2 Thessalonians


2. Warning and instruction, 2:1-2:17

i] The Second Coming - the Man of Lawlessness


In Chapter 2 of Thessalonians, Paul writes concerning the day when Christ executes judgment. The believers at Thessalonica had come to believe that "the day of the Lord" had already occurred. They were undergoing persecution and so they thought that the end was upon them. So, Paul sets out to explain why this is not the case. The day of Christ's "coming / presence", the day when he executes judgment on a sinful word, has not yet occurred because the "man of lawlessness" has not been exposed and annihilated.


i] Context: See 1:3-12. In the opening chapter, Paul thanks God for the Thessalonian church. He then touches on the subject of the judgement of "everlasting destruction" which faces those "who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." He then prays for the Thessalonians. We now come to the probatio, the central argument of the letter which deals with the issue of eschatology, 2:1-17. In 2:1-12, Paul focuses on the coming day of the Lord and the revelation of the Man of Lawlessness, and then in v13-17 he moves to demonstrate that his readers have no reason to be shaken in their beliefs regarding the day of the Lord; their participation in that day is assured as long as they hold fast to the truths taught them by Paul, v13-17.


ii] Structure: This passage, The Second Coming, presents as follows:

Partitio / summary thesis, v1-2;

The day of the Lord is not yet come.

Proof / thesis #1, v3-12:

The events preceding the appearance of Jesus have not yet occurred, v3-4;

The present activity of the man of lawlessness indicates that Jesus has not yet come, v5-8;

The "mystery of lawlessness" indicates that Jesus has not yet come, v9-12.


The division of this chapter has prompted some debate. It seems clear that the first two verses identify Paul's concern, namely that the Thessalonians are being led astray on the issue of the day of the Lord. These opening verses establish the ground for Paul's argument, namely that the day of the Lord has not yet occurred and that the Thessalonian believers must therefore reject such a false premise. Paul then presents his central argument in v3-12, although Martin argues that the warnings in v11-12 are properly linked with the thanksgiving, v13-14, the exhortation, v15, and the prayer, v16-17.


iii] Interpretation:

It seems likely that the persecution which the Thessalonian believers were now experiencing was, for them, a sign that "the day of the Lord" was upon them. The revelation / coming of Jesus is a coming in judgment, and given their present tribulations, that coming day, with its punishment of the wicked, was surely at hand. Paul confronts this opinion by explaining that before the coming of the great day of the Lord there must be "the rebellion" and "the revelation of the man of lawlessness." He has not yet been exposed and annihilated so "that day" is still in the future. The simple fact is that the "man of lawlessness" / the man of sin / the man doomed to destruction / Mr. Loss, is presently operating in human society and that for this reason the day of the Lord has not yet come.


The Man of Lawlessness: There have been many attempts to identify the man of lawlessness. He has been aligned with the Roman Emperor, even Rome itself. In the Preface of the Authorized Version of the Bible the Pope is called "that Man of Sin", a rather sad example of religious bigotry! Numerous political leaders, political parties, powers, philosophies, ideas, a runaway computer, ..... have been identified with this "man". However he may manifest himself, and he has, and will, manifested himself in many ways, the man of lawlessness is most likely Paul's descriptive title for the Antichrist.

Paul describes the man of lawlessness as someone who "opposes" God, exalts himself over God, claims deity for himself, setting himself up in the temple. It seems likely that Paul is using descriptives common in Jewish apocalyptic traditions, particularly those reflecting the desecration of the temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, 175-164 BC. Antiochus entered the holy of holies, plundered the temple, set up an idol within the sanctuary and halted the religion of Israel. This is the way the man of lawlessness behaves and will continue to do so until reaching a crescendo in the "abomination of desolation", at which time he will be exposed and annihilated. Luke actually links the abomination with the destruction of Jerusalem and the desecration of the Temple in 70AD, cf. Lk.21:20. Obviously Rome's aggression against Israel bears the fingerprints of the man of sin and so serves as a paradigm for that last great rebellion, armageddon. His tendency to desecrate what belongs to God inevitably extends to the Christian church, 1Cor.3:16f, such that the man of lawlessness brings desolation to the fellowship of believers, a desolation involving external persecution and internal apostasy.

