Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
ERROR AS TO
1. Now--rather, "But"; marking the transition from his prayers
for them to entreaties to them.
we beseech you--or "entreat you." He uses affectionate entreaty,
rather than stern reproof, to win them over to the right view.
by--rather, "with respect to"; as the Greek for "of"
our gathering together unto him--the consummating or final gathering
together of the saints to Him at His coming, as announced,
The Greek noun is nowhere else found except in
said of the assembling together of believers for
congregational worship. Our instinctive fears of the judgment
are dispelled by the thought of being gathered together UNTO HIM ("even as the hen
gathereth her chickens under her wings"), which ensures our safety.
2. soon--on trifling grounds, without due consideration.
shaken--literally, "tossed" as ships tossed by an agitated sea.
Compare for the same image,
in mind--rather as the Greek, "from your mind," that is,
from your mental steadfastness on the subject.
troubled--This verb applies to emotional agitation; as "shaken"
by spirit--by a person professing to have the spirit of
The Thessalonians had been warned
(1Th 5:20, 21)
to "prove" such professed prophesyings, and to "hold fast (only) that
which is good."
by word--of mouth (compare
2Th 2:5, 15);
some word or saying alleged to be that of Paul, orally communicated. If
oral tradition was liable to such perversion in the apostolic age
(compare a similar instance,
how much more in our age!
by letter as from us--purporting to be from us, whereas it is a
forgery. Hence he gives a test by which to know his genuine letters
day of Christ--The oldest manuscripts read, "day of the Lord."
is at hand--rather, "is immediately imminent," literally, "is
present"; "is instantly coming." Christ and His apostles always
taught that the day of the Lord's coming is at hand; and it is not
likely that Paul would imply anything contrary here; what he denies is,
that it is so immediately imminent, instant, or present, as to
justify the neglect of everyday worldly duties.
CHRYSOSTOM, and after
him ALFORD, translates, "is (already) present" (compare
a kindred error. But in
the same Greek verb is translated "come."
WAHL supports this view. The Greek is
usually used of actual presence; but is quite susceptible of the
translation, "is all but present."
3. by any means--Greek, "in any manner." Christ, in
gives the same warning in connection with the same event. He had
indicated three ways
in which they might be deceived (compare other ways,
and Mt 24:5, 24).
a falling away--rather as the Greek, "the falling away," or
"apostasy," namely, the one of which "I told you" before
"when I was yet with you," and of which the Lord gave some intimation
that man of sin be revealed--The Greek order is, "And
there have been revealed the man of sin." As Christ was first in
mystery, and afterwards revealed
so Antichrist (the term used
1Jo 2:18; 4:3)
is first in mystery, and afterwards shall be developed and revealed
As righteousness found its embodiment in Christ, "the Lord our
righteousness," so "sin" shall have its embodiment in "the man of sin."
The hindering power meanwhile restrains its manifestation; when
that shall be removed, then this manifestation shall take place. The
articles, "the apostasy," and "the man of sin," may also
refer to their being well known as foretold in
Da 7:8, 25,
"the little horn speaking great words against the Most High, and
thinking to change times and laws"; and
the wilful king who "shall exalt and magnify himself above every god,
and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods; neither
shall he regard any god."
the son of perdition--a title applied besides to Judas (the traitor,
and to none else. Antichrist (the second "beast" coming up out of the
earth); therefore he shall at first be "like a lamb, while he speaks as
"coming in peaceably and by flatteries," "working deceitfully," but
"his heart shall be against the holy covenant"
(Da 11:21, 23, 28, 30).
Seeds of "the falling away" soon appear
but the full development and concentration of these anti-Christian
elements in one person are still to appear. Contrast the King of
Zion's coming as JESUS: (1) righteous or
just; (2) having salvation; (3) lowly; whereas
Antichrist is: (1) "the man of (the embodiment of) sin; (2) the
son of perdition; (3) exalting himself above all that is
worshipped. He is the son of perdition, as consigning many to
it, and finally doomed to it himself
(Re 17:8, 11).
