2 Thessalonians 2:9
Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
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(9) Even him, whose coming.—The “even him” does not stand in the Greek; and “whose” might, again, be rendered by for his own, or perhaps “though his own.” The purpose of the verses following is not merely to describe Antichrist more fully, but to compare word for word his coming with that which will annihilate him. Again is used of Antichrist a peculiar word consecrated to the Christ: “coming” (literally presence), being the word used in 2Thessalonians 2:8, as well as 2Thessalonians 2:1, and often. In spite of the sham being well got up, it will be seen to be a sham.

Is . . . with all power.—“Is:” St. Paul sees the future as present. The predicate is not “after the working,” but “in all power,” &c. The advent of Antichrist will be in (i.e., surrounded with, accompanied by) all kinds of miracles, “according to the working of Satan:” i.e., not only wrought by Satan, but up to the full capacity of Satan to work them. The word “lying” (literally, of falsehood) should go with all three names, “all counterfeit power and signs and wonders.” The three words are piled up to heighten the terror of the description; if you press them they mean that there will be a display of power, to attest Antichrist’s doctrine (signs), and to keep men spellbound in admiration of him (wonders). Antichrist, like Christ (1Timothy 6:15), has one to support him—Satan instead of God; he, like Christ (Luke 21:25), will have his miracles—but miracles of trickery, not of truth.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-10. Him whose coming — The apostle, in his eagerness to foretel the destruction of the man of sin, having broken in upon his subject, now returns to it again, and describes the other qualifications by which this wicked one should advance and establish himself in the world. He should rise, the apostle signifies, to credit and authority by the most diabolical methods; should pretend to supernatural powers, and boast of revelations, visions, and miracles, false in themselves, and applied to promote false doctrines. The expression, whose coming, here signifies the first appearance of this lawless one in an open manner. The mystery of iniquity wrought covertly in the apostles’ days; and the man of sin was not to show himself openly, till that which restrained was taken out of the way. His coming, therefore, or his beginning to reveal himself, was to happen after the empire became Christian, and to take place in the manner described in the following clause. After the working of Satan — Whose first setting up, and further increasing of his power, is by Satan’s influence; or with such a kind of working as Satan is wont to use wherewith to seduce persons; with all power — Pretended power from God; and signs — Fictitious or false signs, namely, not such as are fit to prove the truth of the doctrines which they are brought to confirm, but are mere impostures and forgeries; and lying wonders — Such illusions and deceptions as were effected by the power of Satan, to confirm the doctrines and dominion of Antichrist, and were calculated to cause wonder in the beholders. Macknight reads this clause, with all power, and signs, and miracles of falsehood, judging the structure of the sentence requires that ψευδους, of falsehood, be joined not only with wonders, or miracles, but with power and signs. And in explication of the terms he observes, that they are either signs, miracles, and exertions of power, performed in appearance only; mere impositions upon the senses of mankind; or they are real signs and miracles performed for the establishment of error; and consequently they are the works of evil spirits. Of this sort the miracles performed by Pharaoh’s magicians may have been; also some of the miracles related by heathen historians. For the apostle intimates that by some kind of miracle, or strong working, which had the appearance of miracles in the eyes of the vulgar, Satan established idolatry in the heathen world. Nay, our Lord himself foretels that false Christs and false prophets would show great signs and wonders, insomuch that if it were possible they would deceive the very elect. Wherefore, seeing the coming of the man of sin was to be after the working of Satan, with all power, &c., it is not improbable that some of the miracles, by which the corruptions of Christianity were introduced, may have been real miracles performed by evil spirits, called here miracles of falsehood, because they were done for the establishment of error: see Revelation 13:13-14, where the same events seem to be foretold. This description of the wicked or lawless one, plainly evinces that Mohammed cannot be the man of sin, as some pretend. For, instead of working miracles, he utterly disclaimed all pretensions of that sort. In like manner, and for the same reason, the man of sin cannot be the factious leaders of the Jews in their revolt from the Romans, as Le Clerc and Whitby have affirmed; nor any of the heathen Roman emperors, as others have imagined. Besides, although these emperors exalted themselves above all other kings and princes, and opposed Christ very much, they did not apostatize from the Christian faith, nor sit in the temple of God. With all deceivableness of unrighteousness — Or every unrighteous deceit, (the phrase being a Hebraism.) The apostle means those feigned visions and revelations, and other pious frauds, by which the corrupt clergy gained credit to their impious doctrines and practices. In them that perish — Who are in the highway to eternal destruction; because they received not the love of the truth — The cause this why God suffered them to fall into such destructive errors.

