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Commentary on 2 Thessalonians

By Dr Peter Pett BA BD (Hons-London) DD

Chapter 1. Paul Again Commends the Thessalonians and Promises that The Afflictions Brought on Them by Unbelievers Will Bring Them Blessing and Will Bring the Unbelievers Into Judgment.

1.1-2 ‘Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.’

This was a typical form of greeting by a letter writer of the day, indicating the author’s name, the recipient’s name, a reference to a deity and a hope for their well-being. It is noteworthy that Paul does not see it as necessary to refer here to his Apostleship (contrast Galatians 1.1). Instead he wrote confident of a warm reception from the church because of what he had heard about them from Timothy.

He included Silas (his Latin name Silvanus) and Timothy in his greeting. Silas they knew from his being a companion of Paul in the founding of the church (Acts 17.1-10 compare Acts 15.40). Timothy had recently visited them, and had probably been with Silas and Paul in their ministry there, but not prominent.

‘The church of the Thessalonians.’ The same as in 1 Thessalonians. Compare ‘the churches of Galatia’ (Galatians 1.2) and contrast ‘the church of God which is at Corinth’ (1 Corinthians 1.2; 2 Corinthians 1.1), and the later ‘to the saints at --’ (Ephesians 1.1; Philippians 1.1; Colossians 1.1. See also Romans 1.1). In this there is a growing awareness of the universal church as seen as one whole, composed of all those set apart for Himself (‘saints’) by God.

The difference in the use of ‘church’ is one of emphasis only. Each church in a city (Romans 16.4, 16, 23; 1 Corinthians 1.2 and often), and the local branches within that church (Philemon 1.2; 1 Corinthians 11.18), as well as the universal church (1 Corinthians 10.32; 12.28; Ephesians 1.22; 3.10, 21;5.23-32), can be called ‘the church’. Thus reference can be made to ‘the churches’ and to ‘the church’, and the latter often wider in meaning than the former. In all cases it refers to a group of believers, whether local, city-wide or worldwide.

‘Church’ (ekklesia) was used in LXX to translate ‘the assembly’ of Israel, the gathering together of His people to Sinai to receive the covenant (Deuteronomy 4.10; 18.16) and to the Tabernacle (Deuteronomy 9.10; 23.1, 2, 3, 8; 31.30) and the Temple (1 Kings 8.14, 22, 55, 65) and in response to the covenant (Judges 20.2, 21.5, 8; 1 Samuel 17.47). In a religious context it thus indicated ‘the people of God gathered for worship and response to the covenant’. This was the sense in which Jesus used it (Matthew 16.18). The more general ‘congregation’ of Israel was translated as ‘synagogue’.

‘In God our Father.’ Every Christian dwells ‘in God’ (1 John 4.15), and our lives are ‘hid with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3.3). The thought is of being enveloped in the love, mercy and care of a gracious God, and of seeking to walk as those who are His, and is in contrast with those who are ‘in the world’ (Ephesians 2.12; 2 Peter 1.4; compare 1 John 2.15-16; 4.3-4), who walk as the world walks. Unlike in 1 Thessalonians Paul calls Him ‘God our Father.’ The ‘our’ emphasises the relationship factor. Not only the Creator but our Father, to whom we are adopted and reborn sons.

Christians are ‘in the world’ (John 17.11-12) but only as strangers and pilgrims (Hebrews 11.13; 1 Peter 2.13). They are not ‘of the world’ (John 15.19). And this is because they are now ‘in God our Father’.

‘And the Lord Jesus Christ.’ This linking of our Lord Jesus Christ with ‘our Father’ using a single preposition, as being the One in Whom we are, (‘in God -- and the Lord’ and not ‘in God -- and in the Lord’) is a clear declaration of His equality with the Father. No other could have been so combined. It indicates that we must give full significance to the title ‘the Lord’ as meaning ‘Yahweh’ (the name of God in the Old Testament), which to the Jew was the name above every name, which is represented in LXX (the Greek Old Testament) as ‘Lord’ (kurios). Compare Philippians 2.11 where this is clearly indicated, and see Matthew 28.19.

‘In Christ’ is one of Paul’s favourite descriptions. Christ is the body and we are members of that body (1 Corinthians 12.12-14), Christ is the vine and we are the branches of the vine (John 15.1-6), because we are in Him we are declared righteous in God’s sight (Romans 3.24), in Christ we are accepted as holy in God’s sight (1 Corinthians 1.2), in Christ the veil on our hearts is done away (2 Corinthians 3.14), in Him we are created unto good works (Ephesians 2.10), in Him we have been made alive, and raised and seated with Him in the spiritual realm (Ephesians 2.5-6), there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8.1). Thus when we enter into Christ He is made to us wisdom from God, even righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1.30). How much more the blessing then to be both ‘in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ’.

‘The Lord Jesus Christ.’ The title ‘the Lord Jesus Christ’ contains three elements. Firstly He is Lord (kurios), the One Whose Name is above every name, Yahweh Himself (Philippians 2.9). To the Jew and to Paul the Name above every name was Yahweh and in the Greek Old Testament Yahweh is represented by kurios. He is also elsewhere the great ‘I am’ (John 8.58, compare Exodus 3.14), another name for Yahweh (which means ‘the One Who is’), and thus ‘the Word’, Who existed in the beginning, through Whom God created the worlds (John 1.1-3; Hebrews 1.1-3; Psalm 33.6, 9), the Lord of all.

Secondly He is ‘Jesus’. He became flesh and dwelt among us (1.14). He was truly man and yet in His manhood epitomised all that man was meant to be. He hungered as a man (Matthew 4.2). He grew thirsty as a man (John 4.7; 19.28). He suffered as a man. And His death was the death of a man, and yet it was of more than a man, for He was ‘the Lord’. He was ‘the Christ (Messiah)’. And the name Jesus means ‘Yahweh is salvation’.

Thirdly He is ‘the Christ, the Messiah.’ By His death and resurrection He is declared to be ‘both Lord and Christ’ (Acts 2.36). He is the expected King Messiah, the One appointed to eternal Rule (2 Peter 1.11; compare Psalm 145.13; Daniel 4.3, 34; 7.14), the One Who both sits on His own throne and also uniquely shares His Father’s throne (Revelation 3.21), the One before Whom every knee shall bow (Philippians 2.10).

And because of this He is the powerful One (Romans 1.4). He is the One worthy of worship and honour. He is the Lord of glory.

‘Grace to you, and peace.’ ‘Grace to you.’ Nothing can be more desirable than to have God looking on us in active love and favour without our deserving, and this is what is signified by grace. Thus Paul wants the Thessalonians to know that he desires for them only that they enjoy the experience of the grace of God.

‘And peace.’ Peace results from grace, but this kind of peace is also God’s gift, flowing from Him to us. Once we know that we are right with God, and experience His graciousness towards us, we have peace with God (Romans 5.1) and enjoy such peace, prosperity and success of spirit that our hearts can only overflow. For however things may seem to smile on us, if God is not pleased with us, we cannot fully know peace. The very foundation then of peace in our hearts is the favour of God, by which we enjoy true and genuine prosperity of spirit through the work of His Spirit, and find the peace of God which passes all understanding guarding our thoughts and hearts (Philippians 4.7). And this is what Paul wished for, and prayed for, for the Thessalonians.

‘Grace to you’ represented a general greeting in the Gentile world, and ‘peace to you’ in the Jewish world. The combination thus emphasised the unity of the church, both Jew and Gentile, as one. It was seemingly a regular combination in the Christian church (2 Peter 1.2; 2 John 1.3; Revelation 1.4).

‘From God the Father.’ There is in this phrase a recognition of ‘the Father’, the Creator, in contrast with the earlier ‘our Father’, which is more personal ( 1.1). Jesus constantly spoke of ‘the Father’ in this distinctive way (Matthew 28.19; Mark 13.32; Luke 10.22; John 4.21, 23; 5.19-45; 6.27-57; 8.16-29; 10 15, 36-38; 13-16 constantly). He is the prototype and perfect exemplar of all fatherhoods (Ephesians 3.14-15), the one ‘of Whom are all things’ (1 Corinthians 8.6), the One Who raised Christ from the dead, and is thus the Source of all future life (Galatians 1.1), the One whose foreknowing results in the gathering of His elect (1 Peter 1.2), the source of all Light (James 1.17). And His people are ‘in Him’. He, with the Lord Jesus Christ, is the source of grace revealed to us and our peace.

‘And the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Once again we have one preposition joining God and the Lord. All we have is in them and from them. No greater testimony to their co-equality and oneness in action could be given.

1.3 ‘We are bound to give thanks to God always, brothers and sisters, even as it is meet, for that your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of each one of you all towards one another abounds.’

Again we find evidence of Paul’s continual gratefulness to God, and his continual overflowing thankfulness. And here it was whole hearted for it was well merited. Indeed he felt ‘bound’ to give thanks (a word revealing a sense of personal obligation) because there was so much to be thankful for. Their faith continued to grow hugely, as they learned and absorbed more of the word of God, witnessed widely and resisted persecution. Moreover their love for one another abounded. This was a continued answer to Paul’s prayer for them (1 Thessalonians 3.12).