Paul tells us that the man of lawlessness is extremely powerful, wondrous even, and that the glory he possesses has the capacity to deceive. He is active now and so he deceives right now, bringing a "powerful delusion" upon many. He is active at this very moment, practicing his final assault on all that belongs to God. As the Devil's friend, the Beast from the Bog, Daniel 7 and Revelation 13, he seeks to violate the will of God. Yet, in the end, he is "doomed to destruction", for in the day of judgment, "the day of the Lord", he will be destroyed with a word from the Lord - Jesus will overthrow him "with the breath of his mouth" and destroy him with "the splendor of his coming." The man of lawlessness will be destroyed because he lives "in accordance with the work of Satan."

So, Paul reminds the Thessalonians that the man of lawlessness is indeed active, as they well know, and because he is active the day of the Lord still lies in the future.

In passing, it should be noted that some commentators see the revealing of the man of lawlessness associated with the formation of the modern state of Israel and the rebuilding of the temple. Due to this association, many believers have turned a blind eye to Israel's annexation of Palestinian land, along with the subjugation of the Palestinian people, many of whom are Christians. Although a highly charged issue, it needs to be stated firmly that Biblical support for such an interpretation is very thin.


iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 2:1

The coming of the Lord, v1-12: i] Partitio - a summary of Paul's offered proofs concerning the day of Mr Loss, v1-2. Paul first raises the issue of the "coming / presence of our Lord Jesus and our being gathered to him", v1, and then in v2 he outlines his central argument, namely that the day of the Lord still lies in the future - it has not "already come."

de "-" - and. Here transitional, "now we beseech you, brethren, ....", AV.

uJper + gen. "concerning" - Here expressing reference/respect; "concerning / with reference to", // peri.

thV parousiaV (a) "the coming" - the coming, presence. "The coming of a hidden deity who makes his presence felt by a revelation of his power", BAGD. The article links "coming" (apokalypsiV, "revelation", 1:7) with "being gathered" (ie. meeting with Jesus), indicating that they are closely related. The coming / presence / manifestation of Jesus is best viewed as a heavenward coming into the presence of the Ancient of Days for his enthronement, ie. in terms of the coming of Daniel's Son of Man, cf. Dan.7:13. See "this will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed", 1:7. Paul is encouraging his readers not to misunderstand the teaching he gave them while he was with them concerning the "coming" of the Lord Jesus.

tou kuriou (oV) gen. "[our] Lord" - The genitive is usually treated as verbal, subjective, but adjectival, possessive is possible.

episunagwghV (h) "gathered" - gather together, assembling with. Interestingly, the writer to the Hebrews uses the same word to describe the gathering of believers for worship, Heb.10:25. Our gathering with Christ for worship reflects our gathering with him before the Ancient of Days.

ep (epi) + acc. "to [him]" - Spacial, as NIV.

erwtwmen (erwtaw) pres. "we ask [you]" - we ask, beg. The royal plural may be dropped if desired, "I ask you my friends", CEV, and obviously "ask" can be expressed with a bit more vigor, "I urge you strongly", TH.


Paul seems unsure where the wrong ideas have come from. False teachers may be the source. Like any preacher he would hope that he himself is not the source of the confusion (had they misunderstood Paul's words in 1Thess.5:5, 8?).

eiV to mh ... saleuqhnai (saleuw) aor. pas. inf. "not to become [easily] unsettled" - that you not be shaken. This construction, eiV + the articular infinitive, is used four times in this passage. It usually forms a final clause expressing the aim/purpose of the main verb," in order that", sometimes a consecutive clause, expressing the object/result of the action of the main verb, "so that / with the result that", and rarely forming a dependent statement, indirect speech or perception, expressing the content of a cognitive verb, ie., a verb of saying or thinking. The construction here is likely forming a dependent statement, indirect speech, expressing what Paul urges/asks; "we beg you not to be (that you not be) rashly driven out of your sober judgment (apo tou nooV "from the mind"), or become unsettled (to ..... qroeisqai inf. "to be alarmed")", Cassirer. "Please do not be alarmed or shaken out of your wits", Bruce.

tacewV adv. "easily" - quickly. Best taken temporally, meaning that the Thessalonians had become unsettled in a very short time (quickly) since Paul's first letter, so Malherbe, rather than "with little reason", Alford, as NIV.

apo + gen. "-" - from [the mind]. Expressing separation; "from rational thought."

