2 Thessalonians Chapter 2: Second Coming, Man of Sin

Jun 8th, 2009 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

2 Thessalonians Chapter 2

2 Thess. 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

Paul was entreating the Thessalonians: “We beseech you, brethren, concerning the presence [Greek parousia] of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto him.” He was the apostle who showed, particularly, that at the end of the Gospel Age, the presence would be a period of time and that those who slept in Christ would be raised first. Later the feet members of the body of Christ would be invisibly and spiritually raptured as a group. (To have a single last member would detract from the head.) As pictured by Elijah’s being taken up by a whirlwind, a class will be taken together. When John the Baptist was beheaded, he portrayed the last members of the body of Christ.

At the end of the age, there are two collective gatherings of faithful Christians: first, the dead in Christ in 1878 and then the feet members at a yet-future date (1 Thess. 4:17). In between these events, saints who die as individuals do not sleep but are instantaneously changed (1 Cor. 15:51,52). When Paul uttered these words, however, he was probably thinking of himself and the brethren at Thessalonica, rather than the feet members especially, but he was quite aware of both.

2 Thess. 2:2 That ye 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.

Paul was cautioning the Thessalonians not to be soon shaken “by spirit” (doctrine), “by word” of mouth (a rumor, for example), or “by letter as from us” (Paul’s first epistle and possibly also a letter purportedly from an apostle that was, in fact, false or counterfeit) to believe “that the day of Christ is at hand” (that Jesus was already invisibly present). Part of Paul’s first letter was misconstrued, but in addition, other sources of information seemed to confirm their misunderstanding. For instance, when Jesus died on the Cross, an earthquake occurred and “saints” (believers who had died during his 3 1/2-year ministry) were awakened from the tomb (Matt. 27:51–53). Being initially thoroughly confused to find out that Jesus, the one they had listened to and accepted as Messiah, had been crucified, they waited and did not go into Jerusalem until the third day, that is, after his resurrection. When they received information that Jesus was alive—that he had been resurrected—they could then testify that they, too, had been raised from death.

Comment: The fact Paul said in verse 3, “Let no man deceive you,” indicates there were individuals teaching erroneously that the resurrection had already begun.

Paul said in the first epistle, “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:1,2). In other words, “You are fully aware that Christ’s Second Presence will be secret and invisible, and not a physical coming.” Based on this knowledge and the resuscitation of saints in the earthquake, the Thessalonians falsely concluded that Jesus was already present. They also knew that Jesus would deal first with his Church and afterwards with the world. Thus they concluded that the “day of Christ” had already come.

Jesus had died and was raised as a spirit being, so what would stop him from setting up his Kingdom right away? In fact, some of the disciples asked Jesus that very question during his earthly ministry: “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). “Will you set up the Kingdom now?

Paul was trying to tell the Thessalonians, “I fully informed you of the nature of the Second Advent—that Jesus would be invisible. You are correct on that point, but you are incorrect in thinking that Jesus’ presence is taking place now” (2 Thess. 2:5).

Incidentally, if our Lord were to come visually for the feet members—whether in the flesh or by vision, as many erroneously expect—there would be no need for Paul to mention the “man of sin” (verse 3). If that were the case, our Lord’s Second Advent would be evident by his visual return, and Paul’s logic would be unnecessary. The Thessalonians knew Jesus was to have an invisible return, but they had to be informed that his return had not yet occurred. They were shaken and troubled in all three categories: doctrine, rumor, and letter. Matthew 24:24–26 verifies that Jesus will not be geographically visible here on earth at his Second Advent. He will not appear “in the desert” or in the “secret [and dark occult] chambers.”

Comment: Verse 2 is a good text to use in witnessing to prove that the return of Christ is invisible. Here would have been the perfect opportunity for Paul to say, “No, no! Your understanding is not correct. Jesus’ return is not invisible but visual.” The fact Paul did not so state is an obvious omission. He was not correcting them on the nature of Jesus’ return but on the time period, which was future.

Reply: Yes, first, the man of sin had to be revealed, and until that event happened, it would be impossible for Jesus to return (invisibly). But other things that had occurred seemed to be clues that perhaps he was present now.

The two epistles to the Thessalonians are unusual because Paul used the word “presence” (parousia) and talked about looking forward to the presence more frequently than anywhere else in Scripture. In fact, a beautifully written article was contributed and published in the Reprints from the perspective that if we were back there, we would appreciate the burning desire, anticipation, and hope of the Thessalonian brethren. Paul knew that spirit prevailed among them. We can see how it was easy for them to overreach in their understanding of the subject of the time period of the Lord’s return and conclude that it had already occurred. The term “at hand” in the clause “as that the day of Christ is at hand” gives the thought of “near” rather than “present,” the latter being the correct thought in the Greek. “As that the day of Christ is here, present.” The subject matter confirms that Paul was combating the idea of the day of Christ and his invisible presence having already occurred.

Comment: A Scoffield footnote has “now present” instead of “at hand,” and so does the Amplified.

Reply: Yes, although the Greek is another word than parousia, the meaning is “present.”

2 Thess. 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

If we were not familiar with Present Truth, we might think of the “man of sin” as a literal being, as some wicked person, but it is the false religious system just as the “man of God” is the true Church, a collective body made up of component parts or “joints.” The ideal is the picture of Jesus as the head and the Church as the body parts. Similarly, the man of sin is an organization with a person (the pope) as the head and the corresponding component parts of the Antichrist system (the Papacy) as the body. The man of God is The Christ, The Elijah,with Jesus as head. The man of sin is the Antichrist, the Papacy, a religious system, with Satan as its head. As the head of the man-of-sin system, Satan works through Papacy, whereas Jesus, the head of the man of God, works through the ecclesia.

Paul received much information through visions. Although he was not allowed to reveal in detail what he saw, he was probably given certain parameters of liberty within which he could inform the brethren. With all the knowledge Paul was given, he would have carefully, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, selected the words he used when writing his epistles. Every single word is meaningful. Even a seemingly simple adjective can be extremely revealing. The point is that Paul was well informed about the length of the time period before Jesus’ invisible return— it was not short, and the man-of-sin system had to first grow and develop and be recognized. General recognition of the man of sin did not occur until Martin Luther’s day in the 1500s and the Protestant Reformation. Tyndale in England was just as clear on the subject as Luther, but Luther was favored as being the sixth messenger to the Church.

“Let no man deceive you by any means [the means listed in verse 2: spirit, word, or letter]: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed.” Even if a spirit being should come visibly, they were not to believe it was Jesus, for the day of Christ’s presence would not come until, first, a falling away from the faith occurred and the man of sin was revealed. Although Paul could not give details, his mention of the apostasy was a hint of what had to take place; namely, the man of sin had to come and be revealed before Jesus could invisibly return. A great deception would precede even the beginning of the day of Christ.