1.4-6 ‘So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God, for your patient endurance and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you endure, a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, to the end that you may be counted worthy of the Kingly Rule of God for which also you suffer, if so be that it is a righteous thing with God to recompense affliction to those who afflict you.’

Their faith and love were so great and abounding that Paul and his companions were able to hold them up as an example, and glory in them in other churches. This was especially so because of their patient endurance and faith in the midst of afflictions and tribulations. They were steadfast and unwavering, and thus an example to all. Some would translate ‘faith’ as ‘faithfulness’. This is quite possible. But faithfulness results from faith. It is because of faith that men are faithful. Thus their growing faith (verse 3) ensured their faithfulness.

‘A manifest token of the righteous judgment of God.’ Their response to their tribulations and afflictions are an openly revealed evidence, a clear token, that God’s aim to count them worthy of the Kingly Rule of God is a righteous judgment. This is not to say that they have merited their promotion, but that their lives reveal them to have so responded to Christ that they can now, through His sacrificial working, be ‘counted worthy’ of it. By revealing now their worthiness in their weakness they are able to be ‘counted as worthy’ of the greater prize. Note that they are only ‘counted worthy’, they are not so in actuality, for they were once undeserving sinners. Nevertheless their lives, and bold response to persecution as a result of their true faith, can be seen as evidence that they are those who have truly turned their backs on sin and have been accounted righteous by God, by faith, thus being seen as ‘accounted as deserving’ of the everlasting kingdom. Compare James 2.18, ‘I by my works will show you my faith’. Thus they can be ‘accounted as worthy’ (even though not being so) of the kingdom of God. The verb is kataxio-o, an o-o verb (like dikaio-o = to account as righteous) which indicates judicial pronouncement rather than actual reality. Note how the idea is confirmed in verse 11.

We may see this as also indicating that for Him to bring His people through affliction to final salvation is itself an indication of the righteous judgment of God in His dealings with them, in that He also takes into account the sacrifice made on their behalf, which can be assumed here rather than being mentioned. Through their persecution they are seen as entering into His sufferings. And it is clear from the context that also Included in that righteous judgment is God’s rebounding affliction on their persecutors (verse 6). So both the ways of the righteous, and their reward, and the ways of sinners, and their reward, reveal the righteous judgment of God.

Thus we may see it as signifying that their persecution and affliction, and their response to it, both demonstrate that God is righteous in judging the just and the unjust, and determining their eternal futures.

Note On ‘The Righteous Judgment of God’ In This Passage.

There can be no doubting that the thought contained in this phrase is wide ranging, for it has in mind both God’s righteous dealings with sin, and with people, and with the inevitable eternal consequences, for both believers and unbelievers of those dealings. For we should note that in fact the whole passage (verses 3-12) has to do with the righteous judgment of God, and with its consequences, for both. Thus in some way the persecution of God’s people, and the way that they respond to it, is to be seen as proof positive that His dealings with both believers and unbelievers is just and righteous.

In this regard it will be noted that verses 6-9 deal in some depth with God's righteous judgment on unbelievers, declaring that such judgment is a righteous thing for God to do, while verses 10-12 then revert to believers declaring that they in their turn will not suffer the righteous judgment of God in the future but will enjoy His favour, something that, having endured their present affliction, they can look forward to. Thus it may well be that we are to see ‘the righteous judgment of God’ as having wide reference in the passage.

One of the aspects of this passage is undoubtedly that Paul is seeking to explain the rationale of the present sufferings of His people. We may see his first point as being that sin brings suffering, so that even His people, because they are sinful, do have to endure suffering, even though it is only temporary suffering. And this in itself is then seen as pointing to the rightness of unbelievers also one day having to suffer in an even more severe way. The first is to be seen as a 'clear pointer' (manifest sign) to the second, and is positive proof that the latter will one day take place as well. While evil men may often appear to ‘get away with it’ in this life, the sufferings of the saints are absolute evidence that they will not get away with it in the end. We can compare the Psalmist who was so perplexed about the sufferings of the righteous and the prosperity of the wicked, until he ‘considered their latter end’ (Psalm 73).

Also behind this passage is surely the idea of the supreme Example of ‘innocent suffering’ (although it is not patent in this passage) of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We can undoubtedly say that the very sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross are proof positive of the sufferings to come of those who do not take advantage of the cross. That indeed is why He suffered. It was to deliver the ‘many’ from the fate that all deserved. Thus those who do not respond must still suffer that fate. This passage then says that His people to some extent share with Him in those sufferings in order to demonstrate the same. The fact that they can be allowed to suffer (even though redeemed) is absolute evidence of the inevitable consequences of sin.

We should note at this point that it is not directly God Who is seen as causing them to suffer, but rather that He is seen as graciously allowing them to suffer at the hands of the world alongside His Son in the carrying forward of His purposes so that the world may doubly prove the rightness of they themselves being judged, first in having crucified Christ Himself, and secondly in having made the righteous suffer. Thus His people are seen as being allowed to have a part in the sufferings of Christ as a testimony to the world of their own coming righteous judgment.

One question that arises is as to what the 'which is', which is incorporated into many translations (preceding ‘a manifest token’), refers. It is not actually in the Greek and has to be 'read in', and we have in fact omitted it. The fact that it was omitted may be seen as indicating that it is the nearest phrase which is being referred to i.e. 'the persecutions and afflictions which you endure.' But there is good reason for thinking that in context we are also to see as included the earlier reference to their steadfastness in the face of that persecution.

If we see the major reference as being to their persecutions and afflictions then it underlines the fact that the thought is that what they are suffering is a clear pointer (a manifest token) to the suffering that will eventually come on the unrighteous when they face the righteous judgment of God. In other words it is saying that if God allows the righteous to suffer, how much more deserving of suffering are the unrighteous. So the idea then is that if the righteous are thought worthy of suffering at the hands of the unrighteous, (both as a result of God's permissive will and as the verdict of the unrighteous on what they see as wrong), how much more will the unrighteous be seen as worthy of suffering at the hand of the Righteous One when they really have been wrong. (The righteous God will see it as only just. The unrighteous will have no grumble because they will be being treated as they have treated others, and thus in accordance with their own verdict).

But there is an added factor brought out by the reference to His people being 'accounted worthy of the kingdom of God, which suggests that Paul also has their perseverance and steadfast faith in mind.. This therefore brings out that included in the thought is that their endurance in affliction itself is to be seen as demonstrating the rightness of the gracious activity of God in strengthening and maintaining His people in the face of suffering, revealing by it both His concern on their behalf (His righteous judgment) and also their right to participate in the glory to come as a result of being 'accounted as worthy' for Christ's sake. It also further reveals His divine justice in that one of the reasons why His people have also had to endure suffering is because it is a consequence of sin, sin in which they had previously participated. They are not being punished by God, because they have been redeemed. But they are being allowed to suffer some of the consequences of sin. However, the saving factor is that having suffered a little while at the hands of unrighteous men His people can then be 'accounted worthy' (even though they are not) to enter God's righteous kingdom.

The consequence is that as others see the sufferings and afflictions of God's people they should take to heart the lesson that if the righteous have to suffer in this way how much more is it certain that one day the unrighteous will have to suffer. The sufferings of the righteous are thus to be seen as a token proof both of the consequences of sin and of the judgment that it calls down on the sinner. And meanwhile that suffering of the righteous is bearing witness to the world, and is preparing them for the glorious future that awaits them, and they are able to rejoice in it in that thereby they are sharing in their Saviour's suffering. 'If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him' (2 Timothy 2.12).

End of note.

‘To the end that you may be counted worthy of the Kingly Rule of God for which also you suffer, if so be that it is a righteous thing with God to recompense affliction to those who afflict you.’ Both those who believe and those who reveal their disbelief by their behaviour towards God’s people will receive their deserts, the one by being counted worthy of the Kingly Rule of God having suffered affliction, the other by receiving affliction, partly in this life but mainly in the day of Judgment. It was when he considered ‘their end’ that the Psalmist became reconciled to the justice of God (Psalm 73.17). ‘If so be that it is a righteous thing’ indicates that if it is right for God to afflict the unbeliever who persecutes believers, (and it is), then it is equally right that He reward the believers with coming under the glorious Kingly Rule of God, having been ‘counted as worthy’ through the blood of Christ.

1.7-8 ‘And to you who are afflicted rest with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from Heaven, with the angels of his power, in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to those who do not know God, and to those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.’

The thought continues. When the Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven in a full revelation of what He is (apokalupsis), with ‘the angels of His power’, that is with the angels who exercise His authority and carry out His powerful commands, as so often promised (Matthew 16.27; 13.41-42; Mark 8.38), his own afflicted ones will be relieved from tension (like a bow string slackened from the bow), they will ‘rest’ with Him. The battle will be over. Their afflictions will no longer be important. Paul joins himself and his companions with them in the thought. They will all be there together at rest. They will have ‘entered into their rest’ (Hebrews 4.1, 9).

