Psalm 69

To the Chief Musician. Set to “The Lilies.” A Psalm of David.

1 Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.

2 I sink in deep mire,
Where there is no standing;
I have come into deep waters,
Where the floods overflow me.

3 I am weary with my crying;
My throat is dry;
My eyes fail while I wait for my God.

Those who hate me without a cause
Are more than the hairs of my head;
They are mighty who would destroy me,
Being my enemies wrongfully;
Though I have stolen nothing,
I still must restore it.

O God, You know my foolishness;
And my sins are not hidden from You.

6 Let not those who wait for You, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed because of me;
Let not those who seek You be confounded because of me, O God of Israel.

7 Because for Your sake I have borne reproach;
Shame has covered my face.

8 I have become a stranger to my brothers,
And an alien to my mother’s children;

9 Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up,
And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.

10 When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting,
That became my reproach.

11 I also made sackcloth my garment;
I became a byword to them.

12 Those who sit in the gate speak against me,
And I am the song of the drunkards.

13 But as for me, my prayer is to You,
O Lord, in the acceptable time;
O God, in the multitude of Your mercy,
Hear me in the truth of Your salvation.

14 Deliver me out of the mire,
And let me not sink;
Let me be delivered from those who hate me,
And out of the deep waters.

15 Let not the floodwater overflow me,
Nor let the deep swallow me up;
And let not the pit shut its mouth on me.

16 Hear me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good;
Turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies.

17 And do not hide Your face from Your servant,
For I am in trouble;
Hear me speedily.

18 Draw near to my soul, and redeem it;
Deliver me because of my enemies.

19 You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonor;
My adversaries are all before You.

20 Reproach has broken my heart,
And I am full of heaviness;
I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none;
And for comforters, but I found none.

21 They also gave me gall for my food,
And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

22 Let their table become a snare before them,
And their well-being a trap.

23 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see;
And make their loins shake continually.

24 Pour out Your indignation upon them,
And let Your wrathful anger take hold of them.

25 Let their dwelling place be desolate;
Let no one live in their tents.

26 For they persecute the ones You have struck,
And talk of the grief of those You have wounded.

27 Add iniquity to their iniquity,
And let them not come into Your righteousness.

28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living,
And not be written with the righteous.

29 But I am poor and sorrowful;
Let Your salvation, O God, set me up on high.

30 I will praise the name of God with a song,
And will magnify Him with thanksgiving.

31 This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bull,
Which has horns and hooves.

32 The humble shall see this and be glad;
And you who seek God, your hearts shall live.

33 For the Lord hears the poor,
And does not despise His prisoners.

34 Let heaven and earth praise Him,
The seas and everything that moves in them.

35 For God will save Zion
And build the cities of Judah,
That they may dwell there and possess it.

36 Also, the descendants of His servants shall inherit it,
And those who love His name shall dwell in it.

This psalm is among those more frequently referenced (directly in five instances and indirectly in at least seven more) in the New Testament with application to Christ and His circumstances—concerning which David, being a prophet, could “look ahead” with clarity and speak of in detail (see Acts 2:29-31). — Wechsler, page 178

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The reference to “those who have hated me [David speaking, as the prophets often do, in the first-person, as a medium for God] without a cause” (v.4a, see also Psalm 35:19a) is cited by Jesus in John 15:25 to epitomize the central sin of His generation. Indeed, the angst caused by this rejection is further underscored by the statement in v. 8 (“I have become estranged from my brothers…”), which clearly applies to the situation described in Mark 3:21. A primary catalyst for this rejection is indicated in verse 9a—which is likewise applied directly to Jesus in John 2:17—to wit: the zeal for God’s house (i.e., for the presence of God that dwelt in the Temple) that consumed Him, which let Him to do and say things that, unless perceived in the same spirit, were highly divisive and extremely offensive—such as cleansing the Temple (John 2:13-22) and calling religious leaders “a brood of vipers” (Matthew 3:7). Verse 9b is cited in Romans 15:3 with direct reference to Christ’s humble submission to the “reproaches of those who reproach” God—referring to those who implicitly reject God the Father (despite their outward obedience) by offering Him only rote worship while inwardly rejecting the claims upon their heart of His Word and now, of His Son (cf. John 8:18-19; Isaiah 29:13; Luke 18:9ff.). Verse 21 (“for my thirst they gave me vinegar …”) refers to the culmination of Christ’s rejection on the cross (see John 19:28; Matthew 27:34, 48; Mark 15:23, 36; Luke 23:36). — Wechsler, pages 178-179.

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The sense of verses 6 and 7 is, that God’s abandonment of His beloved Son at Calvary might upset the faith of those who confide in God for deliverance from human or satanic hatred. He prayed that they might understand that He, as the Guilt-offering, should be so forsaken. — Williams, pages 353-354.

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Verses 22-23 are cited in Romans 11:9-10 together with Deuteronomy 29:4 to make the point that the rejection of Jesus by the majority of His people was both the result and a reinforcement of their having been hardened (Romans 11:7)—which same point is also emphatically made by God in Isaiah 6:10 (quoted as the paradigm of Christian ministry in all four Gospels and Acts), to wit: it is part of the purpose of God’s Word to cause the heart of hearers, if not to be softened, then to be hardened—and because of human depravity (which is certainly no greater in the Jewish people than in anyone else), the reaction to Jesus, as the incarnation of God’s Word (John 1:14), was predominantly characterized by hardening. It is important to keep in mind, moreover, that the motivation underlying this imprecation of those who reject Him is not their detriment per se, but rather the manifestation, and hence vindication, of God’s justice—as exemplified by the application of verse 25 to the divine judgment of Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:18-20), “which become known to all who were living in Jerusalem.” The reference to being “blotted out of the book of life” (v.28), like the parallel phraseology in Revelation 3:5, does not mean that one can loose their salvation once such is given by God, but rather, as indicated by the parallelism in the second part of the verse, it is a figure of speech intended to emphasize that such individuals were never recorded n the book of life with the righteous in the first place. — Wechsler, pages 179-180.

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There were about twenty-five Old Testament predictions concerning [Christ’s] sufferings which found their fulfillment during the last twenty-four hours up to and including His death and burial. All had been fulfilled now except this 21st verse of the sixty-ninth Psalm.

In John 19:28-30 we read, “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to His mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished”: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.” The Holy Spirit was writing history a thousand years before the event when He wrote the words of Psalm 69:21. — Pettingill, pages 129-130.

And make their loins shake continually (v.23) — see Deuteronomy 28:64-68, in which Moses predicts what will happen to Israel if the nation rebels against God.

God’s deliverance of His Servant will serve not only as another occasion for the Servant Himself to offer the Father praise and thanksgiving (v.30), but it will also cause the humble who have see it (i.e., accepted it) to be glad (v.32)—for on the basis of the Servant’s deliverance the heart of these “humble” (i.e., those “who seek God”) will revive (lit. “be made alive”), hearkening to the promise of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:33 and Ezekiel 36:26. The closing phraseology of this psalm (vs. 34-36) looks forward to the time when God’s kingdom will finally be established and His will for mankind realized, when all who are in heaven and earth will praise Him and only those who love His name will dwell in it. — Wechsler, page 180.