The “man of sin” is called the “son of perdition” because the system is going into everlasting destruction, never to rise again. Stated another way, under the symbol of the beast, the system will be cast alive into the lake of fire and brimstone (Rev. 19:20). The deception at the end of the Millennium will not be along religious lines.

The natural mind thinks of the man of sin as a literal individual, a literal man—something like Judas, who was also called the “son of perdition” (John 17:12). The word “perdition” means everlastingly lost.

2 Thess. 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

This verse sounds so appalling that we would think anyone who is reading the epistle would notice it and want deeper understanding. However, to interpret the man of sin as a literal individual prevents further understanding because the verse seems to be self-explanatory. The “Man of Sin” chapter in the Second Volume is excellent and very strong in quoting declarations of various popes and their assumption of blasphemous titles. The quotes show past popes as claiming to have all knowledge—even in heaven. Those who are aware of these pompous quotes should know immediately when they read verse 4 that Satan is working through the Roman Catholic Church.

The pope opposed and exalted himself “above all that is called God” by claiming to rule as vicegerent in Christ’s stead. In the Diaglott the following distinction is made for the word “God”: The pope exalts himself above all that is called “a god,” or that is worshipped; so that he sits in the temple (the church) of “the God,” showing himself that he is “a god.” The absence of the Greek article allows the English translation to be rendered “a god.” The Apostle Paul said of the true Church, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God” (1 Cor. 3:16). Accordingly, the Roman Catholic Church claims to be the temple of God with the pope as head. (The pope is also the head of the Papacy, a separate function.) Thus the Adversary has skewed Scripture to seemingly justify the Antichrist system he has set up.

Comment: Familiarity with Scripture would show that verse 4 cannot be referring to a literal wicked individual who will sit in the temple of God because (1) the Third Temple will not be defiled (“there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts”—Zech. 14:20,21) and (2) the Temple will contain no throne or chair.

Considering itself to be above the apostles, Papacy has presumed to “change times and seasons,” thus annulling what was previously said and taught by both the apostles and Jesus (Dan. 7:25). The man of sin could be identified because it “forbid to marry” and advocated abstaining from meats (1 Tim. 4:3). Daniel 7:8 predicted that a “little horn” would arise having “eyes like the eyes of man” and “a mouth speaking great things.” It would exalt itself above its fellows (Dan. 7:20). The mass is the “abomination which maketh desolate” (Dan. 11:31; 12:11; Matt. 24:15).

Reelation 6:1–8 describes four horses. First, a man on a white horse was given a crown,and he went forth conquering (in pursuit of worldly power). Then came a red horse followed by a black horse and, still later, a pale horse. The rider of the black horse had a pair of scales in his hand, portraying conditions during the Dark Ages. At that time there was a famine for the Word of God. One measure of wheat and three measures of barley each sold for a penny; that is, barley, the food of the harlot, was more plentiful than wheat. Stated another way, three times as much barley could be purchased for the same amount of money

as one measure of wheat. Papacy made its own doctrines attractive and plentiful and made the Word of God scarce.

The “temple” is the church. Ostensibly, the church is where God communicates with His people. The church (or ecclesia) is a group of the Lord’s people, but Papacy turned the people into the building. Instead of “Christians” continuing to meet in private homes as their numbers grew, larger and larger buildings were erected. As time went on, the priesthood became the church instead of the people. The pope sits in the midst of his hierarchy or clergy. The gradual change was from “two or three” being gathered together to hundreds, to the building, to the Roman curia (bishops, archbishops, cardinals, the pope).

2 Thess. 2:5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

2 Thess. 2:6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

Paul was saying, “I told you about these things in the past.” When he was with the Thessalonians, he had discussed end-of-the-age events with them at some length. He did  not shun to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). But in their overreaching, in their zealous desire for the day of Christ to come quickly, they misunderstood some of his teachings and needed to be refreshed. Therefore, Paul was saying, “What I tell you now, I said before, but you have evidently forgotten. Something will withhold or prevent the day of Christ’s presence from coming right away, but in due time that day will be revealed.

Think about what I previously said. I am reminding you of those things.”

Pagan or Imperial Rome “withheld” Papacy from developing for a time. (In the early Church the apostles themselves were a deterrent, for they could read the hearts of professed Christians.) Pagan Rome ruled with both civil and ecclesiastical power over its subjects, the latter through its pagan priesthood. Therefore, Papacy did not prosper or grow in an ostensible fashion until the day of Constantine (the early 300s). When he became emperor, his adoption of Christianity was a big step for the development of the man of sin. Then in 539 the Roman emperor Justinian acknowledged the right of the Church of Rome to be the head in all ecclesiastical matters, while he was head in all civil matters. At the time Justinian gave this decree, he was in Constantinople, for the civil government had been moved from Rome. As a result, those in Rome began to look to the church there for leadership, whereas previously they had looked to the emperor for advice. Thus the important developments conducive to Papacy’s growth were (1) the capital of the Roman Empire was moved to Constantinople, (2) the Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity, and (3) Justinian decreed that the bishop of Rome was the head of the church. Prior to Constantine’s day, the man of sin was just a seed, a “mystery of iniquity” not revealed or seen openly. After its revealment, various Reformers called attention to the bad

practices of the Church of Rome. Those who early saw the danger inherent in Papacy and spoke out are called “Antipas” (meaning “against the fathers,” that is, against Papacy) in Revelation 2:13. They, the Lord’s faithful martyrs, opposed the idea that the bishop of Rome was superior to other bishops and was in Christ’s stead.

The man of sin was thus revealed as early as the third period of the Church, Pergamos, but up until the present Harvest period, those who saw the evil were still trying to reform the nominal system. Now it is apparent that the system is beyond reformation, and the message to the Christian is to “Come out of her, my people” (Rev. 18:4). To show the futility of reformation, we use the parable about the new piece of cloth being unsuccessfully put on an old garment (Matt. 9:16).

2 Thess. 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

It was the Apostle Paul, the messenger to Ephesus, the first Church, who made this statement. The Apostle John, who was the messenger to Smyrna, the second Church, said, “Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (1 John 4:3). The “it,” the Antichrist system, was an outgrowth of false doctrine, which our Lord spoke of in Matthew 13:25, “But while men [the apostles] slept, his [Jesus’] enemy [Satan] came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.” Satan’s attempts did not prosper until after the apostles died; that is, in the third or Pergamos period, Antichrist rose to power and then reigned in Thyatira, the fourth period of the Church.

Comment: In the New Living translation verse 7 reads, “For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way.”

“Letteth” means “hindereth” in the Old English. The thought is that “that which now hindereth will be taken out of the way.” That which “withholdeth” (verse 6) and “he [it] who now letteth [hindereth]” both refer to Imperial (or Pagan) Rome.

“He who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” Pagan Rome became divided when the emperor moved the capital from Rome to Constantinople. He thought the new site, the midpoint between the East and West of that day, was a better location. However, there was such an attachment to Rome that when the emperor and his authority moved, the door was open for Antichrist to prosper in Rome in the emperor’s stead.