What this rest involves is described in 1 Thessalonians 4.13-18 and in Matthew 13.43. The angels are involved in that too (Matthew 24.31). They will be gathered from the four winds and will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. As a result of their ‘taking away’ at the time of His revelation of Himself they will be ‘ever with the Lord’, resting in His presence. But that ‘revelation’ (revealing in His fullness) of the Lord Jesus will be very different for the unbeliever, for He and His angels will come in flaming fire (Matthew 13.42, 50) rendering vengeance on those who had refused to know and acknowledge Him (Romans 1.28), and had therefore refused to obey Him and respond to His message of Good News.

Note that Matthew 13.41-43, 48-50 indicate the parallel results of the one activity. It could not be clearer. The angels will gather out all that offends, like the weeds are gathered up from the field, and the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Note that in 13.48 ‘they gathered the good into pots, but the bad they cast away’. This is then interpreted as ‘the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just’. The gathering of only the good into pots means that by that the wicked have been severed, just as by the taking away of His people Jesus has severed the evil from among them. Compare also Matthew 25.31-46 where the consequences of the judgment are eternal for both types of participant (verse 46). Both the just and the unjust are dealt with around the same time at the coming of Jesus Christ Compare John 5.29.

‘From Heaven.’ While on earth He was the Son of man who came down from Heaven (John 3.13), but His glory was veiled except at the Transfiguration (see Matthew 17.2). Now He is fully revealed in all His glory from Heaven, as the Heavenly One.

‘In flaming fire.’ This may refer to the appearance of His glory (Exodus 3.2; Isaiah 66.15; Ezekiel 1.27; Revelation 1.14-15) or to the awfulness of His judgment (Hebrews 10.27; 2 Peter 3.7, 10). Or indeed both, in the sense that His flame will appear and will devour them (Hebrews 12.29). Compare Isaiah 2.10, 19, 21.

‘Taking vengeance.’ Compare Revelation 6.9-10; Psalm 79.10; 119.84; Romans 2.5. The idea, as in verse 6, is that those who have persecuted His people and have revelled in sin will receive according to what they have sown (Galatians 6.8). What they have done, so will be done to them. But it is not pure revenge, it is the just punishment of which they are worthy. Vengeance belongs to God (Romans 12.19; Deuteronomy 32.25), and He repays justly (compare how the leaders of Israel passed judgment on themselves without being aware of it, acknowledging the rightness of it - Matthew 21.41). Thus the One Who rightly takes vengeance is exercising the prerogative of God.

‘Who do not know God -- who obey not the Gospel’. Compare Psalm 79.6; Romans 1.28; John 3.36. They refuse to know, they refuse to obey. Notice that to know God and to obey the Gospel are in parallel. Those who know God will obey the Gospel. And what is that Good News? It is the Lord Jesus Himself. It is His Good News and it points to Him.

1.9 ‘Who will suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of His might.’

This is their greatest punishment, that they will not see His face or observe and experience His powerful glory. That they will be separated from Him and what He is for ever. Those who deliberately ‘knew not God’ will now for ever not know Him. The word for destruction is not that which means final destruction (apoleia - in contrast with ‘life’ - Matthew 7.13; ‘vessels fitted for destruction’ - Romans 9.22; in contrast with ‘ the saving of the soul’ - Hebrews 9.22; the result of the day of judgment - 2 Peter 3.7) but olethros, which indicates ruin and loss, but here is very similar in meaning. The two words are paralleled in 1 Timothy 6.9. Thus here it means total ruin and darkness, and loss of that which is above all to be desired. It is ‘the destruction of the age to come’, heavenly destruction. We do wisely not to expand upon it for we cannot even conceive of it. Scripture always leaves the idea in suspense when it speaks of it, neither elaborating on it nor analysing it. Awful it will certainly be, but that is all we can say.

We can consider how the beings cast ‘alive’ into ‘the lake of fire’ (Revelation 19.19; 20.10) are spiritual beings, and alone are said to suffer positive and continual torment, probably due to the hugeness of their loss. The ‘lake of fire and brimstone’ there is therefore spiritual. It represents the awful judgment and punishment of the One Who is a consuming fire. His awful holiness is stressed by the fire, His awful judgment is stressed by the brimstone. The remainder are cast in as ‘dead’ (20.15 with 13 and 19.21) and there is no mention of torment. Compare Isaiah 66.24 where the idea is also of being excluded, in that case from ‘Jerusalem’, and the dead bodies are maggot eaten and destroyed by fire. As death and Hades were also cast into the lake of fire the idea in Revelation 20.13-15 would seem to be of final total destruction after the agonies of judgment (torture at trial was a regular feature of justice - Revelation 14.10), for such things as death and Hades cannot be punished. We do well to leave to God’s understanding the final punishment of the wicked.

‘Punishment.’ Literally the paying of a deserved penalty. Because of their unwillingness to know and respond to Him they will be receiving what they deserve.

1.10 ‘When he shall come to be glorified in his saints , and to be marvelled at in all those who believed, (because our testimony to you was believed), in that day.’

‘That day’ is a technical term used to designate the day of the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1.12, 18; 4.8; Matthew 17.22; 24.36; 26.29; Mark 13.32; 14.25; Luke 17.31; 21.34). It is the day when He is glorified by the transformation for ever of His own people, His separated ones (saints), the day when the universe and the angels will marvel at what He has done for them and in them, and what they have become (see Ephesians 3.10), will also be the day when the wicked are severed from among the just and are destroyed for ever from before His face. The contrast is huge. On the one hand splendour and glory given to His people by the Lord Himself, on the other eternal loss and ruin dispensed to the unbelievers and the disobedient. And the Thessalonians would share that splendour and glory because they had believed the message that Paul and his companions preached, and had received their testimony.

‘Marvelled at in all those who believed.’ Compare Revelation 5.9-10, 12; Psalm 118.22-23. Some, however, would see it as meaning that those who believed will marvel at Him and His wondrous works, but the parallel suggests that the marvelling is from an external source.

1.11-12 ‘To which end we also pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfil every desire of goodness and every work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.’

Having in mind the glory that is to be theirs Paul now assures them that that is why he and his companions can continually pray for them in full confidence. And their prayer is that God, counting them worthy of their calling (compare 1.5), will empower them to fulfil every desire of goodness and every work of faith. That He will work in them to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2.13) so that their seeking after righteousness will be fulfilled, and their believing, and its fruit, will grow more and more. For those who are ‘called’ by Him, it is His work within them that results in progression in righteousness and goodness, and in the faith as He puts the desire within them.

‘Every desire (literally ‘good pleasure’) of goodness.’ As it is the good pleasure of His people to reveal His goodness through them, so He will fill their good pleasure to the full.

‘Every work of faith.’ Compare 1 Thessalonians 1.3. True faith ever produces ‘work’, activity in the name of Christ whether social or spiritual, and Paul’s prayer is that through the power of God that work, wrought through faith, may be successful and fruitful.

‘That the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him.’ The name signifies the fullness of what a person is, so that the first end of this is that the Lord Jesus might receive glory continually through the splendour of their lives and behaviour, and finally be marvelled at, at His coming, because of what He has wrought in them. The second is that they themselves may be glorified in Him, not in the eyes of the world, but in the eyes of His people and the heavenly host.

‘According to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.’ All this will be the result of the grace of God, the unmerited love and favour of God and the Lord Jesus Christ at work on them and within them. The ‘our’ introduces a strong sense of belonging as in verse 11.

Chapter 2.

The Day of the Lord and the Revealing of the Man of Sin.

2.1-2 ‘Now we beg you, brothers and sister, touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to him, to the end that you be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by letter as from us, as that the day of the Lord is now present.’

Paul now has serious words to say about the second coming (Parousia - royal visit and presence), and the gathering together of His people to Him (1 Thessalonians 4.13-18). Clearly the Thessalonians had received messages in different ways stating that the Day of the Lord was now present. This possibly means that some had come through men who claimed the Spirit, others through preaching, and yet others through a misleading letter purporting to come from Paul. Alternately we may apply ‘as from us’ to all three in which case he is speaking of news that has filtered through professing that Paul in the Spirit, and in his preaching and in some correspondence had claimed these things.

‘That you be not quickly shaken from your mind.’ The thoughts that they had had after having received these false messages had shaken them (aorist infinitive - a sudden effect). They were restlessly tossing like a ship loose from its moorings in bad weather. The thought of the day of judgment so close had put them in a turmoil.

‘Nor yet be being troubled.’ While not shaken and restless, others were being continually troubled (present infinitive) by the idea.

‘That the day of the Lord is now present.’ The day of the Lord’ is the final short period when God will have His way at the end of the age. Then it will cease to be ‘man’s day’ (1 Corinthians 4.3), and God will take over. Its main emphasis is described by Peter in 2 Peter 3.10, ‘the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night in the which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burnt up’. Any interpretation that does not make this central can be disregarded for it is the only actual New Testament description that we have of the day of the Lord.