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An animal for sacrifice should be full-grown and ceremonially pure. Horns determined the one and hoofs the other (v.31). — Williams, page 354.

Williams’ take:

The theme is the sufferings of Christ as the Guilt-offering. Psalm 22 predicted His suffering as the Sin-offering, and Psalm 40 as the Burnt-offering. He, as the Guilt-offering, restored that which He took not away; that is, He perfectly restored to God the love and obedience of which man had robbed God; and, at the same time, he voluntarily charged Himself with man’s foolishness and guiltiness, called them His own, thereby declaring Himself to be the guilty person (see Leviticus 5:14-16). — Williams, page 353.

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Psalm 68

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. A Song.

1 Let God arise,
Let His enemies be scattered;
Let those also who hate Him flee before Him.

2 As smoke is driven away,
So drive them away;
As wax melts before the fire,
So let the wicked perish at the presence of God.

3 But let the righteous be glad;
Let them rejoice before God;
Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly.

Sing to God, sing praises to His name;
Extol Him who rides on the clouds,
By His name Yah,
And rejoice before Him.

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.

6 God sets the solitary in families;
He brings out those who are bound into prosperity;
But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.

O God, when You went out before Your people,
When You marched through the wilderness, Selah

8 The earth shook;
The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God;
Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

9 You, O God, sent a plentiful rain,
Whereby You confirmed Your inheritance,
When it was weary.

10 Your congregation dwelt in it;
You, O God, provided from Your goodness for the poor.

11 The Lord gave the word;
Great was the company of those who proclaimed it:

12 “Kings of armies flee, they flee,
And she who remains at home divides the spoil.

13 Though you lie down among the sheepfolds,
You will be like the wings of a dove covered with silver,
And her feathers with yellow gold.”

14 When the Almighty scattered kings in it,
It was white as snow in Zalmon.

15 A mountain of God is the mountain of Bashan;
A mountain of many peaks is the mountain of Bashan.

16 Why do you fume with envy, you mountains of many peaks?
This is the mountain which God desires to dwell in;
Yes, the Lord will dwell in it forever.

17 The chariots of God are twenty thousand,
Even thousands of thousands;
The Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the Holy Place.

18 You have ascended on high,
You have led captivity captive;
You have received gifts among men,
Even from the rebellious,
That the Lord God might dwell there.

19 Blessed be the Lord,
Who daily loads us with benefits,
The God of our salvation! Selah

20 Our God is the God of salvation;
And to God the Lord belong escapes from death.

21 But God will wound the head of His enemies,
The hairy scalp of the one who still goes on in his trespasses.

22 The Lord said, “I will bring back from Bashan,
I will bring them back from the depths of the sea,

23 That your foot may crush them in blood,
And the tongues of your dogs may have their portion from your enemies.”

24 They have seen Your procession, O God,
The procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary.

25 The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after;
Among them were the maidens playing timbrels.

26 Bless God in the congregations,
The Lord, from the fountain of Israel.

27 There is little Benjamin, their leader,
The princes of Judah and their company,
The princes of Zebulun and the princes of Naphtali.

28 Your God has commanded your strength;
Strengthen, O God, what You have done for us.

29 Because of Your temple at Jerusalem,
Kings will bring presents to You.

30 Rebuke the beasts of the reeds,
The herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples,
Till everyone submits himself with pieces of silver.
Scatter the peoples who delight in war.

31 Envoys will come out of Egypt;
Ethiopia will quickly stretch out her hands to God.

32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth;
Oh, sing praises to the Lord, Selah

33 To Him who rides on the heaven of heavens, which were of old!
Indeed, He sends out His voice, a mighty voice.

34 Ascribe strength to God;
His excellence is over Israel,
And His strength is in the clouds.

35 O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places.
The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people.

Blessed be God!

Several of my commentaries state that this psalm was composed for David’s procession with the Ark from the house of Obed-Edom to Jerusalem and connect with with the Passover.

Could we read this Psalm in the original Hebrew, we would recognize the several names of the Godhead. He is called by the name “Elohim” in verse 2; He is called by the name “Adonai” in verse 11; “El Shaddai” in verse 15; “Jehovah” in verse 17; “Jah” in verse 4 and in verse 19, and “El” in verse 20. Here then is a Psalm in which all the characteristics of the Almighty are revealed. As Elohim, He is the strong one, a refuge of strength. As Adonai, He is the master, the one to be obeyed and to be served, and also the one to lead. As El Shaddai, He is the Almighty, the all-sufficient one, the one who comforts and strengthens. As Jehovah, He is the Redeemer, the ever-revealing God, the on constantly referred to as “I Am.” The name “Jah” is the contraction of Jehovah. All these names of God unfold the fact that He is able to meet all our needs under every circumstance of life. — Phillips, page 144.

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This psalm is canonically linked to the previous one by continuing the same theme of God’s worldwide praise—from both Israel His people (vs. 7-8) as well as from all the kingdoms of the earth (v.32)—in this case focusing on the processional expression of that praise—while also introducing the focus of the following psalm, with which it shares a specific and direct messianic application (per the citation of v.18 in Ephesians 4:8). — Wechsler, page 175.

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[Messiah] as the Head of Israel’s Triumph over Physical Distress (vs. 1-14) Just as the previous psalm began by employing the phraseology of Aaron when he blessed Israel by the LORD in Numbers 4:24-26, so this psalm—which continues the theme of the previous one—begins by employing the phraseology of Aaron’s brother Moses in Numbers 10:35, when he exhorted Israel onward from their camp after “the cloud of the LORD.” In this way David introduces what he goes on to specify—to wit: that God lead His people triumphantly through their present distress just as He led their ancestors through the wilderness (v.7) And not just to those distant ancestors, but also the successive generations to whom He confirmed (i.e., gave) His inheritance (v.9b)—i.e., the land of Canaan that He gave to the Jewish people as an eternal inheritance (see Genesis 17:8; Psalm 104:10-11), in which He brought them plentiful rain and (v.9a) caused the armies of their enemies to flee (v.11; see 2 Samuel 5:24). — Wechsler, pages 175-176

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company (v.11) — A feminine word to be translated, “The women who publish the tidings are a great host.” Israel’s victories were commonly celebrated by women singing and dancing (Exodus 15:20; 1 Samuel 18:6-7). — Ryrie, page 870

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Verse 13 is a figure of peace (the sheepfold) with honor (the gold and silver). The verse reads: “Ye shall lie down among the sheepfolds, and ye shall be as the wings of a dove,” etc. “When Shaddai scattered kings in it (Canaan) it was as snow in Salmon”—that is, the kings disappeared before the Sun of Righteousness as snow before the sun of the heavens; they were as powerless as it. — Williams, page 352

Zalmon (v.14) = shady, dark — It was a high mountain near the Jordan River.

