2 Thessalonians 2:11
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) And for this causei.e., because they did not care whether things were true or not. This verse is not a mere repetition of 2Thessalonians 2:9-10. There we were told of external dangers which would attend Antichrist’s coming for them that perish: because they had not cared for truth, therefore the presence of the Man of Sin, which could not even imperil the truth-lovers, would for them be full of special marvels and frauds by which they might be misled. Here is set forth the effect upon their own selves of refusing to accept God’s gift of love of truth: God takes from them (by His natural law) their power of discerning the true from the false, and thus (as it were) actually deceives them. Every wilful sin does this double mischief: it strengthens the power of the temptation without; it weakens the power to resist within. For an illustration, see 2Chronicles 18:7; 2Chronicles 18:22 : Ahab cares only for the pleasant, not the true, and the Lord requites him by sending forth a lying spirit to entice him.

Shall send.—The Greek has sendeth: so “is” in 2Thessalonians 2:9 : St. Paul sees it all going on before his eyes. “A strong delusion” should be “an effectual inward working of error”—no longer a mere indifference to truth, but a real influence of error upon their hearts. This inward work of error is sent “with a view to their believing the lie” (the Greek has the definite article)—the lie (that is) which Antichrist would have them believe. A terrible combination when God and Satan are agreed to deceive a man! Yet what an encouragement to see God using Satan for His own purposes.