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.Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan - Greek, κατ ̓ ἐνέργειαν τοὺ Σατανᾶ kat' energeian tou Satana. According to the energy of Satan; that is, the energetic or efficient operation of Satan. The word rendered "after," it need not be said to one who looks at the Greek, does not refer to time, but is a preposition, meaning according to; in conformity with; meaning that the manner of his appearing would be accompanied by such works as would show that the agency of Satan was employed, and such as he only could produce. It does not mean that the coming of the Lord Jesus would be after Satan had worked in this manner, but that the manifestation of that wicked one would be with such demonstrations of power and wonder as Satan only could effect. The system over which he presides is originated by Satan, and sustained by those things which he alone can perform. On the word "Satan," see the notes on Job 1:6. The idea is, that it would be under the direction and control of the great enemy of God, and that the things on which it would rely for support could be traced to his agency. In all the pretended miracles to which it would appeal, there would be nothing which Satan could not accomplish.

With all power - With all the power which Satan can exhibit; meaning also, that there would be a great exertion of power in the case. It would not be a feeble and imbecile dominion. The dominion of the papacy has been one of the most powerful on earth. There has been none which has been more dreaded by the nations of the earth - and there have been times when nations trembled, and kings turned pale on their thrones at the frown of the Pope.

And signs - This word frequently denotes real miracles, but not necessarily so. It may be applied to pretended miracles as well as real, and is undoubtedly so used here, as it is connected with "lying wonders," and as it is said that the thing done would be "after the working of Satan." There is doubtless reference to such "signs and wonders" as the Saviour mentions in Matthew 24:24; see the notes on that passage. It is hardly necessary to remark that the papacy has always relied for support on its pretended miracles. Even in our own age the wonders performed by the Prince Hohenloe, and by the pretended seamless garment of the Saviour, have been proclaimed as true miracles, and as furnishing indubitable evidence of the truth of the Roman Catholic system. The dissolving of the blood of Januarius, the removal of Pilate's stairs to Rome, and the transportation to Italy of the "house of our Lady," are among the miracles to which there is a constant reference in the papal communion. In addition to these and to all similar pretensions, there is the power claimed of performing a miracle at the pleasure of the priest by the change of bread and wine into the "body and blood, the soul and divinity" of the Lord Jesus. In 1756, there was published in London a book entitled, "The miraculous power of the Church of Christ, asserted through each successive century, from the apostles down to the present time." The power of working miracles has been one of the standing claims of the papacy.

And lying wonders - False or pretended miracles. They would be such as would be claimed to be miracles; such as would excite wonder; and yet such as were false and delusive. No Protestant assuredly needs to be convinced that this is just the character of the pretended miracles of the papacy. It would be impossible for language to describe them more clearly, in the apprehension of all Protestants, than is done in this language of the apostle Paul.

9. whose coming—The same Greek as was used for the Lord's coming (2Th 2:8) or personal "presence."

is—in its essential character.

after—according to the working ("energy") of Satan, as opposed to the energy or working of the Holy Spirit in the Church (see on [2456]Eph 1:19). As Christ is related to God, so is Antichrist to Satan, his visible embodiment and manifestation: Satan works through him. Re 13:2, "The dragon gave him (the beast) his power … seat … great authority."

lying wonders—literally, "wonders" or "prodigies of falsehood." His "power, signs, and wonders," all have falsehood for their base, essence, and aim (Joh 8:44), [Alford]. In Mt 24:24 Jesus implies that the miracles shall be real, though demoniac, such mysterious effects of the powers of darkness as we read of in the case of the Egyptian sorcerers, not such as Jesus performed in their character, power, or aim; for they are against the revealed Word, and therefore not to be accepted as evidences of truth; nay, on the authority of that sure Word of prophecy (here, and Mt 24:24), to be known and rejected as wrought in support of falsehood (De 13:1-3, 5; Ga 1:8, 9; Re 13:11-15; 19:20). The same three Greek words occur for miracles of Jesus (Ac 2:22; Heb 2:4); showing that as the Egyptian magicians imitated Moses (2Ti 3:1-8), so Antichrist will try to imitate Christ's works as a "sign," or proof of divinity.

The apostle still continues his discourse about this man of sin. He had declared whence he arose, and to what height of power, and the manner and place of his exercising it, and what opened him the way to it, and also his destruction, with the means of it. But he thought it needful to explain particularly the manner of his rising into all this power, and preserving himself in it, and the persons over whom he doth exercise it.

