2 Thessalonians 2:2
That you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Not soon shaken.—The meaning would be clearer if we inserted “so” before “soon,” for it does not mean vaguely that they were for the future not to be lightly shaken, but (as in Galatians 1:6) that they had already been shaken, and that in an unconscionably short time since their first teaching on the subject.

In mind.—In the original it is, from your mind; from your reason,

Be troubled.—The tense of the verb “be troubled” differs in the Greek from that of “be shaken”; for the “driving out of their wits” is regarded as a single act; the “agitation,” or being troubled, as a chronic condition, into which there was fear of their falling. This shaking and trouble probably brought about the disorders spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 3. The instruments by which men had partly driven the Thessalonians out of their wits already were three:—(1) “Through spirit,” i.e., by pretended manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s power, whether through false signs or, more probably, through “prophesyings.” (See 1Thessalonians 5:20-22, where the fear of some abuse of prophecy is clearly marked already.) (2) “Through word,” i.e., Word of mouth, as opposed to the written letter next mentioned. Most modern commentators seem rightly to take the words “as from us” with this clause as well as with the next; some persons misrepresented what they had heard the Apostles say on the topic, or pretended to have been intrusted with a message from them. (3) “Through letter;” apparently forged letters, purporting to be from (or, literally, through) St. Paul, had been circulated. (See Note on 2Thessalonians 3:17.) “Word” and “letter” occur again in 2Thessalonians 2:15 as his ordinary means of teaching.

As that the day of Christ is at handi.e., “to the effect that it is, ”—giving the contents of the pretended revelation; for “as that” follows grammatically upon “spirit, word, letter,” not upon “shaken, troubled.” The word for “is at hand” implies a very close proximity indeed, the participle, in fact (like our word “instant”), being used for “present,” e.g., Galatians 1:4. Probably the form which the false doctrine at Thessalonica was beginning to take was that the day of the Lord had already set in, thus confusing the whole idea of a personal, visible Advent, just as, at a later period, Hymenæus and Philetus confused the true doctrine of resurrection by affirming that it was already past (2Timothy 2:18). St. Paul not only denies vigorously that the day is come, but proceeds in the next verse to show that the signs of its approach are not yet exhibited. The best reading gives “the day of the Lord,” not “of Christ.” (See Note on 1Thessalonians 5:2.)

2:1-4 If errors arise among Christians, we should set them right; and good men will be careful to suppress errors which rise from mistaking their words and actions. We have a cunning adversary, who watches to do mischief, and will promote errors, even by the words of Scripture. Whatever uncertainty we are in, or whatever mistakes may arise about the time of Christ's coming, that coming itself is certain. This has been the faith and hope of all Christians, in all ages of the church; it was the faith and hope of the Old Testament saints. All believers shall be gathered together to Christ, to be with him, and to be happy in his presence for ever. We should firmly believe the second coming of Christ; but there was danger lest the Thessalonians, being mistaken as to the time, should question the truth or certainty of the thing itself. False doctrines are like the winds that toss the water to and fro; and they unsettle the minds of men, which are as unstable as water. It is enough for us to know that our Lord will come, and will gather all his saints unto him. A reason why they should not expect the coming of Christ, as at hand, is given. There would be a general falling away first, such as would occasion the rise of antichrist, that man of sin. There have been great disputes who or what is intended by this man of sin and son of perdition. The man of sin not only practises wickedness, but also promotes and commands sin and wickedness in others; and is the son of perdition, because he is devoted to certain destruction, and is the instrument to destroy many others, both in soul and body. As God was in the temple of old, and worshipped there, and is in and with his church now; so the antichrist here mentioned, is a usurper of God's authority in the Christian church, who claims Divine honours.That ye be not soon shaken in mind - The word here used signifies, properly, to be moved as a wave of the sea, or to be tossed upon the waves, as a vessel is. Then it means to be shaken in any way; see Matthew 11:7; Matthew 24:29; Luke 6:38; Acts 4:31; Hebrews 12:26. The reference here is to the agitation or alarm felt from the belief that the day of judgment would soon occur. It is uniformly said in the Scriptures, that the approach of the Lord Jesus to judge the world, will produce a great consternation and alarm. Matthew 24:30, "then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn." Revelation 1:7, "behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him." Luke 23:30, "then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills Cover us;" compare Isaiah 2:21-22.

Of the truth of this, there can be no doubt. We may imagine something of the effects which will be produced by the alarm caused in a community when a belief prevails that the day of judgment is near. In a single year (1843) 17 persons were admitted to the Lunatic Asylum in Worcester, Mass., who had become deranged in consequence of the expectation that the Lord Jesus was about to appear. It is easy to account for such facts, and no doubt, when the Lord Jesus shall actually come, the effect on the guilty world will be overwhelming. The apostle here says, also, that those who were Christians were "shaken in mind and troubled" by this anticipation. There are, doubtless, many true Christians who would be alarmed at such an event, as there are many who, like Hezekiah Isaiah 38:1-2, are alarmed at the prospect of death. Many real Christians might, on the sudden occurrence of such an event, feel that they were not prepared, and be alarmed at the prospect of passing through the great trial which is to determine their everlasting destiny. It is no certain evidence of a want of piety to be alarmed at the approach of death. Our nature dreads death, and though there may be a well-founded hope of heaven, it will not always preserve a delicate physical frame from trembling when it comes.