But prior to this there will be the beginnings of judgment when God’s wrath begins to unfold in the final days of the age (nowhere in the New Testament actually described as the day of the Lord). Coming as ‘a thief in the night’ is a regular description of those caught out by the coming of the Lord and His judgment. To the Church at Sardis His coming would be like a thief in the night if they did not watch (Revelation 3.3). Again Jesus declares in Revelation 16.15 that His coming will be like a thief. Thus those who watch and keep their lives pure will not be found naked, by being caught in the night ‘undressed’, and thus be ashamed (Revelation 16.15). And 1 Thessalonians 5.2, 4 also tells us that the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, when sudden destruction will come on unbelievers, but that Christians will not be caught out by it because they are not in darkness.

So the idea of the Day of the Lord is of a ‘day’ which will come and catch out unbelievers who are not watching, but will not catch out Christians who are. Because they are watching they will be ready (Luke 12.40). For them it will be the ‘day of Christ’, the day when the Son of Man comes. The impression given is that the coming of Christ to His own and the day when He comes like a thief occur at the same time.

‘The day of the Lord.’ As we have said, this phrase refers to the day when the Lord has His day, when He acts in judgment. In a sense through the Old Testament period there were many ‘days of the Lord’, for it could be used of the days when God brought His judgment both on His faithless people and on the enemies of His people. But all looked forward to a final ‘day of the Lord’, a day of the Lord’s judgments, to take place at the time when final restoration took place (Joel 2.31; 3.14; Zechariah 14.1). Notice that in Joel it is only said to be ‘near’ and has in mind the day of judgment and the last great battle put in Old Testament terms (Joel 3.2, 14). In Zechariah 14.1 it is the day when the Lord comes personally to bring about restoration, and the days described in Revelation 21.25; 22.1 are about to begin (compare Zechariah 14.7 & 8). In other words it refers to the establishing of the heavenly kingdom.

In the New Testament the phrase appears elsewhere three times (Acts 2.20 quoting Joel 2.31, fulfilled, partially at least, at the resurrection and Pentecost; 2 Peter 3.10 and 1 Thessalonians 5.2). As stated above 2 Peter 3.10 is definitive, it is the time when ‘the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works in it will be discovered’ (or in some manuscripts ‘burned up’), that is will be revealed in God’s eyes and judged. It thus refers to God’s final judgment in the end days, the final Judgment itself. A similar phrase, ‘the Lord’s day’, occurs in Revelation 1.10 where it possibly refers to a symbolical depiction of Christ ‘at the door’ on the point of returning.

But in both 1 Thessalonians and 2 Peter the title ‘the Lord’ has primary reference to Jesus Christ. It is He Who is ‘the Lord’ all through the letter, so ‘the day of the Lord’ has special reference to Him as the one appointed to judge the world (John 5.22, 27). This is confirmed in that it can also be called ‘the day of the Lord Jesus’ in 1 Corinthians 5.5 where it refers to deliverance from the judgment, and 2 Corinthians 1.14 where it refers to Christian rejoicing at that day. We can compare also ‘the day of Christ’ (Philippians 1.10; 2.16; 2 Thessalonians 2.2), where there is a slant towards the Christian’s part in that day, and the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1.6) and the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1.8) which are similar. All references to the day include the time of judgment, whether of Christians with regard to reward, or of all. Thus in the New Testament it basically means ‘the day of judgment’.

Excursus on ‘the day of the Lord’ in the Old Testament.

The term was used in Isaiah 13.9 of God’s visitation in judgment. Firstly judgment would come on His faithless people through Babylon, and then through the Medes God would bring judgment on Babylon (Isaiah 13.17). The whole is depicted in apocalyptic language (verses 10, 13) and is described as the wrath of the Lord (verse 13). It also has a far view for it depicts the final desolation of Babylon (verses 19-22). In the judgments of God near and far were part of one whole, especially as regards Babylon, which was the symbol from the beginning of rebellion against God (Genesis 10.9-12; 11.1-9). The earlier judgment was a foretaste of the later one.

Again the day of the Lord was to come on Edom and its allies, its surrounding nations (Isaiah 34.4, 8). ‘All the nations’ refers to these for other nations are called on to witness the event (verse 1 compare Obadiah 1.15). But it is on Edom that the main judgment comes (verse 6). Again it is represented in apocalyptic language (verses 9-10), and such judgment did finally come upon them.

Jeremiah also prophesied a day of the Lord on Egypt and Pharaoh Neco (46.2, repeated in verse 13), this time at the hands of Babylon (46.10, 26). Thus ‘the day of the Lord’ began to indicate the day of the Lord’s judgments whenever they were.

It could be called ‘the day of the Lord of hosts’ (Isaiah 2.12), ‘the day of the Lord’s vengeance’ (Isaiah 34.8 - on Edom), ‘the day of the Lord, the Lord of hosts, a day of vengeance’ (on Egypt - Jeremiah 46.10), ‘the day of the Lord’s anger’ ( on Judah - Lamentations 2.22; on Judah and surrounding nations - Zephaniah 1.18, 2.2, 3), ‘the day of the Lord’s sacrifice’ (on Judah - Zephaniah 1.8), ‘the great day of the Lord’ (on Judah - Zephaniah 1.14), ‘the great and terrible day of the Lord’ (Malachi 4.5), which referred to the first coming of Jesus as the beginning of ‘the end days’ (Matthew 11.14 with Acts 2.17; 1 Corinthians 10.11; Hebrews 1.2; 1 Peter 1.20; 4.7).

But the basic term was ‘the day of the Lord’ found in Isaiah 13.6, 9 - about Babylon through the Medes; Ezekiel 13.5 - about Judah through Nebuchadnezzar; Ezekiel 30.3 - about Egypt through Nebuchadnezzar; Joel 1.15 - about Judah through Nebuchadnezzar; Joel 2.1, 11 - about Judah through Nebuchadnezzar; Joel 2.31; 3.14 - about the end days at the time of restoration; Amos 5.18, 20 - about Israel through Assyria; Obadiah 1.15 - about Edom and their allies (for ‘all the nations’ compare Isaiah 34.1); Zephaniah 1.7 - about Judah; Zechariah 14.1 - about the end days at the time of restoration, and as the prophets began to look forward to the day when God would set all things right, establish His people and deal with their enemies, it began to be applied especially to that ‘day’ (Joel 2.31; 3.14; Zechariah 14.1).

End of Excursus.

Some have tried to make this ‘Day of the Lord’ apply to a period after the rapture. But it would be passing strange if Paul’s preaching was seen by people who believed that he taught the pre-tribulation rapture as saying that such a day of the Lord was now present, for it would mean he had missed the Rapture! The fact that he was saying it, would be evidence enough that the Rapture did not have to take place before the day of the Lord. Thus they did believe that Christians would be alive in the New Testament day of the Lord. So it must be concluded that the fact that they thought that Paul had preached that ‘the Day of the Lord is present’ is evidence that they did not consider that that would mean that the Rapture had taken place.

But, it may be asked, if the day of the Lord is the day of judgment how could they think if it as now come and present? We can compare how a man may say ‘the day of my death has come’ when he is shortly to die and does not know exactly when. Or, with a sense of foreboding, ‘the end has come’ when he means it is almost in sight. So the Thessalonians meant that the day of the Lord was threatening. The depiction of this is found in Revelation 6.15-17 as a result of the heavenly portents.

Many a catastrophe in the past has made people think that ‘the judgment day is here’, and possibly the heavy persecution they were going through, added to some portents observed, had given them the same impression, fortified by the false messages. It made them say ‘the day of the Lord is here’, the time of the Lord’s final judgment, and they were panicking.

God’s wrath may continually be revealed on this earth (Romans 1.18) but in the end it reaches its climax at the Judgment. And that Judgment is revealed in many ways. It is like a great king summoning the world to judgment (Matthew 25.31-46) but the issues are eternal (verse 46). It is like a lord or king calling his servants to account (Matthew 22.1-14; 25.14-30; Luke 12.41-48 and often). Note that the rewards to the righteous and the condemnation of the unrighteous occur at around the same time. It is described as coming in ‘flaming fire’ (2 Thessalonians 1.8 compare Hebrews 10.27). It is described in terms of the heavens passing away and the earth being burned up, which is the day of the Lord (2 Peter 3.10). It is described as a time of devastating earthly tumult (Revelation 6.12-17), which is the great day of His wrath. It is described as great hail (Revelation 11.19; 16.21). It is described as a reaper reaping a deadly harvest accompanied by devastation (Revelation 14.14-20). It is described as a last great battle in which there is no fighting. Everyone is killed with the Judge’s one sword (Revelation 19.11-21). It is described as being called before a great white throne of justice (Revelation 20.11-15).

These pictures all point to the one great truth. Noble attempts have been made to fit them into a pattern so as to literalise them, but none have succeeded. Each of them has had to avoid the clear meaning of the words in order to do so. But they do not need to be reconciled. They are earthly pictures of an indescribable heavenly activity, each of which conveys a part of the horror of the whole.

Thus the Thessalonian conception of the final judgment and the day of the Lord was not necessarily limited to a twenty-four hour day. They did not quite know, any more than we do, how it would be carried out. But they would certainly see it as short and swift. We must not confuse ‘the day of the Lord’ with all mentions of the wrath of God, although it will of course be the final revelation of that wrath.

