By: LAZARUS CONLEY
2 Thessalonians Notes:
“A few maybe weeks or months had passed after St. Paul had sent his 1st Epistle to the Thessalonians. He received word that all wasn’t yet well with them. Some were still idling about, doing nothing but waiting on the Lord’s 2nd Coming and living off their friends. This heightened excitement and expectation of the Lord’s imminent return had been fueled by a number of things – by spurious spirits or prophetic utterances, by rumors that this was the authentic message and teaching of their apostle Paul, and by rumors of an epistle purporting to be from him to the effect that the Day of the Lord was at hand. It could be too that increased persecution had this byproduct, as they consoled themselves for their present afflictions by saying the Lord would soon return and end their suffering. For whatever reason, reception of his 1st epistle to them hadn’t had the desired effect… Therefore, he sent a 2nd epistle soon after the 1st, consoling them in their suffering for the Faith and teaching them further regarding the 2nd Coming, assuring them that it wasn’t imminently at hand and ordering them with fresh vigor and authority to cease idling and get back to work” [Farley, 59].
v. 3 – He offers consolation for their persecutions. He is proud of them for fighting the good fight and keeping the Faith.
v. 4 – “persecutions and in the afflictions”. Instance of persecution is recounted in Acts 17:5-9. The Thessalonian correspondence here reveals that this violence hadn’t disappeared.
v. 5 – They will be judged worthy he says for experiencing the suffering they currently undergo.
v. 6 – “repay with affliction”. In Romans 2:9 the same Greek word for “tribulation” (trouble) is used for th3e woe brought on evildoers at the Last Judgment.
v. 7 – “revelation of the Lord Jesus”: Christ’s coming will be an unveiling (apokalypsis) of the glory which he’s attained with the Father and in which Christians are to share (v. 10). In Jewish apocalyptic literature God comes in judgment with angels who execute the decrees of his power (2 Enoch 29:3; T. Judah 3:10; Enoch 61:10). The NT transfers this imagery to Christ (Mt 13:39, 49; 16:27; 24:30-31; 25:31; Mk 8:38; Lk 12:8-9), and the power of God becomes the power of Christ (1 Cor. 1:24; 6:14; 2 Cor. 13:4) [Jerome Study Bible, 234.]
v. 8 – “in flaming fire”: The glow of his majesty [Ex 3:2; Is 66:15; Acts 26:13]… Ignorance of God (1 Thess. 4:10) and refusal to accept the gospel preached by Paul (3:14; Rom 10:16) characterize the enemies of Christians. [Ibid. 234.]
v. 9 – The “punishment is eternal [unending] destruction”, a deprivation of the presence and glory of Christ, which is the lot of the faithful (1 Thess. 4:17; 5:10); their continued existence is presupposed. [Ibid. 234].
“eternal destruction”. Eternal punishment (Isa 66:24; Mt 25:42, 46; Mk 9:43, 48). Assures the Thessalonian Christians of final and perfect justice. They’re to refrain from taking personal revenge because God will judge justly.
[Isa 2:10, 19, 21.] “From the glory of His might (strength)”. St. Chrysostom: It’s enough that God comes and is seen, and all are to come to punishment and retribution. His coming on the one hand to some shall be light, but to others punishment”. [Homily 3 P.G. 62:522 (col. 479).]
v. 10 – “on that day”. The Day of the Lord (1 Thess. 5:2). We don’t know how long the Day will be or last. It accompanies we know the 2nd Coming of Christ and His saints.
St. Chrysostom: “And to be marveled at”, he says, “in all those who believe”. See here again, “in” is used for “through”. For through them He’s shown to be wondrous when He brings to so much splendor those who were pitiable, and in distress and hardship, and who’d suffered 10,000 ills, and had believed, His might is shown then; because although they seem to be abandoned here, yet nevertheless they there enjoy great glory; then especially is shown all the glory and the might of God. [Homily 3, P.G. 62:523 (col. 480).]
“to be glorified in his saints”: Cf. Ps 68:36; 89:8; Isa 49:3; 66:5; en with the dative connotes both the place and manner of Christ’s glorification. The manifestation of the glory of God is the eschatological good (Isa 40:5) and takes place at the revelation of Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 4:13; 5:10). Christians are to share in the divine glory of Jesus (Col 1:27; 3:4; Rom 8:18; Phil 3:21; 1 Cor. 2:7; 15:43).