Or be troubled - That is, disturbed, or terrified. It would seem that this belief had produced much consternation among them.

Neither by spirit - By any pretended spirit of prophecy. But whether this refers to the predictions of those who were false prophets in Thessalonica, or to something which it was alleged the apostle Paul had himself said there, and which was construed as meaning that the time was near, is not certain. This depends much on the question whether the phrase "as from us," refers only to the letters which had been sent to them, or also to the "word" and to the "spirit," here spoken of; see Oldshausen on the place. It would seem, from the connection, that all their consternation had been caused by some misconstruction which had been put on the sentiments of Paul himself, for if there had been any other source of alarm, he would naturally have referred to it. It is probable, therefore, that allusion is made to some representation which had been given of what he had said under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and that the expectation that the end of the world was near, was supposed to be a doctrine of inspiration. Whether, however, the Thessalonians themselves put this construction on what he said, or whether those who had caused the alarm represented him as teaching this, cannot be determined.

Nor by word - That is, by public instruction, or in preaching. It is evident that when the apostle was among them, this subject, from such causes, was prominent in his discourses; see 2 Thessalonians 2:5. It had been inferred, it seems, from what he said, that he meant to teach that the end of the world was near.

Nor by letter - Either the one which he had before written to them - the First Epistle to the Thessalonians - or one which had been forged in his name. "As from us." That is, Paul, Silas, and Timothy, who are united in writing the two epistles 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1, and in whose names a letter would be forged, if one of this description were sent to them. It has been made a question, whether the apostle refers here to the former epistle which he had sent to them, or to a forged letter; and on this question critics have been about equally divided. The reasons for the former opinion may be seen in Paley's Herin Paulinae, in loc. The question is not very important, and perhaps cannot be easily settled. There are two or three circumstances, however, which seem to make it probable that he refers to an epistle which had been forged, and which had been pretended to be received from him. (1.) one is found in the expression "as from us." If he had referred to his own former letter, it seems to me that the allusion would have been more distinct, and that the particle "as" (ὡς hōs) would not have been used. This is such an expression as would have been employed if the reference were to such a forged letter.

(2) a second circumstance is found in the expression in the next verse, "Let no man deceive you by any means," which looks as if they were not led into this belief by their own interpretation of his former epistle, but by a deliberate attempt of some one to delude them on the subject.

(3) perhaps a third circumstance would be found in the fact that it was not uncommon in early times of Christianity to attempt to impose forged writings on the churches. Nothing would be more natural for an impostor who wished to acquire influence, than to do this; and that it was often done is well known. That epistles were forged under the names of the apostles, appears very probable, as Benson has remarked, from chap. 2 Thessalonians 3:17; Galatians 6:11; and Plm 1:19. There are, indeed, none of those forged epistles extant which were composed in the time of the apostles, but there is extant an epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, besides the two which we have; another to the Laodiceans, and six of Paul's epistles to Seneca - all of which are undoubted forgeries; see Benson in loc. If Paul, however, here refers to his former epistle, the reference is doubtless to 1 Thessalonians 4:15, and 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4, which might easily be understood as teaching that the end of the world was near, and to which those who maintained that opinion might appeal with great plausibility. We have, however, the authority of the apostle himself that he meant to teach no such thing. "As that the day of Christ is at hand." The time when he would appear - called "the day of Christ," because it would be appointed especially for the manifestation of his glory. The phrase "at hand," means near. Grotius supposes that it denotes that same year, and refers for proof to Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 3:22; Galatians 1:4. Hebrews 9:9. If so, the attempt to fix the day was an early indication of the desire to determine the very time of his appearing - a disposition which has been so common since, and which has led into so many sad mistakes.

