2 Thessalonians 2
2 Thessalonians 2:3-13-The Teaching Paul Corrects Concerning What Must Happen Before the Second Coming of Jesus
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2-False teachers who have taught that Jesus has already come
It appears that someone had claimed to have received a message saying that the Lord had already returned (“the day of the Lord” is the day that Jesus returns toe earth)...and, that perhaps they had attributed the message to Paul. Paul says he doesn’t care who sent it…whether they claim to have received it from a “spirit” (this could be speaking of an angelic being), or a “message” (this is the Greek word “logos”…and is a reference to someone who claims to have received a message or revelation from God concerning something), or a letter from Paul, himself…don’t believe it. He tells them to not be “quickly shaken in your composure” (the word “composure” is “mind”…meaning their thinking). ”Don’t let what you think, what you have learned from us to be easily changed.” He also tells them to not be “disturbed”, which means to be fearful.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-Many men will fall away from the faith before Jesus comes
Paul warns them to not be shaken from their faith by what others say. However, he also tells them that many people will fall away from the faith before the Lord returns. This is called the “apostasy” (cf. 1 Timothy 4:1-5; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).
Apostasy. Turning against God, as evidenced by abandonment and repudiation of former beliefs. The term generally refers to a deliberate renouncing of the faith by a once sincere believer rather than a state of ignorance or mistaken knowledge. Apostasy is distinguished from heresy (denial of a part of the faith), and from transfer of allegiance from one religious body to another within the same faith. Also, it is possible to deny the faith, as Peter once did, and then at a later time reaffirm it. Originally, “apostasy” meant literal rebellion. Thus the Jews were described as “rebels” against King Artaxerxes (1 Esd 2:23) and Jason as a “rebel against the laws” (2 Mc 5:6–8). OT descriptions of spiritual rebellion include departure from the Law, forsaking temple worship, and willful disobedience toward God himself (Jos 22:22, rebellion or unfaithful act; 2 Chr 29:19, transgression kjv, or faithlessness; Jer 2:19, backslidings kjv, or apostasy). The prophetic writings of Isaiah and Jeremiah …
Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible
rebellion ESV, NIV, NRSV, LEB, RSV
falling away KJV 1900, NKJV, AV 1873
great rebellion against God NLT
ἀποστασία apostasia rebellion; abandonment
39.34 ἀνίσταμαιe; ἐπανίσταμαι; στάσιςa, εως f; ἐπίστασιςb, εως f; ἀποστασία, ας f; ἀκαταστασίαa, ας f: to rise up in open defiance of authority, with the presumed intention to overthrow it or to act in complete opposition to its demands—‘to rebel against, to revolt, to engage in insurrection, rebellion.’6ἀνίσταμαιe : πρὸ γὰρ τούτων τῶν ἡμερῶν ἀνέστη Θευδᾶς … καὶ ἐγένοντο εἰς οὐδέν ‘some time ago Theudas rebelled … but they came to nothing’ or ‘… the movement died out’ Ac 5:36. ἐπανίσταμαι: ἐπαναστήσονται τέκνα ἐπὶ γονεῖς καὶ θανατώσουσιν αὐτούς ‘children will rise up (or ‘… rebel’) against their parents and have them put to death’ Mk 13:12. στάσιςa: γὰρ κινδυνεύομεν ἐγκαλεῖσθαι στάσεως περὶ τῆς σήμερον ‘for there is danger that we will be accused of insurrection in what has happened today’ Ac 19:40. ἐπίστασιςb: οὔτε … εὗρόν με … ἐπίστασιν ποιοῦντα ὄχλου ‘they did not find me … organizing a rebellion of the people’ Ac 24:12. ἀποστασία: …
Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament, Louw-Nida
Logos Bible Software
2 Thessalonians 2:4-5-One man will claim to be God in the Temple before Jesus comes…his rebellion against God
Before the Lord returns...the "man of lawlessness" (see v. 8, the Antichrist, cf. Matthew 24:15; Revelation 11:7; 13:1-10) will enter into the Temple and proclaim himself to be God. This takes place at the mid-point (3 ½ years) of the 7 years of the Tribulation.
Paul reminds them that this was not the first time he had told them about these matters (:5).
2 Thessalonians 2:6-7-The Holy Spirit will be taken away before Jesus comes
Before the Lord returns...the Holy Spirit will be removed...He is the one who is restraining the "man of lawlessness", now. This will take place at the Rapture of the church (all those who are true believers in Jesus) at the beginning of the Tribulation (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Here is the flow of Paul’s argument given here against the idea that “the day of the Lord” has already taken place:
The day of the Lord will not begin until the Antichrist is revealed (v. 3); the Antichrist cannot begin to act until the restrainer is removed (v. 7); since the restrainer has not yet been removed, the Thessalonians could be certain that the day of the Lord had not yet begun, regardless of what the false teachers were saying.