"He whose essence and inheritance is perdition"
[ALFORD]. As "the kingdom of heaven" is
first brought before us in the abstract, then in the concrete, the
King, the Lord Jesus; so here, first we have
"the mystery of iniquity," then "the iniquitous one"
Doubtless "the apostasy" of Romanism (the abstract) is one of
the greatest instances of the working of the mystery of
iniquity, and its blasphemous claims for the Pope (the concrete)
are forerunners of the final concentration of blasphemy in the man
of sin, who shall not merely, as the Pope, usurp God's honor as
vicegerent of God, but oppose God openly at last.
Da 11:36, 37
is here referred to. The words used there as to Antiochus Epiphanes,
Paul implies, shall even be more applicable to the man of sin, who is
the New Testament actual Antichrist, as Antiochus was the Old Testament
typical Antichrist. The previous world kingdoms had each one
extraordinary person as its representative head and embodiment (thus
Babylon had Nebuchadnezzar,
end; Medo-Persia had Cyrus; Greece had Alexander, and Antiochus
Epiphanes, the forerunner of Antichrist); so the fourth and last world
kingdom, under which we now live, shall have one final head, the
concentrated embodiment of all the sin and lawless
iniquity which have been in pagan and papal Rome. Rome's final
phase will probably be an unholy alliance between idolatrous
superstition and godless infidelity.
Who opposeth and exalteth himself--There is but one Greek
article to both participles, implying that the reason why he
opposeth himself is in order that he may exalt himself
above, &c. ALFORD takes the former clause
absolutely, "He that withstands (CHRIST)," that
As at the conclusion of the Old Testament period, Israel apostate
allied itself with the heathen world power against Jesus and His
and at Thessalonica,
and was in righteous retribution punished by the instrumentality of the
world power itself (Jerusalem being destroyed by Rome),
Da 9:26, 27;
so the degenerate Church (become an "harlot"), allying itself with the
godless world power (the "beast" of Revelation) against vital religion
(that is, the harlot sitting on the beast), shall be judged by that
world power which shall be finally embodied in Antichrist
(Zec 13:8, 9; 14:2;
Re 17:16, 17).
In this early Epistle, the apostate Jewish Church as the harlot, and
pagan Rome as the beast, form the historical background on which Paul
draws his prophetic sketch of the apostasy. In the Pastoral Epistles,
which were later, this prophecy appears in connection with Gnosticism,
which had at that time infected the Church. The harlot (the apostate
Church) is first to be judged by the beast (the world power) and its
and afterwards the beasts and their allies (with the personal
Antichrist at their head, who seems to rise after the judgment on the
harlot, or apostate Church) shall be judged by the coming of Jesus
Anti-Christian tendencies produce different Antichrists: these separate
Antichrists shall hereafter find their consummation in an individual
exceeding them all in the intensity of his evil character [AUBERLEN]. But judgment soon overtakes him. He is
necessarily a child of death, immediately after his
ascent as the beast out of the bottomless pit going into
(Re 17:8, 11).
Idolatry of self, spiritual pride, and rebellion against
God, are his characteristics; as Christ-worship, humility,
and dependence on God, characterize Christianity. He not merely
assumes Christ's character (as the "false Christs,"
but "opposes" Christ. The Greek implies one situated
on an opposite side (compare
One who, on the destruction of every religion, shall seek to establish
his own throne, and for God's great truth, "God is man," to substitute
his own lie, "Man is God" [TRENCH].
above all that is called God--
The Pope (for instance, Clement VI) has even commanded the angels to
admit into Paradise, without the alleged pains of purgatory, certain
souls. But still this is only a foreshadowing of the Antichrist, who
will not, as the Pope, act in God's name, but against
or that is worshipped--Rome here again gives a presage of Antichrist.
The Greek is Sebasma; and Sebastus is the Greek for
Augustus, who was worshipped as the secular ruler and divine vicegerent.