“to be marveled at”: Cf. Wisdom 8:11; the admiration of the saved in Christ their Savior.
“on that day”: Placed at the end of the sentence, to create a triumphant effect (1 Thess 5:2). [Jerome Study Bible, 234.]
1:5-10 – “The Thessalonians surely have the same thoughts and temptations to doubt God’s justice. They’ve done nothing wrong! Why are they suffering so? St. Paul continues to assure them that, far from being evidence of God’s injustice, their perserverance in the midst of suffering is ‘evidence’ of His ‘righteous judgment’. Their suffering isn’t in vain. It’s changing them, purifying them, transforming them (compare 1 Peter 4:1) so that they’ll finally be ‘judged-worthy’ (Gr. Kataxioo) of the Kingdom of God. As St. Paul says elsewhere, the present suffering ‘is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison’ (2 Cor. 4:17). Their present suffering shows the justice of God’s future ‘judgment’, for God will give them a glorious ‘Kingdom’; and they’ll not be counted unworthy of it, for they’re ‘suffering’ for it now. More than that, God’s justice will be vindicated at the 2nd Coming. Then, those persecutors who ‘afflict’ them (Gr. Thliboo) will themselves be ‘afflicted’ and punished with ‘affliction’ (Gr. Thlipsis), while those who’ve been oppressed will be given ‘relief’ and eternal rest…There’s no chance for them to escape. The Lord will come from heaven ‘with the angels of His power in a fire of flame’, dealing out vengeance on the guilty and ‘being glorified in His saints’. He’ll show His glory by glorifying them, a transformation so astonishing that the sight will ‘be marveled at’ by all believers. Now they suffer in humility and pain. On that day, when Christ will be ‘glorified in’ them, they’ll be transformed in exaltation and power, beyond anything they dare imagine“. [Farley, 63-64].
v. 11 – Bl. Theophylact: What is this, “work of faith in power”? Patient endurance of persecutions. How? He gives us power and strength; for patience is a work of faith. [Explanation to the 2nd Epistle of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, P.G. 124:535B (col. 1337).]
v. 1- “Paul writes about the event that all Christians desire (1 Thess. 4:14, 17). The final ‘assembly’ (episynagoge) of the people of God is a traditional prophetic and apocalyptic notion (Isa 27:13; Sir 36:10; Ps 106:47; Mt 24:31; 2 Mac 2:18;). [Jerome Study Bible, 234].
v. 2 – St. Chrysostom: Here he seems to me to hint that certain ones went about having forged an epistle, as if from Paul. And showing this, they said that the day of the Lord has come, in order to lead astray many. [Homily 3, P.G. 62:524 (col. 481).]
“Something has shaken (saleuthenai, aorist infinitive) the peace of mind of the Thessalonians so that they’re in a perturbed state of mind (throeisthai, present infinitive; cf. Mt 24:6; Gal. 1:6-9). 3 possible causes: (1) a spirit: a charismatic gift, most likely of prophecy (1 Thess. 5:19-21); (2) an utterance: a charismatic discourse of wisdom or knowledge (1 Cor 12:8), or a supposed report from Paul; (3) a letter attributed to us: although Paul takes care to authenticate this letter (3:17), it is unclear that such forged letters were actually circulating. “that the day of the Lord is already here”: The Vulgate instat is a facilitating interpretation (cf. Rom 8:38; 1 Cor. 3:22). We don’t know how they would’ve understood this false teaching, but it appears to have confirmed some of them in idleness (2 Thess. 3:6-12). [Jerome Study Bible, 234.]