(In all its uses ‘the day of the Lord’ is a final climactic event with a particular judgment in view. There are no grounds therefore for seeing it as an extended period of over a thousand years).

2.3-4 ‘Let no man beguile you in any way, for it will not be except the rebellion come first, and the man of sin (or ‘lawlessness’) be revealed, the son of perdition, he who opposes and exalts himself against all that is called God or is an object of worship, so that he sits in the temple of God setting himself forth as God.’

Paul here makes clear that while Christians should be ‘looking for His appearing’ there is to be a certain delay because certain things have to happen. This is not surprising. Jesus Himself, while urging watching for His surprise appearing (Matthew 24.42-51), had done the same. He could not come until there had been great wars and earthquakes (Luke 21.10-11), and until all nations had received the Gospel (Mark 13.10), He could not come until Jerusalem had been destroyed and the people scattered among the nations (Luke 21.24), He could not come until certain levels of persecution had been suffered by the Apostles (Luke 21.12, 16), He could not come until false Messiahs and many false prophets had arisen (Matthew 24.5,11). Thus those who were watching for His coming ‘at any time’ were also to recognise causes for delay. The two ideas are regularly held in tension.

That there will be first ‘the rebellion’ against God is clear from elsewhere (1 Timothy 4.1-3; 2 Timothy 3.1-5; 2 Peter 3:3-6; Jude 1.18-19), although the seeds of that rebellion were already well rooted and being revealed, and he parallels it with the persecution and tribulation already being suffered by the people of God (2 Timothy 3.11-13).

But we must always remember that all New Testament writers saw the days between the first and second coming of Christ as the final days of the age. The fact that ‘the end times’ began at the resurrection is important to understand and is clearly stated in Scripture. ‘He was revealed at the end of the times for your sake’, says Peter (1 Peter 1.20), so that he can then warn his readers ‘the end of all things is at hand’ (1 Peter 4.7). So to Peter it is clear that the first coming of Christ has begun the end times.

Likewise Paul says to his contemporaries ‘for our admonition, on whom the end of the ages has come’ (1 Corinthians 10.11). What could be clearer? The first coming of Christ was ‘the end of the ages’, not the beginning of a new age. The writer to the Hebrews tells us ‘He has in these last days spoken to us by His Son’ (Hebrews 1.1-2), and adds ‘once in the end of the ages has He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself’ (Hebrews 9.26-28). So those early writers saw their days as ‘the last days’, the ‘end of the ages’, for what we see as this age is the culmination of all that has gone before and introduces ‘the end’. Thus they saw ‘the rebellion’ as already begun.

‘And the man of sin (or ‘lawlessness’) be revealed, the son of perdition, he who opposes and exalts himself against all that is called God or is an object of worship, so that he sits in the temple of God setting himself forth as God.’ The ‘man of sin’ (some important manuscripts have ‘lawlessness’ (see verse 8) but the idea is the same (1 John 3.4)) may be a parody of the phrase ‘the man of God’ of the Old Testament, the man, often anonymous, who brings God’s true word and demands obedience to it, or even a contrast with ‘the man of Your right hand -- the Son of Man You made strong for Yourself’ (Psalm 80.17). The ‘Man of your right hand’ suggests One Who is under the authority of God and receives authority from Him, the ‘Son of Man’ represents true manhood in its submission to God. The man of sin (like the wild beasts of Daniel) represents one under the authority of sin and lawlessness, and in rebellion against God. It depicts someone who sums up in himself all the sin and lawlessness of the world.

Indeed he will exalt himself as the epitome of man’s religion, above all that is seen as divine or is venerated. Such a figure is described in Revelation 17.8, 11; 19.19, a man with almost supernatural powers, possessed by or representing a satanic being who is depicted as ‘the Wild Beast’ who lives again (Revelation 17.8). He is the son of perdition, bound for destruction (Revelation 17.11).

The figure here may be partly based on that in Daniel 11.36, ‘he will exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and will speak marvellous things against the God of gods -- he will magnify himself above all’. Nevertheless the parallel is not exact. The king in Daniel does honour to ‘a god whom his fathers knew not’, but Paul goes further. The man of sin will set himself up as God. We can also consider the extravagant claims of the king of Babylon, seeing himself as ‘the Light-bearer (Lucifer), the son of the morning’ and saying ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, -- I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will be like the Most High’ (Isaiah 14.12-14). Paul had no lack of precedents. Too much power makes men mad.

Note how the description of the man of sin as ‘the opposing one’ uses a term that is parallel to ‘the Adversary’ (Satan) who is his backer. See 1 Timothy 5.14 with 15. Thus it links him with Satanic influence.

He will be the great Anti-God. Firstly in that he opposes God, and secondly because he represents himself as God. He openly opposes God and exalts himself against all that is of God, or is seen as divine, and he represents himself as God, taking his place in the temple of God. He sets himself up as a supreme divine figure.

‘The temple of God.’ He sets himself up as ‘God’, so the Temple ‘of God’ is his temple. It does not necessarily signify the temple in Jerusalem. Indeed Paul would emphatically see that as replaced by the Christian church, and therefore no longer of any account. But the words can describe any ‘temple of God’ used by such a blasphemer in his claim to be ‘God’. The point is that he sets himself up to be worshipped in his own temple.

‘Sits.’ Men did not sit in a temple. The only one with right to sit in a temple was the god himself.

Such men have appeared throughout history. Caligula, ten years before, had seriously represented himself as divine and demanded worship from all, and had set up statues of himself in many places and ‘temples of God’ and had had the idea of setting up a statue of himself in the temple at Jerusalem and was only prevented by death. This may have been the pattern for Paul’s description. Caligula was followed by the ‘divine’ Nero and other ‘divine’ emperors (some of whom in private laughed at the idea). The main acceptance of this divinity of the emperors was in the Eastern empire.

Later, popes in the middle ages, taking over as Pontifex Maximus , would behave obscenely and make huge claims to represent God, and were even addressed as God by their sycophants, claimed ‘lying wonders’ and behaved cruelly to Christians and non-Christians alike. Men like the Mahdi in the Sudan would be seen as having divine status and use it to his own ends. But, while sharing in the essence of the man of sin, and revealed as what they were by their extreme sinfulness and cruelty, these were all shadows of the greater reality. They came and they went. However, it should be considered what comfort these words would bring to people in the midst of persecution from some such figures, that these powerful, almost invincible, ones before whom they were arraigned, were under God’s hands, however great their claims, and would shortly give account to Him.

Their status was always hindered by God’s restraining hand on Satan. But in the end another will arise, possibly in the Near East (‘the king of the north’ - Daniel 11.36-45), with similar claims. This time God’s restraint will be removed as Satan is let loose for ‘a short time’ (Revelation 12.12; 20.3; compare ‘one hour’ - 17.12), and seeks worship for himself through his figurehead.

Thus Paul sees some important figure arising who is the epitome of sin and blasphemy, whom we often call the Antichrist, but is rather here represented as the ‘Anti-god’.

John says, ‘Little children it is the last hour, and as you heard that antichrist comes, even now there have arisen many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us -- this is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son’ (1 John 2.18-19, 23). Later on John designates as antichrist those who say that Jesus Christ did not come in the flesh (1 John 4.3; 2 John 1.7).

This is the only specific mention of antichrist in the Bible. Thus John sees antichrist in terms of the spirit of antichrist (1 John 4.3), denying the Father and the Son and denying that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. They deny His deity and true humanity. And the fact that they were already there he saw as an indication that it was ‘the last hour’. But in view of Paul’s description we must see one arising who out-blasphemes them all, as John himself represents him in Revelation.

It should, however, be noted that he is not said to actually verbally claim to be God. Possibly we are to see it that his presumptions and claims as he ‘sets himself up’ will make this impression, leaving his hearers to draw their own conclusions. We have seen such through history and in our own day.

2.5 ‘Do you not remember that when I was with you I told you these things?’

How we would love to hear what he had told them, but we do not know, nor do we know its extent. But it seemingly ties up with some of John’s teaching in Revelation with remarkable accuracy. John may have had Paul’s letter in mind, or they may both have looked back to the same source.

2.6-7 ‘And now you know that which restrains, to the end that he might be revealed in his own season. For the mystery of lawlessness already works, only there is one who restrains who will be taken out of the way.’

What could restrain the man of sin and hold back the Anti-god? Revelation 20.2 depicts the idea as God’s chain in the hands of an angel, restraining the one who is behind the man of sin. In other words in the final analysis the restrainer is God by whatever means He uses. This ties in also with the picture of the restraint in the Abyss of one who is probably Satan’s man of his right hand (Revelation 17.8; 9.1, 11 compare 20.7). Thus the one behind the man of sin, the son of ‘destruction’ (apoleias), may be identified with ‘the Destroyer’ (Apollyon - Revelation 9.11), the king of the Abyss who is restrained there until released by the angel. These are all, of course, pictures of spiritual reality. None of these have literal bodies.