The papacy has risen on the overthrow of Cæsar's power. Antichrist
shall exalt himself above every object of worship, whether on earth
as the Cæsar, or in heaven as God. The various prefigurations of
Antichrist, Mohammed, Rome, Napoleon, and modern infidel secularism,
contain only some, not all, his characteristics. It is the
union of all in some one person that shall form the full Antichrist, as
the union in one Person, Jesus, of all the types and prophecies
constituted the full Christ [OLSHAUSEN].
in the temple of God . . . that he is God--"He will
reign a time, times, and half a time"
that is, three and a half years, and will sit in the temple at
Jerusalem: then the Lord shall come from heaven and cast him into
the take of fire and shall bring to the saints the times of their
reigning, the seventh day of hallowed rest, and give to Abraham the
promised inheritance" [IRENÆUS, Against
showing himself--with blasphemous and arrogant
DISPLAY (compare a
The earliest Fathers unanimously looked for a personal Antichrist. Two
objections exist to Romanism being regarded the Antichrist,
though probably Romanism will leave its culmination in him: (1)
So far is Romanism from opposing all that is called God, that
adoration of gods and lords many (the Virgin Mary and saints) is a
leading feature in it; (2) the papacy has existed for more than twelve
centuries, and yet Christ is not come, whereas the prophecy regards the
final Antichrist as short-lived, and soon going to perdition through
the coming of Christ
(Re 17:8, 11).
Gregory the Great declared against the patriarch of Constantinople,
that whosoever should assume the title of "universal bishop" would be
"the forerunner of Antichrist." The papacy fulfilled this his
undesigned prophecy. The Pope has been called by his followers, "Our
Lord God the Pope"; and at his inauguration in St. Peter's, seated in
his chair upon the high altar, which is treated as his footstool, he
has vividly foreshadowed him who "exalteth himself above all that is
called God." An objection fatal to interpreting the temple of
God here as the Church
(1Co 3:16, 17; 6:19)
is, the apostle would never designate the apostate
anti-Christian Church "the temple of God." It is likely that, as
Messiah was revealed among the Jews at Jerusalem, so Antimessiah shall
appear among them when restored to their own land, and after they have
rebuilt their temple at Jerusalem. Thus
Da 11:41, 45
corresponds, "He shall enter the glorious land (Judea), and he shall
plant the tabernacles of his palaces between the seas in the
glorious holy mountain"; and then
"Michael, the great prince, shall stand up" to deliver God's people.
Compare Note, see on
Da 9:26, 27.
Also the king of Assyria, type of Antichrist
"Lucifer" (a title of Messiah, assumed by Antichrist,
"I will exalt my throne above the stars of God." "I will sit upon the
mount of the congregation (that is, God's place of meeting His
people of old, the temple), in the sides of the north
I will be like the Most High."
Re 11:1, 2,
"The temple of God . . . the holy city" (namely, Jerusalem,
Ps 68:18, 29,
referring to a period since Christ's ascension, therefore not yet
"In the temple of God," implies that it an internal, not an
external, enemy which shall assail the Church. Antichrist shall, the
first three and a half years of the prophetical week, keep the
covenant, then break it and usurp divine honors in the midst of the
week. Some think Antichrist will be a Jew. At all events he will, "by
flatteries," bring many, not only of the Gentiles, but also of "the
tribes" of Israel (so the Greek for "kindreds,"
Re 11:8, 9),
to own him as their long-looked-for Messiah, in the same "city where
our Lord was crucified." "Sitteth" here implies his occupying the place
of power and majesty in opposition to Him who "sitteth on the right
hand of the Majesty on high"
and who shall come to "sit" there where the usurper had sat
Re 11:2, 3, 9, 11.
Eze 38:2, 3, 6, 9, 10, 13, 14, 16,
as to Tyre, the type of Antichrist, characterized by similar
5. Remember, &c.--confuting those who represent Paul as having labored
under error as to Christ's immediate coming when writing his first
Epistle, and as now correcting that error.