Bashan (v.15) — the high mountain country east of the Jordan, once occupied by giants. Or maybe snow-capped Mount Herman.

[Messiah] as the Head of Israel’s Triumph over Spiritual Distress (vs. 15-23) From imploring (vs. 1-2) and then affirming (vs. 4-14) God’s provision of material triumph, David moves on in this section to affirming God’s provision of spiritual triumph to Israel, culminating in v. 18 with the description of His triumph over death. That this is so clearly indicated by the direct application of this verse in Ephesians 4:8 to the triumphant procession of Christ from the grave, leading captive (i.e., as willing slaves; cf. Romans 6:18-19) those of Israel who had died in faith and were awaiting His resurrection in Abraham’s Bosom as “the first fruits of those who are asleep” (see 1 Corinthians 15:20; Matthew 27:52-53 [where the reference is to Jewish saints]. In citing verse 18, however, Paul has “He gave gifts to men” rather than “Thous received gifts among men.” … [This is] the meaning it always had, as now clarified by Christ’s ascension and confirmed to [Paul] by the Holy Spirit—to wit: that following the Son’s ascension and triumph over death, He distributed among the Church His gifts of grace, which are intended to “equip the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12)—and if for the building up of His body, which is the Church, then He who gave those gifts is, ultimately, also the one who receives them. This is consistent, moreover, with the ultimate goal of all history, which is not the aggrandizement of man, but the glory of God. — Wechsler, page 176

loads us with benefits (v.19) — Ryrie suggests this should be translated “bears our burdens”

The tribes of Benjamin, Judah, Zebulun and Naphtali in v. 27 probably refer to all 12 tribes since the two southernmost and two northernmost are mentioned.

Verses 21-23 refer to the regathering of Israel, and the destruction of a Gentile world ruler and his kingdom. This is described in Daniel 7.

[Messiah] as the Head of All Nations’ Triumph over All Distress (vs. 24-35) In consequence of God’s triumph over all distress, both material and spiritual, as evidenced by His procession (v.24) through the gates of death into His sanctuary (i.e., the heavenly Temple) “on high,” a procession will in turn come to Him from all nations—both from Israel (vs. 24-28) as well as from the Gentiles (vs. 29-35). Regarding this latter group David looks forward to that culminating procession of praise when, in fulfillment of his exhortation in Psalm 2:10, the nations are led in example by their kings (v.29) to sing praised to the Lord (v.32) and to ascribe strength to God (v.34), who rules from His sanctuary (v.35) in Jerusalem. — Wechsler, pages 177-178.

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The future supremacy of Israel over all earthly monarchs, here compared, as in Daniel, to wild beasts (v.30), is predicted in the last stirring stanza of the song (vs. 28-35). The kings will bring their tribute money (vs. 29-31) for the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem. They will “stretch out their hands” in homage filled with gifts (v.31), and in adoration, for Messiah will be “terrible,” i.e., an object of reverential worship in that coming day of His power and glory (v.35). — Williams, page 352

Williams’ take:

The Redeemer waiting for in the previous Psalms now appears. The majesty of His person, the destruction of His foes, the deliverance and joy of His people, and their appointment as head of the nations furnish the context of the Psalm. His love to them in the Wilderness (vs. 7-10) and in Canaan (vs. 11-14) are cited as illustrating His future fellowship with them in the sanctuary  (vs. 24-27) and in the government of the world (vs. 28-35); and all is based upon His resurrection (vs. 17-18), as is declared in Acts 2 and Ephesians 4. — Williams, page 352.

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2 Thessalonians 3:16-18

16 Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.

17 The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every epistle; so I write.

18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Now (v.16) — Paul did his best to ease the Thessalonians’ fears and settle the unrest in the church caused by busybodies, so now he pointed them to the resource that could make it possible—the Lord. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:23.)

Himself (v.16) — giving emphasis to “the Lord of peace,” the only one who could offer real peace. It also conveys God’s personal concern for His own.

peace (v.16) — The prayer is not for the cessation of persecution, nor yet of the internal disorders from which they suffered, but for that calm of heart which comes of faith in God and is independent of circumstances. — Vine, page 136.

always (v.16) = through all, continually

The salutation of Paul with my own hand (v.17) — It’s likely that Paul dictated the letter to someone else who wrote the actual words, but Paul took the pen and signed his own name at the bottom.

sign (v.17) — Like a signature on a check, Paul’s signature on a letter proved its authenticity.

In every one of Paul’s epistles, except that to the Hebrews, he signs his name personally, always at the opening and thrice also at the close (1 Corinthians, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians). He learned to do this early in his writing career, for it was a Thessalonica that someone had forged his name to a letter, or had in some way made it appear that he had written it. — Stam, page 144.

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2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.

For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you;

nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you,

not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.

10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.

11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.

12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.

13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.

14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.

15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

withdraw (v.6) — used of the furling of a sail — shrinking away from a person or thing (used in the same sense in Galatians 2:12).

walks (v.6) — referring to all the activities of life

disorderly (v.6, 7, and 11) — a military term for being out of rank, insubordinate

traditions which he received from us (v.6) — see explanation in post on 2 Thessalonians 2:15

you yourselves know (v.7) — knowledge received by observation

you ought to follow us (v.7) — In 1 Thessalonians 1:6, Paul referred to how the Thessalonians followed him for salvation. Now he told them to continue following him in order to walk correctly

eat anyone’s bread (v.8) — a synecdoche for “were maintained,” “were taken care of” — Paul was contrasting his behavior with those in the church who were living off others

with labor and toil night and day (v.8) — toil resulting in weariness —  Paul was probably tentmaking at night and ministering during the day — Acts 18:3; Acts 20:34-35; 1 Thessalonians 2:9

right (v.9) = an inherent and self-evident freedom and authority. As an apostle, Paul had the freedom and authority to demand that the Thessalonians take care of his needs, but he didn’t. He worked for his keep as and example to them.

for even (v.10) — Even before Paul wrote the first epistle. Perhaps he had observed the tendency of some in the church to be idle and allow others to take care of them, and that may have been why he worked for his own keep.

will not work (v.10) — refuses to work, is not willing to work

neither shall he eat (v.10) — Paul was forbidding the mistaken charity that encourages indolence and degrades those who receive it.

not working at all, but are busybodies (v.11) — the play upon words used cannot be reproduced in a literal translation though it may be attempted in a paraphrase, such as “some that are not busy people, but are busybodies,” or “some that are not busy in their own business but are over-busy in other people’s business.” This figure of speech is called paronomasia, and is used to give “cheerful liveliness to the language, or greater emphasis to the thought.” It is of frequent occurrence in Paul’s epistles. — Vine, page 134.

we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ (v.12) — again exercising his apostolic authority and referring to the Lord as the one who gave him that authority

work in quietness (v.12) — see 1 Thessalonians 4:11 — In contrast with the noisiness of the busybodies

In commanding them to follow him by working, we see a dispensational difference. While here on earth ministering to the Jews (Matthew 15:24) the Lord told His followers to quit their jobs (Matthew 4:18-19; Luke 5:27). This was because the Lord preached “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17), and He meant the kingdom in which Israel would be a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6). And what do we know about priests? The priests, the Levites, had no inheritance in the promised land (Deuteronomy 18:1), no way of supporting themselves other than the tithes of the other 11 tribes. But in the kingdom of heaven on earth, all Jews will be priests (Isaiah 66:20) and live off the support of the tithes of the Gentiles (Isaiah 61:6). This is why the Lord told His followers to quit their jobs, to be ready to be priests in the kingdom.