dia + gen. "by" - [neither] through, by means of. Instrumental, expressing means.

pneumatoV (a atoV) "some prophecy" - spirit. "Spirit" = "prophetic spirit", 1Cor.2:10, 13. "By prophecy."

logou (oV) "word" - word. Some oral speech of some sort; "any statement", NJB, "report".

wJV "[letter] supposed to have come / allegedly [from us]" - [epistle] as if, though [by means of us]. Here expressing manner, more concessive than comparative, "as though it were from us"; "by an epistle/letter as though it were written by us (ie. Paul)." Grammatically the phrase can modify all three nouns, "spirit", "word" and "letter", which would imply that there are those in the Thessalonian church who claim that they know the mind of Paul on this matter and are vigorously communicating it. Thus the reworking of the NIV by the TNIV; "we ask you ... not to become easily unsettled by the teaching allegedly from us - whether by a prophecy of by word of mouth or by letter - asserting that ....."

wJV oJti "saying that" - as if that. Here equivalent to oJti, "that", and so forming a dependent statement, indirect speech, expressing the content of the "teaching" (the interpretation of the "spirit", "word", or "letter"), namely "that the day of the Lord has already come", cf. MHT III, p137. "Alleging that ....", Barclay.

htou kuriou (oV) gen. "[the day] of the Lord" - The genitive is often taken to be verbal, subjective, although "day" is not really a verbal noun, so adjectival, possessive, would be better. This phrase is usually identified with a climactic moment of divine judgment, a divine coming in judgment. There have been many such days / comings, many such judgments, but all look toward the eschatological judgment associated with the Son of Man's coming into the presence of the Ancient of Days, that great day of the Lord.

enesthken (enisthmi) perf. "has already come" - has come. Rather than actually "come", the phrase may be translated "is close at hand", "is near", or "is as good as here", so Lightfoot. Yet, the perfect is expressing a past event with ongoing consequences, so "has arrived", not "is imminent". The Thessalonians are being falsely told that "the Lord has already come."


ii] Probatio - rhetorical proof / thesis # 1, the day of the Lord is not yet, v3-12: a) In establishing his proof that the day of the Lord has not yet arrived, Paul initially sets out to show "that the necessary events preceding the appearance of Jesus have not yet occurred", Wanamaker, v3-4. Before that great day, "the rebellion" and "the revealing / exposing of the man of lawlessness" will occur, and it is obvious that this has not yet happened. It seems likely that the Thessalonians have, at least, a basic understanding about "the rebellion" and "the man of lawlessness." For this reason Paul leaves us somewhat short on information. Probably both allude to "the abomination that causes desolation", Matt.24:15, Mk.13:14 = The culmination of the Antichrist's conflict with God's people involving a complete breakdown in civil order along with a concerted attack on God's sanctuary / people.

mh ... exapathsh/ (exapataw) aor. subj. "don't let [anyone] deceive [you]" - let not be deceived. Subjunctive of prohibition. "Do not be duped by error."

kata + acc. "in [any way]" - according to [nothing way]. Probably expressing reference / respect; "with respect to nothing of this way" = "let nobody delude you into this belief", Moffatt, ie. into the idea that the Lord has come.

oJti "for" - that. Here usually taken to express cause/reason; introducing a causal clause explaining why believers should not be deceived into thinking that the Lord has come, "because ......"

ean mh + subj. "that day will not [come]" - unless, if not [comes]. It is usually accepted that we have an ellipsis (missing words) at this point. We have the protasis of a negated conditional sentence, 3rd. class, made up of two subjunctive verbal clauses, but we are missing the apodosis. Given that the apodosis is assumed, it obviously draws on the central idea that Paul is dealing with at this point, so "[because / for] if, as may be the case, the apostasy / rebellion does not come first and the man of lawlessness stands revealed, then [the day of the Lord will not come]." So, "don't be deceived because the day of the Lord will not arrive unless the rebellion comes first and the man of lawlessness is exposed."

prwton adv. "until" - first. Best taken with "the rebellion" and "the man of destruction", as NIV. Both together must come first before the realization of the day of the Lord.