I told you--more than once, literally, "I was telling," or "used to
6. now ye know--by my having told you. The power must have been one
"known" to the Thessalonians.
what withholdeth--that which holds him back; "keeps him in
check": the power that has restrained the man of sin from his full and
final development, is
the moral and conservative influence of political states
the fabric of human polity as a coercive power; as "he who now
letteth" refers to those who rule that polity by which the great
upbursting of godlessness is kept down
[ALFORD]. The "what withholdeth"
refers to the general hindrance; "he who now letteth," to
the person in whom that hindrance is summed up. Romanism, as a
forerunner of Antichrist, was thus kept in check by the Romanemperor (the then representative of the coercive power) until Constantine,
having removed the seat of empire to Constantinople, the Roman bishop
by degrees first raised himself to precedency, then to primacy, and
then to sole empire above the secular power. The historical fact from
which Paul starts in his prediction was probably the emperor Claudius'
expulsion of the Jews, the representative of the anti-Christian
adversary in Paul's day, from Rome, thus "withholding" them in some
degree in their attacks on Christianity; this suggested the principle
holding good to the end of time, and about to find its final fulfilment
in the removal of the withholding person or authority, whereupon Antichrist in his worst shape shall start up.
that he might be--Greek, "in order that": ye know that
which keeps him back, in God's purposes, from being sooner manifested,
"in order that he may be revealed in his own time"
(that is, the time appointed by God to him as his proper time for being
manifested), not sooner (compare
The removal of the withholding power will be when the civil polity,
derived from the Roman empire, which is to be, in its last form,
divided into ten kingdoms
(Re 17:3, 11-13),
shall, with its leading representative head for the time being ("he who
now letteth," Greek, "withholdeth," as in
yield to the prevalent godless "lawlessness" with "the lawless one" as
its embodiment. The elect Church and the Spirit cannot
well be, as DE BURGH
suggests, the withholding power meant; for both shall never be
wholly "taken out of the way"
However, the testimony of the elect Church, and the
Spirit in her, are the great hindrance to the rise of the apostasy;
and it is possible that, though the Lord shall have a faithful few even
then, yet the full energy of the Spirit in the visible Church,
counteracting the energy or "working" of "the mystery of lawlessness"
by the testimony of the elect, shall have been so far "taken out of the
way," or set aside, as to admit the manifestation of "the
lawless one"; and so DE BURGH'S'S view may be right
This was a power of which the Thessalonians might easily "know" through
7. the mystery of iniquity--the counterwork to "the mystery of
Anti-Christianity latently working, as distinguished from its
final open manifestation. "Mystery" in Scripture means, not what
remains always a secret, but that which is for a while hidden, but in
due time manifested (compare
Eph 3:4, 5).
Satan will resort to a mode of opposition more conformed to the then
imminent "appearing" and "presence" of the Saviour, and will anticipate
Him with a last effort to maintain the dominion of the world
[DE BURGH], just as at His
first advent he rushed into open opposition, by taking possession of
the bodies of men. "Iniquity," Greek, "lawlessness";
defiant rejection of God's law (compare Note, see on
"Wickedness" (translated by the Septuagint by the same
Greek, meaning "lawlessness," which Paul employs here), embodied
there as a woman, answers to "the mystery of iniquity," here embodied
finally in "the man of sin": as the former was ultimately banished for
ever from the Holy Land to her own congenial soil, Babylon, so iniquity
and the man of sin shall fall before Michael and the Lord Himself, who
shall appear as the Deliverer of His people
The Jewish nation dispossessed of the evil spirit, the demon of
idolatry being cast out through the Babylonian captivity, receives
ultimately a worse form of the evil spirit, Christ-opposing
self-righteousness. Also, the Christian Church in course of time taken
possession of by the demon of Romish idolatry, then dispossessed of it
by the Reformation, then its house "garnished" by hypocrisy,
secularity, and rationalism, but "swept empty" of living faith, then
finally apostatizing and repossessed by "the man of sin," and
outwardly destroyed for a brief time (though even then Christ
shall have witnesses for Him among both the Jews,
when Christ shall suddenly come
Lu 18:7, 8).