Ryrie Study Bible, 1 Thessalonians 2:8 footnote, p. 1813
2 Thessalonians 2:8-10-One man will claim to be God in the Temple before Jesus comes…his association with Satan
This is the same “man of lawlessness” of vv. 4-5. Paul makes it perfectly clear that this man’s power comes from Satan, himself. He will work in keeping with the “activity of Satan”…meaning the purpose and intent of Satan. Notice the means by which this man will convince people to follow him and how closely they resemble the very things that Jesus did…”power and signs and false wonders”…these are “false wonders”. These activities will have “all the deception of wickedness”…
Paul has employed strongly condemnatory language in vv. 9f. to indicate the reprehensible character of Satan’s activity conducted through the rebel. If the expression “with all power and deceptive miracles and wonders” describes the character of the deeds accompanying the rebel’s “parousia,” then “with all wicked deception” describes the effect of his activity in seducing people into their own destruction…
The phrase ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει (“with all power”) indicates that the parousia of the rebel is accompanied by a manifestation of Satan’s power. Here, as on several other occasions in Paul, δυνάμις is found in conjunction with σημεῖα (“signs” or “miracles”) and τέρατα (“wonders”; cf. Rom. 15:19; 2 Cor. 12:12). This suggests that the terms have a natural connection with one another in Paul’s mind. In Rom. 15:19 the “power” is what works the miracles and wonders, but the parallelism between δυνάμει καὶ σημείοις καὶ τέρασιν precludes this idea here in 2 Thes. 2:9. Undoubtedly σημείοις and τέρασιν are to be taken together, since these two terms are commonly juxtaposed in the writings of the Greek Bible to indicate miraculous activity (cf. Ex. 7:3; Dt. 4:34; 6:22; Is. 8:18; 20:3; Je. 39:21; Jn. 4:48; Acts 2:43; 4:30; 5:12; 6:8; 7:36; Heb. 2:4, etc.). In 2 Thes. 2:8, as in the tradition found in Mk. 13:22, these miraculous activities are the work of a figure who is opposed to God (cf. Rev. 13:13f.; 16:14; 19:20, where σημεῖα is used alone of miracles performed by Satan’s emissaries).
Paul does not doubt the reality of the Satanic miracles, hence he uses the adjectival genitive ψεύδους (see Bruce, 173) to label them as deceptive. They imitate divine miracles in order to lead people away from the true God. V. 11 makes it clear, however, that even this work of deception is ultimately under the control of God and is used by God to achieve his own purposes.
Wanamaker, C. A. (1990). The Epistles to the Thessalonians: a commentary on the Greek text (p. 259). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, Logos Bible Software
2 Thessalonians 2:11-12-There will be many lost people deceived before Jesus comes
Before the Lord returns...God will send a "deluding influence" so that those who refuse to believe the truth will believe what is false. This is the beginning of God’s judgment on those who refuse to accept Jesus as their Savior.
2:11 The words καὶ διὰ τοῦτο (“and for this reason”) refer back to the second part of v. 10 (cf. 1 Thes. 2:13; Rom. 1:26), where Paul explains that people perish because they have not accepted the gospel. From this he draws an inference concerning God’s dealings with these people, thus showing the correspondence between their guilt and its punishment by God (cf. Frame, 271).
The idea that πέμπει αὐτοῖς ὁ θεὸς ἐνέργειαν πλάνης (“[God] sends to them [i.e., those mentioned in v. 10] a deluding influence”) may seem strange to readers today. How can God intentionally create a situation leading to people’s delusion and ultimately to their condemnation? Both in the OT (cf. 2 Sa. 24:1; 1 Ki. 22:23; Ezk. 14:9) and elsewhere in Paul’s letters (cf. Rom. 1:24–32) the idea is found that God actively intervenes in human experience to exacerbate situations of sin and disobedience among those who should know better. In our passage God’s sending of the “deluding influence” appears to be a direct response to people’s refusal to accept the gospel. In light of other biblical texts where God is said to compound the disobedience or wrongdoing of people who should have recognized the error of their ways, it may well be that Paul has in mind specifically those who heard the truth of the gospel and then wavered in their commitment. Paul may be implying that these people were never really converted to the faith, and as a result of their faithlessness God ensures that they will never be saved. Marshall (204) believes that the present tense of πέμπει (“send”) should be understood as a future reference to God sending the power of deception at the time of the anti-parousia mentioned in v. 9. This seems unlikely, however, because the “deluding influence” is sent in response to people who have already refused to accept the gospel and therefore are perishing, as v. 10b indicates.