But Paul says that we are to follow the Lord as he followed Him (1 Corinthians 11:1). To follow the Lord today you have to keep working in order to have “lack of nothing” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). This too is a dispensational difference. God has never wanted His children to lack for the basic necessities of food and clothing (1 Timothy 6:8), but the means by which we obtain these things has changed. To have “lack of nothing” in Moses’ day, you had to collect manna (Exodus 16:15-18; Deuteronomy 29:5). When the Lord sent the 12 out to preach without provisions, they didn’t lack (Luke 22:35), since the people they ministered to supported them as He said they would. At Pentecost they had no lack because they pooled their resources (Acts 4:34-35). But to have no lack in the dispensation of grace, you have to go to work! — Kurth

But as for you, brethren (v.13) — speaking to the orderly members of the church

if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle (v.14) — The exhortation of 1 Thessalonians 4:11 had been disregarded by some who, perhaps, claimed to be better exponents of the apostle’s mind that the recognized leaders of the church, and who refused to acknowledge the authority of a letter. With such the apostle deals explicitly, the letter had all the authority of the spoken word. — Vine, page 135.

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note that person (v.14) — continuous tense, suggesting that no hasty conclusion was to be drawn from an act, but that the course and general conduct was to be observed. — Vine, page 135.

do not keep company with him (v.14) = do not mingle with and among, do not hold free intercourse with (see 1 Corinthians 5:9, 11, where the word is used in the same sense)

as a brother (v.15) — because he is a brother. The goal was to restore the disorderly person to right thinking and right behavior, not to punish him or drive him away

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2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you,

and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.

But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.

And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you.

Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.

Finally (v.1) = lit. “for the rest,” not necessarily implying that the letter is drawing to a close, but marking a transition in the subject matter.

may run (v.1) — indicating free and rapid progress

glorified, just as it is with you (v.1) — Paul was probably referring to the effectiveness of the word in turning men to Christ, as it had with the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:6-10).

that we may be delivered (v.2) — The apostle … had already received the divine assurance of personal safety while he remained in Corinth [but that] did not make him independent of the prayers of the saints to this very end. The knowledge of God’s will and purpose does not render prayer superfluous. — Vine, page 131.

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At Corinth … a concerted effort was made by the Jews of the synagogue, to have [Paul] condemned by the Roman proconsul and cast into prison, so as to restrain his testimony. It is interesting to notice, however, that Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue when Paul departed to the Gentiles, and Sosthenes, the next chief ruler, who was so soundly beaten before Gallio’s court, both evidently came to trust in Christ (See Acts 18:8, 17; 1 Corinthians 1:1). — Stam, page 138.

unreasonable (v.2) = lit., “out of place,” perverse, capable of outrageous conduct. Referring to their behavior

evil (v.2) = malignant, bad in influence and effect. Referring to their character. In Greek, it would read “these unreasonable and wicked men,” indicating that Paul had particular men or a particular class of men in mind, and that the Thessalonians would understand who they were—almost always the Jews.

not all have faith (v.2) — in the sense of “few do”

In Greek, the end of v.2 and beginning of v.3 reads, “Not all have faith, faithful, however, is the Lord,” emphasizing the contrast between faithless men and the faithful God.

establish you (v.3) — Paul had been talking about himself, but now returned to his readers.

the evil one (v.3) — Satan, who opposes the gospel

confidence in the Lord concerning you (v.4) — It seems clear that the meaning is “we have confidence in you, not indeed because of any natural stability of character but because of your relationship with the Lord, the sufficient source of power for all His people.” — Vine, page 132.

the things we command you (v.4) — Probably not the things he was just referring to (prayer) but the things he had told them when he was with them. As an apostle, Paul had the authority to command.

Paul was confident the Thessalonians were already doing what he commanded even though he was gone. Compare this to how Moses predicted after he left, that the Israelites would cease to obey (Deuteronomy 31:217-29), and that was the pattern under the Law (Judges 2:18-19). Under grace, God’s people do “much more” in the absence of a spiritual authority (Philippians 2:12). There are commands under grace, Pauline commands (1 Corinthians 14:37). Paul makes over 600 imperative command statements, some of which sound like the ten commandments (1 Thessalonians 4:2-3), of which he repeats 9 of the 10. — Kurth

direct (v.5) = make straight

While a too rigid exegesis is to be avoided, it may be permissible to paraphrase: “the Lord teach and enable you to love as God loves, and to be patient as Christ is patient (v.5).” — Vine, page 132.

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It is highly significant that in all of Paul’s epistles he never once mentions his deep love for God or for the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather he consistently extols God’s love for him.  Stam, page 139.

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2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth,

14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace,

17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.

In the New Testament the world is frequently said to be the object of the love of God (John 3:16; Romans 5:8, e.g., it is never said to be the object of the love of Christ. His love to the world was expressed in His death, indeed, but, save in the incident recorded in Mark 10:21, His love is always mentioned with reference to those who believe, whether individually (Galatians 2:20), or collectively the local church (Revelation 3:9), and the church which is His body (Ephesians 5:25). — Vine, page 125.

from the beginning (v.13) — perhaps with the sense of “first fruits,” as the Thessalonians were among the first Gentiles who received the gospel.

for salvation (v.13) — in contrast with the judgment of those who don’t believe

sanctification (v.13) — separation to God by the Holy Spirit

The ministry of the Holy Spirit, which begins with revealing the truth of the gospel to the individual, continues to guide the believer into all truth (John 16:13), “renewing him unto knowledge” (Colossians 3:10); hence, the apostle’s prayers for the converts in Philippians 1:9-10; Colossians 1:9. When they were called through the gospel, it was that they “might know the truth and that the truth might make them free” (John 8:32). — Vine, page 127.

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In closing the doctrinal part of this epistle, the Apostle emphasized the vast difference between the outlook for God’s beloved people and for those who have rejected His love and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

First, the word “salvation” should … be carefully considered in its context. Salvation from what? … What subject has the Apostle been concerned with? The clear answer is the rapture of God’s people to be with Christ and the subsequent manifestation of His wrath upon a Christ-rejecting world.

In the light of the context, then, the “salvation” to which the Apostle refers here is not salvation from eternal judgment, but salvation from “the day of God’s wrath. Note the connective “But” at v.13. …

It is after discussing God’s wrath upon this unbelieving world during the Tribulation, that the Apostle expresses his joy that God has chosen to save believers from this holocaust “through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.”

