are
given over by God to damnation (2Th 2:12).
of the Spirit—wrought by the Spirit
who sanctifies all the elect people of God, first by eternally
consecrating them to perfect holiness in Christ, once for all, next by
progressively imparting it.
belief of the truth—contrasted with
"believed not the truth" (2Th 2:12).
14. you—The oldest manuscripts read,
by our gospel—"through" the
Gospel which we preach.
to … glory—In 2Th 2:13 it was "salvation," that is, deliverance
from all evil, of body and soul (1Th 5:9); here it is positive good, even
"glory," and that "the glory of our Lord Jesus" Himself, which
believers are privileged to share with Him (Joh 17:22, 24; Ro 8:17, 29; 2Ti 2:10).
15. Therefore—God's sovereign choice of
believers, so far from being a ground for inaction on their part, is
the strongest incentive to action and perseverance in it. Compare the
argument, Php 2:12, 13, "Work out your own salvation,
FOR it is God which worketh in you,"
&c. We cannot fully explain this in theory; but to the
sincere and humble, the practical acting on the principle is
plain. "Privilege first, duty afterwards" [Edmunds].
stand fast—so as not to be "shaken or
troubled" (2Th 2:2).
hold—so as not to let go. Adding
nothing, subtracting nothing [Bengel].
The Thessalonians had not held fast his oral instructions but had
suffered themselves to be imposed upon by pretended spirit-revelations,
and words and letters pretending to be from Paul (2Th 2:2), to the effect that "the day of the
Lord was instantly imminent."
traditions—truths delivered and
transmitted orally, or in writing (2Th 3:6; 1Co
"traditions"). The Greek verb from which the noun comes, is used
by Paul in 1Co 11:23; 15:3. From the three passages in which
"tradition" is used in a good sense, Rome has argued for her
accumulation of uninspired traditions, virtually overriding
God's Word, while put forward as of co-ordinate authority with it. She
forgets the ten passages (Mt
15:2, 3, 6; Mr 7:3, 5, 8, 9, 13; Ga 1:14; Col 2:8) stigmatizing man's uninspired
traditions. Not even the apostles' sayings were all inspired (for
example, Peter's dissimulation, Ga 2:11-14), but only when they claimed to be so,
as in their words afterwards embodied in their canonical writings. Oral
inspiration was necessary in their case, until the canon of the written
Word should be complete; they proved their possession of inspiration by
miracles wrought in support of the new revelation, which revelation,
moreover, accorded with the existing Old Testament revelation; an
additional test needed besides miracles (compare De 13:1-6; Ac
17:11). When the canon was
complete, the infallibility of the living men was transferred to the
written Word, now the sole unerring guide, interpreted by the Holy
Spirit. Little else has come down to us by the most ancient and
universal tradition save this, the all-sufficiency of Scripture
for salvation. Therefore, by tradition, we are constrained to cast off
all tradition not contained in, or not provable by, Scripture. The
Fathers are valuable witnesses to historical facts, which give
force to the intimations of Scripture: such as the Christian
Lord's day, the baptism of infants, and the genuineness of the canon of
Scripture. Tradition (in the sense of human testimony) cannot
establish a doctrine, but can authenticate a fact, such
as the facts just mentioned. Inspired tradition, in Paul's sense, is
not a supplementary oral tradition completing our written Word,
but it is identical with the written Word now complete; then the
latter not being complete, the tradition was necessarily in part oral,
in part written, and continued so until, the latter being complete
before the death of St. John, the last apostle, the former was no
longer needed. Scripture is, according to Paul, the complete and
sufficient rule in all that appertains to making "the man of God
perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2Ti 3:16,
17). It is by leaving Paul's
God-inspired tradition for human traditions that Rome has become the
forerunner and parent of the Antichrist. It is striking that, from this
very chapter denouncing Antichrist, she should draw an argument for her
"traditions" by which she fosters anti-Christianity. Because the
apostles' oral word was as trustworthy as their written word, it by no
means follows that the oral word of those not apostles is as
trustworthy as the written word of those who were apostles or
inspired evangelists. No tradition of the apostles except their written
word can be proved genuine on satisfactory evidence. We are no
more bound to accept implicitly the Fathers' interpretations of
Scripture, because we accept the Scripture canon on their testimony,
than we are bound to accept the Jews' interpretation of the Old
Testament, because we accept the Old Testament canon on their
our epistle—as distinguished from a
"letter AS from us," 2Th 2:2,
namely, that purports to be from us, but is not. He refers to his first
Epistle to the Thessalonians.
16, 17. himself—by His own might, as
contrasted with our feebleness; ensuring the efficacy of our prayer.
Here our Lord Jesus stands first; in 1Th 3:11, "God our Father."
which … loved us—in the work of
our redemption. Referring both to our Lord Jesus (Ro 8:37; Ga
2:20) and God our
Father (Joh 3:16).
transitory, as worldly consolations in trials (Ro 8:38, 39). This for all time present, and
then "good hope" for the future [Alford].
through grace—rather as Greek
"IN grace"; to be joined to "hath given." Grace is the element in which
the gift was made.
17. Comfort your hearts—unsettled as you
have been through those who announced the immediate coming of the
good word and work—The oldest
manuscripts invert the order, "work and word." Establishment in
these were what the young converts at Thessalonica needed, not
fanatical teaching (compare 1Co 15:58).