God’s purpose in sending the power that leads to the deception of those rejecting the gospel is stated in the second half of the verse: εἰς τὸ πιστεῦσαι αὐτοὺς τῷ ψεύδει (“so that they may believe the lie”). Here, as in the next verse, Paul uses πιστεύειν (“to believe”) with a dative object but no governing preposition. This is unusual and may serve to emphasize the absolute character of the “lie” here and the “truth” in the next verse. An obvious contrast exists between the two (cf. Rom. 1:25). To understand what the “lie” is we must look back to v. 9, where ψεῦδος first occurs and where it describes the nature of the miracles and wonders to be performed by Satan’s emissary at his “parousia.” The coming of the rebel is clearly intended to imitate the parousia of the Lord and is the final great lie perpetrated by Satan in an effort to delude those who are perishing. God ensures that this delusion, which those who are perishing have effectively chosen for themselves, is complete. The following verse provides the reason.
2:12 The goal of God’s activity in v. 11 (ἵνα κριθῶσιν is final) is to bring about the condemnation of those who have not believed in the truth of the gospel. The verb κρίνειν in this verse means not only to judge, but to judge and pass an unfavorable verdict, to condemn someone (cf. Rom. 2:1; 14:3, 13; 1 Cor. 4:5). It is used here of the final judgment. The subject of the purpose clause is quite clear from the context, but it is made emphatic by the words πάντες οἱ μὴ πιστεύσαντες τῇ ἀληθείᾳ ἀλλὰ εὐδοκήσαντες τῇ ἀδικίᾳ (“all those who have not believed the truth but have taken pleasure in wickedness”). ἀληθεία is the same word used in v. 10 of the Christian gospel in its broadest sense, and it should probably be understood in the same way here. Whether the aorist participle πιστεύσαντες (“those who have believed”) should be understood from the perspective of the judgment, which is certainly possible (so Best, 309), or should be seen as a specific reference to the local situation in Thessalonica, where many who had heard the gospel had not believed in it, is not clear. As it agrees with the aorist ἐδέξαντο (“received”) in v. 10, it is perhaps better to see Paul focusing a universally applicable observation on a local situation for which the aorist tenses of vv. 10 and 12 are particularly appropriate. The aorist participle εὐδοκήσαντες (“those who have taken pleasure”) should be understood in a similar way as referring to those who have chosen to persecute the Christians at Thessalonica, thus acting in a wicked fashion when given the opportunity to be saved.
The apparent intention behind vv. 10b–12 is twofold. On the one hand, these verses offer an explanation for why people outside the community of faith are perishing: they have chosen to reject the truth of the gospel when it was presented to them, taking pleasure in wickedness instead. For this reason God has made certain that their own decision against the truth will result in their condemnation in the judgment, thereby sealing their destruction. Vv. 10–12 do not really speak to the question of the condition of those who have not heard the gospel. This is why the Thessalonians would have assumed that Paul was speaking about the situation in Thessalonica as they had experienced it. On the other hand, in true apocalyptic fashion these verses reinforce the inevitable separation between those who have loved the truth and those who prefer the great lie, resulting in their identification with Satan and his emissary, the rebel. The sentiments expressed in these verses could easily be turned against those who have once been attracted to the Christian faith but have then distanced themselves from it. They have not really loved the truth (v. 10b) nor have they believed the truth (v. 12). Instead they have taken pleasure in wickedness by maliciously turning away from the Christian community, and this will lead to their condemnation in the final judgment.
Wanamaker, C. A. (1990). The Epistles to the Thessalonians: a commentary on the Greek text (pp. 261–263). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, Logos Bible Software
2 Thessalonians 2:13-17-He encourages believers to stay strong in the faith until Jesus comes
Paul encourages the Thessalonican believers by telling them that…
- “God has chosen you”. Here, he reminds them that their salvation is dependent on the Holy Spirit’s work of “sanctification” in their lives…His providing them with holiness (:13).
- But, he also reminds them that in order for them to be saved they must respond in faith to the truth that they have received (:13) when they heard Paul and the others preach the Gospel (:14)
Once again, Paul warns them against being persuaded to accept any other teaching (:2) than that which they have received from him (:15).
Paul prays that God will give these believers comfort and strength to continue serving until Jesus returns (:16-17).
Prayer: Father, I cry out, "Come Lord Jesus!" And yet, at the same time I pray that You will wait to come until my family and friends have responded in faith to the Gospel. Please, Lord...speak right now to their hearts.