2. soon—on trifling grounds, without due consideration.

shaken—literally, "tossed" as ships tossed by an agitated sea. Compare for the same image, Eph 4:14.

in mind—rather as the Greek, "from your mind," that is, from your mental steadfastness on the subject.

troubled—This verb applies to emotional agitation; as "shaken" to intellectual.

by spirit—by a person professing to have the spirit of prophecy (1Co 12:8-10; 1Jo 4:1-3). The Thessalonians had been warned (1Th 5:20, 21) to "prove" such professed prophesyings, and to "hold fast (only) that which is good."

by word—of mouth (compare 2Th 2:5, 15); some word or saying alleged to be that of Paul, orally communicated. If oral tradition was liable to such perversion in the apostolic age (compare a similar instance, Joh 21:23), how much more in our age!

by letter as from us—purporting to be from us, whereas it is a forgery. Hence he gives a test by which to know his genuine letters (2Th 3:17).

day of Christ—The oldest manuscripts read, "day of the Lord."

is at hand—rather, "is immediately imminent," literally, "is present"; "is instantly coming." Christ and His apostles always taught that the day of the Lord's coming is at hand; and it is not likely that Paul would imply anything contrary here; what he denies is, that it is so immediately imminent, instant, or present, as to justify the neglect of everyday worldly duties. Chrysostom, and after him Alford, translates, "is (already) present" (compare 2Ti 2:18), a kindred error. But in 2Ti 3:1, the same Greek verb is translated "come." Wahl supports this view. The Greek is usually used of actual presence; but is quite susceptible of the translation, "is all but present."

That ye be not soon shaken in mind; saleuyhnai it is an allusion to the waves of the sea that are tossed with the winds, as false doctrines tend to unsettle the mind, as Ephesians 4:14 Hebrews 13:9; and to be established in the truth is often commanded, 1 Corinthians 16:13 Philippians 4:1 Colossians 1:23, &c. And by mind here is either meant the faculty itself; and then the apostle beseecheth them to keep company with their understanding, not to be removed from their mind: as false doctrine is said to bewitch men, Galatians 3:1, and to make men foolish, 2 Thessalonians 2:3; as madness is called amentia, or dementia, as that which doth as it were unmind men, and corrupt the mind, and pervert the judgment, 2 Timothy 3:8,9, as Jannes and Jambres deceived the people by their enchantments, as the apostle there mentions. Or else, the sentence and judgment of the mind; and then he beseecheth them to hold fast the right judgment they had entertained about Christ’s coming, and not to hesitate and waver about it; so the word is taken, 1 Corinthians 2:16.

Or be troubled; yroeisyai, alluding to soldiers affrighted with a sudden alarm. We find the word, Matthew 24:6 Mark 13:7, used in this allusion. And the opinion of Christ’s coming to be at hand might occasion this trouble in them, either lest they might be surprised by it, and unprepared for it, or by judging themselves mistaken in their former apprehensions about it; and those false teachers that broach this opinion, did also perhaps so represent this coming in such terror as to cause this trouble; as false teachers in general are such as are said to cause trouble, Galatians 1:7 5:12; though the coming of Christ is in itself rather the saints’ hope and joy, than ground of trouble, as 1 Thessalonians 1:10 4:18, &c. And it may be some did pretend for this opinion the Spirit, or some letter from the apostle, either the former Epistle to them, or some letter that was forged, or some word he had spoken, or preached. And those words as from us may refer to all these: the Spirit,

as from us; or word, as from us; or letter, as from us.

Neither by spirit; some extraordinary revelation of the Spirit, which the false teachers pretended to, especially in the primitive times, when they were more ordinary; as in the church of Corinth, 1 Corinthians 14:6, and the churches of Galatia, Galatians 3:2,5: some would pretend the Spirit that called Jesus accursed, 1 Corinthians 12:3, and therefore the apostle bids: Try the spirits, 1Jo 4:1. Simon Magus pretended to it, and had his Helene, Montanus his Paraclete, Mahomet his Dove: and the man of sin pretends to this Spirit, though it is in truth the spirit of antichrist, 1Jo 4:3, and the spirit of Satan, in the next chapter of this Epistle, as was foretold that in the last times there would arise seducing spirits, 1 Timothy 4:1; as there was in the times of the Old Testament false prophets that pretended to the Spirit, as 1 Kings 22:24 Micah 2:11. And the very heathen would pretend to divine oracles, inspirations, and revelations, especially their kings and lawgivers, as Numa Pompilius, Lycurgus, &c.; and still there are enthusiasts who make these pretences.

Nor by word; dea logou, whereby some understand calculation by astrological rules, that the day of Christ was at hand; others render the word reasoning; and so from the declining of the vigour of the earth, and the nearer approach of the sun to it, as Ptolemy observed in his time, or some other natural causes, they reasoned the coming of Christ and the dissolution of the world to be nigh at hand: but rather we understand by it some word from the apostle’s own mouth, which was pretended he had spoken or preached some where, though not written. As the Church of Rome pretends to traditions, besides the written word, upon which they ground many of their superstitions and idolatries, not warranted by Scripture. As the Jews had a second Mishneh, and their Cabbala, collected in part from the sayings of Moses, or some other of their prophets, which they did not write.

Nor by letter; some letter that was sent to them from some other hand, or else by some forged letter as from the apostle himself, or his former Epistle misunderstood.

As that the day of Christ is at hand.

Objection. But is it not said that the day of the Lord, or the coming of the Lord, is at hand, 1 Corinthians 10:11 Philippians 4:5 Jam 5:7,8 1 Peter 4:2?