hJ apostasia "the rebellion" - apostasy, rebellion. The word "rebellion" means "falling away", often in the sense of a falling away from / rebellion against God = apostasy. Both Lightfoot and Denney see this as referring to the church, cf. Matt.24:10-12. Others see it referring to the Jews, although this is unlikely. Others see it in general terms as a revolt against God, rather than a falling away of the church, although this would be part of the picture, cf. Neil. Certainly, the "falling away" would include the apostasy of the Christian church, cf. Matt.24:11-13, Acts 21:21, 1Tim.4:1, Heb.3:12, all of which draw on the Jewish eschatological expectation that before the end times there will be overt apostasy against God, eg. 4 Ezra 5:1-13. On the other hand a "general abandonment of the basis of civil order", Bruce, may be Paul's intended sense - "evils and terrors of cosmic proportions", Furnish. If this is the case than the Jewish rebellion against Rome in 70AD serves as a paradigm of "the rebellion." Josephus actually uses this word for the Jewish revolt against Rome. At any rate, "since the reference here is to a world-wide rebellion against divine authority at the end of the age, the ideas of political revolt and religious apostasy are combined", Bruce.

thV anomiaV (a) gen. "[the man] of lawlessness" - The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "man"; he is a man without the law, a corrupt man, a rebellious man, an immoral man - he is Mr. Loss. For his identity as the Antichrist, see notes above.

apokalufqh/ (apokaluptw) aor. pas. subj. "is revealed" - may be revealed. During the rebellion ("this great satanic event", Fee) there will be a public manifestation of the man of lawlessness, although even now he "is already at work", v6, taking on many a guise. At the rebellion he will be seen for who he is, with the veil lifted and the mystery no more. The revealing of the man of lawlessness is often explained in terms of his bursting out in the full horror of his person, but the passive is quite possibly theological, such that his revealing is actually a divine uncovering, a taking out of hiding. In the last day God will expose him for who and what he is.

thV apwleiaV (a) gen. "[the man] doomed to destruction" - [the son] of destruction. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "man". The phrase "the son of" is a Semitism indicating that which is characteristic of a person. What is characteristic of "the man of lawlessness" is annihilation; he is doomed to destruction. The transitive sense, "causes destruction" is unlikely. He is "the man with God's doom on him", Barclay.


Paul's list of descriptives for the man of lawlessness continues. For these descriptives Paul draws on Jewish apocalyptic traditions, and particularly the prophecy of Daniel, cf. 11:36. The man of lawlessness aggregates to himself divine status, opposing and exalting himself over every so-called God and object of worship.

oJ antikeimenoV (antikeimai) pres. mid. part. "he will oppose" - the one opposing (mid. = setting himself against). The participle serves as a substantive. Paul is describing the man of lawlessness as anti-God, // anti-Christ in John's letters, = the Antichrist.

uJperairomenoV (uJperairw) pres. mid. part. "will exalt" - exalting (mid. = exalting himself). The participle serves as a substantive. He will "arrogantly exalt himself above the sacred objects of the various religions to demonstrate his own superiority", Wanamaker.

epi + acc. "over" - over. Spacial; "who in his pride exalts himself against every divinity acknowledged by men", Barclay.

legomenon (legw) pres. pas. part. "[everything] that is called" - being called. The participle is adjectival, limiting "everything", as NIV. Daniel has "every deity", but Paul reworks this to "every so-called deity", Fee.

sebasma (a atoV) "[or] is worshiped" - [or] an object of veneration / worship. A supposed object that is properly due worship.

wJste + inf. "so that [he sets himself up]" - so as [to sit]. This construction usually forms a consecutive clause expressing result, "with the result that ....." By setting himself up in the Temple he is claiming divine status.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "God's [temple]" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

apodeiknunta (apodeiknumi) pres. part. "proclaiming" - showing, exhibiting, demonstrating. The participle is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of his sitting in the temple; he sits proclaiming.

oJti "[to be]" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement, indirect speech, expressing what he proclaims.

qeoV (oV) "God" - [he is] God. There is no article so most often rendered "God", although "a god" is possible, given that the man of lawlessness is not necessarily a monotheist. Better, "proclaiming himself to be divine."


b) Continuing his proof that the day of the Lord has not yet come, Paul develops the second point of his argument, v5-8. The present activity of the man of lawlessness, evidenced by the persecutions presently experienced by the Thessalonians, shows that the day of the Lord has not yet occurred, v5-7a, for when that day comes he will be "taken out of the way", "exposed and destroyed, "overthrown by the breath of his (Christ's) mouth", v7b-8. Only in that day will the suffering caused by the man of lawlessness be no more.