Whose coming is after the working of Satan; Kat’ energeian Christ’s coming is in power, and so is his: Christ comes with the Spirit of God, and his is with a spirit also, but it is of Satan: and the Spirit of God worketh with Christ in his coming, and the spirit of Satan with the man of sin in his coming; which implies either the principle of this working in his coming, it is the devil; or the similitude of it, it is like the working of Satan. If in the first sense, it shows by what spirit the antichristian church was first formed, and by which it is still informed and acted; as in natural bodies the matter is formed and informed by the spirit within it. The true church hath the Holy Spirit, that forms it into a spiritual temple, Ephesians 2:21,22; the false church hath the spirit of the devil, forming it into the synagogue of Satan, Revelation 2:9. The dragon is said to give the beast his power, seat, and great authority, Revelation 13:2; and this dragon is the devil in the heathen empire, who being cast out of his seat and power when the emperor became Christian, found the antichristian church, and here exercised that power and authority which he did formerly in the imperial seat of the heathen emperors; whence we may see whence all the furious zeal and bloody cruelties appearing in the popish church do spring, notwithstanding all their outward shows of devotion. If we take the words in the latter sense, then his coming is like the working of Satan; either with great power and energy, as the word imports: the Greek word is often used in a good sense; for God’s working in the heart, Philippians 2:13, for the working of the word, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, for the working of the heart in prayer, Jam 5:17: or by the same methods; by pretences of piety and devotion, as Satan transforms himself into an angel of light; or by keeping men in blindness and ignorance, so doth Satan by setting before men secular grandeur, and the pomp of the world, as thus Satan dealt with our Saviour, Matthew 4:1-11; or by suggesting lies instead of truth, so he dealt with our first parents, and is called a liar from the beginning.

With all power; en pash dunamei. Besides that energy of Satan that works inwardly in this man of sin, which was mentioned before, he hath outward strength or power wherein he comes; which may be here meant. He hath the secular power to assist him, the kings of the earth giving their power to the beast; and we read of ten horns upon his head, which are the emblems of strength and power, Revelation 13:1; whereupon it is said: Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? Revelation 13:4.

And signs, and lying wonders: some, by the figure called hendyadis, read it, by the power of signs and lying wonders: but not properly. Observe how Satan is God’s ape; God confirmed the gospel with

signs and wonders, Romans 15:19; God bearing them witness, with signs and wonders, & c. Hebrews 2:4; and Satan brings this man of sin into the world in the same manner: God did it to confirm the truth, but Satan to countenance a falsehood. But though he comes with signs and wonders, yet not properly with miracles, as the Greek word is rendered in Hebrews 2:4; because though the devil can work the one, he cannot the other: he can by his great natural knowledge and experience improve natural causes to their utmost, but he cannot effect things above all possibility of nature, which is the same power as creating. The schoolmen give their distinction between wonders and miracles, which is not needful here to insert: all miracles are wonders, but all wonders are not miracles; and yet are esteemed miracles when their cause is not known. The Romish legends are full of stories of miracles wrought to confirm their false doctrines of purgatory, of relics, invocation of saints, &c.; which might be wonders really wrought by the devil; such as were wrought by Jannes and Jambres in Egypt, and by Simon Magus, and Apollonius Tyaneus, &c.; who used magic arts, and the people, not knowing them in their causes, might judge them miracles. And being wrought for such ends, they are termed signs, for a sign is any thing that is used to make signification, whether it be a natural or artificial, an ordinary or extraordinary sign; used either for a good end, as those shown by Christ and the apostles, or for a bad end, as those used by this man of sin. People are apt to be affected with signs.

The Jews, saith the apostle, require a sign, 1 Corinthians 1:22, as they often desired Christ to show them a sign, and therefore this man of sin comes with signs. Some signs are only for representation, as the sign of the cross, and the images of Christ, and of his death and resurrection, &c.; and he comes in these: others are for confirmation, which are either real miracles, or such as seem so; and he comes in these latter also, which are here called terasi qeudoiv, lying wonders, or wonders of a lie, Hebrew. Though the Greek word is oft used for a real miracle, yet not so, here; for miracles are the effects of a Divine power only, Romans 15:19 Hebrews 2:4, and not diabolical. And called lying wonders, either because they are used to confirm a lie, or because they are not real, but feigned wonders; impostures, to cheat the people, and make them wonder; whereof we have account in Gregory’s Dialogues, and in Paulus Diaconus, and others; and yet such miracles as these the papists boast of as marks of their church to be true, though they are here by the apostle made the marks of the man of sin. And Christ foretells of false prophets that should show great signs and wonders, to deceive, if possible, the very elect, Matthew 24:24. See Deu 13:1 Revelation 13:13,14.