Revelation 13:2 describes, in symbol, Imperial Rome’s being “taken out of the way” when the capital was moved to Constantinople: “The dragon gave him [the papal beast] his power, and his seat, and great authority.” Ultimately, instead of Pagan Rome’s keeping the Roman papal power in a bottle like a genie, Pagan Rome became the servant of the Roman Catholic Church. In other words, the dragon felt a responsibility to uphold the Papacy. Stated another way, when the Roman Empire became the Holy Roman Empire, civil power became subservient to the Papacy itself.

The emperor of Imperial Rome was called Pontifex Maximus (Chief Religious Ruler), and in that capacity he wore the red cardinal flamens hat and even had his own priesthood. The emperor, therefore, was both the civil and the religious head of the empire. We can see the similarity to Papacy, which, as a religious system, has its own government, the Vatican.

2 Thess. 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

“And then shall that Wicked [one or system] be revealed [uncovered, Greek apokalupsis], whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness [epiphania] of his coming [parousia].” Notice that the spirit of the Lord’s mouth and the brightness of his presence will destroy the Wicked One. This is where the erroneous doctrine has developed that truth binds Satan. Although verse 8 does say that the revealment of Christ will have the effect of destroying the Wicked One, the reference is to the man of sin system and not to Satan personally. When the people know that the Church of Rome is the Antichrist, that knowledge alone will destroy the system. Satan, however, is an individual, a personality, not a system—and he is invisible. An invisible being cannot be fought with truth! Satan’s visible system can be destroyed with truth but not Satan himself. At the end of the present age, the beast will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone—into perdition, everlasting destruction, Second Death—from which there is no resurrection, but Satan’s destruction will not occur until the end of the Millennium. The Church, risen and glorified, not truth and light, will destroy Satan at the end of the Kingdom Age. Satan’s visible organization, system, or headquarters down here on earth will be destroyed earlier, but the invisible cannot be equated with the visible.

And even so, this verse is speaking of Jesus’ epiphania, that particular period of his presence and not the present time. When the epiphania comes, Jesus will be reigning, but now Satan is the god of this world. Now there are children of disobedience, but in the Kingdom— when Jesus rules and exercises his great power—all will have to obey, even if they are not in heart harmony. Insurrection will not be tolerated until the Little Season at the very end of the Kingdom. Some will falsely conclude that the Kingdom Age is over and improperly try to seize power.

“Whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” What is going to be destroyed? Not Satan but his system, the nominal Church (both mother and daughters). At the beginning of the Harvest, Jesus served a meal to his followers through the faithful and wise servant, a human agent. However, that was a quiet message, not a startling one. It is very enlightening and even mind-boggling to be brought out of darkness and given understanding of the Scriptures, but what will destroy the nominal system is a subsequent public enlightenment as the result of Christ’s presence. First, Jesus feeds his Church quietly, and he will not interfere with the last members’ being taken violently—just as God did not interfere with the crucifixion of His Son. The Father restrained Himself because Jesus’ death was a necessity and a fulfillment of prophecy. Therefore, at the present time during the Second Presence, Jesus is feeding and strengthening his few people (a relative handful), especially with the end-time message, but in time the message will seep out to more and more people to become general knowledge. That general knowledge and enlightenment—when the people see the incongruities—will be the downfall of Papacy. The attitude has been that the fault lies with certain leaders and popes but that the system is legitimate and ordained of God.

Comment: This verse shows that the epiphania is future. If the epiphania had started, there would be enough information to destroy the man of sin.

Reply: Yes, the epiphania and the apokalupsis portions of the parousia are for the world. The parousia extends for the entire thousand years.

What is the “spirit” of Jesus’ mouth? Jesus will consume the Wicked One with the spirit of his mouth and destroy with the epiphania of his parousia. “Consume” means destroy—they are synonymous terms here. The technique of couplets and dual expression is often used for emphasis, especially in the Psalms. The same thing is said two different ways to reaffirm and strengthen a statement. (Of course sometimes a difference in meaning is intended. Only with the help of God’s Holy Spirit can we determine the sense correctly.) Verse 8 is emphasizing the destruction of the man of sin. Jesus will consume, he will destroy; that is,  there will be complete eradication. In the first epistle, Paul said the trouble would come suddenly, as the birth pang (1 Thess. 5:3). Now, in this second epistle, Paul was again stressing the destruction, and was not indicating a gradual process.

In a paraphrase of verse 8, the truth that is revealed at the time of the epiphania will destroy Papacy. The destruction will be sudden as in the smiting of the image—within a few weeks or months. The clue here is that when the time comes for Papacy’s fall, something will happen to expose that system and incur the wrath of the people. In the past, at the time of the Protestant Reformation, Papacy suffered a wound unto death, from which it revived and survived, but it will not survive this future wound (Rev. 13:3). Such anger will be directed against Papacy that the people and her own eunuchs (from within) will tear down the system. The Church will be with the Lord before Papacy’s destruction. The Christ will come forth and ensure the Day of Jehovah’s wrath and Papacy’s permanent destruction. The destruction is stated twice in verse 8 lest we get the thought that the deception at the end of the Millennium might be religious. No, the deception at that time will be along the lines of a civil insurrection.

When Luther and others exposed Papacy, they were trying to reform and reconcile the system. Only a relative few saw the iniquity of the system. Moreover, it was not destroyed, only wounded. Thus we know that Paul was talking about something different here. When the majority of the people see the evils in the near future, the system will be everlastingly torn down. In former days the Reformers were persecuted rather than Papacy.

Verses 7 and 8 cover a long period of time. Imperial Rome was taken out of the way, Papacy developed, the Protestant Reformation revealed the Lawless One, and Papacy will be destroyed during the epiphania. Jesus will be revealed in fiery judgments, taking vengeance.

2 Thess. 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

The words “even him,” supplied by the translators, should be deleted for Paul’s intended meaning to be clearer. Verse 8 talks about Jesus’ “coming”: “whom the Lord [Jesus] … shall destroy with the brightness of his coming [parousia, presence].” Verse 9 continues with the same thought: “whose [Jesus’] coming [presence] is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” Just as Satan, the god of this world, is present but invisible as a spirit being, so Jesus can be present but unseen at his Second Advent because he is an invisible spirit being.

The Greek word rendered “after” can be variously translated. The correct thought is that Jesus’ Second Presence is “accompanied by [or with] the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.”

Comment: The word “after” is important to consider here lest we think it means that Jesus’ Second Presence will occur afterwards, that is, after Satan’s power, signs, and lying wonders cease. Instead, at the very least, Jesus’ presence is during the energetic working of the Adversary. More likely, however, Satan will manifest even greater and stronger delusions with all power, signs, and lying wonders in the near future.