ou "don't [you remember]" - [remember you] not. This negation indicates that a positive answer to the question is expected, so expressed positively, "surely you remember", JB.

oJti "that" - Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what they should have remembered, namely that Paul told them these things.

w]n (eimi) pres. part. "when I was" - being. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal, as NIV. "While I was still with you in Thessalonica", TH.

proV + acc. "with [you]" - to, toward [you]. Here probably expressing association, "with, in the company with", as NIV.

uJmin dat. "[I used to tell] you [these things]" - [I was telling these things] to you. Dative of indirect object.


This verse has prompted endless speculation: "You know what I told you then, about the man of lawlessness, about the one who exercises rule and authority in the here and now, that he will be revealed at the proper time."

kai "and" - Coordinative.

to katecon (katecw) pres. part. "what is holding him back" - the one holding sway, prevailing, ruling = the restrainer. The participle functions as a substantive. It is often argued that for the present, the antichrist is being held back, restrained, and that when the restraint is lifted he will burst out in pure horror. So, he is presently active, but with limitations. What or who is "that which restrains", or even "he that restrains"? There are numerous possibilities. The Jewish state, the Roman state, the moral order, even good angelic powers. Yet, it seems better to translate this term as "occupy a position", "be the top man", so Frame, Wanamaker, Best. The meaning then would be that the man of lawlessness presently exists and rules, and only in the last day will he be exposed ("revealed") and annihilated. The fact that he is presently active proves that the day of the Lord still lies in the future. So "he who prevails" serves as another descriptive of the man of lawlessness.

eiV to apokalufqhnai (apokaluptw) aor. pas. inf. "so that [he] may be revealed" - that [he] is to be revealed. For this construction, the preposition eiV with the articular infinitive, again forms a dependent statement of perception, expressing what they know, cf., v2. The Thessalonians know, and this because Paul has already explained this truth to them, that the man of lawlessness will be exposed at his [proper] time, ie. a time of God's choosing.

en + dat. "at [the proper time]" - in [his time]. Temporal use of the preposition. "It is characteristic of apocalyptic schemes that persons and events have their proper times and seasons in God's plan", Malherbe. Even the man of lawlessness has his time to face exposure and judgment, which for him still lies in the future.


Paul continues "to show that the day of the Lord cannot possibly have arrived, because the man of lawlessness remains at work", Furnish. This is another difficult verse to interpret; see oJ katecwn below.

gar "for" - for. Expressing cause/reason; introducing a causal clause explaining why the Thessalonians know that the man of lawlessness is active in the here and now, because they are presently experiencing the power of lawlessness in their day-to-day life. The divine time of judgment for the man of lawlessness lies in the future and this is obviously so "because" the mystery of lawlessness / immorality / evil is at work even now; "the mystery of iniquity doth already work", AV.

to ... musthrion (on) "the secret power" - the mystery. The word "mystery" is used of a hidden secret that will be revealed, rather than of something mysterious. The word is used of gospel truth, a hidden divine truth now revealed in Christ. What we have here is "a satanic counterpart", Bruce, "those evil forces exposed by and opposed to the power of the gospel", Martin, as NIV.

thV anomiaV (a) gen. "of lawlessness" - of lawlessness, corruption, immorality, rebellion. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "mystery". Today, we would probably use the phrase "the problem of evil" for "the mystery of lawlessness."

hdh adv. "[is] already [at work]" - [is working] now, already. Temporal; "at work even now", Barclay.

monon adv. "but" - only. Here the adverb serves as a qualification, probably giving a concessive sense rather than adversative; "the secret power of lawlessness is presently at work, although only ......"

oJ katecwn (katecw) pres. part. "the one who [now] holds it back" - the one holding sway, prevailing, ruling. The participle serves as a substantive. As noted above, the idea of of some authority or power which/who restrains the man of lawlessness is probably off the mark. Paul is again referencing the man of lawlessness himself; he is one who holds sway, prevails, rules, for the moment, cf. Lk.4:6. So, the Gk. reads, "the secret power of lawlessness is presently at work, although only until the one who is now prevailing is out of the way". The NIV "will continue to do so" is prompted by the assumption that there is an ellipsis, namely that energeitai "is at work" is missing. This is prompted by translating oJ katecwn as "the one restraining" = "the one restraining is still at work", but an ellipsis is not evident when translated "the one prevailing / ruling". "The secret power of lawlessness is presently at work, although only until the one who is now prevailing/ruling (ie. the man of lawlessness) is removed from the scene."