So the man of sin will be restrained, because his mentor is restrained, until his time comes, his own season, when he will be ‘revealed’ (known as what he is), and the ‘ten rulers’ will have their power ‘for one hour’ (a short time) under ‘the Wild Beast’, that is the one who lives again and behaves like a wild beast (Revelation 17.12). All will be restrained until God’s time comes.

The fact that the restraint is by the chain and the angel, can include all measures of restraint used by God. The chain is not literal for it chains a spiritual being. It does not preclude other possibilities, the earthly links of the heavenly chain. Thus it may include Roman justice, which has continued as a restraining influence long after Rome had ceased, and still affects international Law today, and it may include the moral laws of the Old Testament, and ‘the ten commandments’, still held in outward approval by mankind, and it may include the church which for all its faults has proved a restraining influence on sin. These are three of the restraints put in place by God. But, as Jesus Himself revealed, in the end God is the One behind all the restraint of whatever kind it is, using His various links of chain, for Satan can only do what God allows (Luke 22.31).

All claims that the Holy Spirit is uniquely intended by the restrainer, Who is then removed, must be viewed with suspicion. If he meant the Holy Spirit why did he not say so? We can understand why he might refer indirectly to mysterious angelic power, for it would increase the mystery, we can understand why he might refer indirectly to the removal of law, for that might be seen as treason. But if he meant that the Holy Spirit was to be taken out of the way, with all its consequences, it was such a revolutionary idea that it would surely have been spelt out, not leaving in the dark those who had not heard Paul’s first teaching.

Indeed the idea that people of God could function without the Holy Spirit is unscriptural. The ‘coming of the Holy Spirit’ was not something totally new, it was the giving to the many what had only been experienced by the few. All through history the Holy Spirit (or ‘Spirit of God’) was at work, both on behalf of God’s people (Isaiah 63.9-11, 14; 59.21; Haggai 2.5; Zechariah 4.6) and in their inner lives (Psalm 51.10-12; 139.7; 143.10; Ezekiel 18.31-32 with 36.26; 37.14). The Holy Spirit absent from God’s people is a contradiction in terms. Without Him there would be no God’s people. Any more than they could function without the grace of God. And His working is always within. While prepositions may help us to appreciate more of the work of the Spirit, we see little future in teaching which seeks to differentiate ‘with’ (or any other preposition) from ‘in’ as though He could be with and not in. John 14.17 means that both are true not that one can be had without the other. God works both with and within.

But note that the principle of lawlessness, once hidden but now revealed, was even then at work while Paul was writing. The restraint was being stretched by man’s sin. Man’s rebellion against God has continued since then, chafing against all restraints, inspired by the one who will in the end control the man of sin, but can only work surreptitiously until the release of ‘the Wild Beast’ is finally permitted, to inspire the man of sin. As we have suggested the one who restrains is either the angel or God Himself.

This coming of the man of sin is the evidence that things will get worse before Christ’s coming. And yet in some ways he will be but a reproduction of all who have gone before, the wild beast of Revelation 13, the Roman Empire of the divine emperors and all that followed, although more of a force for evil. Whether we will easily recognise him is another question, for he may not openly reveal his lawlessness against God. Lawless man may welcome him and he may seem to offer what man is looking for. But those with spiritual insight will know him, and will beware.

It is probable that this one who is pictured as the man of sin is a man possessed by Satan or by one of his chief minions (the Wild Beast from the Abyss), thus he will have influence over evil forces granted to him by the one who possesses him (Revelation 9.3-10), forces which are invisible but effective. The descriptions of these forces are not to be taken literally. They picture what they can achieve. Thus the end days will experience more of the evil of the occult. But they cannot touch those who are Christ’s (Revelation 9.4).

2.8 ‘And then will be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus will slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his coming.’

Note the continued emphasis on lawlessness. ‘The man of lawlessness -- the mystery of lawlessness (his hidden teaching now revealed and contrary to the Law) -- the lawless one.’ Here is one who is completely opposed to the Law of God. All restraint will be cast off. Note also the emphasis on his being ‘revealed’ (verse 5, verse 6, verse 8). He will be for a time hidden but will then be revealed, as the sphere in which he operates, his world, wherever it is, acknowledges him. So for a time he will develop his power, with the world unaware of his presence, and gradually he will build up his authority and control. Perhaps as a leading figure in the United Nations. Perhaps as an Arab dictator supported by the Arab nations. Perhaps as an influential leader in Europe. Who knows? But wielding great influence for evil. And then finally becoming a superhero, and probably a leading religious figure, receiving worship for himself in one sphere or another. That he will affect world issues is clear. But the world he controls will be his own ‘world’, not necessarily the world at large (‘world’ in Scripture denotes the world in which the writer lives, not the whole world). Parts of the world may well only be indirectly affected by him.

‘Whom the Lord Jesus will slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his coming.’ The end of the man of sin is brought about by the manifestation of the coming of Christ. For Jesus Himself will come, not only to take His own, but to manifest Himself to the world in authority, brightness and glory. Then this powerful ‘man of sin’ will be ‘brought to nothing’, rendered powerless and emasculated, because his lawlessness will be shown for what it is by the coming of the Judge, Who will pass judgment on him and those who followed him by ‘the breath of His mouth’ (compare Revelation 19.15 also Isaiah 11.4). The ‘breath of His mouth’ once acted powerfully in creation (Psalm 33.6), now it will act equally powerfully in destruction.

2.9-10 ‘Even he whose coming is according to the work of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceit of unrighteousness for those who are perishing, because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved.’

In his own sphere the man of sin will reveal the power of his master. Satanic power through him will enable him to produce false miracles of some kind. They will be seen as revealing his ‘power’, to many they will be ‘signs’ of his status, and they will be ‘wonders’, filling men with awe. His followers will be deceived. If it were possible even the elect, the people of God, might at first be deceived (Matthew 24.24). But in the end their spiritual insight will see through him.

‘And with all deceit of unrighteousness for those who are perishing, because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved.’ The ‘deceit of unrighteousness’ may refer to the fact of the source of the deceit, it comes from an unrighteous source. Or it may refer to the fact that men are deceived by him because they are unrighteous. Or indeed it may signify both, the unrighteous deceiving the unrighteous. But we should note that men are not deceived because they are duped and could not have known, but because they are unrighteous (compare Romans 1.18).

‘For those who are perishing.’ As the man of sin perishes because he is ‘the son of perdition (destruction)’ (verse 3) so they too are proving themselves sons of destruction. Because they are unrighteous and as a result themselves deceived, they ‘are perishing’. And why are they deceived and perishing? Because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved. They were faced with truth and deception, and because they were unrighteous they chose deception. See John 3.17-21 and John 7.17. But if they do turn to that truth they will be saved.

‘They did not receive the love of the truth.’ The truth was offered to them but their hearts were not open to His Spirit, thus He could not work within them love of the truth. The truth here is not general truth, but the truth of the Gospel, for that is central to all truth.

2.11-12 ‘And for this cause God sends them a working of error that they should believe the lie, that they all might be judged who believed not the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.’

When men spurn God’s Spirit the alternative is error. That was so in Genesis 6.2, and is always so. When Pharaoh hardened his heart, God also began to harden his heart, for on one who was hardened His activity could only produce hardness. The same is true here. They did not want truth, so when God continued to work in them turning their thoughts to spiritual things, it could only produce error. And instead of believing the truth, their perverted minds believed ‘the lie’, the opposite of ‘the truth’, teaching suffused with error presented by the man of sin.

This will be contrasted in verse 13 with God’s working of truth in the hearts of those who are His. Both are His sovereign work. He will make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy which He prepared beforehand unto glory, and endures with much longsuffering vessels of wrath fitted for destruction (Romans 9.22-23).

But what basically is ‘believing the lie’. It is to have the wrong attitude towards, and understanding of, God (Romans 1.25). To ignore the clear message of creation. It is to see that which is anti-God as being God, and to see God in what is merely part of this world. It is to listen to the whispering of Satan, as man first did in the Garden of Eden. And it leads to the worship of Nature and bestial lives (Romans 1.18-32).

But the result can only be that they will finally come under judgment, the judgment that is to follow the appearance of the man of sin. And that judgment will reveal that it was because they had pleasure in unrighteousness (‘delighted in wrongdoing’) that they did not believe the truth, and because they continued not to believe the truth that they continued to have pleasure in unrighteousness. The two go together. Not believing the truth will always result in having pleasure in unrighteousness, and having pleasure in unrighteousness will always result in not believing the truth. And it is because men have pleasure in unrighteousness that they will follow the man of sin until the inevitable day when they will be judged.

This principle is very important. When a man begins to lose his faith ask him in what way he wants to misbehave. Soon you will discover that his problem is not a rational one but a moral one.

2.13-14 ‘But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brothers and sisters beloved of the Lord, for that God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, whereunto he called you through our Gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

Having considered the man of sin, and the destiny of those who follow him, Paul now assures the Thessalonians that he realises that they are not of that number. Rather are they beloved of the Lord (that is, the Lord Jesus Christ). And that immediately brings him ‘under an obligation’ to give thanks for what has caused them to be so, God’s electing grace.