2:1-2 – “The Thessalonians are under the impression that ‘the Day of the Lord’, the 2nd ‘Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’ with our attendant ‘coming-together to Him’ to meet Him and be with Him forever (see 1 Thess. 4:13-18), is ‘upon us’. (The word translated here ‘is upon us’, Gr. Enistemi, literally means ‘is present’.) The apostle did indeed teach that the 2nd Coming was imminent – that no historical developments had to occur before the final events of the Coming could take place. This didn’t mean that the 2nd Coming was soon to occur. Some commentators have inferred from statements like these that the apostles expected the Lord to come in their own lifetimes, but this misunderstands the import of their words. The apostle wasn’t talking about calendars, dates, and earthly schedules. He meant that history didn’t need to evolve any more before the final events of the end could begin. ‘The end of the ages’ had already come upon them (1 Cor. 10:11); they already were living in ‘the last hour’ (1 John 2:18). Others in Paul’s day may have thought that certain historical developments must occur before the time was right for the end – that an age of universal peace and plenty must 1st be ushered in. But the apostles taught that the Lord would come unexpectedly, ‘like a thief in the night’ (1 Thess. 5:4). The next thing on the divine agenda was the end, with all its attendant precursors. The Thessalonians have apparently misunderstood this…They’ve misinterpreted the apostolic teaching that ‘the Lord is near’ (compare Phil. 4:5) to mean that He’s going to come in the next few months or perhaps years. This misunderstanding has apparently been fueled by rumors and by spurious prophetic utterance. Some among them have apparently prophesied (in a ‘spirit’ or spiritual utterance) that the Lord’s soon to come. Others have perhaps heard rumor of a message or ‘word’ from the apostles confirming this. Others have spoken of an ‘epistle’ from them to this effect (is this a garbled report and misunderstanding of Paul’s teaching in his 1st epistle to them?). By whatever means, many among the Thessalonians believe that the Coming ‘is upon us’ – that the final countdown has begun and the Lord is soon to return. Some have therefore ceased working and spend their time idling, being busybodies, living in a fever of anticipation. St. Paul writes this present epistle to tell them not to be ‘shaken from’ their ‘mind’ and rattled by rumor. They’ve been thrown off their spiritual equilibrium by these things. Paul writes to restore their inner balance and to give them further clarification and teaching”. [Farley. 67—68.]
v. 3 – St. Chrysostom: Here he discourses concerning the Antichrist, and reveals great mysteries. What is “the apostasy”? He calls the Antichrist apostasy, as being about to destroy many, and make them give themselves up….And he calls him “the man of the sin”. For he shall work a myriad of dread things and contrive that others also do them. But he calls him “the son of the perdition” because he’s also to be destroyed. [Homily 3, P.G. 62:525 (col. 482).] Note the definite articles.
St. Kyril of Jerusalem: Hatred of the brethren makes room next for Antichrist; for the devil prepares beforehand the divisions among the people, that he who’s to come may be acceptable to them. But God forbid that any of Christ’s servants here, or elsewhere, should run over to the enemy! Writing concerning this matter the Apostle Paul gave a manifest sign, saying, “For that day shall not come unless the apostasy should come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of the perdition”. [St. Kyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture XV(9), in Nicene, 2nd Ser., VII:106.]
St. Hippolytus: Learn, beloved, the wickedness of the men of that time, how they spoil houses and fields, and take even justice from the just; for when these things come to pass, ye may know that it’s the end. [Appendix to the Works of Hippolytus, in Ante-Nicene, V:243.]
St. Ephraim the Syrian: After iniquity shall have multiplied, and all creatures have become defiled, then divine justice shall appear, and shall wholly destroy the people, and, coming forth from perdition, the man of iniquity shall be revealed upon the earth, the seducer of men and the disturber of the whole earth. [Toal, “Sermon on Antichrist and the End and Consumnation”, Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, 3rd ed., Vol. IV:355-338.]
“The danger of seductive error in the last days is a NT theme (Mt 24:4, 11, 24; 1 Cor. 6:9; 15:33; 2 Tim 3:13). 2 signs must precede the coming of Christ: (1) the apostasy; (2) the revelation of the Man of Sin (hamartias) or of lawlessness (l.v. anomias), a word that connotes all opposition to God… Since that time [of Antiochus IV Epiphanes’ persecutions on the Jews] apostasy was a recognized phase of the final drama (Enoch 91:7; Jub 23:14-16; 2 Esdras 5:1-2; cf. Mt 24:12, the cooling of love in face of anomia). The theological content of the apostasy is the final attempt of Satan to destroy God’s kingdom through the defections of men. “Man of sin”: Satan’s agent in this work… The man of sin has commonly been identified with the Antichrist of the Johannine epistles (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7); Paul describes him as an individual (2:4, 9-10), although 1 John sees Antichrists in the heresiarchs of his day (1 John 2:18-19). The “Man of Sin” is an apocalyptic symbol for which Paul doesn’t provide an historical identification.” [Jerome Study Bible, 234].
