Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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2 Thessalonians 2

Supplemental Commentary:


2, 1-12:  Preludes to the Second Coming.  The Second Coming
of Christ will be preceded by a great apostasy and the advent of Antichrist.    2.  Spirit . . . utterance . . . letter: indicate three possible sources of their belief that the parousia is imminent.  Spirit refers to some falsely claimed revelation; utterance may be a statement of Paul's which was misunderstood, or wrongly attributed to him; the letter seems to be one forged in Paul's name (cf. 3, 17).

3 f.  As written by St. Paul this is an unfinished sentence.  The words the day of the Lord will not come have been inserted to complete the sentence, which in the original is elliptical.  Paul warns them not to be misled in any manner into believing that the parousia is close at hand.  Those who say it is about to happen are deceiving them.  A great apostasy must occur and Antichrist must appear before the advent of the last day.  Paul had given them this information before, and he now repeats it in order that they may banish the fears which have arisen at the thought of an immediate return of Christ.  The apostasy will be some great religious defection in which men will revolt against God and His representatives.  Perhaps it signifies that after the gospel has been preached to all nations, there will be a general apostasy from the faith.  Cf. Luke 18, 8: "Yet when the Son of Man comes, will he find, do you think, faith on the earth?"  The man of sin: some Greek manuscripts read, "the man of lawlessness."  The reference is to Antichrist.  As Christ was the best of men, so Antichrist will be the worst of men (St. Thomas).  He shall be a "son of perdition," i.e., entirely deserving of eternal punishment.  Antichrist will be revealed when he appears publicly before the world claiming the allegiance of all men.  Who opposes . . . God: two characteristics of Antichrist will be his impiety, whereby he will exhibit himself as the enemy of God, and his pride, whereby he will attempt to set himself above God, the saints, and whatever men, whether truly or falsely, regard as sacred and holy.  So that he sits in the temple of God, etc.: what Paul means by sitting in the temple of God can only be conjectured.  It may perhaps signify that Antichrist will succeed in establishing the worship of himself in Christian churches by inducing men to accept him as the true Christ.

5.  Paul reminds them that while at Thessalonica he had told them all this.  That he had given much more information to them on the same subject is evident from the following verses.  But what this information was is unknown to us today.  Had the Thessalonians transmitted it we should know what and who it is that prevents the appearance of Antichrist.    6.  What restrains him: Paul refers to some obstacle hindering the advent of Antichrist.  We do not know what the obstacle is.  St. Augustine in his day confessed complete ignorance of its nature.    7.  The mystery of iniquity is already at work.  The evil power of which Antichrist is to be the public exponent and champion is now operating secretly in the world.  Only that he who, etc.: here Paul speaks of the obstacle as a person.  Above he had spoken of it as a thing.  Someone is now restraining the evil force, but the time will come when he shall no longer obstruct it.  When this happens Antichrist will appear (v.8).  Some make the conjecture that Michael, the Archangel, and his heavenly army are the obstacles.

8.  Whom the Lord Jesus shall slay, etc.: i.e., after some time has elapsed Jesus by a word of command will destroy Antichrist.  Will destroy with the brightness of his coming: when Christ appears in glory at the end of the world He will quickly inflict death on Antichrist.    9-11.  The operations of Antichrist are described.    9.  By the aid of Satan Antichrist will perform prodigies, which men will falsely regard as miracles.    10.  The false miracles will succeed in deceiving all those who have preferred to follow erroneous opinions rather than accept the doctrines of Christ.  As a consequence they will be led by Antichrist to adopt sinful practices.  Cf. John 3, 19; Rom. 1, 25.    11.  Their love of error shall have its natural effect, namely, blindness to the truth.  God will abandon them to their intellectual blindness.    12.  The consequence of willful unbelief is eternal condemnation.

2, 13-17:  Thanksgiving for Their Election.  Having spoken of those who wilfully reject the gospel, Paul calls to mind some who have readily accepted the teachings of the gospel, namely the Thessalonians.  He thanks God for calling them to the faith, and prays that they may be granted final glorification in heaven.    13.  First-fruits: i.e., they are numbered among the earliest believers in the gospel, and as such are destined for salvation.  Some Greek and Latin manuscripts read: "From the beginning"; i.e., God has called them to the faith and to salvation from all eternity.    15.  Teachings: all his instructions, whether given orally or in writing.  All the doctrines of Christianity, therefore, are not contained in the New Testament Scriptures, and consequently oral tradition has equal weight with the written Word.

Confraternity Bible:

Preludes to the Second Coming  1 We beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together unto him, 2 not to be hastily shaken from your right mind, nor terrified, whether by spirit, or by utterance, or by letter attributed to us, as though the day of the Lord were near at hand.  3* Let no one deceive you in any way, for the day of the Lord will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4* who opposes and is exalted above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sits in the temple of God and gives himself out as if he were God.  5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you, I used to tell you these things?  6* And now you know what restrains him, that he may be revealed in his proper time.  7* For the mystery of iniquity is already at work; provided only that he who is at present restraining it, does still restrain, until he is gotten out of the way.

8* And then the wicked one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will slay with the breath of his mouth and will destroy with the brightness of his coming.

9* And his coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10* and with all wicked deception to those who are perishing.  For they have not received the love of truth that they might be saved.  11* Therefore God sends them a misleading influence that they may believe falsehood, 12* that all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have preferred wickedness.

Thanksgiving for Their Election  13 But we, brethren beloved of God, are bound to give thanks to God always for you, because God has chosen you as first-fruits unto salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.  14 For this purpose he also called you by our preaching to gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  15* So then, brethren, stand firm, and hold the teachings that you have learned, whether by word or by letter of ours.  16 And may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and has given us through grace everlasting consolation and good hope, 17 comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.


3: The day of the Lord will not come: these words have been inserted to complete the sentence, which in the original is elliptical.  The parousia must be preceded by a great apostasy, i.e., a great religious revolt, and the advent of the man of sin, i.e., Antichrist.  Son of perdition: one entirely deserving of eternal punishment.

4: Antichrist will be characterized by great impiety and pride.  He sits in the temple of God, etc.: he will aspire to be treated as God and proclaim that he is really God.  The reference to the temple should not be pressed.

6: What restrains him: the Thessalonians knew the obstacle.  We can only conjecture what it was.

7: Mystery of iniquity: the evil power of which Antichrist is to be the public exponent and champion.  He who is at present restraining it: the obstacle is now spoken of as a person.  Some suggest that Michael the archangel and his heavenly army may be the obstacles which now prevent the appearance of Antichrist.

8: When Christ appears in glory, He will inflict defeat and death on Antichrist by a mere word of command.

9-12: By the aid of Satan Antichrist will perform prodigies which men will falsely regard as miracles, and by means of which they will be led to adopt sinful practices and erroneous doctrines. --- 11: God sends: God will allow their willful rejection of truth to have its natural results of spiritual blindness, impenitence and damnation.  A misleading influence: or, "a delusion."

15: Teachings: i.e., his teachings whether given orally or in writing.  Hence not all apostolic teaching was written in the books of the New Testament.