2 Thessalonians 2
The Saints Gathered to Christ must Come Before (2:1-2)
The Apostasy and Unveiling of Antichrist must Come Before (2:3-12)
5 Do ye not remember that, being yet with you, I said these things to you? v.5 Prior knowledge. Evidently Paul had spoken of the outline of prophetic events when he was in Thessalonica a short while before. They knew about the man of sin, and about the apostasy. The saints should have known that the day of the Lord was not present.
Encouragement to Stand Fast in the Light of our Destiny (2:13-17)
15 So then, brethren, stand firm, and hold fast the instructions which ye have been taught, whether by word or by our letter. v.15 Instructions. In light of the saints’ glorious election, calling, and destiny, Paul exhorted the Thessalonians to “hold fast the instructions which ye have been taught”. These instructions could have come in two different ways: (1) “by word”, which would be the inspired and spoken word, or (2) “by our letter”, which refers to the inspired and written epistles. There has been some confusion about this word which is sometimes translated ‘traditions’.
The word "traditions" is used several times in the New Testament, not only for the added sayings of men (Matt. 15:1-7), but for what the apostles exhorted the saints by inspiration, first orally, then in writing while the canon was in building and not yet complete (Rom. 6:17; 2 Thess. 2:15; 1 Cor. 11:2).The word could also be translated "directions" or "instructions". In either case, these "instructions" were commandments from the Lord; "if any man thinketh himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge the things that I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord" (1 Cor. 14:37). We have those same "instructions" with us today, in the completed canon of scripture. The idea that there is a separate set of "traditions" (man's word) that are to be valued equally or superior to God's Word is very dangerous.Read more… The point is, the saints were to follow the instructions of the apostle, even though there were those around them who were seeking to deceive them.
16 But our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us, and given us eternal consolation and good hope by grace, 17 encourage your hearts, and establish you in every good work and word. vv.16-17 God’s Encouragement. Paul’s prayer for the saints is that God, who had encouraged Paul and his companions, would likewise encourage the hearts of the saints. Read more… Notice that he uses the full title of Christ, and refers to Him personally. It was “our Lord Jesus Christ himself” who encourages the saints, as well as “our God and Father”. The saints thus are connected with the Lordship, manhood, and glory of Christ, as well as with knowing God as their Father. Paul speaks of God’s love, “eternal consolation” (or, peace), and hope. These same things would encourage the hearts of the saints, and establish them in their practical walk. Notice that the order is “work” first, then “word”. Our walk speaks louder than our talk!
- As long as, on the one hand, those who are to be on the seat of judgment are not gathered together (the saints above), and while, on the other hand the criminal is not brought to the bar, there can be no judgment. – Darby, J.N. Notes on the Epistles to the Thessalonians.
- J.N. Darby, in his Notes on the Epistles to the Thessalonians, remarked that “If we change the word ‘present,’ the whole epistle becomes unintelligible.” This shows the importance of accurate Bible translation.
- W. Kelly remarked; “‘The mystery of lawlessness’ is the hidden energy of Satan meanwhile in mingling error with truth under Christ’s name, either swamping grace by legalism or prostituting it to license.”
- Evidently, then, we find here a power that hinders the manifestation of the lawless one — a power which is also a person. Where do we find one that effectually checks the plans of Satan, a person no less than a power? We need not consider long, but answer, without hesitation, the Spirit of God. – Kelly, W. Lectures Introductory to the New Testament.
- 2 Thessalonians 2 shows that before his manifestation there must be the coming of our Lord Jesus, and our gathering to Him. Now, the powers that be are ordained of God, and exercise a restraint upon the full outbreak of lawlessness, headed up in the lawless one. Then they will be removed. “Ye know what withholdeth,” verse 6, and then besides “He who now letteth” (or hindereth) “will let until he be — taken out of the way” — namely the Holy Ghost in the Church, before the manifestation of the man of sin. – Trench, J.A. The Beast and the False Prophet.
- That which hinders it therefore is the power of God acting in government here below as authorised by Him. The grossest abuse of power still bears this last character. Christ could say to Pilate, “Thou couldest have no power against me, except it were given thee from above.” Wicked as he might be, his power is owned as coming from God. – Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible.
- “That which restrains;” the Greek means a thing. What is it? God has not told us what it is, and this, doubtless, because the thing which restrained then is not that which restrains now. Then it was, in one sense, the Roman empire, as the fathers thought; who saw in the power of the Roman empire a hindrance to the revelation of the man of sin, and thus prayed for the prosperity of that empire. At present the hindrance is still the existence of the governments established by God in the world; and God will maintain them as long as there is here below the gathering of His church. Viewed in this light, the hindrance is, at the bottom, the presence of the church and of the Holy Spirit on the earth. – Darby, J.N. Notes on the Epistles to the Thessalonians.
- I do not think the “he” applies to the church, although certainly the church ought to have a preserving effect as righteousness in the earth; as Jesus told His disciples, “Ye are the salt of the earth… Ye are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:13-14). Yet this preserving effect is more of a passive thing, not active, like the restrainer of 2 Thess. 2:7. Also, the Lord warned that the salt could lose its savor, and we can certainly admit that the salt is beginning to lose its saltiness.
- The withdrawal of the obstacle, of Him who restrains, leaves the door open for the man of sin to make his appearance in Satan’s power. – Kelly, W. The Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians.
- At a certain given moment, which the Revelation clearly defines, Satan will be cast down from heaven, and will then bring forward his long-meditated plan. The empire that has disappeared from among men for so long, that the wise men of the world think its resurrection impossible — the Roman empire will come forward clothed with a diabolical energy. This is the moment when the Spirit ceases to restrain. – Kelly, W. Lectures Introductory to the New Testament.
- The context appears to decide that “from the beginning” must be interpreted in the largest sense, not merely from the beginning of the gospel or of Christ’s manifestation on earth, but from of old from everlasting. – Kelly, W. The Epistles to the Thessalonians.
- Here I conceive there cannot be a doubt that sanctification of the Spirit means, that mighty separative act of the Holy Ghost, by which a soul is first livingly set apart to God; and so it is accompanied by faith of the truth. – Kelly, W. The Epistles to the Thessalonians.