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Chapter 2

2:1 Touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ [huper tēs parousias tou Kuriou (hēmōn) Iēsou Christou]. For [erōtōmen], to beseech, see on 1Th 4:1; 4:12. [Huper] originally meant over, in behalf of, instead of, but here it is used like [peri], around, concerning as in 1:4; 1Th 3:2; 5:10, common in the papyri (Robertson, Grammar, p. 632). For the distinction between [Parousia, Epiphaneia] (Epiphany), and [Apokalupsis] (Revelation) as applied to the Second Coming of Christ see Milligan on Thessalonian Epistles, pp. 145-151, in the light of the papyri. [Parousia] lays emphasis on the presence of the Lord with his people, [epiphaneia] on his manifestation of the power and love of God, [apokalupsis] 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 II Macc. 2:7; 2Th 2:1; Heb 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 1Th 4:15-17, and the being forever with the Lord thereafter. Cf. also Mt 24:31; Mr 13:27.

2:2 To the end that [eis to]. One of Paul’s favourite idioms for purpose, [eis to] and the infinitive. Ye be not quickly shaken [mē tacheōs saleuthēnai humas]. First aorist passive infinitive of [saleuō], old verb to agitate, to cause to totter like a reed (Mt 11:7), the earth (Heb 12:26). Usual negative [] and accusative of general reference [humas] with the infinitive. From your mind [apo tou noos]. Ablative case of nous, mind, reason, sober sense, “from your witte” (Wyclif), to “keep their heads.” Nor yet be troubled [mēde throeisthai]. Old verb [throeō], to cry aloud (from [throos], 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 [saleuthēnai]” (Milligan). Either by spirit [mēte dia pneumatos]. By ecstatic utterance (1Th 5:10). The nervous fear that the coming was to be at once prohibited by [mēde] Paul divides into three sources by [mēte, mēte, mēte]. No individual claim to divine revelation (the gift of prophecy) can justify the statement. Or by word [mēte 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 [mēte di’ epistolēs hōs di’ hēmōn]. In 1Th 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 [hōs hoti enestēken hē hēmera tou kuriou]. Perfect active indicative of [enistēmi], 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 1Co 3:22; Ro 8:38 we have a contrast between [ta 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 2Co 5:19. In the Koinē 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.

2:3 Let no man beguile you in any wise [mē tis humas exapatēsēi kata mēdena tropon]. First aorist active subjunctive of [exapataō] (old verb to deceive, strengthened form of simple verb [apataō] with double negative [mē tis, mēdena] in accord with regular Greek idiom as in 1Co 16:11 rather than the aorist imperative which does occur sometimes in the third person as in Mr 13:15 [mē 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 [hoti]. There is an ellipse here of [ouk estai] (or [genēsetai] to be supplied after [hoti]. Westcott and Hort make an anacoluthon at the end of verse 4. The meaning is clear. [Hoti] 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 verse 2. Except the falling away come first [ean mē elthēi hē apostasia prōton]. Negative condition of the third class, undetermined with prospect of determination and the aorist subjunctive. [Apostasia] is the late form of [apostasis] and is our word apostasy. Plutarch uses it of political revolt and it occurs in I Macc. 2:15 about Antiochus Epiphanes who was enforcing the apostasy from Judaism to Hellenism. In Jos 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 [] seems to mean that Paul had spoken to the Thessalonians about it. The only other New Testament use of the word is in Ac 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 [prōton] before Christ comes again. Note this adverb when only two events are compared (cf. Ac 1:1). And the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition [kai apokaluphthēi ho anthrōpos tēs anomias, ho huios tēs apōleias]. First aorist passive subjunctive after [ean mē] and same condition as with [elthēi]. The use of this verb [apokaluptō], like [apokalupsin] of the second coming in 1:7, seems to note the superhuman character (Milligan) of the event and the same verb is repeated in verses 6, 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 (2Co 11:13ff.), 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 verse 8) and Christ. Both Christ and the adversary of Christ are revealed, there is mystery about each, both make divine claims (verse 4). He seems to be the Antichrist of 1Jo 2:18. The terrible phrase, the son of perdition, is applied to Judas in Joh 17:12 (like Judas doomed to perdition), but here to the lawless one [ho anomos], verse 8), who is not Satan, but some one definite person who is doing the work of Satan. Note the definite article each time.