Reply: When we consider Jesus’ presence to be a period of time, then sometime in the period of his presence, there will be a spectacular (in the evil sense) display of lying and deceitful wonders. In the Second Volume, “Man of Sin” chapter, page 359, the Pastor gave a rendition of this verse that is slightly different from the King James. “Whose presence is with [accompanied by or during] an energetic operation of Satan [Satanic energy and action] with all power, and signs, and lying delusions.” Although not in the King James Version, the word “during” is appropriate because it expresses a period of time. Unfortunately, the usual concordances present the Greek kata, translated “after” in the King James, as signifying something with place or location when it is used with the accusative case, and they drop out the application of time, which is listed in Liddell and Scott (page 749, eighth edition, example VII) as one of the interpretations of the preposition.

Comment: The word “all” in “all power and signs and lying wonders” is very significant in regard to future testings that will befall the consecrated.

Reply: Yes, the Greek word is energeia, indicating great energy, an energetic operation.

Comment: The energetic operation corresponds to Revelation 16:13,14. “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”

Reply: Let us start backwards. The 16th chapter of Revelation is talking about the great day of God Almighty and the battle of Armageddon. Deceptive influences are pictured by three symbols, namely, the beast, the dragon, and the false prophet. Out of the mouth of these systems will come forth froglike spirits, which symbolize great declarations and boastings. The systems will issue warnings to maintain the status quo, but Christ will found his Kingdom, his government, on the ruins of the present systems. The account says “ALL power,” and who is doing this? Satan—a POWERFUL being. He will use all manner of deception, signs, and lying wonders, and “all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish” (verse 10). This somber matter involves many different strata of society, but the bottom line for us is how it affects the consecrated. However, professing Christians in the nominal systems, as well as civil authorities, will also be affected. In fact, when this time comes at the end of the age, all will be deceived except the Very Elect (Matt. 24:24).

The following three paragraphs on 2 Thessalonians 2:9–11 are excerpted from Reprint article No. 4583 entitled “All Deceivableness of Unrighteousness.”

“The intimation is that the severity of the testing will come first to the saints. In whatever proportion our doctrines include fallacies, errors, in that same proportion will be the severity of our testing. Those whose faith structure contains little of wood, hay and stubble will suffer least; while those who have more of these combustibles will suffer the more. “Be it noticed that all the creeds handed down to us contain many errors and that the test of our loyalty to the truth was our willingness to renounce these and to replace them with the gold, silver and precious stones of the divine Word. For one reason or another this matter of confessing error and relinquishing it is a severe trial to many. It tests loyalty to God and his Word. It tests humility of heart. It tests willingness to confess our errors. It tests love for the brethren. However trifling the mistake, it requires an overcoming courage to declare it, to renounce it. [In other words, if we find out that what we have been holding is wrong doctrine, it is very difficult, in humility of heart, to have the courage to say that we now think differently.] This has been the procedure for the past three hundred years, as God’s people have emerged more and more from the smoke of the ‘dark ages.’ Because of these difficulties and tests the progress out of darkness into the full, clear light has been slow. At every step of the journey light and truth have been slandered, opposed, vilified, persecuted, and the advocates of truth have been pilloried and roasted either figuratively or literally.

“But we cannot hope thus of all—especially now when the light of truth is shining so much more brightly and when the Lord is especially testing the loyalty or disloyalty of those professing his name, with a view to their separation and to the determining of their eternal destinies. No doubt some who will be of the ‘great company’ will be more or less deceived of the adversary by the strong delusions of this hour. Such in their blindness and deception may set forth darkness for light and light for darkness. They may do it with great positiveness, but scarcely, we think, with bitterness [they are a little off track, but at least they do not manifest a bitter attitude]—anger, malice, envy, hatred, strife—works of the flesh and of the devil.”

In the phrase “all power and signs and lying wonders,” what would be the “signs”? What kind of “signs”? “Signs” are something visible. For example, the world will see the “sign” of the coming of the Son of man (Matt. 24:30). The Pastor gave this text a past application until late in his ministry when he changed his view and said it is still future and is the sign that will be given to the world.

Comment: Galatians 1:8 warns of a possible deception: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” The hypothesis is that the Adversary will materialize, that he will visibly manifest himself. Since most of nominal Christendom is expecting Jesus to return visually, Satan’s literally appearing as an angel of light would be a strong deception.

Reply: Yes, the Evangelical Protestant view is that a visual manifestation of Christ will be seen in the heavens. Most people today are cultured by television to think that the spirit world is friendly and that such manifestations are for beneficent purposes. People reason, “Since an angel is supernatural and his wisdom is beyond our comprehension, he must be more intelligent than we are.” But there are evil supernatural beings as well as good ones. We must distinguish between that which is right and that which is harmful. If an angel comes from heaven, as Galatians 1:8 warns, the Lord’s people are not to be deceived. That is a very valuable Scripture, but materializing as an angel of light is only one arrow out of Satan’s quiver or arsenal. Notice that the signs and lying wonders are plural.

Comment: An example of a deception that occurred in the form of a materialization was the impersonation of the Pastor in Australia. Supposedly he appeared to a sister, but he was not even on that continent at the time.

Reply: Yes, he could prove that he was in another place at that very time.

Comment: The distinction is that a “sign” is visual and a “lying wonder” is both audible and visual.

Reply: An example of a lying wonder would be an angel.

Comment: At the end of the Kingdom, when there is a full measure of light and understanding, Satan will be loosed for the Little Season. If the number who follow him at  that time—after receiving full light and being in perfect condition—can be described as the “sand of the sea” (Rev. 20:8), how many more will succumb at this end of the age!

Reply: Yes, in spite of the education or enlightenment that is now available to the common man, that type of information will not be a safeguard against the deceptions the Adversary will use. He has already cultured much of Christendom to be expecting as bona fide the very things he plans to use as deceptions. The minority who point out the deceptions will be severely tried.

Comment: If Satan will use “ALL power and signs and lying wonders” in the near future, then in no way is he being bound or has his power been curtailed.

Reply: That is true. If Satan is being bound by light, then so are all of the other fallen angels. If light binds Satan, the chief of the fallen angels, it certainly binds his cohorts as well. Therefore, that type of reasoning falls flat. At the end of the Kingdom, when mankind is fully instructed in righteousness and there is no need for one to say to his neighbor, “Know the LORD,” for all shall know Him from the least unto the greatest, Satan will be loosed to test mankind (Jer. 31:34).

Comment: Another line of reasoning is in connection with the binding of the fallen angels in chains of darkness. Jude 6 tells us, “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” The implication is that the fallen angels will be loosed during the “judgment of the great day,” which is our day and the near future. In terms of deceptions, it would not be unreasonable to expect the fallen angels to impersonate the dead and/or some of the living consecrated and to do all sorts of spectacular things to mislead the world, such as getting them to think the resurrection has taken place.

