A Sample Passage from the Comments on Second Thessalonians:

Chapter 2


1.  Now we are asking you, brothers (= fellow believers; = family), over [the subject of] (or: concerning) the presence of our Lord (or: Master), Jesus Christ, and our being gathered together (or: being fully led together and assembling) upon [the presence of] Him

2.  in regard to this: you are not at any point to be quickly shaken (tossed, as by the sea, or caused to totter, like a reed) away from [your] mind (mental senses of perception; the ability to be aware and reason; wits; intelligent understanding), nor to be continuously alarmed (caused to cry aloud from nervousness or excitement), neither through a spirit (or: a breath-effect; an attitude), nor through a word (or: a thought; a message; a verbal communication), nor through a letter – as through us – as though the Lord's Day (the Day of the Lord [= Yahweh or Christ]) has been set in place (placed in; made to stand in; has stood within so as to be here).


Now the "Day of Yahweh" was a term that figured a time of judging and hard times, in the Old Testament [e.g., cf Joel 1:15 and 2:1-2; Jer. 30:7; Amos 5:18; Zeph. 1:14-18].  It was obviously considered to be something to be alarmed about, and inwardly shaken.  The term "presence" has more than one significance:

a)  it can refer to His ongoing presence, via His Spirit (e.g., when two or three, or more, are gathered in His name, Matt. 18:20; it can refer to His solidarity and identity with His body, as Jesus stated in Matt. 25:35-40; it can refer to Him dwelling in His temple, John 14:20;

b) or, it can refer to His presence for a specific work, such as judging His people, or intervening in history to bring deliverance or rescue.  He dwells in our atmosphere (heaven; sky) so He is ever present, and He is "continuously walking about within the midst of the seven golden lampstands (i.e., the churches)," and He walks with feet "like white brass (or: bronze; fine copper – a figure of His judging process) as having been set on fire in a furnace" and eyes "as a flame of fire" – Rev. 2:1; 1:14-15.  But in 2:5 He says that He may come unto them and remove their lampstand.  In Rev. 2:16 He threatens to quickly come to them and fight against them with the sword of His mouth.  He threatened to come to Sardis as a thief (3:3).


I therefore suggest that Paul is differentiating between "the presence of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and our being gathered together upon His [presence]" – as being a habitual occurrence of the meeting together of His body in Thessalonica – and a special presence concerning the expected destruction of Jerusalem that Jesus foretold – "the Day of the Lord."  This latter event was a time of shaking the heavens and the earth (Heb. 12:26), and it not only affected the Jews, but also the called-out communities of that period, as this letter suggests, and as we see from the letter sent from John to the 7 communities in 1st century Asia, as cited above.  This letter was written prior to the Jewish revolt and the coming of the Lord in judgment via Rome.


3.  May no one at any point beguile or seduce you folks from a deception – not even down from one turn (or: not according to one method; not in the sphere of a manner or disposition) – because should not the standing away from (the departure; the setting away; or: the rebellion; the revolt) come first, and thus the human from the lawlessness – the person of failure


(some MSS: the Man who missed the mark – sinned; the human being with the qualities   and character of error and mistake; [other MSS: the person owned by lawlessness or associated with illegal acts]) be uncovered (unveiled; revealed; disclosed): the son of the loss (= the person having the qualities of, or the character resulting from, the destruction),                                                          


4.  the one continuously occupying an opposite position (or: constantly lying as the opposing counterpart) and constantly lifting (or: raising) himself up over all (or: upon everything) being normally called God, or an effect of worship (or: reverent awe), so as to cause him to be seated – down into the midst of the temple of God (or: God's dwelling place) – continuously displaying himself, that this/it is God (or: continuously pointing out that he himself is a god)?

5.  Do you not remember that, still being with you, I said these things to you?


Historically, the revolt referred to in vs. 3 was the war of the Jews against the Romans, which ended in AD 70.  Here I refer you to studies from the preterist viewpoint, such as:


The Last Days According to Jesus – RC Sproul

The Days of Vengeance – David Chilton

The Parousia – James Stuart Russell

The Cross and the Parousia of Christ – Max King

The Perfect Ending for the World, and other works – John Noe ... to name just a few.