arti + subj. "till" - until. forming an indefinite temporal clause.

ek mesou genhtai "he is taken out of the way" - he becomes out of the midst. This is a rather strange prepositional phrase, but Bruce argues from nonbiblical Gk. that it simply means "he is removed."


tote adv. "then" - Forming a temporal clause; "then the man of lawlessness will be exposed", exposed for who he is, Satan's agent, condemned and annihilated.

apokalufqhsetai (apokaluptw) fut. "will be revealed" - See v3.

IhsouV (ouV ou) "[the Lord] Jesus" - Variants exist without "Jesus", see Metzger. Given that Paul draws on Isaiah 11:4, it is possible that copyists dropped "Jesus" so as to emphasize the LXX quote.

anelei (aneirew) fut. "will overthrow" - will consume, destroy, do away with, kill. the man of lawlessness may be active now, but will not prevail in the end. As noted above, the language of the clause "will overthrow with the breath of his mouth" draws on Isaiah 11:4, describing "the destruction wrought upon the man of lawlessness by the Lord Jesus", Malherbe.

tw/ pneumati (a atoV) "with the breath [of his mouth]" - with/by the spirit, breath [of the mouth of him]. The dative is probably instrumental. Most often used of "spirit", but here, following the LXX, "breath" is intended.

katarghsei (katargew) fut. "destroy" - make of no effect, render inactive = nullify, abolish, annihilate. In a parallel clause Paul restates the destruction of the man of lawlessness by Christ.

th/ epifaneia/ (a) dat. "by the splendor [of his coming]" - by/in the appearing, manifestation [of his coming, presence]. The dative is instrumental, expressing means. "Appearing" = "a visible demonstration of the presence of a formerly unseen deity", Martin, along with a "demonstration of his power", Green. Christ's "appearing / glorious epiphany" obviously parallels his "eschatological coming", ie. his coming to / appearing before the Ancient of days for his enthronement and the exercise of his rule / judgment. It seems likely that the combination of "manifestation" and "coming", both of which refer to the same event, is here "a redundancy that lends emphasis to the phrase", Martin. Together, both words serve "to emphasize not just the fact of his coming, but especially its unmistakable and evidential character", Fee. "The Lord's parousia (coming, presence) will be a compelling manifestation of divine power", Furnish. "When the Lord Jesus comes, he will .......... destroy him with his dazzling presence", TEV.


c) Continuing his proof that the day of the Lord has not yet come, Paul sets out the third point of his argument, v9-12. By describing the present state of affairs ("the mystery of lawlessness" = the wondrous deception perpetrated by the man of lawlessness under the direction of Satan, promoting a general rejection of the gospel) Paul strengthens his case that the man of lawlessness is still active and thus the day of the Lord still lies in the future.

ou| pro. "-" - whose. Obviously referring to the man of lawlessness. The NIV makes this clear by adding "the man of lawlessness".

hJ parousia (a) "the coming" - [whose] coming [is]. The coming of Jesus and his glorious epiphany prompts Paul to mention the coming of the man of lawlessness and his glorious epiphany. He too comes with power and glory, ie. he also has a presence, he also reigns, although it is earthly, not heavenly. The controlling verb to-be, estin, takes the present tense, not the future as often translated, eg. "the wicked one will come", TEV. The present tense expresses durative / ongoing action such that the "coming / presence" of the man of lawlessness is a present ongoing reality, with signs and wonders calculated to deceive. As with the Son of Man, NT eschatology does promote a climactic parousia of the antichrist, a time of great tribulation, a final emerging of Daniel's beast from the bog to destroy and devour, but Paul is pointing to the lawless coming /presence of the man of lawlessness in the here and now. Part of our confusion lies with the English word "coming" in that we understand it to mean a future visitation, but when it comes to the man of lawlessness, as with the Son of Man, there are many comings, many times when he has made his presence felt through a revelation of his power. The Thessalonians were, at this very moment, experiencing a "coming / presence" of the man of lawlessness in their persecutions.