Answer. The word used in those places differs from this in the text; for it signifies either that which is actually present, or very near it, as Romans 8:38 Galatians 1:4; as that which is to be done presently is spoken of as done, John 17:4 2 Timothy 4:7. Or those places mean his coming is at hand, as to God’s account of time, though not as to man’s. And in that sense Christ saith: Behold, I come quickly, Revelation 22:7. But the error the apostle warns them of is, as if the coming of Christ would be in the age in which they lived. The apostles all said that the coming of the Lord was at hand, but their right meaning was perverted to a false sense, as seducers usually do. That ye be not soon shaken in mind,.... Or "from your mind or sense", as the Vulgate Latin version; or "from the solidity of sense", as the Arabic version; that is, from what they had received in their minds, and was their sense and judgment, and which they had embraced as articles of faith; that they would not be like a wave of the sea, tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine; or be moved from the hope of the Gospel, from any fundamental article of it, and from that which respects the second coming of Christ particularly; and especially, that they would not be quickly and easily moved from it; see Galatians 1:6

or be troubled; thrown into consternation and surprise, for though the coming of Christ will not be terrible to saints, as it will be to sinners; yet there is something in it that is awful and solemn, and fills with concern; and to be told of it as at that instant might be surprising and shocking: the several ways in which their minds might be troubled and distressed with such an account are enumerated by the apostle, that they might guard against them, and not be imposed upon by them:

neither by spirit; by a prophetic spirit, by pretensions to a revelation from the Spirit, fixing the precise time of Christ's coming, which should not be heeded or attended to; since his coming will be as a thief in the night:

nor by word: by reason and a show of it, by arguments drawn from it, which may carry in them a show of probability; by enticing words of man's wisdom; by arithmetical or astronomical calculations; or by pretensions to a word, a tradition of Christ or his apostles, as if they had received it "viva voce", by word of mouth from any of them:

nor by letter, as from us; by forging a letter and counterfeiting their hands, for such practices began to be used very early; spurious epistles of the Apostle Paul were carried about, which obliged him to take a method whereby his genuine letters might be known; see 2 Thessalonians 3:17 or he may have respect in this clause to his former epistle, wherein he had said some things concerning the Coming of Christ, which had been either wrongly represented, or not understood; and as if his sense was, that it would be while he and others then living were alive and on the spot: wherefore he would not have them neither give heed to any enthusiastic spirits, nor to any plausible reasonings of men, or unwritten traditions; nor to any letters in his name, or in the name of any of the apostles; nor even to his former letter to them, as though it contained any such thing in it,

as that the day of Christ is at hand; or is at this instant just now coming on; as if it would be within that year, in some certain month, and on some certain day in it; which notion the apostle would have them by no means give into, for these reasons, because should Christ not come, as there was no reason to believe he would in so short a time, they would be tempted to disbelieve his coming at all, at least be very indifferent about it; and since if it did not prove true, they might be led to conclude there was nothing true in the Christian doctrine and religion; and besides, such a notion of the speedy coming of Christ would tend to indulge the idle and disorderly persons among them in their sloth and negligence: and now for these, and for the weighty reasons he gives in the next verse, he dissuades them from imbibing such a tenet; for though the coming of Christ is sometimes said to be drawing nigh, and to be quickly, yet so it might be, and not at that instant; besides, such expressions are used with respect to God, with whom a thousand years are as one day, and one day as a thousand years; and because the Gospel times, or times of the Messiah, are the last days, there will be no other dispensation of things until the second coming of Christ; and chiefly they are used to keep up the faith, and awaken the hope and expectation of the saints with respect to it. The Alexandrian copy, and some others, read, "the day of the Lord"; and so the Vulgate Latin version; and accordingly the Syriac and Ethiopic versions, "the day of our Lord".

{2} That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by {b} spirit, nor by {c} word, nor by {d} letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

(2) We must take heed of false prophets, especially in this matter, who go about to deceive, and that for the most part, after three sorts: for either they brag of fake prophetical revelations, or they bring conjectures and reasons of their own, or use counterfeit writings.

(b) By dreams and fables, which men pretend to be spiritual revelations.

(c) Either by word of mouth, or by written books.

(d) Either by forged letter, or falsely commented upon.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Thessalonians 2:2. A statement of the object of the whole sentence, 2 Thessalonians 2:1.

σαλεύεσθαι] from σάλος, which is especially used of the sea agitated by a storm (comp. Luke 21:25), denotes being placed in a state of commotion and vacillation. It is spoken both in a natural sense of circumstances in the external world (comp. Matthew 11:7; Acts 4:31; Acts 16:26; Hebrews 12:26, etc.), and also transferred to mental conditions (comp. Acts 17:13). σαλευθῆναι ἀπὸ τοῦ νοός is a pregnant construction, including two ideas: to be put in a state of mental commotion away from the νοῦς, i.e. so that the νοῦς goes astray, does not attain to its proper function. Comp. Romans 9:3 : ἀνάθεμα εἶναι ἀπὸ τοῦ Χριστοῦ.