v. 4 – St. Chrysostom: And who is he? Is it Satan then? Not at all, but he’s a man that accepted all of Satan’s energy. He’ll not introduce idolatry, but will be against God. He’ll abolish all the gods, and command all to be paying homage to him instead of God. He’ll be seated in the temple of God, not that in Jerusalem only, but in the churches everywhere, “showing himself that he’s God”. He didn’t say, “Saying (he’s God)”, but attempting to show himself. For he shall work great works, and show signs of wonder. [Homily 3, P.G. 62:525 (col. 482).]
St. Kyril of Jerusalem: Paul says that the man of the sin, the son of perdition, “opposes and exalts himself above all which is called God or an object of worship, so as for him to sit in the temple of God as God, showing himself that he’s God”. What temple? He means the ruined temple of the Jews, already destroyed. God forbid that it be the one in which we are (in Jerusalem)! ... He’ll create the impression that he’s the descendent of David who’s to restore the temple of Solomon. Antichrist will come when in the temple of the Jews not a stone upon a stone will be left, as our Savior foretold [Mt 24:2]. [Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Bk. IV, Ch. XXVI, in Nicene, 2nd Ser., IX:98.]
St. Ephraim the Syrian: Rulers shall cease from judgment, and priests shall tremble in the sanctuary. The power of the strong shall collapse. There shall be stupor upon the earth. The hands of all shall be undone. The man of evil will prepare, and coming he’ll enter Jerusalem. He’ll build up and establish Sion, making himself to be God; and entering, he’ll sit in the temple….Then he’ll begin to show false signs in the heaven and upon the earth, sea, and dry land. But the elect shall fly from his face to the mountaintops and hills; and there shall be tribulation on earth, such as hasn’t been from the beginning of the world [Mt. 24:21]. And being thrown into confusion by this commotion, terror shall invade the hearts of all. Sons will deny their fathers, and follow the evil one. Priests will leave their altars; and going forth, they’ll become his heralds. Some will take refuge in tombs and hide among the dead, saying that the dead are blessed in being snatched away from such afflictions. [Toal, “Sermon on Antichrist and the End and Consumnation”, IV:355-358.]
2:3-4 – All this delusion of the Lord’s soon return must be completely dispelled. The Day of the Lord, with all its attendant signs in the heavens (see Luke 21:25-26), won’t come ‘unless the apostasy comes first’…St. Paul refers to it as ‘the apostasy’ (with the emphatic definite article), indicating that he spoke of this final rebellion to them before. The concept of the final apostasy is rooted in the Jewish apocalyptic teachings of that time. These writings taught Israel to expect a final time of trial, crisis, and chaos before the end. The apocalyptic book of 2 Esdras spoke of men being ‘seized with great terror’, of ‘truth being hidden and the land being barren of faith’, of ‘chaos breaking out in many places’ and the land ‘being thrown into confusion’ as ‘unrestraint increases on earth’ (2 Esdras 5:1-10). The apostles echo this teaching. Before the events of the end, and as a precursor to it, there must come the expected ‘apostasy’ and universal rebellion, the final breakdown of all order. It’s out of this chaos that ‘the man of lawlessness’, the great champion of sin, will arise. He’ll manifest and embody this final apostasy of the world, deifying himself and opposing God. As one who sets himself against the Most High, he’s called here ‘the son of destruction’ – A Hebraism for someone destined for destruction and doom. We find this concept of an eschatological rebel against God, who leads the final charge against all righteousness and embodies the lawlessness of the last days in one of the so-called Sibylline Oracles (3, 46ff): ‘From among the Sebastenoi [Ceasars?] Beliar will come and will cause the sea to be silent and will also cause the dead to be raised and perform many signs among them. But no consummation will be in him but only deceit and so he’ll cause many men to err… But the warnings of the great God [will] appear and a power of fire [will] come and burn Beliar and all overbearing men who’ve yielded their faith to him’. We find the same teaching in the Ascension of Isaiah (4:2): ‘After the consummation has arrived, the Angel Berial will descend from his heaven in the form of a wicked king