From the writings of Josephus, "the man of sin" has been identified by some writers as a historical person of that period and situation.  But I suggest that it had a broader reference, both for them and for us: the estranged humanity within each of us, the false persona of the dying ego that is in bondage to the law of sin that works in our members (Rom. 7:23).  That war indeed revealed this in all those that were involved in that war, on both sides, if you read that history.  It was and is the estranged humanity "having the qualities of, or the character resulting from, the destruction" and loss which is due to Adam's sin.


Vs. 4 characterizes every human being, before he or she has been regenerated, existentially resurrected into the life of Christ.  Times of pressure, ordeal or conflict reveal our true condition: whether yet dead in trespasses and sins, or alive and laying down our lives for our friends.


In vs. 3, the "standing-away from" can also have another interpretation: the called-out community (aka: church) "departing" from organized religion (whether the Jewish religion, of the time of Paul, or the Christian religion, of the ensuing centuries), and specifically, "departure and standing-away from" the Law.  This separating reveals the life of God within His body, as well as the realm of death where the flesh wars against the spirit.  Dan Kaplan has pointed out that there is only one other place where this Greek word is used in the NT, and that is in Acts 21:21 which speaks of the rumor that Paul had been teaching the Jews among the nations to stand away (revolt; apostasize) from Moses (i.e., the Law):


"Yet they have been orally instructed concerning you, that you are repeatedly (or: habitually) teaching all the Jews down through the ethnic multitudes (or: nations; non-Jews) an apostasy away from Moses, constantly telling them not to be circumcising [their] children, nor even to be living their lives (continually walking about) in (by; with) the customs."


This may in fact have been the actual revolt, or, standing away from, of which Paul was here referring – the necessity to depart from the Law, as Dan Kaplan has suggested.  When Paul made his defense to the crowd in Acts 22, he did not deny the rumor of 21:21.


6.  And now, you know (have seen and are aware of) the thing continuously holding down in a firm grasp (detaining, restraining) unto the [situation for] him to be uncovered (unveiled; disclosed) in his own fitting situation (or: proper occasion; suitable season; fertile moment).


The word "know" is in the perfect tense of the Greek oida, which strictly means "have seen."  Those of Thessalonica had seen that which Paul now describes as "holding down in a firm grasp (detaining, restraining)."  It was so well known that Paul did not have to tell them who or what it was – unfortunately for us!  It was a secret to those outside the called-out community, but those within had seen it and knew what he or it was.  It was soon to be unveiled – at the right moment.  The pronouns are masculine, so we normally translate this as "him/his."  But Paul could have been referring to an object or a situation which in Greek was masculine, and thus have used the masculine pronoun.  There is no way to be certain.  Whether a man, or the inner estranged human, it was at that time soon to be uncovered.  The "thing continuously holding down in a firm grasp (constantly restraining and detaining)" could well have been God, or, the body of Christ (the Perfect Man) – as suggested in the next verse.

                                                                                                                                                         7.  For the secret (hidden purpose; mystery) of the lawlessness (pertaining to the condition of being without law; which is the unlawfulness; having the character of being violation of the Law; whose source is the contrariness to custom) is already continuously working within (operating; energizing), [yet] only until the one (or: man; [note: masculine article]) continuously holding down in a firm grasp (detaining; restraining) at the present moment can birth himself (bring himself to be; = separate himself) forth from out of the midst.


Now the context would suggest that it is "the secret and hidden purpose of the lawlessness" to which Paul was referring in vs. 6 as having been veiled and covered – or hidden.  The birthing "forth from out of the midst" could refer to the Christians leaving Jerusalem, just prior to its destruction.  Or, it can refer to the Christ coming forth from the called-out body and unveiling the secret of that which is unlawful and contrary to custom.  John saw this in the symbol of the woman birthing the man-child in Rev. 12.  That, too, had multiple meanings:

a) Israel bringing forth Christ, or His body manifesting His life

b) The called-out folks departing the Jewish religion, or escaping from Jerusalem

c) the birthing of God's sons to deliver creation, in every time and place.


For our day, I suggest that the mystery and hidden purpose of "the lawlessness" is that "law of sin" to which Paul referred in Rom. 7.  It is the law in our members that is contrary to the "law of the Spirit of life."  Vs. 8 describes what happens when it is uncovered and revealed.