2 Thessalonians 2:11-12. For this cause God shall send them — That is, shall judicially permit to come upon them; strong delusion — The strong working of error in their hearts. From this we learn that, as a punishment of their sins, God suffers wicked men to fall into greater sins; and as the sin of the persons described in this passage consisted in their not loving the truth, what could be more just or proper than to punish them, by suffering them to fall into the belief of the greatest errors and lies? Thus the heathen, mentioned Romans 1:24, were punished by God’s giving them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts; that they should believe a lie — Or, as the words εις το πιστευσαι αυτους τω ψευδει may be translated, so that they will believe a lie. The lie here intended by the Spirit of God, Macknight thinks, “is the monstrous lie of transubstantiation, or of the conversion of the bread and wine in the Lord’s supper into the real identical body and blood of Christ, through the will of the priest accompanying his pronouncing the words of institution; notwithstanding there is no change whatever produced in the accidents or sensible qualities of these substances. This impudent fiction is not only a palpable contradiction to the senses and reason of mankind, but a most pernicious falsehood, being the chief foundation of that fictitious power of pardoning sin, and of saving or damning men according to their own pleasure, which the Romish ecclesiastics have blasphemously arrogated to themselves, and by which they make men utterly negligent of holiness, and of all the ordinary duties of life.” That they all might be damned Ινα κριθωσι, might be judged, or condemned; that is, the consequence of which will be, that, having filled up the measure of their iniquity, they will at length fall into just condemnation; who believed not the truth — Received not the gospel in faith, love, and obedience; but had pleasure in unrighteousness — In corrupt passions and vicious practices. The original expression, ευδοκησαντες signifies both to take pleasure in a thing, and to approve of it. “From this we learn that it is not the simple ignorance of truth which exposes men to damnation. In many cases this may be no fault in the ignorant. But it is men’s refusing to believe, through their taking pleasure in unrighteousness, which will prove fatal to them; for a disposition of that sort renders the wicked altogether incurable.” Such is the interpretation which Bishop Newton, in his admirable work on the Prophecies, Dr. Macknight, and many other approved commentators, have given of this famous prophecy; an interpretation which applies with great ease to all the facts and circumstances mentioned in it, and is perfectly consistent in all its parts, which no other interpretation invented by learned men can be shown to be. The passage is evidently a prediction, as the above-mentioned divines have fully proved, of the corruptions of Christianity, “which began to be introduced into the church in the apostle’s days, and wrought secretly all the time the heathen magistrates persecuted the Christians, but which showed themselves more openly after the empire received the faith of Christ, A.D. 312, and by a gradual progress ended in the monstrous errors and usurpations of the bishops of Rome, when the restraining power of the emperors was taken out of the way, by the incursions of the barbarous nations, and the breaking of the empire into the ten kingdoms prefigured by the ten horns of Daniel’s fourth beast.” To be convinced of this, the reader need only compare the rise and progress of the Papal tyranny with the descriptions of the man of sin, and of the mystery of iniquity here given, and with the prophecies of Daniel. In the bishops of Rome all the characters and actions ascribed by Daniel to the little horn, and by Paul to the lawless one, are clearly united. “For, according to the strong working of Satan, with all power and signs, and miracles of falsehood, they have opposed Christ, and exalted themselves above all that is called God, or an object of worship; and have long sat in the temple of God as God, showing themselves that they are God; that is, they exercise the power and prerogatives of God. And seeing, in the acquisition and exercise of their spiritual tyranny, they have trampled upon all laws, human and divine, and have encouraged their votaries in the most enormous acts of wickedness, the Spirit of God hath, with the greatest propriety, given them the appellations of the man of sin, the son of perdition, and the lawless one. Further, as it is said that the man of sin was to be revealed in his season, there can be little doubt that the dark ages, in which all learning was overturned by the irruption of the northern barbarians, were the season allotted to the man of sin for revealing himself. Accordingly we know that in these ages the corruptions of Christianity, and the usurpations of the clergy, were carried to the greatest height. In short, the annals of the world cannot produce persons and events, to which the things written in this passage can be applied with so much fitness, as to the bishops of Rome. Why then should we be in any doubt concerning the interpretation and application of this famous prophecy?” — Macknight.2:5-12 Something hindered or withheld the man of sin. It is supposed to be the power of the Roman empire, which the apostle did not mention more plainly at that time. Corruption of doctrine and worship came in by degrees, and the usurping of power was gradual; thus the mystery of iniquity prevailed. Superstition and idolatry were advanced by pretended devotion, and bigotry and persecution were promoted by pretended zeal for God and his glory. This mystery of iniquity was even then begun; while the apostles were yet living, persons pretended zeal for Christ, but really opposed him. The fall or ruin of the antichristian state is declared. The pure word of God, with the Spirit of God, will discover this mystery of iniquity, and in due time it shall be destroyed by the brightness of Christ's coming. Signs and wonders, visions and miracles, are pretended; but they are false signs to support false doctrines; and lying wonders, or only pretended miracles, to cheat the people; and the diabolical deceits with which the antichristian state has been supported, are notorious. The persons are described, who are his willing subjects. Their sin is this; They did not love the truth, and therefore did not believe it; and they were pleased with false notions. God leaves them to themselves, then sin will follow of course, and spiritual judgments here, and eternal punishments hereafter. These prophecies have, in a great measure, come to pass, and confirm the truth of the Scriptures. This passage exactly agrees with the system of popery, as it prevails in the Romish church, and under the Romish popes. But though the son of perdition has been revealed, though he has opposed and exalted himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; and has spoken and acted as if he were a god upon earth, and has proclaimed his insolent pride, and supported his delusions, by lying miracles and all kinds of frauds; still the Lord has not yet fully destroyed him with the brightness of his coming; that and other prophecies remain to be fulfilled before the end shall come.And for this cause - Because they choose error, or their hearts love that more than they do truth. The original reason then of their embracing and adhering to the system was not an arbitrary decree on the part of God, but that they did not love the truth. Hence, he gave them up to this system of error. If a man strongly prefers error to truth, and sin to holiness, it is not wrong to allow him freely to evince his own preference.

God shall send them strong delusion - Greek: "energy of deceit;" a Hebraism, meaning strong deceit, The agency of God is here distinctly recognised, in accordance with the uniform statements of the Scriptures, respecting evil; compare Exodus 7:13; Exodus 9:12; Exodus 10:1, Exodus 10:20, Exodus 10:27; Exodus 11:10; Exodus 14:8. Isaiah 45:7. On the nature of this agency, see the notes on John 12:40. It is not necessary here to suppose that there was any positive influence on the part of God in causing this delusion to come upon them, but all the force of the language will be met, as well as the reasoning of the apostle, by supposing that God withdrew all restraint, and suffered men simply to show that they did not love the truth. God often places people in circumstances to develop their own nature, and it cannot be shown to be wrong that He should do so. If people have no love of the truth, and no desire to be saved, it is not improper that they should be allowed to manifest this. How it happened that they had no "love of the truth," is a different question, to which the remarks of the apostle do not appertain; compare Romans 9:17-18, note; Romans 1:24, note.