and all the powers of this world will obey him in whatever he desires’. Though some of these Jewish apocalyptic works are contemporaries with St. Paul, they express traditions that go well back into the intertestamental period and contribute to the Church’s understanding of the eschatological assault on the Kingdom to which St. Paul here refers… ‘the man of lawlessness’… is better known under the title ‘the antichrist’. In the Didache…from about AD100, he’s referred to as ‘the World-deceiver’, who shall ‘appear as the Son of God’ so that ‘the world shall be delivered into his hands and he shall do unholy things’. The concept of the final antichrist forms the background of some of the latter chapters of the Apocalypse of St. John, where the final assault of the Beast is described (Rev 16:14-16). Paul speaks of the man of lawlessness as being ‘revealed’ (the same word used for the 2nd Coming of Christ in 1:7), making him an inverted parallel to the Lord. In saying that the man of lawlessness will be ‘revealed’, St. Paul means that the antichrist will be present in the world as a man before his career as the eschatological rebel, and that his manifestation as the antichrist will be part of the convulsion of the end times. The antichrist will be known by his self-deification and his prideful, blasphemous self-exhibition as ‘God’. Though he won’t necessarily claim to be the uncreated Creator, he’ll ‘oppose and exalt himself above every so-called god or object of veneration’ (The phraseology is reminiscent of Daniel 11:36)”. [Farley. 68, 69, 70].
“sitting in the sanctuary of God”. “There is no sound consensus in the early Church, and Paul doesn’t explain in enough detail for us to make a conclusion so we should be tentative ourselves in our conclusions. What’s certain is that St. Paul means us to understand the final antichrist will intrude on the worship of the true God, usurping His place in an act of daring blasphemy” [Farley. 71.]
v. 5 – He doesn’t complete his sentence here. Concludes in a different manner.
v. 6 – “That which restraineth”; neuter here, but masculine in verse 7. St. Chrysostom: One may inquire what’s “that which restraineth”? …. He said this of the Roman empire. [Homily 4, P.G. 62:529 (col. 485).]
v. 7 – St. Chrysostom: One may inquire, what’s that which withholds? …. Some say the grace of the Holy Spirit, but others the Roman rule, to which I much rather accede. Why? Because if he meant to say the Spirit, he wouldn’t have spoken obscurely, but plainly, that even now the grace of the Spirit, that is the gifts of grace, withhold him….If he were about to come when the gifts of grace cease, he ought now to have come, for they’ve long ceased. But he said this of the Roman rule,…speaking covertly and darkly, not wishing to bring upon himself superfluous enmities and senseless dangers. He says, “Only there’s the one who restraineth now, until he should come to be taken out of the midst; that is, whenever the empire is taken out of the way, then he shall come. For as long as there’s fear of the empire, no one will willingly exalt himself. But when that’s dissolved, he’ll attack the anarchy, and endeavor to seize upon the sovereignty both of man and of God”. [Homily 4, P.G. 62:529, 530 (cols. 485, 486).]
Take note that: Chrysostom does not believe the gifts have ceased. He is not a cessationalist because he does believe that the sacraments are all still valid. Sacraments are gifts from God which means he can’t be a cessationalist. He believes that the gifts have dispensed through the sacraments instead.
2:6-7 – “The present conflict goes on in secret, for there’s someone or something impeding the revelation of the Man of Sin. The ‘restrainer’ (neut. Katechon, masc. katechon) is a new element in the drama, of which the Thessalonians are already aware; the word appears without an object and both as a neuter and a masculine singular. The meaning is literally: ‘And now you know that which restrains, until he is revealed in his own time; for the mystery of lawlessness has already been put to work; (it operates in secret) only until he who is at present restraining gets out of the way’. Satan has a secret plan (mysterion) and the Man of Sin will have a Parousia, just as God has a secret plan (mysterion), and Christ will have a Parousia. Among the Church Fathers, the civil order of the Roman Empire was always a favorite candidate for the ‘restrainer’.” [Note: it doesn’t have to be]. [J.S.B. 234].