2:4 He that opposeth and exalteth himself [ho antikeimenos kai huperairomenos]. Like John’s Antichrist this one opposes [anti-] Christ and exalts himself (direct middle of [huperairō], old verb to lift oneself up above others, only here and 2Co 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 1Co 8:5 about one called God and Ac 17:23 for [sebasma] (from [sebazomai], object of worship, late word, in N.T. only in these two passages. So that he sitteth in the temple of God [hōste auton eis ton naon tou theou kathisai]. Another example of the infinitive with [hōste] 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 [apodeiknunta heauton hoti estin theos]. Present active participle [mi] form) of [apodeiknumi], agreeing in case with [auton], 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 [theos] on one side and [Thessalonikeōn] on the other. In 1Jo 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 verse 6 he speaks of [to katechon] (that which restraineth) while in verse 7 it is [ho 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.

2:5 When I was yet with you [eti ōn pros humas]. The present participle takes the time of the verb [elegon] (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 (Ac 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” (verses 3f.), even “with a trace of impatience.”

2:6 That which restraineth [to katechon]. And now you know [kai nun oidate], says Paul in this cryptic apocalyptic passage. Unfortunately we do not know what Paul means by that which restrains (holds back, [katechon], neuter here and masculine in verse 7 [ho 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 [eis to]. Another example of [eis to] and the infinitive for purpose. In his own season [en tōi autou kairōi]. Note [autou] (his), not [heautou] (his own), revealed in his time, in the time set him by God.

2:7 For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work [to gar mustērion ēdē energeitai tēs anomias]. See 1Th 2:13 for [energeitai]. The genitive [tēs anomias] (lawlessness) describes [to mustērion] (note emphatic position of both). This mystery [mustērion] secret, from [mustēs], an initiate, [mueō], 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 (Mt 13:11), of God (1Co 2:1) and God’s will (Eph 1:9), of Christ (Eph 3:4), of the gospel (Eph 6:9), of faith (1Ti 3:9), of godliness (1Ti 3:16), of the seven stars (Re 1:20), of the woman (Re 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 [heōs ek mesou genētai]. Usual construction with [heōs] for the future (aorist middle subjunctive, [genētai]. Note absence of [an] as often in N.T. and the [Koinē]. Paul uses [heōs] only here and 1Co 4:5. When the obstacle is removed then the mystery of lawlessness will be revealed in plain outline.

2:8 And then [kai tote]. Emphatic note of time, then when the restraining one [ho katechōn] is taken out of the way, then [the lawless one] [ho anomos], the man of sin, the man of perdition, will be revealed. Whom the Lord [Jesus] shall slay [hon ho kurios [Iēsous] anelei]. Whether Jesus is genuine or not, he is meant by Lord. [Anelei] is a late future from [anaireō], in place of [anairēsei]. Paul uses Isa 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 [kai katargēsei tēi epiphaneiāi tēs parousias autou]. This verb [katargeō] [kata, argos] 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 [epiphaneia] [epiphany], 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).

2:9 Whose coming is [hou estin hē parousia]. Refers to [hon] in verse 8. The Antichrist has his [parousia] also. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, pp. 374, 378) notes an inscription at Epidaurus in which “Asclepius manifested his [Parousia].” Antiochus Epiphanes is called the manifest god (III Macc. 5:35). So the two Epiphanies coincide. Lying wonders [terasin pseudous]. “In wonders of a lie.” Note here the three words for the miracles of Christ (Heb 2:4), power [dunamis], signs [sēmeia], wonders [terata], but all according to the working of Satan [kata energeian tou Satana], the energy of Satan) just as Jesus had foretold (Mt 24:24), wonders that would almost lead astray the very elect.

2:10 With all deceit of unrighteousness [en 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 [tois apollumenois]. Dative case of personal interest. Note this very phrase in 2Co 2:15; 4:3. Present middle participle of [appollumi], to destroy, the dreadful process goes on. Because [anth’ hon]. In return for which things [anti] and the genitive of the relative pronoun). Same idiom in Lu 1:20; 12:3; 19:44; Ac 12:23 and very common in the LXX. The love of the truth [tēn agapēn tēs alētheias]. That is the gospel in contrast with lying and deceit. That they might be saved [eis to sōthēnai autous]. First aorist passive infinitive of [sōzō] with [eis to], again, epexegetic purpose of the truth if they had heeded it.