Reply: The deceptions will be very great, for Satan will use ALL POWER. However, while Satan may visibly appear as an angel of light, for example, the great inundation of fallen angels will occur still later—at the time of Jacob’s Trouble.

2 Thess. 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

The words “in them that perish” are troublesome because we want to know the degree of the perishing and of the being “damned” (verse 12). Furthermore, there is the sobering statement “they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” The word “damned” is usually thought of from the standpoint of judgment. Concordances list three related Greek words that pertain to judgment: krima, krisis, and krino. Without quoting from concordances, we will use a simple rather than a scholarly approach. It is interesting that in our vocabulary the word krima is “crime” and krisis is “crisis.” (For krino we do not have a comparable English translation.) A person who has purportedly done something wrong is guaranteed the right to a trial, and so the defendant has to be exposed to a process of judgment either to find him guilty or to exonerate him from the charges. The crime (krima), the act, is set forth. During the crisis (krisis) period of trial, the jury listens to all of the lines of evidence. The climax occurs when a decision, a verdict, is reached by the jury, but it is the judge who pronounces the sentence.

In Reprint article No. 4583, previously quoted from, it says that the verdict to be rendered will be proportionate to the knowledge and the responsibility of the individual.

The degree to which one has been either faithful or unfaithful affects the verdict. For instance, Acts 24:15 speaks of the “resurrection of the dead, both of the just and [the] unjust.” And the Apostle John, in referring to the general resurrection, said that the hour is coming when all “shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28,29), but the “resurrection of damnation” is a resurrection of judgment. Education will be necessary, and stripes will be meted out for willful disobedience, but the “resurrection of damnation” does not necessarily mean Second Death. Of the different groups, the most responsible individuals are those who have consecrated. As part of that group, we must be alert, for the Lord has furnished information to both safeguard us from the dangers and alert us to them (such as Galatians 1:8 and Matthew 24:24). Truth is a shield to protect the Christian.

In considering verse 10, we ask, “How can unrighteousness deceive?” An illustration is the extreme doctrine of Universal Salvation or Reconciliation, which teaches that all will eventually be saved, including even Satan.

Comment: Another example of how unrighteousness can deceive is false love along moral lines. We should love the things God loves and hate the things God hates.

Reply: We must not be more magnanimous than God or Jesus in our judgment of wrongdoing. One of the problems in the brotherhood today is the failure to distinguish the difference between sins committed before consecration and sins committed after consecration. God casts behind His back sins that occurred before consecration, and we should not pry into other people’s backgrounds for nosy information. God forgets and so should we. But grievous sins committed after consecration should be dealt with for the safety of the brotherhood and their reputation in representing Christ before the world. Such sins become more serious to various degrees depending on what the aberration is. Consider the nominal Church.

Some denominations or portions of denominations approve of homosexuality and lesbianism in the Church. There is even pressure to sanction marriage between two men or two women, that is, to have it enacted by law. What good is all the enlightenment that has come through education? Satan is turning upside down the fundamentals of Christian life and doctrine and subverting almost every area. The people  think they are enlightened, but they are deceived in unrighteousness. Under today’s conditions the Scriptural norm becomes relatively meaningless, for people’s own imaginations take priority. Practices commonly seen today would have seemed impossible 40 or 50 years ago. Therefore, the term “deceivableness of unrighteousness” means that the unrighteous think they are right.

Comment: An example is the free distribution of needles to drug addicts with the rationalization that at least this way the needles are sterile.

Reply: Yes, and condoms are freely distributed through some schools.

“In them that perish.” To a certain degree, there are samples of deception even among the consecrated, even among the brotherhood. To a somewhat greater degree—and in some cases to a very blatant degree—there are deceptions in the nominal system. In recent years at religious conferences, women have performed erotic acts on the stage with the approval of segments of the denomination. To an extreme degree in the world, moral restraints have been cast off so that anything goes, the philosophy being that “that which is pleasure is not sin.”

Truth is what we treasure, and we should ever hunger for grace and knowledge. We should not stagnate or come to the Laodicean position where we feel we are rich and have need of nothing (Rev. 3:17). However, verse 10 is a warning to all three classes: true Christians, professed Christians, and the world. Romans 1:18 is referring to the world: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” Notice, many in the world “hold the truth in unrighteousness.” The Apostle Paul was speaking about the world, as verses 19–24 reveal: “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shown it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead [Deity]; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God [through observation of the heavens and nature], they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible [immortal] God into an image made like to corruptible [mortal] man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.”

Therefore, the non- Christian world can hold the truth in unrighteousness. Something is wrong, something is missing, when people do not search and hunger for the One who made the glorious universe. Thus there are different degrees of holding the truth in unrighteousness.

We sometimes call ourselves the Truth movement, but actually truth is mighty, mighty deep. It is true that we are walking in the way and in the direction of truth, but we should not feel satisfied that we have the whole truth and nothing but the truth, for there is always room for improvement.

Comment: With brethren who know the Lord and know what is right, the problem is often that love for their families supersedes their love for God’s Word. They love mother, father, sister, brother, etc., to an inordinate degree rather than face the truth as God declares it.

Reply: Imagine how God feels looking down at this earth when we make decisions without heeding His instruction. Right and wrong are clearly set forth in the Scriptures. If we ignore principle and are influenced by the peer pressure of family, neighbors, friendships, and worldly and business associations, thus violating God’s instruction, what does He think about us? None of us can be too sure of ourselves.

Comment: Romans 1:29–32 is also pertinent: “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

Reply: Yes, they consort with or are party to these things in both principle and practice.

Comment: Brethren have differences of opinion with regard to capital punishment, whereas the divine principle is a life for a life. Even the Ten Commandments are not understood. “Thou shalt not kill” means “Thou shalt not murder” and, therefore, is not justification for no capital punishment.

Reply: Yes, the Adversary has his own definitions of Scripture, but the Word of God is the bottom line.

The first chapter of Romans implies another safeguard: conscience. To a certain degree, the conscience has been damaged through heredity, but nevertheless, we all have a conscience that tells us some things are blatantly improper. However, when wrong things are practiced, the conscience becomes seared and the individual is unable to distinguish between right and wrong. Paul showed that there are three witnesses: the heavens (nature), the conscience, and the Word of God.

2 Thess. 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

2 Thess. 2:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

The level of damnation is scaled proportionate to our enlightenment. Enlightenment is a blessing, not a curse, yet some are willingly ignorant because they do not want the responsibility of knowing too much. That type of reasoning, which appeals to the old creature, is Satanic. If the Apostle Paul were on the scene today, he would buoy us up with bundles of energy, but he would also be very searching in his comments. He would not flatter everyone by any means, regardless of the ecclesia, for there are problems that need to be rectified.

Comment: In the beginning of verse 10, the Diaglott uses the term “are perishing” rather than “perish,” the thought being “with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that are perishing [or are in the way of perishing].” In other words, if this condition is not corrected, depending on what class is being addressed, it leads to Second Death.