νοῦς] is to be taken quite generally. It denotes the reasonable, sober, and considerate state of mind, mentis tranquillitas (Turretin). Others, contrary to the meaning of the word, understand by νοῦς the more correct view or conviction, received by the personal instruction of the apostle concerning the advent, from which the Thessalonians were not to suffer themselves to be removed. So Hemming, Bullinger, Estius, Lucius Osiander, Piscator, Cornelius a Lapide, Grotius, Fromond., Bern. a Piconius, Nat. Alexander, Moldenhauer, Flatt, Heydenreich, and many others; whilst, in an equally erroneous manner, Wolf interprets the expression of the “sensus verborum Pauli, de hoc argumento in superiore epistola traditorum.”

μὴ ταχέως] not suddenly. This does not import, “so soon after my departure” (Joachim Lange), or so shortly after the instructions received from us (Piscator, Calovius, Olshausen, and others), but: suddenly, so soon after the matter in question was spoken of.

μηδὲ θροεῖσθαι] nor yet be frightened. A new and stronger point, which is more definitely described or divided by the following μήτε, according to a threefold statement of the cause. See on this distinction between μηδέ and μήτε, Winer, p. 432 [E. T. 611].

μήτε διὰ πνεύματος] neither by inspiration. Falsely-understood prophecies of the O. T. (Krause), or signa quasi per spiritum facta (Pelagius), or deceitful revelations by spiritual appearances (Ernest Schmid, Schrader), or by dreams (Schrader), are not meant; but inspired prophetical discourses, delivered by the members of the church in Christian assemblies, and whose contents were falsely given out as divine revelations. To understand, with Chrysostom, Bugenhagen, Vatablus, Koppe, Storr, Bolten, Heydenreich, and others (Flatt and de Wette give the alternative), πνεῦμα as an abstract noun, instead of the concrete πνευματικός, so that the persons who delivered the inspired discourses are to be understood, although not without analogy, is yet objectionable in itself, and has the want of harmony occasioned by it with the following λόγου and ἐπιστολῆς against it.

μήτε διὰ λόγου] is by Baumgarten-Crusius referred to a traditional (falsified) word of Jesus, more specifically by Noesselt to the prophecy of Christ in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21. But if Paul had in view a saying of Christ, he would have indicated it (perhaps by μήτε διὰ λόγου ὡς κυρίου, or something similar). Others, as Michaelis and Tychsen, translate λόγος by “reckoning,” and suppose that one made a reckoning of the times on the ground of the Book of Daniel, and in consequence inferred that the advent of Christ was directly at hand. But λόγου by itself certainly does not justify such an artificial hypothesis. Lastly, others, in distinction from prophecy delivered by inspiration, take λόγος in the sense of a calm and didactic discourse, whether aiming at conviction or seduction. So, after the example of Chrysostom, Oecumenius (διὰ πιθανολογίας), Theophylact (διὰ διδασκαλίας ζώσῃ φωνῇ γινομένης), Clarius (oratione persuasoria), Zeger (per doctrinam viva voce prolatam), Ewald (“by word; that is, by discourse and doctrine [διδαχή, 1 Corinthians 14:26]; whilst one sought to prove the error in a learned manner by a clever discourse, perhaps from the Holy Scriptures”), Hofmann, Riggenbach, and many others. However, from the parallel arrangement in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, which opposes the true to the false expressed in 2 Thessalonians 2:2, it is evident that διὰ λόγου and διʼ ἐπιστολῆς are closely connected ideas, of which the first denotes the oral, and the second the written statement. It is accordingly most natural to construe διὰ λόγου not by itself, but to unite ὡς διʼ ἡμῶν, as proceeding from us, both with διὰ λόγου and with διʼ ἐπιστολῆς; and to understand the first of oral expressions which were imputed to the apostle,[43] and the latter of written expressions which were imputed to him by means of a forged epistle. On the other hand, with Erasmus, to refer ὡς διʼ ἡμῶν also to ΔΙᾺ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΟς is impossible; as, although ΛΌΓΟΙ and ἘΠΙΣΤΟΛΑΊ may be placed in the category of those things which proceed from one absent, yet this cannot be the case with inspired prophetical discourses, as with these the personal presence of the speaker was requisite. Correctly Theodoret: ΠΑΡΕΓΓΥᾷ ΤΟΊΝΥΝ Ὁ ΘΕῖΟς ἈΠΌΣΤΟΛΟς, ΜῊ ΠΙΣΤΕΎΕΙΝ ΤΟῖς ΛΈΓΟΥΣΙΝ ἘΝΕΣΤΗΚΈΝΑΙ ΤῸΝ Τῆς ΣΥΝΤΕΛΕΊΑς ΚΑΙΡΌΝ, ΚΑῚ ΠΑΡΑΥΤΊΚΑ ΤῸΝ ΚΎΡΙΟΝ ἘΠΙΦΑΝΉΣΕΣΘΑΙ, ΜΉΤΕ ΕἸ ΠΡΟΣΠΟΙΟῖΝΤΟ ΧΡΗΣΜῼΔΕῖΝ ΚΑῚ ΠΡΟΦΗΤΕΎΕΙΝ· ΤΟῦΤΟ ΓᾺΡ ΛΈΓΕΙ ΜΉΤΕ ΔΙᾺ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΟς· ΜΉΤΕ ΕἸ ΠΛΑΣΆΜΕΝΟΙ Ὡς ἘΞ ΑὐΤΟῦ ΓΡΑΦΕῖΣΑΝ ἘΠΙΣΤΟΛῊΝ ΠΡΟΦΈΡΟΙΕΝ, ΜΉΤΕ ΕἸ ἈΓΡΆΦΩς ΑὐΤῸΝ ΕἸΡΗΚΈΝΑΙ ΛΈΓΟΙΕΝ.