(2Jo 9, 10;
compare "even now already"
(1Jo 2:18; 4:3)
as distinguished from "in his own time" of being revealed
hereafter. Antiquity, it appears from hence, is not a
justification for unscriptural usages or dogmas, since these were
"already," even in Paul's time, beginning to spring up: the written
word is the only sure test. "Judaism infecting Christianity is the
fuel; the mystery of iniquity is the spark." "It is one and the same
impurity diffusing itself over many ages"
only he who now letteth will let--The italicized words
are not in the Greek. Therefore, translate rather, "only (that
is, the continuance of the MYSTERY of
iniquity-working will be only) until he who now
withholdeth (the same Greek as in
be taken out of the way." "Only (waiting,
until he," &c. Then it will work no longer in mystery, but in
8. Translate, "the lawless one"; the embodiment of all the godless
"lawlessness" which has been working in "mystery" for ages
"the man of sin"
whom the Lord--Some of the oldest manuscripts read, "the Lord
Jesus." How awful that He whose very name means
God-Saviour, should appear as the Destroyer; but the
salvation of the Church requires the destruction of her foe. As
the reign of Israel in Canaan was ushered in by judgments on the
nations for apostasy (for the Canaanites were originally
worshippers of the true God: thus Melchisedek, king of Salem, was the
"priest of the most high God,"
Ammon and Moab came from righteous Lot), so the Son of David's reign in
Zion and over the whole earth, is to be ushered in by judgments on the
apostate Christian world.
consume . . . and . . . destroy--So
"consume and destroy";
He shall "consume" him by His mere breath
(Isa 11:4; 30:33):
the sentence of judgment being the sharp sword that goeth out of His
(Re 19:15, 21).
Antichrist's manifestation and destruction are declared in the same
breath; at his greatest height he is nearest his fall, like Herod his
As the advancing fire, while still at a distance consumes little
insects [CHRYSOSTOM] by its mere heat, so Christ's
mere approach is enough to consume Antichrist. The mere "appearance of
the coming" of the Lord of glory is sufficient to show to Antichrist
his perfect nothingness. He is seized and "cast alive into the take of
So the world kingdoms, and the kingdom of the beast, give place to that
of the Son of man and His saints. The Greek for "destroy" means
"abolish" (the same Greek is so translated,
that is, cause every vestige of him to disappear. Compare as to Gog
attacking Israel and destroyed by Jehovah
so as not to leave a vestige of him.
with the brightness of his coming--Greek, "the manifestation, (or appearance) of His presence": the first outburst of His
advent--the first gleam of His presence--is enough to abolish utterly all traces of Antichrist, as darkness disappears before the
dawning day. Next, his adherents are "slain with the sword out of His
BENGEL'S distinction between "the appearance of
His coming" and the "coming" itself is not justified by
2Ti 1:10; 4:1, 8;
where the same Greek for "appearing" (English
Version, here "the brightness") plainly refers to the coming
itself. The expression, "manifestation (appearing) of His
presence," is used in awful contrast to the revelation of the
wicked one in the beginning of the verse.
9. whose coming--The same Greek as was used for
the Lord's coming
or personal "presence."
is--in its essential character.
after--according to the working ("energy") of Satan, as
opposed to the energy or working of the Holy Spirit in
the Church (see on
As Christ is related to God, so is Antichrist to Satan, his visible
embodiment and manifestation: Satan works through him.
"The dragon gave him (the beast) his power . . . seat
. . . great authority."
lying wonders--literally, "wonders" or "prodigies of falsehood." His
"power, signs, and wonders," all have falsehood for their base,
essence, and aim
Jesus implies that the miracles shall be real, though demoniac, such
mysterious effects of the powers of darkness as we read of in the case
of the Egyptian sorcerers, not such as Jesus performed in their
character, power, or aim; for they are against the revealed Word, and
therefore not to be accepted as evidences of truth; nay, on the
authority of that sure Word of prophecy (here, and
to be known and rejected as wrought in support of falsehood
(De 13:1-3, 5;
Ga 1:8, 9;
Re 13:11-15; 19:20).
The same three Greek words occur for miracles of Jesus
showing that as the Egyptian magicians imitated Moses
so Antichrist will try to imitate Christ's works as a "sign," or
proof of divinity.