Thus we have here yet another evidence that the rapture of the Church will precede the Tribulation, and that the members of Christ’s Body will not be called upon to endure the latter. — Stam, pages 134-135.

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We were chosen to this salvation “through sanctification of the Spirit” (v.13). Sanctification means to be set apart to God (Exodus 13:2, 12), and we’ve been set apart to be saved by the pre-tribulation rapture.

Normally sanctification is from the unsaved (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), but here it is from the Jewish kingdom saints who will have to go through the Tribulation. That exact phrase “sanctification of the Spirit” is only elsewhere used by Peter to write to “the … elect according to the fore-knowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit” (1 Peter 1:1-2). God foreknew the Jews would go through the Tribulation, so the Spirit sanctified them from us, the people He foreknew would be raptured before it. Peter went on, “that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold…though it be tried with fire” (1 Peter 1:6-7) and that’s Tribulation talk (Zechariah 13:9; 14:1)

This is why Paul went on to say that they’d been chosen to be saved from the Tribulation “through belief of the truth,” Paul’s truth, and why they were called by Paul’s gospel (v.14). If they were called by Peter’s gospel, the Spirit would have separated them to go through the Tribulation. This explains why Paul called us “them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate” (Romans 8:28-29). God predetermined that our destination would be in heaven rather than the earth, so He called us by Paul’s gospel to obtain the glory of the pre-tribulation rapture. Saved Jews under the kingdom program were also called to obtain glory but only after they have “suffered” the Tribulation (1 Peter 5:10). — Kurth

into which (v.14) — salvation

Paul is not thanking God that He saved them from Hell. The word “salvation” has different meanings. Israel was saved from the Egyptians (Exodus 14:13; Jude 1:5). Paul talked about being saved from a storm (Acts 27:31). And in the Thessalonian epistles, “salvation” can refer to salvation from the Tribulation. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). You don’t have an appointment to obtain salvation from Hell—you obtained it when you believed. But you have an appointment to obtain salvation from the Tribulation by the “salvation” of the Rapture (Romans 13:11).

And it is this salvation to which we were chosen, not salvation from Hell. True, the Bible says “He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4), but it doesn’t say we were chosen to be in Christ, it says we were chosen—in Christ. Christ is God’s elect. — Kurth

by our gospel (v.14) — the gospel of grace which Paul preached

for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (v.14) — defining the gospel that Paul preached

In v.14 [Paul] declares that the Thessalonian saints were “called” to this position as God’s beloved, by his gospel, “the gospel of the grace of God.” How often throughout his epistles, he insists upon this and upon the distinctiveness of his apostleship! Moreover, this glad message eventuated for them in “the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now they, with Paul and the other members of the Body, could “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). — Vine, page 135.

glory (v.14) = the outward and visible expression of what is inward and essential

therefore (v.15) — since they were sure of their salvation — Paul urges the Thessalonians to live according to God’s plan for their glorification rather than in lawlessness, which was pressuring them and from which they suffered.

stand fast (v.15) — continuous tense

The word “fast” (v.15) can mean firm or secure, as in how God set the mountains securely in place (Psalm 65:5-6). So when Paul tells us to “stand fast” in the knowledge that God has chosen us to salvation from the Tribulation (vs.13-14), we should stand in that truth as firmly as a mountain. Did you know Paul always told people to stand fast in things in which they weren’t standing fast.

He told the Corinthians to “stand fast in the faith” because they had departed from the faith when they ceased believing in the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:32). He told the Galatians to “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1), the yoke of bondage being the Law of Moses. They had forgotten that “we are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:15). The apostle told the Philippians to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27), because two ladies were feuding (4:2) and the church was taking sides. But Paul told the Thessalonians to stand fast in the knowledge of the pre-tribulation rapture because they weren’t standing fast in it, due to a letter that someone wrote them and signed Paul’s name to (2:1-2). — Kurth

hold (v.15) = to exert strength upon

traditions (v.15) = a handing on, that which has been handed down. In the early days of the age of grace, many of the teachings of Paul hadn’t yet been written down. Believers had to rely on the things they had heard him say (v.5)—things that Paul had heard from God and had handed down to them. Later, when the teachings had been written down and distributed, Paul no longer talked of tradition but of doctrine (1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:12-14). They did, however, have his first letter, which he refers to in v.15 as “our epistle.” The “our” refers to both the spoken word and the epistle—they were to listen to what Paul had to say because God had chosen him to spread the gospel of grace.

How the Apostle keeps exhorting these believers not to falter in their faith in the Lord’s coming for them before the Tribulation breaks! This [was] doubtless because of the persecutions they were suffering. But since Paul’s word to them is also God’s Word to us, we should regard this as an appeal to us today not to be led astray from this precious truth, or to lose it as our “blessed hope.” — Stam, pages 135-136.

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Himself (v.16) — occupies a position of emphasis. … The powers of evil so far outmatch the saints in subtlety and strength that the fullest knowledge of the progress of evil and the doom of Antichrist would itself avail them little. Once again, therefore, the apostle commend them to God that they might be by Him directly cheered and maintained in the evil day. — Vine, pages 128-129

loved (v.16) = agape — timeless and immutable

gave us … through [lit., “in”] grace — freely, not in discharge of obligation but without constraint of any kind. The tense is “point,” fixing the attention on the time when the love was manifested in the coming of Christ into the world. — Vine, page 129

everlasting (v.16) — a reminder that their suffering was temporary but God’s peace and comfort are eternal

consolation (v.16) = easing of grief and encouragement

good (v.16) — because it cheers and encourages those who have it

hope (v.16) = the happy anticipation of good. For a believer, hope is knowledge—faith in the future, in what God has promised and will carry out.

in every good work (v.17) = beneficial, useful, helpful word and work (Colossians 3:17)

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2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,

10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,

12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

The apostle, having carried his readers directly to the climax toward which the forces of evil and of good are even now working, returns to indicate the hidden source of the Antichrist’s power, and to describe the way in which he will manifest it, and the effect upon men generally. Antichrist’s “parousia,” in strict accord with the meaning of the word, is the period of his supremacy, beginning with his revelation to the world. — Vine, page 123

working (v.9) = energy

of Satan (v.9) — The Antichrist won’t be working in his own power, but in that of Satan.

signs (v.9) = token, or indication

wonders (v.9) = something strange, exceptional, causing the beholder to marvel.

The same words (power, signs, and wonders) occur together concerning the works of the Lord Jesus (Acts 2:22), and the apostles (Romans 15:19; 2 Corinthians 12:12). “Power” declares its source to be supernatural; “sign” expresses its purpose and appeals to the understanding, “wonder” describes its effect upon the observer and appeals to the imagination. — Vine, page 123.

lying (v.9) — the miracles will be real miracles, but their purpose will be to deceive men into believing Antichrist is deity.

those how perish (v.10) = lit. “the perishing” in the present, continuous tense

the love of the truth (v.10) — “the word of the truth of the gospel” (Colossians 1:5). The perishing don’t simply fail to receive or understand the truth—they don’t desire to know it.