Ὡς ΔΙʼ ἩΜῶΝ
] simply denies that such a saying or letter, containing such an assertion, arose from Paul and his two companions, or proceeded from them. The apostle accordingly supposes, that as there were actually in Thessalonica prophetical announcements (πνεῦμα) which had the assertion which follows as their contents, so there were also actually present a λόγος and an ἘΠΙΣΤΟΛΉ containing the contents here stated. Accordingly, it is a completely arbitrary assumption when Kern, p. 149 f.; Reuss, Gesch. der heil. Schriften N. T., 4th edit., Braunschw. 1864, p. 71; Bleek, Einleit. in d. N. T., Ber. 1862, p. 385 f.; and Hilgenfeld, in d. Ztschr. f. wiss. Theol., Halle 1862, p. 249, after the example of Beza (but he not decidedly), Hammond, and Krause, refer the ἐπιστολή to the apostle’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians, which was wrongly understood, or, as Hilgenfeld thinks, from which an inference suggested by it was drawn.

ὡς ὅτι ἐνέστηκεν ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου] as if, or, like as if the day of the Lord is already present, or, is even on the point of commencing[44] (comp. Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 3:22; 1 Corinthians 7:26; Galatians 1:4), gives the contents of the communications unsettling and terrifying them. ὡς placed before ὍΤΙ brings into prominence the fact that this notion was completely unfounded and purely imaginary. Comp. also 2 Corinthians 11:21, and Winer, p. 544 [E. T. 771]. Completely erroneous Hofmann: Ὡς ὍΤΙ is equivalent to Ὡς ἘΆΝ, 1 Thessalonians 2:7.

When, moreover, the apostle says that these illusions unsettled and terrified the Thessalonians, this effect might be produced both on those who regarded the advent with longing desire and on those who regarded it with fear. For what is eagerly expected puts a man in a state of excitement, and if it is something decisive of his fate, into a state of fear, as soon as he believes that the moment of its realization has come.

[43] But not, as Macknight (comp. also Bloomfield) thinks, of a pretended oral message of the apostle to his readers; nor, as Grotius explains it, of “rumores de nobis, quasi aliud nunc diceremus, quam antehac diximus.”

[44] Incorrectly Hoelemann, Die Stellung St. Pauli zu der Frage um die Zeit der Wiederkunft Christi, Leipz. 1858, p. 14: “as if the day of the Lord was at hand.”2 Thessalonians 2:2. ὡς διʼ ἡμῶν, “purporting to come from us,” goes with ἐπιστολῆς alone, for, while λόγος (Lünemann) might be grouped under it, πνεῦμα cannot. A visionary would claim personal, not borrowed, authority for his revelation. If ὡς δ. . went with the preceding verbs (so Dods, Askwith, 92 f., Wohl. = “we are the true interpreters of Paul’s meaning”), an active (as in 2 Thessalonians 2:3) not a passive turn might have been expected to the sentence.—ἐνέστηκεν = “were already present”. The cry was, ὁ κύριος πάρεστι. The final period had already begun, and the Thessalonians were probably referred to their sufferings as a proof of this. Paul could only guess the various channels along which such a misconception had flowed into the local church; either, e.g., πνεύματος, the hallucination of some early Christian prophet at Thessalonica; or λόγου, oral statement, based in part perhaps on some calculation of contemporary history or on certain logia of Jesus; or ἐπιστολῆς, i.e., the misinterpretation of some passage in 1 Thess. or in some lost letter of Paul. Possibly Paul imagined an epistle had been forged purporting to come from him or his companions, but we have no means of knowing whether his suspicion was well-founded or not. In any case the allusion is quite credible within his lifetime. Such expectations may have been excited in a more or less innocent fashion, but Paul peremptorily (2 Thessalonians 2:3) ranks them all as dishonest; he is concerned not with their origin but with their mischievous effects upon the church (cf. Matthew 24:4). Probably his suspicions of misinterpretation were due to his recent experiences in Galatia, though the Macedonian churches seem to have escaped any infusion of the anti-Pauline propaganda which soured Corinth not long afterwards.2. that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled] Lit., to the end that ye be not quickly shaken from your mind (R. V.):—more freely rendered: we beseech you … not to lose your balance of mind under any sudden shock; or keeping nearer to the Greek, not to be shaken out of your wits.