10. deceivableness--rather as Greek, "deceit of (to
in--The oldest manuscripts and versions omit "in." Translate,
"unto them that are perishing"
(2Co 2:15, 16; 4:3):
the victims of him whose very name describes his perishing
nature, "the son of perdition"; in contrast to you whom
"God hath from the beginning chosen to salvation through
sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."
because--literally, "in requital for"; in just retribution for their
having no love for the truth which was within their reach (on
account of its putting a check on their bad passions), and for their
having "pleasure in unrighteousness"
they are lost because they loved not, but rejected, the truth
which would have saved them.
received not--Greek, "welcomed not"; admitted it not cordially.
love of the truth--not merely love of truth,
but love of THE
truth (and of, Jesus who is the Truth, in opposition to Satan's
2Th 2:9, 11;
We are required not merely to assent to, but to love the truth
The Jews rejected Him who came in His divine Father's name; they will
receive Antichrist coming in his own name
Their pleasant sin shall prove their terrible scourge.
11. for this cause--because "they received not the love of the
truth." The best safeguard against error is "the love of the truth."
shall send--Greek, "sends," or "is sending"; the "delusion" is
already beginning. God judicially sends hardness of heart on those who
have rejected the truth, and gives them up in righteous judgment to
(Isa 6:9, 10;
Ro 1:24-26, 28).
They first cast off the love of the truth, then God gives them up to
Satan's delusions, then they settle down into "believing the lie": an
(1Ki 22:22, 23;
Mt 24:5, 11;
strong delusion--Greek, "the powerful working of error,"
answering to the energizing "working of Satan"
the same expression as is applied to the Holy Ghost's operation in
believers: "powerful" or "effectual (energizing) working"
believe a lie--rather, "the lie" which Antichrist tells them,
appealing to his miracles as proofs of it . . .
12. they all . . . damned--rather as Greek,
"that all," &c. He here states the general proposition which
applies specially to Antichrist's adherents. Not all in the Church of
Rome, or other anti-Christian systems, shall be damned, but only "all
who believed not the truth," when offered to them, "but had
pleasure in unrighteousness"
(Ro 1:32; 2:8).
Love of unrighteousness being the great obstacle to believing
13. But--In delightful contrast to the damnation of the lost
stands the "salvation" of Paul's converts.
are bound--in duty
thanks . . . to God--not to ourselves, your ministers, nor to you,
beloved of the Lord--Jesus
Eph 5:2, 25).
Elsewhere God the Father is said to love us
Therefore Jesus and the Father are one.
from the beginning--"before the foundation of the world"
in contrast to those that shall "worship the beast, whose names are not
written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of
Some of the oldest manuscripts read as English Version, but
other oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read, "as
first-fruits." The Thessalonians were among the first converts
in Europe (compare
In a more general sense, it occurs in
so I understand it here including the more restricted sense.
chosen you--The Greek, is not the ordinary word for "elected,"
implying His eternal selection; but taken for Himself, implying
His having adopted them in His eternal purpose. It is found in the
(De 7:7; 10:15).
through--rather as Greek, "in sanctification" as the element
in which the choice to salvation had place (compare
standing in contrast to the "unrighteousness," the element in which
Antichrist's followers are given over by God to damnation
of the Spirit--wrought by the Spirit who sanctifies all the elect
people of God, first by eternally consecrating them to perfect holiness
in Christ, once for all, next by progressively imparting it.
belief of the truth--contrasted with "believed not the truth"
14. you--The oldest manuscripts read, "us."
by our gospel--"through" the Gospel which we preach.
to . . . glory--In
it was "salvation," that is, deliverance from all evil, of body and
here it is positive good, even "glory," and that "the glory of our Lord
Jesus" Himself, which believers are privileged to share with Him
(Joh 17:22, 24;
Ro 8:17, 29;
15. Therefore--God's sovereign choice of believers, so far from
being a ground for inaction on their part, is the strongest incentive to
action and perseverance in it. Compare the argument,
Php 2:12, 13,
"Work out your own salvation, FOR it is God
which worketh in you," &c. We cannot fully explain this in
theory; but to the sincere and humble, the practical
acting on the principle is plain. "Privilege first, duty afterwards"
stand fast--so as not to be "shaken or troubled"
hold--so as not to let go. Adding nothing, subtracting nothing
[BENGEL]. The Thessalonians had not held fast his
oral instructions but had suffered themselves to be imposed upon by
pretended spirit-revelations, and words and letters pretending to be
to the effect that "the day of the Lord was instantly imminent."
traditions--truths delivered and transmitted orally, or in
Greek, "traditions"). The Greek verb from which the noun
comes, is used by Paul in
1Co 11:23; 15:3.