kat (kata) + acc. "[will be] in accordance with" - [is] according to. Expressing a standard; "in accordance with / corresponding to." It seems likely that the first prepositional clause, "according to working of Satan", goes with "whose coming is", rather than the second "with/in all power and signs ....."

tou satana (aV a) gen. "[the work] of Satan" - [working, action, activity] of Satan. The genitive is usually taken as verbal, subjective, but possibly adjectival, possessive, "Satan's working", or attributive, "satanic activity." The coming of the man of lawlessness is "accomplished in obedience to Satan's way of operation", Cassirer.

en + dat. "in [all]" - in, by, with. Accompaniment is probably the intended sense of the preposition, "with"; "he will come equipped with", Barclay. This prepositional clause, and the one following, v10a, forms a doublet: "with every kind of (en pash/, "with all") power, both signs and wonders of falsehood, and with every kind of deception of wickedness", Fee.

yeudouV (oV) gen. "counterfeit [miracles, signs and wonders] / [displays of power through signs and wonders] that serve the lie" - [signs and wonders] of falsehood. The NIV applies this genitive adjectival qualifier to all three nouns, so eg. Green, Bruce, Martin, but it probably serves only to limit the last noun, "wonders / marvels", so Fee, "wonders of falsehood", "lying wonders", AV. Either way, the "lie" is not a "counterfeit", the miracles, signs and wonders are real enough, the problem lies with their source, namely Satan. The exact form of the miracles, signs and wonders is unclear, but they probably represent all the corrupting wonders of life, wonders which divert our attention from the Creator to the creation, wonders natural and man-made. "Delusive marvels - for so Satan works", Weymouth.


en + dat. "[and] in [every sort of] / [and all the ways]" - [and] in [all]. Expressing accompaniment; "and with all wicked deception", ESV.

adikiaV (a) gen. "evil [that deceives] / that wickedness [deceives]" - [deception] of unrighteousness, evil, wickedness, corruption. The genitive is adjectival, probably not attributed, as NIV, but attributive, limiting "deception"; "with every kind of evil / wicked deception". The phrase "deceit of wickedness", as Wanamaker notes, is rather awkward, so prompting numerous translations. Satan's purpose, in the "coming / presence" of the man of lawlessness, is to deceive, confound, mesmerize with "corrupt deception", those who are caught up in this dying world ("those who are perishing"). Satan, through the man of lawlessness, employs an "evil slight of hand that plays to the gallery of those who hate the truth that could save them", Peterson.

toiV apollumenoiV (apollumi) dat. pres. mid. part. "those who are perishing" - for those experiencing ruin. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of interest, disadvantage. Obviously "eternal ruin / destruction", although the sense is too general to argue for either "eternal annihilation", or "eternal punishment." "Those involved in this dying world", Phillips.

anq w|n "they perish because" - in return for which = because. A causal sense seems likely for this phrase, although more classical than NT Gk - anti + gen. pro. The phrase is usually translated "wherefore" in Luke / Acts. An underlying sense of substitution, exchange, "instead of which", is still sometimes present, even correspondence, "in return for their unwillingness to exercise the love of the truth." Their deceived state of loss in a dying world is because they "have not accepted a love of the truth" = they are "the ones having not believed the truth", v12, that which results in salvation.

thV alhqeiaV (a) gen. "[they refused to love] the truth" - [they did not accept, receive the love] of the truth. We have here another awkward phrase. The genitive is usually treated as verbal, objective, "the love that has as its object the Christian gospel", Wanamaker, with "truth" here being understood as a synonym for "the gospel." None-the-less, the genitive may simply be adjectival, attributive, limiting "love". What they did not accept was a truth type of love, the true love, the divine love expressed for broken humanity in the life, death and resurrection of Christ / the gospel, the consequence of which is salvation to those who accept/believe, cf. Bruce.

eiV to swqhnai (swzw) aor. pas. inf. "and so be saved" - that [them] to be saved. For this construction, eiV + the articular infinitive, see v2. It does seem likely that the construction here forms a consecutive clause, as NIV. The consequence of that true love, divine love, is salvation. The deception undertaken by the man of lawlessness, at the behest of Satan, achieves its intended end of locking many people into this dying world, and this because they do not receive the divine love in Christ which could have saved them. Yet, given the first two uses of this construction in the passage, it is possible that it forms a dependent statement of perception, expressing what they "did not accept"; they did not accept that [which] could save them, namely the gospel / "true love" / the divine love expressed for broken humanity in Christ. Either way, the point is clear enough.