Reply: Yes, Second Death is the end of the path if that way is continually followed, and of course our path is the present life. We are to be faithful unto death in the present life, whereas the world has the Kingdom Age before them. Those still under Adamic condemnation have not yet come to the light. Stated another way, if Adamic condemnation is not lifted, the sentence of death remains on an individual. The Scriptures seem to suggest that in the next age there will be some stubborn individuals who, when they come forth from the tomb, will refuse to bend the knee to Christ. Because they refuse to listen to “that prophet,” they will be cut off summarily (Acts 3:23). They will die the Second Death, but in their case Second Death will be Adamic death because they would not accept the provision of salvation.

2 Thessalonians 2:9–12, 1981 Study

Note: In the 1981 study, these four verses pertaining to the end of the age were treated in detail and  only from the standpoint of the consecrated. The expanded explanation follows.

2 Thess. 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

This great energetic operation of delusion by Satan is to take place during the Lord’s Second Advent, not initially when Jesus first came but during his presence and yet future. This great deception will precede the destruction of the nominal systems and take place shortly before the epiphania. Satan will control and manipulate the man of sin so that it will be working very feverishly.

What is the difference between “power,” “signs,” and “lying wonders”?

1. POWER. Satan will use all the power he has ever had down through the ages. He is not being bound. In fact, he will get even more liberty and power during Jesus’ Second Presence. Stated another way, instead of being progressively bound, Satan is being loosed more. He will work with all power to do what he wishes with only certain, hardly evident limitations. He

will operate through the man of sin with all kinds of delusions and tremendous power.

Therefore, the future hour of great trial has to do with the power and deception of Satan. At the time of the Crucifixion, Jesus said, “The prince of this world [now] cometh, and hath nothing in me” (John 14:30). Like Jesus their head, the feet members will have a similar experience and die at the hand of Satan.

2. SIGNS. The Pharisees and Sadducees demanded a sign from Jesus: a “sign from heaven” (Matt. 16:1). They did not want a healing miracle but a sign from heaven. Here at the end of the age, if Satan is going to manipulate great power to produce “signs,” the account is suggesting that something visual could occur—not just a bleeding icon, for example, which is a localized sign, but visible signs that will have a worldwide effect. It could even seem as if something is happening in regard to the God of nature—something clearly supernatural and in heaven.

3. LYING WONDERS. These will be deceptive, false phenomena that teach untruths. Sometimes an untruth is taught without words, as when Satan had the serpent eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. However, these future lying wonders will probably be audible as well as visual. In the past there were visions of the Virgin Mary as well as voices and messages giving false instruction. Many do not believe the visions actually occur because they take place in a localized area, but what if such a thing happened on a worldwide scale—or even to a whole city or country? In a recent case in England, all television airwaves were jammed simultaneously by an unexplained message. Such possibilities are open to Satan and his fallen angels. Suppose a “sign” were accompanied by a TV message.

Suppose angels were seen flying over the Vatican. Suppose a UFO landed with seemingly friendly superior beings who gave advice. The point is that there will be large-scale deceptions (small ones worked all down through history) with all power (not some power).

Future deceptions will be more demonstrative and widespread than anything to date. They will give a lie to all that is good and true through a frenzy of delusion (Greek energeia, an energetic operation with all power, that is, a frenzy to do certain things in order to delude).

Incidentally, the Volumes are the keys to the Scriptures, but the Scriptures have all the information so “that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:17). Those who use only the keys fail to get the POWER of Scripture, and those who use just the Scriptures lack dispensational  understanding. Both are needed!

Two adjustments should be made: The supplied words “Even him” should be omitted, and “whose coming” refers to Jesus’ presence. Volume 2, under the subcaption “Antichrist’s Final End,” pages 358 and 359, translates 2 Thessalonians 2:8–12 as follows: “Whom the Lord Jesus will consume with the spirit of his mouth, and annihilate with the bright shining of his presence. Whose presence is with [accompanied by or during] an energetic operation of Satan [Satanic energy and action] with all power, and signs, and lying delusions, and with every iniquitous deception for those perishing; because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be preserved. And for this reason God will send to them a deluding power, that they might believe the error: so that all not believing the truth, but taking pleasure in iniquity, may be judged” unworthy to share the Millennial Kingdom as joint heirs with Christ.

Most translations incorrectly slant the “whose coming” of verse 9 to refer to the Antichrist. “Coming” (parousia) should be “presence,” and it cannot refer to the Adversary because he has been present all along, that is, throughout the Gospel Age. The thought is that during the Second Presence of the Master, Satan will have a very energetic operation of delusion.

2 Thess. 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

The epistle is addressed to the consecrated, and so is this verse. At the very end of the age, some of the consecrated will be perishing “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” This is a stern message. If other Scriptures did not tell us about the Great Company, verse 10 would sound as if there were only two possibilities: (1) those who are not deceived will not perish (Little Flock), and (2) those who are deceived will perish (Second Death). It is true that any of the consecrated who have the spirit of error or the spirit of being deceived will be in danger of “perishing,” but certain Scriptures (such as Jude 23) show that some who will be in a measure deceived will yet be rescued. In other words, at the very end of the age, all of the consecrated who remain after the feet members are taken off the scene will be in danger of perishing in Second Death unless there is a proper response and repentance. All of the consecrated except the feet members will be

deceived to a greater or lesser degree, at least momentarily.

Verse 10 is not directed to the nominal Church, the tares, but to the consecrated, to those who have received the truth but not the love of it. This class responded to the truth but with ulterior motives. Even though we may initially receive the truth in the love of it and consecrate on that basis, then, depending on how we respond to trials and experiences— whether we compromise on principle, etc., and thus undergo a deterioration—we would no longer be pursuing the truth because of the love of it. And some have ulterior motives for consecration to begin with. Our love for the truth should be maintained. Whether we end up in the little Flock, the Great Company, or Second Death will depend on how much of the spirit of the truth we have imbibed and been faithful to. A full imbibing results in a destiny of Little Flock, a partial imbibing results in Great Company, and neglect brings Second Death. The Great Company do the Lord’s will but not joyfully and out of love for it; they act out of necessity and because of circumstances of life that bring them to their senses.

Verses 9–12 refer to the end of the age. During the Lord’s presence the Adversary will work with an energetic operation that will have the effect of delusion. Since the world has been under Satan’s influence all along, throughout the Gospel Age, these verses refer to something Satan will try to do to the consecrated before the Gospel Age fully ends. In other words, when Satan deceives all but the Very Elect, some in the truth will also be deceived and thus incur a more responsible judgment than the world. The world will be deceived too, but they will have a future opportunity.