Even him whose coming is after the working of Satan,.... That is, as a deceiver, a liar, and a murderer; for such was the working of Satan with our first parents; he seduced Eve, not only by subtlety, but by lying; he abode not in the truth, is the father of lies, and a murderer from the beginning: and such is the working of antichrist his firstborn; he comes in a deceitful way, under a profession of Christ, and a pretension of faith in him, and love to him; but speaks lies in hypocrisy, for such are his doctrines and tenets; and is not only a murderer of the bodies of the saints, but of the souls of men; which are the wares the whore of Babylon deals in:

with all power; not omnipotence, for that is peculiar to God, and is not in Satan nor in antichrist, though the latter assumes to himself all power in heaven and in earth, and claims a jurisdiction both temporal and spiritual over men; but rather this means great power, or all kind of power of doing miracles, as follows:

and signs, and lying wonders; that is, such signs and miracles as are not real, but reigned, only in appearance, not in truth, like those that were done by the magicians of Egypt; and these were done to countenance lies, and to induce persons to believe them; and how many miracles and lying wonders the church of Rome pretends to, everybody knows.

{9} Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and {m} lying wonders,

(9) He foretells that Satan will bestow all his might and power, and use all false miracles that he can to establish that seat, and that with great success, because the wickedness of the world does so deserve it: yet in such a way that only the unfaithful will perish through his deceit.

(m) Which are partly false, and partly done to establish a falsehood.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-10. The apostle has in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 not only said when Antichrist will appear, but he has also immediately added what fate awaits him. He now goes backward in point of time, whilst in addition he describes the character of the working which Antichrist will develope before his destruction, brought about by the appearance of Christ.

οὗ] sc. τοῦ ἀνόμου. Parallel with ὅν, 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

ἐστίν] the present describes the certainty of the coming in the future. See Winer, p. 237 [E. T. 331]. Incorrectly Koppe, it imports: “jam agit et mox apertius majoreque cum vi aget.”

κατʼ ἐνέργειαν τοῦ σατανᾶ] does not belong as an independent statement to ἐστίν (so Hofmann, as before him already Georgii, in Zeller’s theol. Jahrb. 1845, Part 1, p. 8, who gives the meaning that the act of the appearing of the ἄνομος will itself be a work of Satan), but is a subsidiary statement to the principal clause ἐστὶν ἐν κ.τ.λ., assigning the reason of it. It does not import “after the example of the working of the devil” (similiter ac si satanas ageret, Michaelis), but in conformity with it, that an ἐνέργεια τοῦ σατανᾶ is its characteristic, that is, that the devil works in and through him.

εἶναι ἔν τινι] to consist in something, to prove or make itself known in something. Against Hofmann, who arbitrarily denies this use of the phrase, comp. Winer, p. 345 [E. T. 482].

δυνάμει καὶ σημείοις καὶ τέρασιν] a rhetorical enumeration, as in Acts 2:2, for the exhaustion of the idea. But as πάσῃ (see Winer, p. 466 [E. T. 660]), so also ψεύδους belongs to all three substantives. The genitive may import: in every kind of power, and in all signs and wonders whose nature is falsehood, or which proceed from falsehood, or which lead to falsehood, whose aim is falsehood. The last meaning is, with Aretius, de Wette, and others, to be preferred, as Antichrist is indeed the first to bring evil to its climax.

ψεῦδος] falsehood, belongs to the essential nature of the devil (comp. John 8:44). It represents evil as the counterpart of divine truth (the ἀλήθεια).

9. even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan] Rather, even he, whose coming is according to the working of Satan (R. V.); for this sentence does not qualify the last clause of 2 Thessalonians 2:8 by itself, it looks back to the principal subject of the paragraph,—“then shall be revealed the lawless one … whose coming,” &c.

The two “comings” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-9]—the parousia of the Lord Jesus and that of the Man of Lawlessness—are set in contrast. The second forms the dark background to the glory of the first. “According to the working of Satan” is not, therefore, subordinate to the clause that follows, but forms a chief predicate. It is Satan that inspires and directs the advent of the Lawless One; hence the “powers and signs” which attend it: “who comes as one empowered by Satan, attended by all kinds of lying miracles.” For “Satan” comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:18, and “he that opposeth” in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 above.