‘For that God chose you from the beginning.’ Compare Ephesians 1.4; 1 Peter 1.1-2. From the beginning means ‘before the foundation of the world’ (Ephesians 1.4). From the beginning of His act of creation, even before the world came into being, He chose His own. Their salvation was not an afterthought resulting from failure, but the specific purpose of God which He would bring into fulfilment. They were ‘chosen according to the foreknowing of God’ (1 Peter 1.1-2).

Some good texts have ‘as firstfruits’ rather than ‘from the beginning’, and if this reading were accepted it would mirror the teaching in Revelation 14 that God’s people are his firsfruits, while the remainder of the world awaits judgment.

‘Unto salvation.’ Man’s sin, man’s fall, all was beforehand known to God. And His purpose to save His own was part of that foreknowing. He chose them unto salvation. He, as it were, entered into personal relationship with them beforehand long prior to making His effectual call. This was then to be accomplished by two means, sanctification in the Spirit, which is God’s side, and belief of the truth, which is the resulting response of man.

Here sanctification of the Spirit begins in the working of truth in a man’s heart (as against the ‘working of error’ - verse 11), which results in belief of the truth, continues in giving new life through the new birth (John 3.6; Titus 3.5; James 1.18; 2 Peter 1.4; Galatians 4.19), and then continues on as He works within them to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2.13; 1 Corinthians 1.8; Jude 1.24), until He finally presents them perfect before Him, holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5.27; Colossians 1.22; Jude 1.24). And the result in such men is a continuing response of belief and trust in the truth of the Gospel, seen as a wholehearted response to Him..

‘Whereunto He called you through our Gospel.’ This looks back to all the blessings described, salvation, sanctification in the Spirit and belief of the truth. They were effectually called through the work of the Spirit to these things. And the means of their calling was the Good News presented by Paul and his companions. In Paul ‘calling’ is always seen as effectual (compare 1 Thessalonians 2.12; 5.24; 2 Timothy 1.9).

But what was to be the end result? ‘The obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ’. In that day we will see His glory, and we shall be like Him, for we will see Him as He is (1 John 3.2). The Christian’s end is glory, ‘a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory’ ( 2 Corinthians 4.17; Romans 8.17-18, 30; 1 Corinthians 15.43; Ephesians 5.27; Philippians 3.21; 1 Thessalonians 2.12). We will appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3.4). As God has glorified Jesus, the representative man, so will He glorify us. And the process has already begun (2 Corinthians 3.18; John 17.22).

Note in all this the working of the whole Godhead. ‘God chose you -- in sanctification of the Spirit -- to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ’. None of this is due to our merit. It is because God chose us and worked His will within us that we will share the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2.15 ‘So then, brothers and sisters, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you were taught whether by word or by letter from us.’

Because of this working of God in His own they are exhorted to ‘stand fast’, both against the working of the Evil One and against the fears that pervade them. And one way to stand fast against all that the future holds is by ‘holding the traditions’. The word for ‘traditions’ signifies a body of truth which stands on its own. It would include the recognised traditions concerning the life and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ which were circulated in the churches, and the letters of Paul, the foundation stones of the New Testament.

This cannot reasonably be applied to later traditions. Paul is not speaking of ‘the traditions of the church’, he is speaking of traditions, including his own Apostolic letters, which he brought to them and which he had authenticated (compare 3.6). All the writers of New Testament letters assumed that there was a body of recognised truth against which false teachers could be judged.

A similar thought occurs in 1 Corinthians 16.13 where we are told to ‘stand fast in the faith’. We are also to ‘stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made us free’ and not to turn from dependence on the grace of God to any form of self-justification (Galatians 5.1-4), to ‘stand fast in one spirit, with one mind’, united together in Christ (Philippians 1.27), to ‘stand fast in the Lord’, the sphere of strengthening and security (Philippians 4.1), For by this we life which is life indeed (1 Thessalonians 3.8).

2.16-17 ‘Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.’

This verse is remarkable in its implication. It was the usual practise of Paul to place ‘God our Father’ first in his greetings (1.1). Yet here (and in 2 Corinthians 13.14) he places first ‘our Lord Jesus Christ’. Furthermore the combination is followed by the use of the singular, and the singular verbs ‘comfort’ and ‘establish’ which must refer to both acting together as One. It is a clear expression of co-equality and oneness.

‘Who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace.’ What a world of meaning is summed up in these words. The whole of a Christian’s destiny is wrapped up in it. First came the love, a love reaching forward from eternity, which includes the giving of Himself for us (Galatians 2.20). And then the consequence of that love, eternal strengthening and awareness of His presence (parakaleo), and good hope, sanctification and glorification. And all this through the unmerited love and favour of God, ‘through grace’. Because of the nature of Those Who bring it about it is fully comprehensive, because of its source it is unfailing.

God’s love for man and hope for the future were two elements lacking in the traditions of that ancient world. Man saw himself as the plaything of the gods, and the future as an endless circle of hopelessness. But here Paul could stress God’s deep and loving concern and the certain hope that lay ahead through the working of God within.

‘And establish them in every good work and word.’ As ever Paul cannot stop short with theology. It has to produce its fruit in action. There can be no grace and mercy of God which is not accompanied in men’s lives by fruitfulness. And this is a fruitfulness of both work and word. We regularly put the ‘word’ first, the preaching of the Gospel, but Paul puts the ‘work’ first. A Gospel which does not reveal itself in love and good works is no Gospel.

Chapter 3. Final Thoughts and an Exhortation to Right Living.

3.1-2 ‘Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run and be glorified, even as also with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and evil men. For all have not the faith.’

Paul the seeks their prayers continually, not for himself and his needs, but for the effectiveness of the Gospel through his ministry. As with the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6.9-13) the concentration is on the setting apart of God’s name through the establishing of His Kingly Rule and the doing of His will, not on ourselves.

‘That the word of the Lord may run and be glorified.’ The picture is of the word of the Lord going out with speed and vigour (Psalm 147.15), and being so effective that it receives the respect and honour due to it. We can compare Isaiah 55.11-13. It effectively brings about His purposes. ‘The word of the Lord’ may signify ‘the teaching and truth concerning the Lord Jesus Christ’, or alternately ‘the teaching and truth that came from Him’, or indeed both. It would include the Scriptures for they were the inspired source of the truth about Him. Paul longs for it to be swiftly and powerfully successful everywhere, as it had been among the Thessalonians, ‘as also with you’.

‘And that we may be delivered from the unreasonable and evil men. For all have not the faith.’ His second prayer is for deliverance, not for his own sake but so that the word of God may go forward. ‘The unreasonable and evil men’ indicates those who seek to prevent the spread of the Gospel by underhand tactics. Every dirty trick was being played against him. Any method to hand was employed to get rid of him. The word for ‘unreasonable’ signifies something that is ‘out of place’.

‘For all have not the faith (or ‘do not have faith’). The ambiguity is not important as to have faith always meant holding the faith. They have not responded to the truth presented and therefore they are not believers. Instead they have believed the lie (2.11), and reveal it in their behaviour. That it has within it the thought of faithfulness to God is suggested by the contrast with God’s faithfulness in 3.3. He may thus have very much in mind the persecutions by the Jews that he was facing, as he had also faced them in Thessalonika. We must remember his method of going into the synagogues to preach as a Rabbi. This inevitably aroused conflict in those who would not respond to the truth and who thus rejected the new covenant.

3.3 ‘But the Lord is faithful who will establish you and guard you from the Evil One (or ‘evil’).

The faithfulness to His own of God and the Lord is Paul’s constant theme (1 Corinthians 1.9; 10.13; 1 Thessalonians 5.24; 2 Timothy 2.13 compare also Hebrews 2.17; 10.23; 1 Peter 4.19; 1 John 1.9). Behind all uncertainty we find the faithfulness of God. It is He Who watches over the Christian’s life and will establish and protect us. To establish is to firmly found, to strengthen (compare 1 Corinthians 3.10-15). To build on the rock (Matthew 7.24-27).

Guarding from the ‘Evil One’, and in view of chapter 2 this is the most likely emphasis rather than ‘evil’ (compare the cry for deliverance in the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6.13), reminds us that God is over all and He protects His own from the machinations of Satan (John 17.15; 1 John 5.18; Romans 16.20). They are sealed by God (Revelation 7.3-4 with 9.4). Thus the evil men of verse 3 are now seen as spurred on by the Evil One of verse 4. Compare how in Revelation John can speak of persecuting Jews as ‘the synagogue of Satan’ (Revelation 2.9; 3.9), and Pergamos, with its persecuting authorities, as the place of Satan’s throne and where Satan dwells (Revelation 2.13). But the fact that we are guarded does not mean that we can be careless about the matter (Ephesians 6.10-19; 2 Corinthians 2.11). We must take heed to put on the armour of God.

Note the change from ‘us’ to ‘you’. The memory of what he and his companions had to face also reminded him of the tribulation and persecution the Thessalonians were facing, so as he asked for their prayers, he also prayed for them. They were in partnership together and were to share each other’s burdens.