From the three passages in which "tradition" is used in a good
sense, Rome has argued for her accumulation of uninspired
traditions, virtually overriding God's Word, while put forward as of
co-ordinate authority with it. She forgets the ten passages
(Mt 15:2, 3, 6;
Mr 7:3, 5, 8, 9, 13;
stigmatizing man's uninspired traditions. Not even the apostles'
sayings were all inspired (for example, Peter's dissimulation,
but only when they claimed to be so, as in their words afterwards
embodied in their canonical writings. Oral inspiration was necessary in
their case, until the canon of the written Word should be complete;
they proved their possession of inspiration by miracles wrought in
support of the new revelation, which revelation, moreover, accorded
with the existing Old Testament revelation; an additional test needed
besides miracles (compare
When the canon was complete, the infallibility of the living men was
transferred to the written Word, now the sole unerring guide,
interpreted by the Holy Spirit. Little else has come down to us by the
most ancient and universal tradition save this, the
all-sufficiency of Scripture for salvation. Therefore, by tradition, we
are constrained to cast off all tradition not contained in, or not
provable by, Scripture. The Fathers are valuable witnesses to
historical facts, which give force to the intimations of
Scripture: such as the Christian Lord's day, the baptism of infants,
and the genuineness of the canon of Scripture. Tradition (in the sense
of human testimony) cannot establish a doctrine, but can
authenticate a fact, such as the facts just mentioned. Inspired
tradition, in Paul's sense, is not a supplementary oral tradition
completing our written Word, but it is identical with the
written Word now complete; then the latter not being complete,
the tradition was necessarily in part oral, in part written, and
continued so until, the latter being complete before the death of St.
John, the last apostle, the former was no longer needed. Scripture is,
according to Paul, the complete and sufficient rule in all that
appertains to making "the man of God perfect, throughly
furnished unto all good works"
(2Ti 3:16, 17).
It is by leaving Paul's God-inspired tradition for human traditions
that Rome has become the forerunner and parent of the Antichrist. It is
striking that, from this very chapter denouncing Antichrist, she should
draw an argument for her "traditions" by which she fosters
anti-Christianity. Because the apostles' oral word was as trustworthy
as their written word, it by no means follows that the oral word of
those not apostles is as trustworthy as the written word
of those who were apostles or inspired evangelists. No tradition of the
apostles except their written word can be proved genuine on
satisfactory evidence. We are no more bound to accept implicitly the
Fathers' interpretations of Scripture, because we accept the Scripture
canon on their testimony, than we are bound to accept the Jews'
interpretation of the Old Testament, because we accept the Old
Testament canon on their testimony.
our epistle--as distinguished from a "letter AS from us,"
namely, that purports to be from us, but is not. He refers to his first
Epistle to the Thessalonians.
16, 17. himself--by His own might, as contrasted with our
feebleness; ensuring the efficacy of our prayer. Here our Lord
Jesus stands first; in
"God our Father."
which . . . loved us--in the work of our redemption. Referring both
to our Lord Jesus
and God our Father
everlasting consolation--not transitory, as worldly consolations in
(Ro 8:38, 39).
This for all time present, and then "good
hope" for the future [ALFORD].
through grace--rather as Greek "IN grace"; to be joined to "hath
given." Grace is the element in which the gift was made.
17. Comfort your hearts--unsettled as you have been through those
who announced the immediate coming of the Lord.
good word and work--The oldest manuscripts invert the order, "work
and word." Establishment in these were what the young converts at
Thessalonica needed, not fanatical teaching (compare