“Working” (Greek energeia, energy) is a word that St Paul uses elsewhere of the operation of God; comp. note on “manifestation” above; and see e.g. Colossians 2:12; Ephesians 1:19; similarly the kindred verb, as in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 (see note, and on 1 Thessalonians 2:13). With studied emphasis and precision he borrows for the coming of Antichrist the terms proper to the coming of Christ, making the one appear as a frightful mimicry and mocking prelude of the other. The Lawless One has his “mystery, “his “revelation,” his “parousia,” and his “power and signs and wonders,” in which the “working of Satan” in him apes the working of God in Christ. This systematic, and as one might suppose, calculated adoption by Antichrist of the attributes of Christ is a most appalling feature in the Apostle’s representation. Satan himself, through his agent, usurps God’s throne amongst men. And the Man of Lawlessness holds a relation towards Satan the counterpart of the relation of Christ to God.

with all power and signs and lying wonders] Lit., in all power and signs and wonders of falsehood. There is no reason in grammar why the conducing epithet should not be referred to the three synonyms alike; it suits them all. St Paul does not mean to say that the miracles in question are pretended miracles, but that they aid and abet falsehood. They come from “the father of falsehood” (John 8:44), to whose realm all lies belong. Comp. Matthew 24:14, and Revelation 13:13, for predictions of Satanic miracles.

The three terms by which these manifestations are designated, are precisely those used of the miracles of Christ and the Apostles; comp. Acts 2:22; Romans 15:19; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:4, where they are variously combined. Of the three, signs is the most frequent, unfortunately rendered “miracles” in the A.V. of the Fourth Gospel (corrected in R.V.); occasionally signs and wonders (never wonders alone) are combined; more frequently power is used, or powers, rendered in the Gospels “mighty works”. The Greek word for wonder, nearest in sense to our “miracle,” denotes the outward effect of such deeds, the astonishment or fear they excite; while power points to the Divine (in this instance Satanic) agency that effects them, and signs calls attention to the significance of the event, its spiritual import.

While the last clause delineates the nature of the operations of Antichrist and the means by which he is accredited, the next verse goes on to describe their fatal effect:—

2 Thessalonians 2:9. Οὗ, of whom) viz. the Iniquitous one [Wicked]. Paul now subjoins a more lengthened description of the calamity, with the design that in the way of contrast he may console the Thessalonians; 2 Thessalonians 2:13.—τοῦ Σατανᾶ, of Satan) As Christ is related to God, so on the contrary is Antichrist to Satan, standing midway between Satan and lost men.—καὶ σημείοις, and signs) These signs will be shown by the false prophet, who serves the interest of the beast, and that too even before the ascent of the beast from the bottomless pit, Revelation 13:13.

Verse 9. - The apostle resumes his description of the man of sin. Even him; not in the original, but necessary for the sense. Whose coming. The use of the same term, parousia, employed to denote the coming of Christ exhibits the counterpart of the man of sin. Is after the working - according to the energy - of Satan. Satan is the agent who works in the man of sin; he being the organ or instrument of Satan. With all power and signs and lying wonders. The adjective "lying" ought to be rendered as a substantive, and applied to all three: "With all powers and signs and wonders of falsehood;" whose origin, nature, and purpose is falsehood. Here, also, the counterpart to Christ is manifest; for the same terms - "powers," "signs," and "wonders," are employed to denote his miracles (Acts 2:22; Hebrews 2:4). The miracles of Christ were miracles of truth; the miracles of the man of sin would be miracles of falsehood. There does not seem to be any essential difference between powers, signs, and wonders; but the words are employed as a mere rhetorical enumeration. It is not to be supposed that the man of sin will be enabled to perform real miracles; they are the wonders of falsehood; but still by them his followers will be deceived (comp. Matthew 24:24). 2 Thessalonians 2:9After the working of Satan

The sense is that the coming of Antichrist proclaims itself to be according to the working of Satan by means of power, signs, etc. Ενέργεια Po. power in exercise, used only of superhuman power. See Colossians 1:29; Colossians 2:12.

Signs and lying wonders (σημείοις καὶ τέρασιν ψεύδους)

Lit. signs and wonders of a lie. Of a lie characterizes the three words, power, signs, wonders. All bear the stamp of fraud. For signs and wonders see on Matthew 24:24, and see on mighty works, Matthew 11:20.

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