8.  And then (at that time) the lawless person (the unlawful one; the one without law; the man who violates the Law; the person being contrary to custom) will be uncovered (unveiled; disclosed), whom the Lord Jesus will take back up again (or: lift up; reading anaireo with Nestle, Tasker & Concordant texts; Griesbach & other MSS read analisko: consume, use up, expend) by the Spirit (Breath-effect) of His mouth, and will deactivate (render inoperative and useless; make inert) by the manifestation (the bringing of light upon and setting in full and clear view, causing an appearance) of his (or: its; or: His) presence –


Again, the application is both historical (Christ coming and judging, in AD 70), and Christ repeatedly coming and judging within His House.  He uncovers the false persona, our estranged human nature, and takes it back up again by the Spirit of His mouth, or with the other MSS, consumes and renders pure and restored.  The Breath-effect of His mouth (whether breathing upon us, or speaking to us) is the manifestation of His presence.  This, as in ch. 1, above, brings righteousness and restores the Way pointed out: justice, fair and equitable dealings, rightwised relationships.


Reading anaireo, we see that His Breath/Spirit takes the false and estranged back into Himself: restoration.  Reading analisko, we see purification and transformation.  This manifestation of His presence comes both individually and corporately.  The Christ event inaugurated the new creation in which He is habitually, or constantly, coming to us – dwelling in and among us, while we have been snatched up and seated with Him (Eph. 2:6) in the new heavens, the abode of the new human (earth).  


9.  whose presence is continuously existing in correspondence to (or: in line with; in the sphere of; on the level of) the adversary's (opponent's; or: satan's) in-working activity (or: is constantly in accordance with the operation of the “adversary,” or, satan), in all power (or: within all ability) as well as signs and wonders of falsehood (or: which are a lie),

10.  and within every deception (delusion; seduction) of the injustice (wrong; thing that is not the way pointed out and which is not right) within the folks continuously or repeatedly being lost (or: by the folks progressively destroying themselves) in return for which (or: in the place of which) they do (or: did) not take unto themselves and welcomingly receive the love of, and from, the truth (or: Truth's love; the Love which is Truth and Reality; or: an appreciation of and affection for reality), into the [situation for] them at some point to be suddenly delivered (restored to health and wholeness; rescued; saved; restored to the original state and condition).


Now the "manifestation" in vs. 8 can also refer to the bringing light upon this "lawless person."  Thus, vss. 9-10 can be read in two different ways:

a) following that which I just described above, seeing that it is Christ's manifestation and presence – meeting the inworking activity of the adversary, in its sphere, and on every level of its activity, within its signs and wonders of falsehood, and within each of its deceptions of injustice within the lost who are progressively destroying themselves, etc.  Note that in the last clause of vs. 10 His work leads them "into the [situation for] them at some point to be suddenly delivered!"

b) seeing it as a manifestation of "the lawless person," either as an individual, historically, or as estranged humanity, we see that its presence corresponds to the working of the adversary within, which operates with its false power and lying wonders within deceptions of that which is contrary to the path of life.  This causes folks not to receive or retain "the Love (God) which is Truth and Reality (Christ); or: an appreciation of and affection for reality."  Nonetheless, the result is the same, as the last part of vs. 10 tells us: deliverance, rescue.


11.  And so, because of this, God is continuously sending to (or: in) them an in-working (or: operation) of wandering (or: which is the source of being caused to stray; which has the character of error and deception) into the [situation for] them to believe, and to trust, the lie,

12.  to the end that all those not believing the Truth (or: having conviction of or trusting the reality), but rather approving and delighting in injustice (inequity; the thing that is not right), may (or: can; would) at some point be sifted, separated and decided about (or: judged).


Vs. 11-12 tell us of the intermediary judging of folks who are not presently a part of the called-out community.  It is an echo of Rom. 1:24, which is a prelude to the period of sifting, separating and deciding by God as described here in vs. 12. This is an ongoing process, as vs. 11 says: He "is continuously sending to and in them an inworking (or: operation) of wandering."  Here we see reference to the repayments noted in ch. 1:6, "squeezing and oppression, ordeal and trouble."  As such things made the believers worthy of God's reign (1:5), so it will do in the sifting of these.  Again, this applied to the situation in 1st century Thessalonica, and to all times and situations ever since.  He is the same: yesterday, today, and on into the ages.