3.4 ‘And we have confidence in the Lord with regard to you that you both do and will do the things which we command.’

Confident that the Lord will establish and guard them he also has confidence that they are fulfilling and will fulfil what he and his companions ask of them. Whether ‘in the Lord’ refers to ‘having confidence in the Lord’ that He will be the source of their obedience, or is ‘with regard to you in the Lord’, referring to the sphere in which they will be obedient, is an open question but the general idea is the same, confidence in the Thessalonians because of the Lord’s activity. ‘The things which we command’ probably refers to the commands which are about to follow.

3.5 ‘And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patient endurance of Christ.’

Once again he prays that their lives may be filled with love resulting from God’s activity within them, and may have patient endurance through Christ’s strengthening (compare 1.3-4). It is possibly love and patient endurance worked in them by God and Jesus Christ, rather than God’s own love and Christ’s own patient endurance, that are in mind, although he may be thinking of Their love and patient endurance to be seen as examples which produce and encourage a similar response. Of course the one would be intended to beget the other. The reference to patient endurance again emphasises the continual persecution the Thessalonian church is facing. 3.6 ‘Now we command you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother or sister who walks disorderly, and not after the tradition that they received from us.’

This final injunction is stern. Paul was so concerned for the reputation of the church that he commanded withdrawal from any who brought a stain upon it. And it was in the name of Christ that he commanded it, for it was that that would be sullied. He could have used no stronger words. To command in a name put all the authority of that name behind the command. The command was basically from Christ Himself. ‘Disorderly’ refers to a failure to keep in rank. They were behaving wildly and foolishly. They were not following the ways that Paul and his companions had laid down. The following verses show that the particular failure in mind was the way in which they failed to work for their own living, tending rather to take advantage of the generosity of others, so that they could act as busybodies in the church, snooping into things, engaging in carping open criticism, and generally being a nuisance.

3.7-9 ‘For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, for we did not behave in a disorderly way among you, nor did we eat bread which cost us nothing at any man’s hand, but rather we worked in labour and travail night and day that we might not burden any of you, not because we have not the right, but to make ourselves an example to you that you should imitate us.’

It is interesting the great emphasis that Paul puts on people earning their own living, and to such an extent that he himself was not prepared to live on others’ hospitality, even though it meant that they had less time for the missionary work they were doing. They wanted all to recognise that being a Christian did not exempt anyone from honest toil. His policy, which he also carried out elsewhere, was in fact in line with what he had learned as a Pharisee, that a Rabbi should have a trade and not live off his study and teaching of the Law. His trade was connected with tent making and leather work (Acts 18.3).

And he calls on them to imitate him. Note that he accepts that it would have been his right to live on the hospitality of others. That had been Jesus Christ’s command to His first disciples (Matthew 10.9-11; Luke 10.3-7 compare 1 Corinthians 9.3-14; Galatians 6.6). Yet he would not, for he felt that it would give a bad example, as well as being a burden to them (see also 1 Thessalonians 2.9).

It had not been easy. The hardship is emphasised. They had ‘worked in travail and labour day and night’, working and then teaching and preaching. It had not been a soft option. We are probably to see from this that, among many Gentiles, preachers and teachers who lived off others were looked on with disdain. ‘An example.’ It may also be that there was a tendency to sponging off others among Macedonians. ‘Imitate us.’ Use us for an example of how you should behave.

3.10 ‘For even when we were with you, we used to command you this, “if any will not work, let him not eat”.’

This might confirm a lazy tendency among Macedonians, for Paul had made it a particular emphasis in this church, repeating it continually. There is no evidence for such a statement elsewhere and it may be specifically Pauline. The principle was simple, no work, no food. This would, of course, only apply to those who could work. The fact that he had taught it to them from the start of his ministry is against the popular idea that the attitude arose later as a result of a wrong attitude to the second coming, although that may have given them a further excuse. It made not working seem spiritual.

The sin of idleness is widely recognised. The Romans said, “By doing nothing, men learn to do evil.” Isaac Watts wrote: “For Satan finds some mischief still, for idle hands to do.” The Jewish Rabbis taught, “He who does not teach his son a trade, teaches him to be a thief.” All recognised that idleness leads to bad behaviour.

3.11 ‘For we hear of some who walk among you disorderly, who do not work at all but are busybodies.’

What is signified here is described in 1 Timothy 5.13. ‘They learn to be idle, going abroad from house to house, and not only idle but tittle-tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.’ They were idle, they gossiped and passed on rumours, they talked of people behind their backs, they criticised those in authority and generally made a nuisance of themselves.

3.12 ‘Now those who are such we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they work with quietness and eat their own bread.’

To such he brings a command from ‘the Lord Jesus Christ’. The use of the full title brings home the seriousness of the command. It is from ‘the Lord’. To ‘eat their own bread’ means bread that they have paid for themselves. The emphasis on working ‘with quietness’ suggests that the gossip and tittle-tattle had caused great harm. They were not to be chatterers and talebearers. Some, however, who relate their behaviour to second coming teaching, suggests that it means calmly and quietly rather than in their present over-excited state. But it is noteworthy that there is no suggestion anywhere that their idleness arose in this way, which seems rather strange if it is true.

Talebearing is condemned in the Old Testament. Leviticus 19.16 forbids being a talebearer, ‘revealing secrets’, breaking trust and being faithless to their friends (Proverbs 11.13). Such things should be kept between the two parties concerned (Proverbs 25.9).

3.13 ‘But you, brothers and sisters, do not be weary in well doing.’

Those who did work would become weary, (and they worked longer hours, under more trying conditions, than most of us). Some may even have looked enviously at their idle brothers and sisters. So Paul exhorts them that although they grow weary, they should not grow weary in doing what is right. In Galatians 6.9 where there is a similar phrase he adds, ‘for in due season you will reap if you do not give up (faint)’.

3.14-15 ‘And if any man does not obey our word by this letter, note that man, that you do not keep company with him, to the end that he might be ashamed. And yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.’

The word ‘obey’ means ‘hear and obey’. It is used of a doorkeeper who looks through the peep-hole and discovers a person’s business and then goes off to communicate it to his master. It means to hear, and then to act. The man who refuses to work or cease his tittle-tattle should be specifically taken note of and ‘sent to Coventry’ or boycotted. This would suggest that it is an official action by the church as a whole.

In order that he may learn to be ashamed of his behaviour, Christians should have nothing to do with him, so that he may recognise how deeply they feel about his behaviour. But notice that this is to be a loving action. He is not to be treated as an enemy but as a brother, and suitable gently admonished so that he comes to his senses. Sadly sometimes in the history of the church this sternness ‘with gentleness’ has been overlooked.

3.16 ‘Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in all ways. The Lord be with you all.’

In closing Paul refers to Jesus as ‘the Lord of peace.’ We are reminded of Isaiah 9.6, of the royal son who was to be born, ‘His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace’. Then he goes on to describe how he will set up His ‘everlasting Kingdom’ with authority and peace in justice and righteousness (compare Psalm 72.7). The coming one, ‘the dayspring from on high’, was to guide our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1.79). Thus Paul may have had this passage in mind.

Furthermore of the One who was to come forth as ‘ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting’ Micah declares ‘this one shall be our peace’ (Micah 5.5).

Paul’s more regular phrase is ‘the God of peace’ (1 Thessalonians 5.23; Romans 15.33; 16.20; 1 Corinthians 14.33; 2 Corinthians 13.11; Philippians 4.9 compare Hebrews 13.20). In view of the use of ‘Lord’ in the Greek Old Testament to signify the name of God, Yahweh, this is a clear indication of Godhood and co-equality.

‘Give you peace.’ The title sums up the reason for the coming of Christ. ‘He is our peace’ (Ephesians 2.14). He came to bring peace and to make peace and reconciliation with God for His own (Romans 5.1), including both Jew and Gentile, giving them access to the Father (Ephesians 2.13-15, 16-18). And through His coming His people find peace in their hearts, the peace of God which passes all understanding (Philippians 4.7), which is to rule in their hearts (Colossians 3.15), wrought by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5.22).

‘At all times and in all ways.’ The thought is comprehensive. Peace, perfect peace, is the lot of the Christian in ever circumstance and in every way because he knows the Lord of peace, and because the Lord is with him.

‘The Lord be with you all.’ This confirms, if it were needed, that the Lord of peace is Jesus Christ. Paul prays that they may enjoy His continual presence with them (see Galatians 2.20)

3.17 ‘The salutation of me, Paul, with my own hand, which is the token in every letter. So I write.’

Many of Paul’s letters were written with the help of an amanuensis, a kind of secretary, who wrote to Paul’s dictation. He thus developed the habit of signing off at the end with a brief statement in his own handwriting, both as a gesture of love and friendship and to authenticate the letter. This is one example.

3.18 ‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.’

Not just a formal statement but a heartfelt wish and prayer that the unmerited, active favour and love of Jesus Christ, our Lord, might be with all of them bringing about His saving and sanctifying purposes in their lives.

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