2:11 And for this reason God sendeth them [kai 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 (Ro 1:24, 26, 28). A working of error [energeian planēs]. Terrible result of wilful rejection of the truth of God. That they should believe a lie [eis to pisteusai autous tōi pseudei]. Note [eis to] again and [tōi pseudei] (the lie, the falsehood already described), a contemplated result. Note Ro 1:25 “who changed the truth of God into the lie.”

2:12 That they all might be judged [hina krithōsin pantes]. First aorist passive subjunctive of [krinō], to sift, to judge, with [hina]. 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.

2:13 See 1:3 for same beginning. Beloved of the Lord [ēgapēmenoi hupo kuriou]. Perfect passive participle of [agapaō] with [hupo] and the ablative as in 1Th 1:4, only here [kuriou] instead of [theou], the Lord Jesus rather than God the Father. Because that God chose you [hoti heilato humas ho theos]. First aorist middle indicative of [haireō], to take, old verb, but uncompounded only in N.T. here, Php 1:22; Heb 11:25, and here only in sense of choose, that being usually [exaireomai] or [proorizō]. From the beginning [ap’ archēs]. Probably the correct text (Aleph D L) and not [aparchēn] (first fruits, B G P), though here alone in Paul’s writings and a hard reading, the eternal choice or purpose of God (1Co 2:7; Eph 1:4; 2Ti 1:9), while [aparchēn] is a favourite idea with Paul (1Co 15:20, 23; 16:15; Ro 8:23; 11:16; 16:5). Unto salvation [eis sōtērian]. The ultimate goal, final salvation. In sanctification of the Spirit [en hagiasmōi pneumatos]. Subjective genitive [pneumatos], sanctification wrought by the Holy Spirit. And belief of the truth [kai pistei alētheias]. Objective genitive [alētheias], belief in the truth.

2:14 Whereunto [eis ho]. The goal, that is the final salvation [sōtēria]. Through our gospel [dia 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. 1Th 2:12; 5:24). To the obtaining [eis peripoiēsin]. Probably correct translation rather than possession. See on 1Th 5:9, there of salvation, here of glory (the shekinah, glory of Jesus).

2:15 So then [ara oun]. Accordingly then. The illative [ara] is supported (Ellicott) by the collective [oun] as in 1Th 5:6; Ga 6:10, etc. Here is the practical conclusion from God’s elective purpose in such a world crisis. Stand fast [stēkete]. Present imperative active of the late present [stēko] from [hestēka] (perfect active of [histēmi]. See on 1Th 3:8. Hold the traditions [krateite tas paradoseis]. Present imperative of [krateō], old verb, to have masterful grip on a thing, either with genitive (Mr 1:31) or usually the accusative as here. [Paradosis] (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 (Ga 1:14), but the word is a perfectly legitimate one for teaching whether oral, by word [dia logou], or written, by epistle of ours [di’ 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 1Co 11:23 says: “I received from the Lord what I also handed over [paredōka] 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 (Mr 7:8; Col 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 [has edidachthēte]. First aorist passive indicative of [didaskō], to teach, retaining the accusative of the thing in the passive as is common with this verb like doceō in Latin and teach in English.

2:16 And God our Father [kai [ho] theos ho patēr hēmōn]. It is uncertain whether the first article [ho] is genuine as it is absent in B D. Usually Paul has the Father before Christ except here, 2Co 13:13; Ga 1:1. Which loved us [ho agapēsas hēmas]. This singular articular participle refers to [ho 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 [paraklēsin aiōnian]. Distinct feminine form of [aiōnios] here instead of masculine as in Mt 25:46.

2:17 Comfort and stablish [parakalesai kai stērixai]. First aorist active optative of wish for the future of two common verbs [parakaleō] (see on 1Th 3:7; 4:18; 5:14) and [sterizō] (see on 1Th 3:2, 13). God is the God of comfort (2Co 1:3-7) and strength (Ro 1:11; 16:25).

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