That they should believe a lie - This does not affirm that God wished them to believe a lie; nor that He would not have preferred that they should believe the truth; nor that He exerted any direct agency to cause them to believe a lie. It means merely that He left them, because they did not love the truth, to believe what was false, and what would end in their destruction. Can anyone doubt that this constantly occurs in the world? People are left to believe impostors; to trust to false guides; to rely on unfounded information; to credit those who live to delude and betray the innocent; and to follow those who lead them to ruin. God does not interpose by direct power to preserve them. Can anyone doubt this? Yet this is not especially the doctrine of revelation. The fact pertains just as much to the infidel as it does to the believer in Christianity, and he is just as much bound to explain it as the Christian is. It belongs to our world - to us all - and it should not be charged on Christianity as a doctrine pertaining especially to that system.

11. for this cause—because "they received not the love of the truth." The best safeguard against error is "the love of the truth."

shall send—Greek, "sends," or "is sending"; the "delusion" is already beginning. God judicially sends hardness of heart on those who have rejected the truth, and gives them up in righteous judgment to Satan's delusions (Isa 6:9, 10; Ro 1:24-26, 28). They first cast off the love of the truth, then God gives them up to Satan's delusions, then they settle down into "believing the lie": an awful climax (1Ki 22:22, 23; Eze 14:9; Job 12:16; Mt 24:5, 11; 1Ti 4:1).

strong delusion—Greek, "the powerful working of error," answering to the energizing "working of Satan" (2Th 2:9); the same expression as is applied to the Holy Ghost's operation in believers: "powerful" or "effectual (energizing) working" (Eph 1:19).

believe a lie—rather, "the lie" which Antichrist tells them, appealing to his miracles as proofs of it … (2Th 2:9).

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion: we had account in the former verse of such as are deceived by the man of sin, of their sin, and here of their punishment. They were first deluded, which was their sin; and God sends them strong delusion, and that is their punishment. They did not receive the truth in the love of it, which was their sin; and therefore are given up to believe a lie, which is their punishment. Had they received the truth aright, they might have been saved; but not receiving it, they are damned. And they were said to be such as perish, and their perishing is here called damnation. So that though God is not the author of sin or falsehood: Deus non est auctor cujus est ultor, Fulgent.; yet he may in justice give men up to them, which the apostle here calls God’s sending, &c.; which imports either:

1. Tradition, delivering men to Satan to tempt and deceive.

2. Desertion, withholding or withdrawing that grace that might preserve them.

3. A judicial permission, God purposing not to hinder men to fall into that sin or delusion which he seeth their own hearts incline them to.

God concurs to evil, not positive, but privative; not efficienter, but deficienter; Schoolmen. God in Scripture is often said to do that which he permits to be done; as in the case of Joseph’s selling unto Egypt, Genesis 45:7, David’s numbering the people, 2 Samuel 24:1, compared with 1 Chronicles 21:1; and the ten kings giving their power to the beast, by God’s putting it into their hearts, Revelation 17:17: and it is not a bare permission, for what evil God permits, he decreed to permit it; and he decreed the circumstances attending it, and the end to which he would order and dispose it, and the degree to which it should break forth. They were deceived into error, and God gave them up to it. And it did work with great efficacy; which either relates to the man of sin, that did lead them strongly into it, or to them that were led by him. When error doth vitiate the life, and one error begets another, and makes men violent against the truth, then it is the efficacy of error. And thus God doth judicially punish sin with sin, and delusion with delusion; and then they are always most operative, and most incurable. But men fall not presently under these judicial acts; men first refitse to see, before God sends blindness, and first harden their own hearts, before God hardens them. These in the text first refused to receive the truth, before they were given up to believe a lie: see Romans 1:24. So that both God and this man of sin, and themselves also, are concerned in these evils; but they sinfully and unrighteously, but God judicially and in righteousness.