"As a result of having rejected the truth of the gospel, God begins to execute his judgment on the unbelievers", Green, v11-12. Judgment, in the form of "a powerful delusion", has a long tradition in the scriptures. For example, God put a lying spirit in the mouths of the false prophets because of the evil of Israel, 1Kings.22:23, cf. Ezek.14:9. Paul makes a similar point when he addresses the Corinthians concerning speaking in tongues - an unclear word from the Lord is a sign of judgement, not blessing, cf.,1Cor.14:21-23. Jesus uses the kingdom parables in a similar judgmental way, Matt.13:10-17. So, by refusing "to love the truth" = the love of God in Christ = the gospel, v10, the unbeliever receives the punishment for their unbelief, namely "delusion" and thus ultimate condemnation.

dia touto "because of this / for this reason" - This preposition + acc. forms a causal clause which draws a logical conclusion; "therefore". Because they reject the gospel / therefore God sends upon them a powerful delusion.

pempei (pempw) pres. "[God] sends" - Marshall thinks the variant future tense should be read, making the delusion a divine act of judgment in the last day, but the stronger reading takes a present tense. Just as the powerful falsehood promoted by the man of lawlessness is a present experience, so is the judgment of delusion.

autoiV dat. pro. "them" - [God sends a powerful delusion] to them. Dative of indirect object.

energeian planhV "a powerful delusion" - a deluding influence. God's judgment on those who reject a clear word from him is often enacted by withdrawing that word and replacing it with riddles, eg., Jesus' kingdom parables - a powerful delusion for those who refuse to believe.

eiV to pisteusai (pistew) "so that [they] will believe" - for [them] to believe. For this construction, the preposition eiV with the articular infinitive, see v2. Given that the main verb, "sends", is not a verb of saying or thinking, it is likely that the construction here expresses either purpose, "in order that", or result / intended result, "with the result that / so that"; "they refuse to accept the truth and so they find themselves delivered over to the lie", Bruce. None-the-less, content is not far from Paul's mind, even though the syntax is not strictly expressing content. Because of their rejection of the gospel, God sends them a powerful delusion, a lie which they believe, the result of which (iJna + subj., v12) is their condemnation.

tw/ yeudei (oV) dat. "the lie" - the falsehood, lie. Dative of direct object after the verb "to believe" = "believe in the lie". The presence of the article probably indicates the particular lie of the antichrist, "the ultimate falsehood generated by the Evil One", Fee. This falsehood, the claim to divinity by the man of lawlessness, a falsehood authenticated by signs and wonders, is blindly accepted by those who have rejected Christ, and this because of God's judgment upon them in the form of a "powerful delusion".


iJna + subj. "and so that [all]" - that [all]. Forming either a purpose clause, "in order that", or a more likely a consecutive clause, "so that / with the result that", as NIV. The clause is likely connected with "the lie which they believed", which belief leads to their condemnation.

kriqwsin (krinw) aor. pas. subj. "will be condemned" - may be condemned. "That they all might be damned", AV, the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed, Rom.2:5.

oiJ mh pisteusanteV (pisteuw) aor. part. "who have not believed" - the ones not having believed. The participle is adjectival, limiting "all". Those who are condemned are all those who do not believe, damned by delusion and ultimately damnation.

th/ alhqeia/ (a) dat. "the truth" - Dative of direct object after the verb "believe". "The truth" = "the gospel."

alla "but" - but. Strong adversative.

eudokhsanteV (eudokew) aor. part. "have delighted in" - enjoy, take pleasure in. The participle is again adjectival, limiting "all"; "all who enjoy unrighteousness"; "who deliberately chose sin", Barclay.

th/ adikia/ (a) dat. "wickedness" - unrighteousness. Dative of direct object after the verb "enjoy". Ethical, so "wickedness". As Bruce notes, "a wrong idea of God means a wrong way of life", cf. Rom.2:8, 1Cor.13:6. "Who have made evil their play-fellow", Phillips.


2 Thessalonians Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]