In the Fourth Volume, page 581, we read, “Great delusions are just before us … [and] some of these … may come closest upon those possessing the largest degree of the light of present truth.” Thus the consecrated will be liable to these deceptions as well as the world. Matthew 24:24 implies that all of the consecrated not of the Little Flock will in some manner be at least temporarily deceived. Combining several Scriptures, we can conclude that the Great Company will be deceived, slumber in measure, and lose out on the oil for a time, but afterwards they will be restored, rescued, and saved so as by fire (1 Cor. 3:15). As the Apostle Peter stated, “The righteous [will] scarcely be saved” (1 Pet. 4:18).

If the whole world lies in the wicked one—and has been all along, ever since the Flood when Satan became the god of this world—then 2 Thessalonians 2 is talking about an added deception aimed specifically at the consecrated. Put another way, Satan knows that a battle lies ahead between him and Christ, and that only one can win it.

In due time Satan will come to realize that his is the losing battle, but that time is future, for now Satan’s cause seems to be the winning one. And before this realization comes, he will get still more power than he currently has. Eventually Jesus will take a more active role as regards the dispossession of Satan. When Satan realizes the criticalness of the hour, he will want to destroy with him as many as possible. In addition, he will try to destroy all of God’s plans, to frustrate them as much as possible. He will direct his attack at the consecrated wherever they may be, at the godly element who sincerely love God and want to serve Him—whether in or out of the nominal system.

The progression of Satan’s attack will be (1) the feet members, (2) the rest of the consecrated, and (3) the nation of Israel—against whatever pertains to God. The world is already blinded, deceived, and absorbed in anything other than the gospel: sports, sex, science, money, fame, etc. Therefore, Satan will concentrate his deception and attack on anyone God is dealing with, on those who have some measure of understanding and truth.

Revelation 12:17 reveals that at the time of the French Revolution, Satan began to lay plans which would culminate at the very end of the age. “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Specifically, Satan is determined to destroy the “remnant” (the feet members) of the woman’s “seed” (the true Church). Then the attack will focus on the remaining consecrated. When they are off the scene, Satan will fire at Israel through Gog and Magog.

The lying signs and wonders, the delusions and deceptions, will be slanted against the truly consecrated. The plurality of the deceptions shows that they will be along several lines and methods and that Satan will try anything to discourage, undercut, and deceive those who love God. To get at those in Present-Truth circles will require a more refined deception— something that those not in the proper heart condition will be unprepared for. Such will be unaware of the nature of his attack.

Since the delusion will be a “lie,” it means that the deluded ones will consider the lie to be truth. The Book of Jude suggests this delusion will be along the lines of the flesh, along the lines of compassion and love. Hence a false conception of love will be the real deluding power of the future. The reasoning will be based on the fact that “God is love” and the Bible expounds the principles of love. An example of such false reasoning even now is the belief of some brethren that Judas did not go into Second Death.

2 Thess. 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

2 Thess. 2:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

The deluded ones will have “pleasure in unrighteousness” (lawlessness), that is, in truth not taught by God.  “The ‘spirit of error’ assumes to be wiser than the Word of God, and suggests to human reason that it should judge God according to its own standards, rather than correct its own standards by the Word of divine revelation.” For example, some read about God, His love, and His character but interpret them upon the premises they think are correct, whereas we should desire to know what God’s Word really is teaching.

If a fallen angel or even Satan should materialize and pose as the returned Lord, it would be an obvious lie to those of Present Truth and hence would not deceive a large portion of the Great Company class, let alone the elect. Therefore, we know the coming deception has to be along multiple lines.

In regard to deceiving the consecrated, if fallen angels materialize as individuals, they could pose as teachers in the true Church. They would have powers of elocution and flowery oratory so as to deceive the consecrated. We do not know the backgrounds of all those who come into the truth. And it is true that we should have a certain guilelessness and lack of suspicion in our character, yet we still need to have a watchful attitude. While to a certain extent we may accept a brother based on the recommendations of others, when he teaches the Word of God, we must be careful—regardless of background. We must analyze what we hear to see whether it is truth or not. With proper analysis we would be able to discern that a message was wrong—even if presented by a materialized fallen angel. Such a thing could happen within the Truth movement itself, causing a great deception. Imagine the powers of such a fallen angel: rhetoric, predictions, “education,” great ability to quote Scriptures (to suit his evil purposes), etc. The only safeguard we have is the truth itself—not appearance or manner of speech or seeming outward zeal. The message is what counts. What a strong deception this would be for the consecrated—and a determining factor as to whether they would get life even as part of the Great Company! We must beware of deceptive reasoning!

The initial period of a deception determines whether one is or is not deceived. After the deception becomes obvious, it is too late to pass the test. Suppose one chooses the wrong course and finds out later. Those who would be of the Great Company class will retrace their path as soon as their eyes are opened. However, it will be a very crucial period, for the  temptation will be to save face and to go along with the deception until it leads to excesses. The Apostle Jude mentions the class who are saved through extremity (the Great Company) and those who are not saved (Second Death). The initial period of the deception will be very important for determining whether or not one will be of the Little Flock. Then, as the deception begins to run its course, the Great Company will realize their mistake and take a proper stand, the result being their retrieval. The Second Death class will not take a proper stand and will, instead, go into even grosser excesses. Suppose one is partially deceived for a while and then all of a sudden sees the drastic effect of the deceiving doctrine. Such individuals will be shocked into a realization of what has happened.

The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins teaches the principle of Proverbs 23:23 that we are to buy the truth and sell it not. When the foolish virgins go into the marketplace to those who sell, they will learn from the sellers and return with the oil. Those who “sell” are those who will sell out the truth. When the foolish virgin class see what is happening—when they see some selling the truth as Judas did—they will be shocked into a realization of their own condition and recognize the danger in communicating with such individuals.

The foolish virgins will be repentant, renew their consecrations, get more fullness of the Holy Spirit, and wash their robes white in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14). They will knock on the door after going through the experience of acquiring the oil. The Book of Jude, 2 Peter 2, the type of Judas, and the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins all tie together regarding the end of the age.

Note: Now we will return to combined notes from the 1998 and 1981 studies.

2 Thess. 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

Comment: Paul broke salvation down into two steps: (1) the “sanctification [process] of the [Holy] Spirit” and (2) “belief of the truth.”

Paul showed earlier in the chapter that some who consecrate do not have the “love of the truth,” and for those individuals the picture is dark. Now he was saying (verse 13) he was hopeful that the Thessalonian brethren would continue to observe his teaching and doctrine, which would preserve them in the way. But he was also saying that the conditions he was discussing were a picture of the end of the age. In other words, he was writing to contemporary brethren and saying, more or less, “I am hopeful and confident that if you follow my teachings, you will make your calling and election sure. However, at the time of the Lord’s Second Presence, one class of the consecrated will be faithful and another class will go into Second Death.”