That they should believe a lie: and the lie they were given up to believe, is a doctrinal lie: false speaking is a lie in words, hypocrisy is a lie in fact, and error is a lie in doctrine, Hosea 11:12 Acts 5:3. Some by lie here suppose is meant the lying wonders before mentioned; and this sense need not be excluded, but I rather interpret it of false doctrine, as that which stands opposite to the truth before mentioned, and again mentioned in this verse. Sometimes idols are called lies, Isaiah 44:20; sometimes, the things of the world, Psalm 4:2; sometimes, the great men of the world, Psalm 62:9; sometimes, false divinations, Ezekiel 22:28 Zechariah 10:2; sometimes, false prophesyings and predictions, Jeremiah 14:14 23:25,26; and sometimes, false doctrines, as 1 Timothy 4:1,2, where we read of false prophets, who shall arise in the last time, and speak lies in hypocrisy, & c. And false apostles are said to be liars upon that account, Revelation 2:2. And such are many popish doctrines, which the apostle here probably refers to. What is transubstantiation but a lie? Purgatory, infallibility of the church, mediation of saints, their opus operatum, & c.? Men must be strongly deluded to believe such doctrines, and it is mentioned as a great judgment of God upon them to believe such lies, as it is a great mercy to believe the truth, especially if we consider what follows upon it. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion,.... Or "efficacy of error", which God may be said to send; and the Alexandrian copy reads, "does send"; because it is not a bare permission but a voluntary one; or it is his will that error should be that truth may be tried, and be illustrated by its contrary, and shine the more through the force of opposition to it; and that those which are on the side of it might be made manifest, as well as that the rejecters of the Gospel might be punished; for the efficacy of error is not to be considered as a sin, of which God cannot be the author, but as a punishment for sin, and to which men are given up, and fall under the power of, because they receive not the love of the truth, which is the reason here given: and this comes to pass partly through God's denying his grace, or withholding that light and knowledge, by which error may be discovered and detected; and by taking from men the knowledge and conscience of things they had, see Romans 1:28. So that they call evil good, and good evil, and do not appear to have the common sense and reason of mankind, at least do not act according to it; and by giving them up to judicial blindness and hardness of heart, and to the god of this world, to blind their minds; and without this it is not to be accounted for, that the followers of antichrist should give into such senseless notions as those of transubstantiation, works of supererogation, &c., or into such stupid practices as worshipping of images, praying to saints departed, and paying such a respect to the pretended relics of saints, &c., as they do; but a spirit of slumber is given them, and eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, because of their rejection of the Gospel: and

that they should believe a lie; that the pope is Christ's vicar on earth, and has power to forgive sins; that the bread and wine in the Lord's supper are transubstantiated into the very body and blood of Christ; with other lying tenets spoken in hypocrisy concerning good works, merit, pardon, penance; &c. with a multitude of lying wonders and false miracles, of which their legends are full; and this is the first and more near end of strong delusion or efficacious error being sent them; the more remote and ultimate one follows.

And for this cause God shall send them {n} strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

(n) A most mighty working to deceive them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Thessalonians 2:11. Καὶ διὰ τοῦτο] and on this account, refers to ἀνθʼ ὧν τὴν ἀγάπην τῆς ἀληθείας οὐκ ἐδέξαντο, 2 Thessalonians 2:10, and καί serves to bring forward the reciprocal relation between cause and effect.

πέμπει αὐτοῖς ὁ Θεός] the present is chosen, because according to 2 Thessalonians 2:7 the beginnings of lawlessness even now appeared. But the verbal idea is not, with Theodoret, John Damascenus, Theodore Mopsuestius, p. 148, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Pelagius, Nicolas de Lyra, Hunnius, Justinian, Wolf, Turretin, Whitby, Moldenhauer, Koppe, Heydenreich, Flatt, and others, to be weakened into the idea of the divine permission, but must be taken in its proper sense. For according to the Pauline view it is a holy ordinance of God that the wicked by their wickedness should lose themselves always the more in wickedness, and thus sin is punished by sin. But what is an ordinance of God is also accomplished by God Himself. See Meyer on Romans 1:24.

ἐνέργειαν πλάνης] active power of seduction. On πλάνη, see on 1 Thessalonians 2:3.

εἰς τὸ πιστεῦσαι κ.τ.λ.] not a statement of the consequence (Macknight and others), but of the design of God. In a forced manner, Hofmann: εἰς τὸ πιστεῦσαι belongs to ἐνέργειαν.2 Thessalonians 2:11. An echo of the primitive Semitic view (still extant, cf. Curtis’s Prim. Sem. Religion To-Day, pp. 69 f.), that God may deliberately lead men astray, or permit them to be fatally infatuated, as a penal discipline (cf. Ps. Sol. 8:15; Test. XII. Patr. Dan. ix.). A modern would view the same phenomenon as wilful scepticism issuing in superstition, or in inability to distinguish truth from falsehood. Delusions of this kind cannot befall believers (cf. Mark 13:22; Test. Issach. iii.). In Test. Napht. iii. 3, idols are πνεύματα πλάνης (cf. Test. Levi. iii. 3, etc.).11. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion] Rather sents to them, the present standing for the future by anticipation of the predicted certainty; or better explained as the statement of a principle already at work. What will take place in those deceived by Antichrist, is seen on a smaller scale every day.

