Reflections on the Greek Text


2 Thess. 2:1-17


Paul now comes to the specific question about the events which lead up to the return of Christ. Now notice the secret nature of this chapter. The events which led up to Paul's being run out of Thessalonica may explain the secret nature of this chapter: the Jews charging him with treason.


Verse 1

There are at leat 2 distinct conjunctions in the Greek: "and" ("kai" pron. kie as in kite) and "or" ("ou" pron. "ou). "Kai" ("and") links things TOGETHER; while "ou" ("or") can have the 2 objects separate. With "kai" here Paul links the return of Christ with our gathering together with Him. In other words, we are not gathered to Him and THEN He comes. They occur at one and the same time.

Note also that Paul speaks of only ONE coming, not two and not a split-coming. He mentions only ONE coming at which time we are gathered together to Him.

Verse 2

The word translated "has come" is in the perfect tense, meaning "the day came and remains among us."

Verse 3

Paul claims that 2 events must occur before Jesus returns and gathers His saints to Himself.

  1. There must be the apostasy.
  2. The man of lawlessness, the son of perdition must appear.
Until these 2 events occur, there will be no coming of the Lord and rapture of the saints.

The apostasy: from the Greek word apostasia (pron. ah-pah-stah-SEE-a). In Greek this word describes political rebellion, not the falling away of believers from the church.

The man of lawlessness, the son of perdition. He is the man of lawlessnenss because lawless (sinful) behavior characterizes him. He is the son of perdition (destruction) because perdition (destruction) is his ultimate destiny.

In the Greek the phrase son of perdition is literally "huios tes apoleias" (pron. WHEE-ahs tays ah-poe-LIE-ahs). This is the very exact term Jesus uses to describe Judas Iscariot in John 17:12. Jesus in that passage is calling Judas Iscariot the Antichrist.

Verse 4

The word translated "temple" is literally "naos" (pron. NAH-ahs). It does not refer to the Temple compound with all its courts. Rather it refers to the inner sanctuary of the Temple, especially the Holy of Holies. There the Antichrist reveals himself by declaring that he is God.

Verse 5

Why doesn't Paul just come out and say who the Antichrist is in v. 5 and verse 6. Why all the secrecy? The context of the letter (Paul's being charged with treason) probably explains why Paul doesn't just come right out and say it.

Verse 6

The "restraining thing" in the Greek is in the neuter gender. It refers not to a person but to a thing, to an institution. It CAN refer to the church, but the word itself does not definitely mean "the church." There are other interpretations of this word which probably better fit the context of 2 Thessalonians.

Verse 7

The verb "is [already] at work" is in the present tense. The work of Antichrist is not a strictly futuristic event. Rather he was already working during Paul's day. In fact he was working in Jesus' day in the person of Judas Iscariot.

Not only is something restraining the Antichrist (v. 6), someONE is also restraining him. This word "someone" is masculine in gender, refering to a man.

Verse 8

Only after the apostasy and emergence of the Antichrist have occurred will Christ Himself return. Notice how easy Christ defeats this archenemy of God's people: all it takes is the breath of Christ's mouth and Christ's simply showing up. Jesus is so much more powerful than Antichrist that this is all it takes for Christ to defeat him.

Verse 10

The word translated "perishing ones" is terrifying because it is in the present tense. They don't just perish once and it is all over for them. Rather the present tense shows us that they continually perish. Hell is a state of continual perishing.

Verse 11

The words "He will send" is actually in the present tense, not future. Although this is a future event, Paul speaks of it in the present tense. Why? To show us that it is as good as done. This deluding influence IS coming. It's not a matter of "if," but only of when.

Verse 13

Paul doesn't just simply say: "we." Rather he uses the personal pronoun "hemeis" (pron. HEY-mice) to emphasize "we," "we ourselves." In contrast to those who did not believe, WE OURSELVES ON THE OTHER HAND ought always to thank God for the salvation He has given us."

The word translated "beloved" ("egapemenoi" pron. a-GAH-pay-men-oy) is in the perfect tense, meaning that God didn't just love us once in the past but rather that He loved us in the past and continues to love us. We stand in the constant state of God's love.

The salvation God gives us comes about "by sanctification in the Spirit and faith in the truth." Salvation comes about by the Holy Spirit sanctifying us, that is, setting us apart for God and by believing the truth, the truth being the truth about Jesus (John 14:6).