Skip to main content

2 Thessalonians 2

You can read the text here.

Paul continues to encourage the Thessalonian Christians. Apparently communication (oral or letter) had arrived in Paul's name claiming that the day of the Lord had come and gone or they had badly misunderstood 1 Thessalonians.[1] Either way, this shook the church and must have raised questions about why they were still facing persecution and had not yet been vindicated.[2] Paul claims the time had not come and gives his expectation of what must happen first. It seems clear to me that Paul expected it to come soon.[3]

Who did Paul have in mind when talking about this man of lawlessness? It sounds like Paul is talking about something concrete he is expecting to be done by someone alive at that time.[4] Whoever he is, Paul is expecting that he too will succumb to the power of the Messiah Jesus when he returns to judge. And so will all who follow him in his Satan led deception.[5]

Because of this, the Thessalonians have nothing to fear. God is on their side because they have received the Spirit that sanctifies them, which is God's proof of their election; a purposeful election - their glory. All they need to do is to hold fast in fidelity to what they were taught. Paul concludes wishing them comfort once more. The Thessalonians must have been truly shaken.

To expand on one point in the last paragraph a bit, there is a very clear pattern to salvation here. God's grace is prior to any activity on the part of the Thessalonians. God's grace also empowers them to live lives of holiness. However, nowhere is there any suggestion that there is no requirement on the Thessalonians for their final vindication. They are clearly charged with cooperating with God's grace both in trust and by living in accordance with God's rule, in a word, fidelity. The whole passage makes clear that those who are loyal to God will be saved on the day or judgment, while those who rebel against him will parish. It does leave one wondering what will happen to those "in the middle," but we need to be careful not to go beyond what Paul actually is trying to argue here.

--------------------------------------
[1] Fee has a nice overview of the possibilities here.

[2] I think Occam's razor requires this solution to what troubled them given the information that we actually have (i.e., 2 Thes. 1). This conclusion is in line with Fee's interpretation as well.

[3] Do we also have to wrestle with failed prophecy given that it didn't happen soon (and the temple was destroyed)? Gaventa pushes back against the claim that the reference to the temple here is necessarily the temple in Jerusalem, but if Paul indeed is the author, the temple was still standing and seems the most likely referent. See the discussion in Malherbe for the range of possible interpretations.

[4] Though see Malherbe for the argument that Paul is drawing on Daniel.

[5] Malherbe argues well that God's activity here follows/is a consequence of resisting him. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Commentary Series Overview

When I write commentary reviews, one of my main goals is to assess how well the commentator hit the intended audience of the commentary and utilized the format of the commentary. This often necessitates cluttering up the post discussing issues of format. To eliminate that, I thought that I would make some general remarks about the format and audience of each of the series that appear in my reviews. Terms like liberal, conservative, etc. are not used pejoratively but simply as descriptors. Many of you are familiar with Jeremy Pierce's commentary series overview. If you don't see a particular series covered here, check out his post to see if it's reviewed there. I am making no attempt at covering every series, just the series that I use. Additionally, new series (such as the NCCS) have been started in the five years since he wrote his very helpful guide, so I thought that it might not be completely out of order to have another person tackle commentary series overviews. This…

Paul's Argument in Galatians 3:15-29

15 Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. 19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one. 21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! Fo…

Commentary Review: Daniel

In my opinion, Daniel is not the best covered Old Testament book as far as commentaries go. This isn't an uncommon phenomenon among Old Testament books. Though I've looked at them, I'm not going to review some of the older Evangelical Daniel commentaries (like e.g., Baldwin). They don't provide much that you can't get in either Longman or Lucas. If you're unfamiliar with the series that one or more of these commentaries are in check out my commentary series overview.

It was a very close call but my favorite commentary on Daniel is Goldingay's. While there were a few places where I disagreed with his interpretation, I found the commentary to be exemplary. If you're going to teach Daniel, especially the apocalyptic portions, you need a commentary that provides you with a lot of background material. Goldingay, while not as broad as Collins, certainly provides you with quite a bit. His exploration of the background to the apocalyptic symbolism is very helpfu…