Of course Paul knew that the Second Advent was almost 2,000 years away because he had been caught up to the third heaven in vision and given advance information. He knew that when he died, he would remain in the tomb for a long time until that future day. “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). Therefore, Paul knew that the Thessalonians, whom he was addressing, would not be tempted with the “man of sin” deception.

“From the beginning” refers to the beginning of the Thessalonians’ walk as consecrated Christians. Paul was reassuring them about the doctrine of the high calling and that God was dealing with them—and would continue to deal with them—through sanctification of the Holy Spirit and belief of the truth. In other words, the Christian walk is a continuous exercise and it is REAL.

In addition, the phrase “from the beginning” may have been intentionally inserted for Christians at the end of the age. While the phrase had a good application for the Thessalonians back there, it will also be helpful to those in the future who realize they have been deceived. Having a tender conscience, they will need reassurance that they can be made right with God and that He will still deal with them if they show contrition for having taken a wrong stand. It will help if they reflect on how God really dealt with them at the beginning of their walk. Other Scriptures will comfort the Great Company class as well.

At first, they will weep and have problems, but later on they will rejoice to be able to go to the marriage supper. First will come the anguish of spirit, then the rejoicing. If those who are left behind when the Little Flock is complete do not reflect on their calling at the beginning, they might get so discouraged that they will go right into the world and give up all hope.

Although Peter and Judas both denied Jesus, Peter was simply suddenly swallowed up in the exigencies he was going through, but Judas premeditated and coldly calculated the betrayal, arranging for it in advance. The example of Peter will be helpful to the Great Company class in showing that proper remorse brings forgiveness.

As circumstances get shockingly worse in their development, those of the remaining consecrated who are in the right heart condition will experience a rude awakening—and there will be hope for such individuals. Those not in the proper heart condition will have no awakening—just a complete slumber and Second Death.

In the near future the Truth movement as we know it will seriously deteriorate. We are not to be suspicious, but we should be alert. And we must have confidence that God can handle the matter. We do not have to “steady the ark” for Him (2 Sam. 6:6,7). Having this admonition alerts us in advance as to what can happen.

One other caution: The study of only prophecy can lead to a feeling of superiority.

2 Thess. 2:14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Thessalonians were severely persecuted, and Christians who live underneath persecuting conditions usually have a better chance of securing their salvation; that is, Christianity seems to survive more wholesomely in times of persecution. Paul was the messenger to the first Church, Ephesus, which means “desirable.” Of that period of the Church, Acts 5:13 says, “And of the rest durst no man join himself to them.” Why not? Because it was known that consecration is serious business, and probably, based on Scriptural circumstantial evidence, a greater proportion of Christians from the Ephesus period will get life than from any other period. Paul pointed out only a few individuals by name as being unfaithful, and of those, he gave two a chance of recovery. In fact, even Satan had a chance of recovery, but there comes a point at which the die is cast. As babes in Christ, we are in a state of flux—we are in a growth period—but a time comes for crystallization in one form or the other, for good or for bad. Notice that “God hath … chosen you” and “called you … to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Thess. 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

When we read the first epistle, we see that the Thessalonians were very enthusiastic about the Second Advent. Paul talked repeatedly about the time of the end, the return of our Lord, and the parousia. Probably a good proportion of those he was addressing were faithful  and did “stand fast”; this assessment is based on their character development and their joy and interest in seeing Jesus. The Apostle John says, “Every man that hath this hope in him [of seeing Jesus] purifieth himself” (1 John 3:3). Therefore, thinking on the subject of Jesus’ return and being with him is both helpful and essential in crystallizing our character.

Before Paul died, he said that all those in Asia had “turned away” from him (2 Tim. 1:15). But the Thessalonians and the Corinthians, for example, were not in Asia. Therefore, based on the information in the various epistles, we get a perspective of the overall situation. Usually those who are forgiven much and realize it are more steadfast in their character development.

In regard to “traditions,” Paul instructed the Corinthians to set aside on the first day of the week a sum of money, as they were able, that could be used to help the brotherhood in one way or another (1 Cor. 16:2). That was a tradition Paul established. Another tradition was coming together for a weekly meeting on Sunday, the first day of the week, rather than on Saturday, which was a Jewish custom (Acts 20:7).

As we have seen, some of the Thessalonian brethren thought Jesus had already returned, while others thought his presence was imminent. Therefore, Paul counseled the ecclesia to patiently wait for the due time of the Second Advent. They were to “stand fast” and hold to “traditions” (instructions) taught by the apostle’s “word” (spoken in person when Paul was at Thessalonica) and by “epistle” (letter). Paul had personally instructed them in regard to Jesus’ return, the man of sin, etc. In this context “traditions” means instruction from the apostles themselves.

A comparison of three Scriptures, listed below, is helpful. Notice the repeated and/or similar constructive use of terms: “spirit” or “traditions,” “word,” and “letter” or “epistle.”

1. “That ye 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” (2 Thess. 2:2).

2. “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” (2 Thess. 2:15).

3. “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles” (Rev. 16:13,14a).

Down through the age, “spirits of devils” (erroneous demonic doctrines) were used by Satan and the fallen angels to promote Papacy, Satan’s greatest instrument for deceiving the world as regards the message of Christ. Thus the principle of false teaching has existed in Christianity from the apostles’ day up to the present. The Revelation text is telling us that, in addition, three unclean froglike spirits (doctrines of demons) will come out of the mouths of the beast, the dragon, and the false prophet at the end of the age.

2 Thess. 2:16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,

How clear it is that God and Jesus are two separate beings! Paul was saying that both of them, the Heavenly Father and the Son, want us to make our calling and election sure. They have given the instruction and the means by which we can be received into their communion beyond the grave. Knowing that their interest and concern are operative toward us at all times should be a consistent and constant consolation to us throughout our Christian life.

2 Thess. 2:17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

We should comfort each other (comfort one another’s hearts) with a fraternal hope and expression. Stated another way, we should build one another up in the most holy faith with the promises of God’s Word.

Paul said, “I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Paul’s whole counsel included future events, especially his epistles to the Thessalonians and the subject of the man of sin. Jesus took time in Matthew 24 and 25 to discuss future events. The Apostle John recorded the Book of Revelation—future events from the time the brotherhood started. Therefore, if we do not have the interest in and/or are not receiving instruction on future events, there is something wrong. Unfortunately, many discredit the study of prophecy because expectations did not materialize at a particular date, but instead of avoiding the subject of future events, we should be led by mistakes or miscalculations to an even closer examination of prophecy.

In verses 15–17, the Apostle Paul was telling the Thessalonians that they should wait patiently, that God loved them, that the hope of the high calling was a good hope, that grace was the underlying element, that they should be comforted with the message of truth, and that they should not get into a frenzy of thinking the Lord was already present. Incidentally, uninformed energy and zeal can lead to problems, as it did with Papacy’s thinking the reign had come and, accordingly, putting “heretics” to death and having the hierarchy exercise authority and rule in “Christ’s Kingdom” prematurely.

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