13.  However we, ourselves, are presently indebted (or: continuously owing) to be constantly expressing gratitude to God (or: speaking of the goodness of grace and the well-being of the favor in God) always, concerning you, brothers (= fellow believers), folks having been and continuing to be [so] loved (preferentially valued) by the Lord [= Yahweh or Christ] that God chose you for Himself, from [the] beginning, unto deliverance, [other MSS: God selected and took you in preference {to be} a firstfruit into a restoration to the original state and condition (or: into the midst of health and wholeness; {leading you} unto rescue and salvation)], in a setting-apart of spirit and in faith which has the character of truth (or: by sanctification from [the] Breath-effect and by trust, which is reality; or: in union with the Spirit's holiness and Truth's faith),

14.  on into which, through our message of goodness, ease and well-being, He also called you folks [other MSS: us] into an encompassing (or: forming an encirclement; establishing a perimeter; creating a surrounding, and thus a procuring) of the glory (or: which is the glory; from the manifestation which calls forth praise) of our Lord, Jesus Christ (or: [the] Anointed).


Here Paul and the others turn their focus back to their opening in ch. 1:3, re-affirming their indebtedness to express gratitude concerning the brothers having been so loved by the Lord, and that God had chosen them for Himself from the beginning, and that this is why they were experiencing deliverance.  This had the character of a set-apart spirit, faith and the truth of reality.  The holiness belonged to the Spirit, and the faith came from the Truth.  And as other MSS read, they in Thessalonica were selected to be a firstfruit of the restoration.


Note that our calling is into being encompassed by His glory; His glory forms an encirclement and establishes a perimeter of defense around us!  See the use of peri-poiesis (an encompassing; forming an encirclement; etc.) in 1 Thes. 5:9, Eph. 1:14, Heb. 10:39 and 1 Pet. 2:9.  Furthermore, we see that our "calling" comes through the "message of goodness, ease and well-being."  This should alert us to the character of both our call and His glory.  Let no one lay upon us any heavy burdens from religious systems, or negative messages about God's plan for mankind.


15.  Consequently, then, brothers (= fellow believers; = family), you continuously stand firm and stationary (or, as an imperative: progressively make a stand; habitually stand firm) and you continuously have (or, imperative: progressively get) in your strength – with a masterful grip – the things handed alongside (transmissions; traditions) which you were taught, whether through a word (or: [the] Logos; a thought or an idea; a message) or through our letter.


Here Paul either gives admonition to continue standing firm – or to progressively make a stand – and continue to get the message of the good news in their grip, with strength, through the teachings that had been given to them, or – reading the verb stekete as an indicative – he affirms that they "continuously stand firm and stationary."  The same goes for the next verb, krateite, which is either and indicative or an imperative, and thus he is either affirming or admonishing.


16.  Now may our Lord, Jesus Christ Himself, even (or: and) our God and Father, the One loving us and giving a calling alongside pertaining to the Age (or: performance as a Paraclete with age-lasting aid; eonian relief, encouragement, consolation and admonition) as well as a good expectation (or: a virtuous and excellent hope) in grace (or: in union with favor),

17.  be at once calling your hearts alongside and establishing (making to stand fast; making stable and firm) you in every good (or: excellent) work and word (or: thought; idea; message) [with other MSS: in all the Word and in virtuous action].


His next remarks state again the qualities and characteristics of the new creation in Christ: God's performing as a Paraclete and giving us a good expectation which comes in union with favor and in the sphere of grace.  Then we see his admonition to be calling each others' hearts to their sides, which will make them stable and firm in every excellent action and virtuous work and word.  It is love, solidarity and action with a view to goodness.  May we, too, receive this thought.


Note that this "calling alongside" (paraklesis) is described as "eonian" (aionian) in vs. 16.  It is a quality of the Age of the Messiah, which is a phrase that reaches back with continuity to the OT expectation of the coming Messiah, and which equates to Paul's phrase "new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17).

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