For strong delusion read, with R.V., working of error, parallel to “working of Satan,” 2 Thessalonians 2:9 (see note on working); a superhuman force and fascination is implied, that of Satan’s miraculous working in the Antichrist. “Delusion” is deceit accepted, falsehood taken for truth (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). And “God sends” this effectual deceit, with the very purpose that they should believe the lie. “O Lord, why dost Thou make us to err from Thy ways?” (Isaiah 63:17).

2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, therefore, ascribe to God the great delusion that we have been all along regarding as the masterpiece of Satan. Three things must be borne in mind here: (1) that Satan is never represented in Scripture as an independent power, or rival deity of evil, like the Persian Ahriman. However large the activity allowed to him in this world, it is under Divine control (see Job 1, 2; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 10:13; &c.). (2) St Paul teaches that God makes sin work out its own punishment. In Romans 1:24-25, he represents the loathsome vice of the Pagan world as a Divine chastisement for its long-continued idolatry: “For this cause God sends eftectual delusion” is parallel to “For this cause God gave them up to vile passions.” In each case the result is inevitable, and comes about by what we now call a natural law. That persistent rejection of truth destroys the sense of truth and results in fatal error, is an ethical principle and a fact of experience as certain as any in the world. Now he who believes in God as the Moral Ruler of the Universe, knows that its laws are the expression of His will. Since this Satanic delusion is the moral consequence of previous and wilful rejection of the truth, it is manifest that God is here at work; He makes Satan and the Lawless One His instruments in punishing false-hearted men. As they loved lies, God “sends them” lies for their portion. Comp. Ezekiel 14:9, and 1 Kings 22. “Righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the ages!” (Revelation 15:3). (3) The advents of Christ and of Antichrist are linked together (2 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:9); they are parts of the same great process and drama of judgement. God sends “the working of error” in the Lawless One, Who will quickly send His Son to be Judge of the lawless and Avenger of His elect.

For “a lie” the Greek reads “the lie” (same word as falsehood, 2 Thessalonians 2:9), which probably means here not falsehood in general, but this particular falsehood—“the lie” par excellence, in which all previous delusions of Satan are consummated, viz. that the Lawless One is himself God (2 Thessalonians 2:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). Similarly Idolatry is called “the (great) lie,” in contrast with “the truth of God” (Romans 1:25).2 Thessalonians 2:11. Πλάνης, of error) [Engl. Vers. ἐνέργειαν πλάνης, strong delusion,] which is in Antichrist.Verse 11. - For this cause; on account of their being destitute of a love of the truth. God shall send them; or rather, God sends them; the present being chosen because the apostasy had already commenced, the mystery of lawlessness was already working. Strong delusion; or, a working of error (R.V.). These words are not to be weakened, as if they meant merely that in righteous judgment God permitted strong delusion to be sent them; the words are not a mere assertion of judicial permission, but of actual retribution. It is the ordinance of God that the wicked by their wicked actions fall into greater wickedness, and that thus sin is punished by sin; and what is an ordinance of God is appointed by God himself. That they should believe a lie; or rather, the lie, namely the falsehood which the man of sin disseminates by his deceit of unrighteousness. Being destitute of the love of the truth, they are necessarily led to believe a lie - their minds are open to all manner of falsehood and delusion. Strong delusion (ἐνέργειαν πλάνης)

Rev., literally and correctly, a working of error. See on working 2 Thessalonians 2:9. The phrase is unique in N.T. It means an active power of misleading. For πλάνη error which shows itself in action, see on 1 Thessalonians 2:3.

A lie (τῷ ψεύδει)

Properly, the lie. The article gives the generic sense, falsehood in all its forms. Comp. John 8:44; Romans 1:25; Ephesians 4:25. Comp. the contrast of truth and unrighteousness in 2 Thessalonians 2:12. All wrongdoing has an element of falsity.

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