When Antichrist comes he will come with “all deceivableness of unrighteousness.” So when he claims to be Israel’s Christ, the unsaved will be deceived by him. After all, if even the elect can barely escape his deceit (Matthew 24:24), the unsaved don’t stand a chance.

Specially since Paul says this deceivableness is “in” the unsaved who perish. That means Satan will have an inside man in that day. He’ll have Antichrist working from without “with all power, and signs,” and from within the unsaved in their natural inclination to be deceived by him. — Kurth

for this reason (v.11) — because the aren’t interested in the truth—they love darkness rather than light (John 3:19)

When men persistently refuse to obey the truth they soon become incapable of perceiving it. It was because men refused to have God in their knowledge that He gave them up to a reprobate mind, i.e., a mind bound to lead them astray, inasmuch as it was no longer controlled by Him (Romans 1:28). But plainly more is intended than merely to say that God permits men to be deceived. The retributive justice of God is not arbitrary; sin and its punishments are related as cause and effect. … Inasmuch as God is the source of the laws under which men live, He is also the source of all the consequences to men of their violation of those laws. — Vine, page 124.

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It won’t be God’s fault [that the perishing] didn’t receive the love of the truth, for if they didn’t receive it, that means it was offered to them. The “truth” is Christ (John 14:6), and they won’t receive Him for the same reason they didn’t receive Him when He was here, they love sin and know He’s against it (John 3:19-20). If they don’t receive the love of the Lord they will be “anathema,” or cursed (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:22). — Kurth

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that they should believe (v.11) = lit. “unto the believing, i.e., with the foreseen and intended result that they should believe [the lie]. — Vine, page 124.

who did not believe the truth (v.12) — Because they refused to believe it; the negative used here expresses more than the fact that they did not believe the truth, what exposed them to this judgment was their refusal to believe it.

pleasure (v.11) = free and deliberate choice

The sin that involves men in this catastrophe is not intellectual, unwillingness to exercise the reasoning powers; it is moral, the love of evil. Distaste for the truth leads to its rejection; God in retributive justice sends a working of error to those who love error, this they gladly accept, yielding themselves to it and cooperating with it until they are overtaken by the climax in which the righteous judgment of God is expressed. — Vine, page 125.

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[Keep in mind] our Lord’s words in John 5:43: “I am come in My Father’s name, and ye receive Me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” This prediction will be tragically fulfilled at the rise of Antichrist.

Antichrist will not be immediately “consumed” and “destroyed.” For some years he will be permitted to deceive the world “with power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.”

Then, it should—but will not—dawn on the masses that the working of miraculous signs does not necessarily prove divine authorization! But this will not dawn on the masses because it was not their desire to know the truth, but to go on in their own willful way. This is why God will finally give them over the “the big lie.”

Note: the Apostle refers to “them that perish because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” Consider thoughtfully those words. He puts the blame squarely on them. They were not deprived of faith so that they could not be saved. They rejected “the love of the truth that they might be saved.”

And it is “for this cause”—because of their rejection of the truth and the love behind it, and their desire for a lie, that “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

Will God tell a lie? Certainly not, but He will give rebellious men up to a lie. Just as he gave the Gentile world up to the sin and darkness and superstition of idolatry millenniums ago (Romans 1:24, 26, 28) so, at the close of the dispensation of grace He will give the world up again by allowing Antichrist to appear with his “big lie.” — Stam, pages 132-133.

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2 Thessalonians 2:5-8

Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?

And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.

you know (v.6) — Paul wasn’t going into detail here. He had already told the Thessalonians everything they needed to know, and not long before. Here he was just reminding them.

restraining (v.6) = holding fast, actively and purposively — Here it is lawlessness which is restrained in its development

he (v.6) — the Antichrist. He is currently restrained, but will one day be unrestrained

in his own time (v.6) — and not before. The time will come for him to play his part in God’s plan, and at that time the man will appear.

When Paul says Antichrist will be “revealed in his time” (v.6), Isaiah predicted the Lords “little ones” (cf. Matthew 10:41-42) would one day be a majority and the “nation” (Matthew 21:43) of the “little flock” (Luke 12:32) would become “a strong nation” in the kingdom.” Redeemed Israel has always been a minority on earth, but that will change “in his time,” and Antichrist will be revealed “in his time.” And the time of a prophetic figure can’t come during the age of the mystery. — Kurth

for (v.7) — explaining why restraint of lawlessness is necessary at this time.

mystery (v.7) — something that can only be known by revelation from God (see Romans 16:24-25). A mystery, in Scripture, is never something that cannot be known, incomprehensible, or “mysterious” in the usual sense of that word.

lawlessness (v.7) — overthrow of the Divine order, not necessarily confusion and disorder

How did we believers come to know and love the Lord Jesus Christ? This was accomplished, not in some dramatic, outward way, but by the quiet working of the Holy Spirit, as we received the Word as the truth of God.

Satan works in the same way, only from sinister motives. He is called in Ephesians 2:2, “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” And as “the mystery of godliness” quietly does its work in the saints, so “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work” in the children of disobedience, behind the scenes, but very effectively, for the Prince of Lawlessness is the driving force that carries it forward. …

What is it that restrains the Antichrist from being revealed and hinders this wicked world from “going the limit” in sin?

Some say it is Satan, who is holding on to his place in the heavenlies “until he be taken out of the way (Revelation 12:9), but it is hard to imagine Satan, even in and by his personal absence from this earth, restraining evil.

Others believe that the restrainer is the Holy Spirit. [But] the Holy Spirit will continue working on earth during the Tribulation, helping the believing remnant to remain faithful to the end.

The author holds that it is the Spirit in the Church, the Body of Christ, that is referred to, or we might say, the influence of the Spirit through the Church for, remember it is not the police forces of this world, or its armies, that restrain the evil. It is the true Church, indwelt by the Holy Spirit. When the Church is “taken out of the way,” the Spirit’s ministry through its members will no longer function on earth to restrain lawlessness or the manifestation of Antichrist. This we believe is the only consistent solution to the identity of the Restrainer and is another strong proof that the rapture of the members of Christ’s Body will precede the manifestation of Antichrist. — Stam, pages 129-130.