“Quickly” points, as probably in Galatians 1:6, to the speedy effect of the disturbing cause. Starting declarations were made about the Second Advent; the Thessalonians must take care that they are not carried away by them. Let them resist the first impression of these sensational announcements, and put them to the test of cool judgement and enquiry, as men who “prove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21); they will find out how baseless they really are.

nor yet, he continues, be kept in alarm. The former clause describes the overthrow of one’s mental equilibrium; this deprecates a continued agitation, a nervous, fluttered condition of mind. The word occurs in the like connection in Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7 : “When ye shall hear of wars, &c., be not troubled”—i.e. alarmed, discomposed. From the words that follow it is evident that various attempts were made to disturb the Church upon this subject; and while some would be startled at once out of their self-possession, others, less excitable, would still by the recurrence of the rumours be kept in perturbation.

neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us] There is a contrast in the Greek between the two states of mind just referred to (shaken, nor yet troubled), but not between the various means by which they were produced; for the latter were used not as alternatives, but in combination. Hence the R. V. renders: either by spirit, or by word, or by epistle as from us.

The import of the phrase “by spirit” is apparent from 1 Thessalonians 5:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (see notes). Gifts of prophecy were possessed by various members of the Church, and men professing to speak “through Spirit”—i.e. under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and by a supernatural influence—were declaring, “The Day of the Lord is come!”

“Word” stands in contrast with “spirit,” just as “word of wisdom” and “of knowledge” with “prophecy,” and “doctrine” with “revelation,” in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11; 1 Corinthians 14:26. It denotes the ordinary expression of rational thought and judgement, in distinction from the ecstatic or prophetic utterances of supernaturally inspired persons.

“As from us”—strictly, as through (or by) us; the preposition is the same that has been used thrice already in the clause. But this phrase appears to qualify epistle alone, not spirit or word; for these latter modes of communication belonged to others besides the Apostle. It was by letter that his authorisation was claimed for the rumour in question. “As through us” signifies as though on our authority; comp. “through the Lord Jesus,” 1 Thessalonians 4:2.—Was this opinion ascribed to the Apostle from misinterpretation of his previous letter, or of some other letter to the Thessalonians not preserved for us? or on the, authority of a pretended, or even forged Epistle? It is impossible to answer with certainty. His reference is vague, perhaps intentionally so. He surmised that his authority was being abused in this way, but possibly had no precise information on the point. If some members of the Church had not had the former Epistle communicated to them, as when writing 1 Thessalonians 5:27 he feared might happen, it may easily have been misrepresented, or misquoted, to the effect indicated. On the other hand, the fact that at the close of this Epistle (ch. 2 Thessalonians 3:17) he guards his readers against imposture, suggests to us that actual deceit was attempted; comp. the words of the next verse, “Let no one cheat you.” The authors of the false announcement must at least have hinted at the existence of another letter in their favour, if they wished to persuade those well acquainted with our First Epistle; for 1 Thessalonians lends no countenance to their views. A hint of this kind, brought to the Apostle’s knowledge, would put him at once upon his guard.

as that the day of Christ is at hand] Both reading and rendering are at fault here. As that is equal to supposing that: the agitation which the Apostle deprecates being such as this belief would naturally create. Day of Christ should be day of the Lord, as in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (see note), and elsewhere (of Christ, however, in Php 1:10; Php 2:16). And the verb means more than is at hand,—rather, is now present (R. V.), is upon us; under the same verb (in its participle) “things present” are contrasted with “things to come” in Romans 8:38, and 1 Corinthians 3:22.

