2 Thessalonians 2
Apostasy Present and Coming

See the sequence of events in table below.
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Text Comments
The purpose of this chapter was to correct a misunderstanding about the coming of Christ. Reference is no doubt to the description in the earlier letter we know as 1st Thessalonians. 1th0413-17. In clarifying that Jesus was not to return immediately, Paul gives us additional information.
.1 ¶ Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
 2  That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
.3a ¶ Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first. . . .
  1 - By That is, "concerning."
  1 - Coming ... gathering When Christ returns, the righteous will be gathered, some living and some from their graves mt2431, jn1403, 1th0417. But popular theology tells us that there is to be a "rapture" sweeping righteous people up to heaven to escape a time of tribulation. "Coming" in this verse is from parousia, the same word Jesus used on the mountain when His disciples had asked, "When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" mt2403.
  2 - Spirit No doubt the Holy Spirit 1co0740.
  2 - Day of Christ Better translated as "day of the Lord." For more, see note.
  3 - Falling away Or "apostasy." From the Greek apostasia. The word also occurs in ac2121 as "forsake."
.3b ¶ Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
.4  Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
.5  Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
  3 - Man of sin The "man of sin" is the "son of perdition" and in v8 "that Wicked." We may identify this "man" as the papacy which developed from the apostate church of the early centuries. See "man" in da0708.
  Seeing that he is destroyed by the brightness of the coming of Christ recalls the beast and false prophet being thrown into the lake of fire re1920. The false prophet or beast from the earth is less prominent in re13. We recognize or confirm that the "man of sin" is the papacy. He is also the woman on the beast re1705a.  Compare da0810.
  3 - Sin Or "lawlessness." Satan and those he inspires hate the law of God the simple rules He has given to guide us in the path of happiness. 2ti0301ff.
  3,4 - Son of perdition ... opposeth ... exalteth Perdition means eternal, permanent loss. A "son" is one who inherits. Compare re2107f. Here we see Satan is1413. Compare Judas who was Satan's agent jn1712. And remember that the dragon (Satan) gave his seat and power to the fallen church re1302. As an example, see a discussion of the Eucharist re1408.
 6  And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
.7  For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [restrains] will let, until he be taken out of the way.
  6 - Withholdeth Greek, katecho. This may mean "restrain" like the word in v7, but there the gender is masculine. Here, neuter. So we see the thing that restrains, v6, then in v7, the one who restrains. Katecho may also mean "to possess" or "to hinder."
  7 - He who now [restrains]  God is often seen as the restraining power in this verse. My earlier idea was that it was paganism (which restrained the church even as it slipped into apostasy). However, paganism doesn't work for the role because the Greek grammar doesn't agree. Instead consider the restraining power of the Holy Spirit as represented by the four angels who hold back the winds of trouble re0701ff. Find a similar discussion at re1214d.
.8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
.9  Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
  8 - That wicked The sea beast (papacy) who plays the role of Satan. See v3b.
  8 - Be revealed He becomes assertive as a world power and his real character becomes apparent. The earth beast promotes setting up an image of him which is to be worshipped re1315c. (Remember that this is symbolic as is, to some extent, what Paul writes here.) Find Satan's same final push for worship through the defiance of the wicked king (papacy) in da1145. From the beginning, Satan has wanted the place and worship due to Christ re1207, mt0408f.
  8 - Brightness of his coming Symbolized by the lake of fire or a manifestation of that lake re1920.
  9 - After the working of Satan This is a clue for us. The real Jesus will not contradict the Bible. He won't be running around doing miracles to prove His point.
.10  And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.   Deceivableness See re1613, re1313.
  Unrighteousness Here is the "lawlessness" characteristic. Righteousness is right doing as defined by the law 1jo0304. Jesus will not pretend to have changed the law.
  Received not the love of the truth Faith is a gift of the grace of God ro1203 the gift associated with love for truth ps119163. Our trouble begins when we refuse the gift. The practice of evil is evidence. See je1723.
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.11  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:


  Strong delusion Paul doesn't say what this final assault is, but consider the lying wonders and the activity of the false world religion. For the next step we may expect that, before the coming of Christ in the clouds, God will allow Satan to reveal himself as Christ. Perhaps the sea beast will introduce him. Just remember that, when Christ comes to gather us, He doesn't come all the way to the ground 1th0417.
  Believe a lie Note why they will be deceived. God does not force us to accept truth. In rejecting it, we change our "reality" and cannot see truth. God sends or allows the great end-time deception because they want it ro1107. God does not want to destroy anyone ez3311. They die because they refused the light, not so much because they were unable to see it after rejecting it. Guilt is in the refusal. Compare is3028, je0521, ps8111f, and ez1407-10. See the principle also in jn0941 and on ge2724.
 12  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.   That they all might be damned It seems like God wants to get rid of them. But God doesn't work this way mt2337, ez3311. Note that these people have chosen falsehood. The damnation, or condemnation judgment, is the obvious result and will clarify their case to those who observe the judgment.
  Pleasure in unrighteousness This is a warning for us. If we love those activities and scenes on TV that feature sin, we will find ourselves hating truth and looking for an explanation that looks good to make us feel better!
.13 ¶ But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
 14  Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 15  Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
 16 ¶ Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
 17  Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
  13 - Give thanks for you In contrast to those who refused truth.
  13 - Chosen This verse may appear to teach God's arbitrary determination of our destiny. But notice that the selection is through "belief in the truth." Some, however, refuse to accept a love for truth v10. Thus although God has chosen us from the beginning, not all will accept. Our destiny is not arbitrary.
  13 - From the beginning 1jo0101, re1308b, ep0103f.
  13 - Through sanctification Should read "in sanctification." This is the work of the Holy Spirit and is based on truth jn1717.
  15 - Traditions Greek paradoseis. See mr0703. The word means "delivered" or "handed over in teaching." Thus the word does not imply an authority above the teacher. Here it is the counsel given by Paul.

Sequence of events

We expect described events to be in chronological order. Paul's situation here was different. He warned his readers that the coming of Christ was not soon. Then he described the deceptive force that would come first. I suggest the following order of events:
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Verse
Event
7a Mystery of lawlessness (sin) at work
3 Falling away (apostasy of dark ages)
4 Man of lawlessness assumes role of God
10 People refuse to love truth
9 Lying wonders (miracles)
11 Lie received
3b&8 Man of lawlessness revealed
7b Restraining one removed
1 Gathering of righteous
8 Lawless one destroyed by Christ

Note on v3
A teaching about the rapture defines "the day of Christ" as the time for the rapture, whereas "the day of the Lord" is said to be a tribulation which comes after the rapture. This ignores the context. In verse 1, we see that Paul is writing about "the Lord Jesus Christ." All three names apply to one person.
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