When I first read the passage, I assumed the Restrainer was simply Christ who is preventing lawlessness as long as the Age of Grace lasts. I’m still not entirely sure why this can’t be the case, although the commentaries I’m using have other ideas (such as Stam, above) or Ryrie (who believes it is either the Holy Spirit indwelling the Church, or human government, which the Antichrist will overthrow). The Holy Spirit restraining lawlessness through the Church makes sense too.

already (v.7) — Even in Paul’s day, the forces of evil were at work to undermine the truth (see 1 John 2:18).

only (v.7) — Paul is about to explain why the lawlessness is limited at this time.

out of the way (v.7) = lit. “out of the midst”

with the breath of His mouth (v.8) — quoted from Isaiah 11:4, LXX, “with the breath of His lips shall He slay the impious one”; a vivid metaphorical statement of the effect of His voice, cp. Job 4:9; Psalm 29:3-6; Psalm 33:6. — Vine, page 122.

destroy (v.8) = to render inactive, or useless

brightness (v.8) = a showing forth

of His coming (v.8) — Christ’s second coming, when He will set up the Millennial Kingdom

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2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,

not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,

who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

shaken in mind (v.2) = excited, violently disturbed. It also has the sense of “to move away from,” like a ship that slips away from its moorings in a storm.

Having at once quieted their hearts as to their present sufferings, the Apostle now proceeds to prove to them that “the Day of the Lord” with its terrors and judgments had not then set in. He had told them in [1 Thessalonians 5:4] that they should be raptured to Heaven prior to those judgments, and that when the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to execute them they would appear with him (1 Thessalonians 3:13; Colossians 3:4). So they were shaken in mind and troubled; for if the Day of the Lord had set in, the Apostle’s teaching about the hope of the Rapture was false, and if he erred on so important a matter, what security had they that his gospel was infallible? — Williams, page 949.

concerning (v.1) = in the interests of—to correct their thoughts about

The appearance of the article “the” (v.1) before “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is not repeated before “our gathering together to Him” indicates that these are two aspects of the same event.

so soon (v.2) — Paul was telling them not to be swayed by first impressions but to think things through.

shaken in mind (v.2) — controlled by emotion, given to anxiety

by spirit (v.2) — those who claim to have spiritual gifts and insight. Their claims need to be carefully scrutinized

by word (v.2) — by reasoning, by statement, or by supposed word-of-mouth messages from Paul

or by epistle (v.2) — a written message, pretending to be from Paul. See 2 Thessalonians 3:17 where Paul explains how they can know.

from us (v.2) = through, by means of. Paul did not claim to be a source of knowledge in himself; he was merely a channel through which God revealed His mind to men. — Vine, page 115.

day of Christ (v.2) — same as the “day of the Lord”

Even though the Tribulation was only found in Jewish Scriptures, the Thessalonians knew how bad it would be, for they hung around the synagogue even before they were saved (Acts 17:1-4). So they knew “perfectly” how bad it will be (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2), knowing verses like Deuteronomy 28:65-67; Luke 21:26; etc. No wonder they were troubled!

Words and phrases have different meanings. The “coming” of the Lord (v.2) can refer to the Rapture, as it does here, or to the Second Coming (Matthew 24:27-29). Matthew 24 can’t be the rapture, for it speaks of the gathering of the eagles” for Armageddon (Revelation 19:17-19). The “gathering” of Matthew 24:31 can’t be the “gathering” of our text for there the Lord sends angels to gather the elect in Israel, while “the Lord Himself” comes for us (1 Thessalonians 4:16). — Kurth.

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[Some commentators, when referring to “the falling away” (v.3), think Paul was referring to people turning away from God.]

[But] our English word apostasy, is not an exact equivalent of the Greek apostasia. The English word apostasy means rebellion, or revolt, against a faith once embraced, but the Greek apostasia means departure, nothing more. …

The fatal mistake the translators made was in failing to take into consideration the definite article before the word apostasia. The article here denotes previous reference, for this wording clearly implies that they already knew about it. The meaning of Paul’s words in v.3, then, is that before the Tribulation can come, the “man of sin” must be revealed, and before this can happen “the departure” must come “first.”

No “falling away” or “apostasy” had been previously mentioned in either epistle, but in the whole of 1 Thessalonians and also of 2 Thessalonians up to this point, the Apostle’s very theme had been the rapture of the members of the Body of Christ. Thus here in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 he must be referring to “the departure” of the Church to be with Christ. This falls naturally into place with the whole context, for why should Paul exhort these believers not to be “shaken” or “troubled,” merely because the apostasy must precede the Tribulation? This would be no comfort. Further, how could they recognize “the” apostasy, much less “a” falling away when it came? The fact is that apostasy is raging now, in our day; it has been throughout the Church’s history. Indeed, it began in the days of Paul himself, and he wrote to Timothy, instructing him what to do about it. Thus “a falling away” could be no definite guide-post to the Thessalonian believers. But if, as we have contended, the beginning of the Tribulation awaits the rapture of the members of the Body of Christ, then the very fact that the Thessalonian saints were still on earth was in itself positive proof that the day of the Lord had not yet come. — Stam, pages 121, 123-124.

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Conclusion

1) The word apostasia and its root verb aphisteemi, do not, used by themselves, mean “apostasy” and “apostatize.” They mean “departure” and “depart,” nothing more.

2) 2 Thessalonians 2:3 states in the Greek, that the day of the Lord will not come “except the departure come first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.”

3) The term “the departure,” with the definite article, denotes previous reference.

4) Paul had written to the Thessalonians in his previous letter about the departure of the members of Christ’s Body from this earth (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) and had even disassociated this from the prophesied “day of the Lord” with the use of the word, “But” in 1 Thessalonians 5:1. He had also referred to this “departure” in the phrase “our gathering together unto Him,” in 2 Thessalonians 2:1. Indeed, this was the basis for his appeal to the Thessalonians not to be “shaken” or “troubled” by those who would lead them to believe that “the day of the Lord” had already begun. Also, he had “told” them about “these things” while he was yet with them (2 Thessalonians 2:5).

5) “The man of sin” must also be manifested before the “day of the Lord” can come, first as a great leader (Revelation 6:2) and then in all his blasphemy and wickedness (2 Thessalonians 2:8), and he cannot be manifested until “the departure” takes place “first.”

6) Thus, in addition to the many clear proofs that the rapture of the Body will precede the Tribulation we also have a passage which “explicitly affirms” this. — Stam, page 125

Kurth has a different view:

[Paul] revealed “a falling away” had to come before the day of the Lord. Many good pastors say this is the Rapture, arguing that the Greek word just means departure. But the Greek word is apostasia, from which we get apostasy, a departure from the truth. The only other place the Greek word is used bears this out (Acts 21:21). That’s the meaning here as well. … There is no need for Paul to introduce the Rapture at this point in his argument. He already begged them on the basis of the Rapture not to let anyone deceive them, knowing it must come before the day of the Lord. He’s already made that argument, now he is arguing that something else must come first, an apostasy. But there are two coming, one before the Rapture (1 Timothy 4:1) and one after. Since this passage started by talking about the Rapture, this is speaking about an apostasy that will come after the Rapture. — Kurth.

I find Stam’s argument, that the “falling away” means “departure” and is referring to the Rapture much more compelling both on the strength of his argument, and for a clearer, more logical reading of the text. In a section I haven’t included, Stam shows how the verb for of the Greek word is frequently used in Scripture to simply mean “departure.”

man of sin (v.3) — … A man over whom sin will have absolute dominion, the willing and efficient instrument of sin. A various reading is “man of lawlessness”; for this there is considerable manuscript authority, it agrees, moreover, with the words of vs. 7-8. … Here, perhaps the word includes the idea of contempt of [divine] law. If Antichrist denies the existence of the lawgiver he is not likely to respect His laws. — Vine, page 116.