One way to look at it is that Rome embodies social order. If Rome or whichever Empire (or empires) fell, the Antichrist would come up from the ashes promising things like order, peace, etc. This is what Paul has in mind when he’s talking of the restrainer. Rome didn’t fall until 1453 (and even that is somewhat debatable as Rome still survives in some essence through many of the broken off nations that can claim to be Rome like Russia for example or Britain, etc.).
v. 8 – St. Chrysostom: Such is the nature of good things: they not only correct that which is akin to them, but also destroy the opposite – and in this way is their power most displayed. For so fire, not only whenever it gives light, and whenever it purifies gold, but also whenever it consumes thorns, it very greatly displays its proper strength. And Vhrist too herein also demonstrates His own majesty whenever He shall consume the Antichrist with the breath of His mouth. [Homily 5 on 2 Cor. 2:16, P.G. 61:468 (col. 430).]
v. 9 – St. Irenaeus: We may discover in many instances that the apostle frequently uses a transposed order in his sentences, due to the rapidity of his discourses, and the impetus of the Spirit which is in him….And again, here,….he doesn’t mean that the coming of the Lord is after the energy of Satan, but the coming of the wicked one, whom we also call Antichrist. If, then, one doesn’t attend to the proper reading of the passage, and if he doesn’t exhibit the intervals of breathing as they occur, there shall be not only incongruities, but also, when reading, he’ll utter blasphemy, as if the advent of the Lord could take place according to the energy of Satan. So therefore, in such passages, the transposition must be exhibited by the reading, and the apostle’s meaning following on, preserved. [Against Heresies, Bk. III, Ch. VII(2), in Ante-Nicene, I:420, 421.]
2:8, 9 – St. John of Damascus: 1st, it’s necessary that the Gospel should be preached among all nations [cf. Mt 24:14]; “and then the lawless one shall be revealed” [2 Thess. 2:8]….The devil himself, therefore, doesn’t become man in the way that the Lord was made Man. God forbid! But Antichrist shall become man as the offspring of fornication, and shall receive all the energy of Satan. For God, foreknowing the choice that he’d make, allows the devil to take up his abode in him. [Exposition, Bk. IV, Ch. XXVI, in Nicene, 2nd Ser., IX:98, 99.]
Damascus: [Now] he is, as we said, the offspring of fornication, and is nurtured in secret, and on a sudden he rises up and rebels and assumes rule….In the beginning of his rule, or rather tyranny, he assumes the role of sanctity. But when he becomes master, he persecutes the Church of God and displays all his wickedness. But he’ll come “with signs and lying wonders” [2 Thess. 2:9], fictitious and not real; and he’ll deceive and lead away from the living God those whose mind rests on an unsound and unstable foundation, so that even the elect, if it be possible, shall be made to stumble [Mt 24:24]. But Enoch and Elias the Thesbite shall be sent and shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children [Mal 4:6; Rev. 11:3], that is, the Synagogue to our Lord Jesus Christ and the preaching of the apostles. But they shall be slain by him. And the Lord shall come out of heaven, just as the holy apostles beheld Him going into heaven perfect God and perfect Man, with glory and power [Acts 1:11], and will destroy the man of the lawlessness, the son of the perdition, “by the breath of His mouth” [2 Thess. 2:8]. Let no one, therefore, look for the Lord to come from earth, but out of heaven, as he Himself has made sure. [Ibid. IX:99.]
v. 10 – St. Chrysostom: “And in all deveit of the unrighteousness in those who are perishing”. Why then, do you say does God permit this to be? And what economy is this? And what is to be gained at his coming, if it takes place for our ruin? Fear not, beloved, but hear Him saying, “In them that are perishing”; it’s in them that he has strength, who, even if he hadn’t come, wouldn’t have believed. What then is the advantage? That these very men who are perishing will be censured. How? Because both if he’d come, and if he hadn’t come, they wouldn’t have believed in Christ; He comes therefore to convict them. For that they may not have occasion to say that “since Christ said that He was God” – although He nowhere said this openly – “and those who came after proclaimed it, we haven’t believed. Because we’ve heard that there’s one God from Whom are all things, therefore we’ve not believed”. This their pretext then Antichrist will take away. For when he comes, and comes commanding nothing sound, but all things unlawful, and is yet believed from false signs alone, he’ll stop their mouths. For if thou believes not in Christ, much more ought you not to believe in Antichrist. For the former said that He was sent from the Father, but the latter the contrary. For this reason Christ said, “I’ve come in the name of My Father, and ye receive Me not; if another should come in his own name, that one ye will receive” [Jn 5:43]. But we’ve seen signs, you say. But many and great signs were also wrought in the case of Christ; much more therefore ought ye to have believed in Him. And yet many things were predicted concerning this one, that he’s the lawless one, that he’s the son of perdition, and that his coming is after the energy of Satan. But the contrary concerning the other, that He’s the Savior, that He brings with Him myriads of good things. [Homily 4, P.G. 62:530, 531 (col. 487).]