This enthusiastic Church, full of the thought of Christ’s heavenly kingdom, was ready to believe what it wished, and lent too credulous an ear to those who in such a time of spiritual tension and exaltation were sure to be found crying out, “Lo here!” or “Lo there!” Against this class of agitators the Lord warned His people. When He does return. He will have no need of heralds or forerunners; “For as the lightning shines out, flashing from the one side of heaven unto the other, so will the Son of Man be in His day” (Matthew 24:27; Luke 17:14).2 Thessalonians 2:2. Σαλευθῆναι,[8] be moved) in mind.—θροεῖσθαι, be troubled) in your affections or emotions. That readily occurs in the case of those who are too eager to know future events.—πνεύματος) ΠΝΕῦΜΑ, a prophesying spirit.—λόγουἘΠΙΣΤΟΛῆς, word—letter) 2 Thessalonians 2:15.—ὡς διʼ ἡμῶν) as coming through us. This was the ground on which the Thessalonians might be moved. A genuine epistle of Paul might indeed be wrongly explained; but there might also be fraudulently imposed on them a letter written by another person; ch. 2 Thessalonians 3:17.—ὡς ὅτι ἐνέστηκεν, as if it were immediately at hand) This word signifies to be exceedingly near; for ἐνεστὼς means present. It is therefore declared that the day of Christ is not so immediately near. The epistles to the Thessalonians are the oldest of the apostolic epistles. Hence it is evident that the apostles, in speaking of the nearness of the day of Christ, were not in error, but spoke with full knowledge.—τοῦ Χριστοῦ, of Christ) to Whom Antichrist is opposed, in a sense of the word long used in the Church.[9]

[8] Literally, tossed, agitated as persons on the sea, σάλος.—ED.

[9] The Germ. Vers., however, prefers the reading Κυρίου, following the margin of both Ed.—E. B.

ABD(Δ) corrected, Gfg Vulg., Orig. 1, 668b, read Κυρίου. Rec. Text, without good authority, Χριστοῦ.—ED.Verse 2. - That; to the end that, the purpose for which the apostle besought the Thessalonians. Ye be not soon; quickly. This has been variously interpreted, "so soon after my exhortation," or "so soon after my departure from Thessalonica," or "so soon after your reception of the gospel," or "so soon after this opinion of the imminence of Christ's coming was promulgated." Others refer it to manner rather than to time - "soon and with small reason" (Alford). Shaken; agitated like the waves by a storm, as the word signifies. In mind; or rather, from your mind;from your sober reason. Or be troubled; a still stronger expression; "terrified." Neither by spirit; not any falsely understood prophecies of the Old Testament, nor any mistaken revelations, whether by visions or dreams; but prophetical discourses delivered by members of the Church in a state of excitement, announcing the immediate coming of Christ, and which were mistaken for Divine communications. There does not appear to have been any intention to deceive; the Thessalonians erred in neglecting "to try the spirits" and to "prove the prophecics." Nor by word; not any traditional word of Christ, nor any misinterpretation of his prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, nor a calm discourse in distinction from prophetic utterances; but the report of some of the apostle's words, either erroneous or misunderstood. Nor by letter. Not the apostle's former Epistle to the Thessalonians, the passages in which concerning the advent had been misinterpreted (Paley); for, if this were the case, the apostle would have expressed himself more plainly and would not have repudiated it; but some letter, either forged in the apostle's name or pretending to inculcate his views. As from us. These words apply to the last two particulars: "Let no pretended saying or pretended letter of mine disturb you in this matter." As that - to the effect that - the day of Christ; or, as the best manuscripts read, of the Lord. Is at hand; literally, is present, so R.V. The verb is so translated in the other passages where it occurs (Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 3:22; Galatians 1:4; Hebrews 9:9), except in 2 Timothy 3:1, where it ought also to have been so rendered. It is, however, difficult to conceive how the Thessalonians could think that the day of the Lord was actually present. We cannot imagine that they thought that Christ had already come for judgment. To escape the difficulty, some conceive that "the day of the Lord" is not identical with "the coming of the Lord," but that, besides the actual advent, it includes the events which are its antecedents and concomitants (Eadie). It appears, however, best to suppose that the word is a strong expression for the imminence of that day; that the hour of the advent was about in strike. The Thessalonians ought always to be living in a state of preparation for the day of the Lord, as that day would come suddenly and unexpectedly; but they were not to be so impressed with a sense of its immediateness as to be deprived of their sober reason. Shaken (σαλευθῆναι)

From σάλος the tossing or swell of the sea. See Luke 21:25. Comp. Matthew 11:7; Matthew 24:29; Acts 4:31; Hebrews 12:26.

In mind (ἀπὸ τοῦ νοὸς)

More correctly, from your mind. Νοῦς signifies the judgment, sober sense. Comp. 1 Corinthians 14:15, and see on Romans 7:23. They are to "keep their heads" under the temptation to fanatical extravagances concerning the Lord's appearing.

Be troubled (θρεῖσθαι)

From θροός clamor, tumult. The meaning is be unsettled or thrown into confusion.

By spirit (διὰ πνεύματος)

By prophetic utterances of individuals in Christian assemblies, claiming the authority of divine revelations.

By word (διὰ λόγου)

Oral expressions falsely imputed to Paul.

By letter as from us (δἰ ἐπιστολῆς ὡς δἰ ἡμῶν)

Const. as from us with word and letter. The reference is to a letter or letters forged in Paul's name; not to the first Thessalonian Epistle, as misunderstood by the readers.

As that (ὡς ὅτι)

Indicating the contents of such communications.

continued...

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