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son of perdition (v.3) — If “man of lawlessness” refers to character, then “son of perdition” refers to the proper destiny of such a one, who like Judas, must “go to his on place” (Acts 1:25). … [Perdition] is a general term for disaster, material and spiritual, temporal and eternal. — Vine, page 116.

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Only one other person in Scripture is called “the son of perdition. … Judas Iscariot (John 17:12). … This has led some to conclude that “the son of perdition” of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 and Judas Iscariot are one and the same, both being Satan incarnate. They believe that Judas will be brought back to earth to fulfill his role as our Lord’s traitor. While this may be so, the Scriptures do not exactly say so, thus we merely point out what the Scriptures do reveal. — Stam, pages 128-129.

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“Man of sin” is Antichrist in the first half of the 70th week [of Daniel], but when he dies and rises (Revelation 13:1-3) he becomes “the son of perdition.” He’ll be reanimated by Judas, the son of perdition (John 17:12) when he who was on the earth before that time, “was not” at that time, but who will rise out of the pit of hell (Revelation 17:8). … Elijah’s coming back (Malachi 4:5), why not Judas? Psalm 55:12-14 describes Judas, 55:20:21 describes Antichrist, because he dies and rises in between (v.15). — Kurth

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It is not difficult to identify this “man of sin” the “son of perdition” as the Antichrist, for v.4 declares that he will “sit in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” This is said of Antichrist and is called by Daniel and our Lord, “the abomination of desolation” (Daniel 9:27; 11:31: 12:11; Matthew 24:15).

Having made a seven-year covenant with Israel, Antichrist will break it after three and a half years, setting himself up in the rebuilt temple as God in the flesh (Matthew 24:15). This breach of contract will trigger the “great Tribulation,” concerning which our Lord has said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:15, 21-22). — Stam, page 128.

who opposes (v.4) = lit. “to be set over against, the opponent.” John referred to this person as the Antichrist (1 John 2:18).

against all that is called God (v.4) = against all that is said to be Divine, against the conception of deity

[all that is] worshiped (v.4) — against religion in any form, idolatry as well as the worship of God.

in (v.4) = “into,” making the case that his is the culmination of the Antichrist’s rebellion

showing himself (v.4) — The Greek word apodeiknumi was in common use for the proclamation of a sovereign on his accession, or of an official on his entry into office.

We know this verse describes the last three and a half years of Antichrist’s career because during the first half of Daniel’s 70th week, he will not exalt himself above all that is called God—he will be a good Jew who will honor all that is called God. That’s why he’ll be honored by Israel. Midway through the 70th week he will exalt himself. During the first half of the 70th week he will be exalted by Israel and the world as a peacemaker (Daniel 11:21,24) who brought peace to the Mideast. But after he dies and rises (Revelation 13:1,2) he will exalt himself as God (2 Thessalonians 2:4 cf. Isaiah 14:13,14).

Daniel tells us he will exalt himself against “the prince of the host,” Christ (cf. Joshua 5:14), by claiming that he is Israel’s Christ. He adds that the Beast will “exalt himself above every god” (Daniel 11:36), similar to how Paul says he’ll exalt himself “above all that is called God.”

Satan will infect Judaism with idols again. The whore of Babylon will be Jewish. … Revelation 17:1-3 says that the whore will sit on the antichrist to symbolize how Antichrist will honor all that is involved with Judaism during the early part of his career. This is why he is called “the idol shepherd” (Zechariah 11:7).

However, Zechariah 11:7 goes on to describe his deadly wound that is healed (Revelation 13:1,2) after he rises from the dead after his assassination. He will then exalt himself above the idols that are called gods by “showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

But how will he sit in the temple, as Paul says, when the temple had no chair? Since the people kept sinning, the priest had to keep sacrificing and so there was never time for him to sit, unlike Christ, who offered one sacrifice for sins for ever (Hebrews 10:11). … The mercy seat above the ark was a chair, it was the throne of God (Numbers 7:89). Antichrist “as God” will sit on that seat “shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). — Kurth

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2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

11 Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power,

12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 11 picks up where verse 5 left off; verses 6-10 are a parenthesis in Paul’s point.

also (v.11) — marks “pray” as the main point

fulfill (v.11) = accomplish, make effective

How profoundly grateful we should be to God “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and [His own] grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9).

This gratitude should be expressed in our daily walk. Thus, as the Apostles exhorts believers in Ephesians 4:1-3 to walk worthy of their calling, so here he assures the Thessalonian believers of his unceasing prayers that God might count them worthy of “this calling,” i.e., that their walk might be such that He can approve it.

And as he assures the Colossians believers of his prayers that they  “might be filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will,” and so “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work” (Colossians 1:9-10), so here … he prays that [the Thessalonians] might “fulfill all the good pleasure of [God’s] will, and the work of faith with power.”

And all this, he says, “that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him …” Ponder thoughtfully: One day our blessed Lord will “be glorified in His saints and admired in all them that believe,” (1:10), but His name should be glorified in us now, to the fullest possible extent, “according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” — Stam, pages 117-118.

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Paul prays God will count us worthy of being spared [the wrath of the Tribulation]. In his first letter he begged the Thessalonians to walk worthy of this calling (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12), which is what grace is all about. The Colossians had the Lord, [but] Paul exhorted them to walk worthy of Him (Colossians 1:9-10). The Thessalonians had the hope of the pre-tribulation rapture, [but] Paul prayed they’d walk worthy of it. But in his second epistle, he prayed God would count them worthy of it by rapturing them before the Tribulation.

But if the pre-tribulation rapture was a sure thing, why did Paul pray for it? He was praying according to the revealed will of God, as he did in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24. Hezekiah did too (2 Kings 20:1-5), reminding God of His promise in 1 Kings 2:4 that he couldn’t die childless since he’d been good. God hadn’t forgotten the promise, [but] He wanted to see if Hezekiah would remember it and pray for it. He delights when we pray according to His will, and that’s what Paul was doing in praying God [would] count them worthy of the pre-tribulation rapture.

This will “fulfill all the good pleasure of His will.” His “good pleasure” for Israel concerned Jerusalem (Psalm 51:18) in the kingdom (Luke 12:32). The Lord taught the Jews to pray for this (Matthew 6:10). His good pleasure for us is the pre-tribulation rapture, and Paul prayed for it. He also prayed that God would fulfill “the work of faith with power,” i.e., the work of His faithfulness (cf. Colossians 2:12) in rapturing us with power.

When the Lord keeps his promise to rapture us before the Tribulation, He will be glorified in us. God is always glorified when He keeps His promises! He will be glorified in Israel when He keeps His promises to her, but He’ll also be glorified in us when He keeps His promises to us. — Kurth.

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