2:6-10 – These verses develop vv.3 and 4 by a theological and apocalyptic description of the conflict between Christ and the man of sin, now and at the end of time. [J.S.B., 234]
v. 11 – St. Kyril of Jerusalem: In his time there shall be the evil inducement both of fear and deceit, so that if it be possible the very elect shall be deceived. Let it never enter into the heart of any then alive to ask, “What more did Christ? For by what power does this man work these things? Were it not God’s will, He wouldn’t allowed them”. The apostle warns you, and says beforehand, “And on this account God shall send (that is, shall allow to happen) to them an influence (a mode or impulse to action) of error for them to believe the lie”, not that they might make excuse, but that “they all might be judged” [2 Thess. 2:12]. Wherefore? “They”, he says, “who believe not the truth”, that is, the true Christ, “but had pleasure in the unrighteousness,” that is, in Antichrist. [Catechetical Lectures, Lecture XV(17), in Nicene, 2nd Ser., VII:109.] Cf. Romans 1:25, “the lie”.
2:10-12 – St. Irenaeus: When Antichrist has come, and of his own accord concentrates in his own person the apostasy, and accomplishes whatever he shall do according to his own will and choice – sitting also in the temple of God, so that his dupes may adore him as the Christ – for which reason also shall he deservedly be cast into the lake of the fire. This’ll happen according to divine appointment, God by His prescience foreseeing all this, and at the proper time sending such a man, that they may believe the lie, that they all may be judged who didn’t believe the truth, but consented to the unrighteousness, whose coming John has thus described in the Apocalypse. [Against Heresies, Bk. V, Ch. XXVIII(1), in Ante-Nicene, I:557.]
St. Chrysostom: He doesn’t say that “they might be punished”, for even before this they were about to be punished, but “that they all might be judged” [2 Thess. 2:12]; that is, at the dreadful Seat of Judgment, in order that they might be defenseless, they “who believe not the truth”, “but had pleasure in the unrighteousness”. He calls Christ “the Love of the Truth”. “For because”, he says, “they received not the love of the truth”. For He was both and came for the sake of both: both as loving men and on behalf of things that were true. “But they had pleasure”, he says, “in the unrighteousness”. [Homily 4. P.G. 62:531 (col. 487).]
2:8-12 – “The Antichrist will be ‘consumed with the breath’ of Christ’s ‘mouth and abolished by the appearance of His Coming’. The triumphant career of the antichrist and his persecution of the Church will be overthrown by the Lord Himself when He returns. The ‘appearance’ (Gr. Epiphaneia, ‘divine manifestation’) of the true Christ will refute and ‘abolish’ the lies of the false christ. But the battle will not be long. The antichrist is described as being ‘consumed’ and destroyed by the mere ‘breath of His mouth’ – a simple word of command from the sovereign Lord will be enough to overthrow him and all his hosts as Christ returns and manifests the glorious Presence and judgment ‘from which earth and heaven flee away’ (Rev 20:11). The image of destroying the antichrist by ‘the breath of His mouth’ is drawn from Isaiah 11:4 (LXX), where the prophet says the Messiah will ‘strike the earth with the rod of His mouth and destroy the ungodly one with the breath of His lips’. St. Paul thus assures the Thessalonians of their ultimate victory in the ensuing conflict”. [Farley. 75].
v. 14 – St. Chrysostom: This too is no small thing, if Christ deems our salvation His own glory. For it’s the glory of the One Who loves mankind that those being saved are many. [Homily 4, P.G. 62:531, 532 (col. 488).]
v. 15 – Holy tradition. This is to be preserved by the Church, for God is its source. Holy Tradition is what Jesus taught to the apostles, and which they in turn taught the Church under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in (a) their instructions as they visited the churches and (b) their writings. Under the Holy Spirit’s guidance we as Christians adhere to Holy Tradition as it’s present in the apostles’ writings and as it’s resident in the Church to which the truth is promised (Jn 16:13). [Orthodox Study Bible.]
St. Chrysostom: Hence it’s clear that they didn’t deliver all things by epistle, but many things also unwritten, and in like manner both the one and the other are worthy of credit. Therefore let’s think the tradition of the Church also worthy of credit. It’s a tradition, seek no farther. Here he indicates that there were many who were shaken to the foundations. [Homily 4, P.G. 62:532 (col. 488).]
v. 16 – St. Chrysostom: Where now are those who lessen the Son, because He’s named in the grace of the baptismal laver after the Father? For behold, here it’s the contrary. “The One Who loved us and gave everlasting consolation”. Of what sort is this? Even the hope of things future. [Homily 4, P.G. 62:535 (col. 488).]
“The One Who loved us”. The apostle uses the singular, articular participle. There’s probably no instance in St. Paul’s writings of a plural adjective or verb when the 2 hypostases of the Godhead are mentioned.
Paul exercises his apostolic authority to remedy an abuse that must’ve worsened since the 1st letter; there’s no indication that it was widespread though. To correct it, he invokes the author of Christ (v.6). They needn’t support the lazy and disorderly… he’s not suggesting excommunication here but is trying to shame the lazy into repentance here and a conversion of life. The undisciplined here remain brothers, though being sternly corrected. [J.S.B. 235]
v. 2 – St. Chrysostom: “For not all have the faith”. He’s speaking of those who contradict the preaching, who oppose and fight against the doctrines. [Homily 4, P.G. 62:533 (col. 489).]
v. 3 – St. Chrysostom: He says, “Faithful is the Lord”. And having promised to save, He’ll save assuredly; but as He promised. And how did He promise? If we be willing, and hear Him; not simply (hearing), nor like stocks and stones, being inactive. [Homily 5, P.G. 62:537 (col. 493).]
3:2-3 – St. Leo the Great: Now because “not all have the faith”, and the crafty tempter never delights so much in wounding the hearts of men as when he can poison their unwary minds with errors that are opposed to Gospel truth, we must strive by the mighty teaching of the Holy Spirit to prevent Christian knowledge from being perverted by the devil’s falsehoods. And against this danger it behooves the rulers of the churches especially to guard and to avert from the minds of simple folk lies which are colored by a certain show of truth….And they seek to entrap men not so much by watching their actions as by nice distinctions of meaning, corrupting the force of sentences by some very slight addition or alteration, whereby sometimes a statement, which is made for salvation, by a subtle change is turned to destruction. But since the apostle says, “There must be also heresies among you, that the approved might become manifest among you” [1 Cor. 11:19], it tends to the progress of the whole Church, so that, whenever wickedness reveals itself in setting forth wrong opinions, the things which are harmful may not be concealed, and thus the things which will inevitably end in ruin may not injure the innocence of others. [“Letter CXXIX, To Proterius, Bp. Of Alexandria”, in Nicene, 2nd Ser., XII:95, 96.]
v. 5 – St. Chrysostom: What’s “into the patience of the Christ”? That we should endure even as He endured, or that we should practice those things, or that with patience also we should wait for Him, that is, that we should be prepared….Wherever he speaks of patience, he intimates affliction. For this is to love God: to endure, and not to be clamorous. [Homily 5, P.G. 62:537, 538 (col. 493).]
v. 6 – St. Cyprian: We must withdraw, rather flee from those who fall away, lest, while one is joined with them as they walk wickedly, and passes over the paths of error and crime, wandering apart fro the way of the true road, he himself also be caught in a like crime. God’s one and Christ one and His Church one and the faith one and the people one joined together by the tie of concord into a solid unity of body. The unity can’t be torn asunder, nor can the one body be separated by a division of its structure, nor torn into bits by the wrenching asunder of its entrails by laceration. Whatever departs from the parent-stem will not be able to breathe and live apart; it loses the substance of health. [Treatises: The Unity of the Church, Ch. 23, in FC, 36:118, 119.].
Jerome Study Bible (J.S.B.)
The Orthodox New Testament
Orthodox Study Bible.
Words of Fire. Fr. Lawrence Farley
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