2 Thessalonians 2:3-12
New American Bible (Revised Edition)
3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed,[a] the one doomed to perdition, 4 (A)who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship, so as to seat himself in the temple of God,[b] claiming that he is a god— 5 do you not recall that while I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining,[c] that he may be revealed in his time. 7 [d]For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. But the one who restrains is to do so only for the present, until he is removed from the scene.(B) 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord [Jesus] will kill with the breath of his mouth and render powerless by the manifestation of his coming,(C) 9 the one whose coming springs from the power of Satan in every mighty deed and in signs and wonders that lie,(D) 10 and in every wicked deceit for those who are perishing because they have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved. 11 Therefore, God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie, 12 that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned.Read full chapter
- 2:3b–5 This incomplete sentence (anacoluthon, 2 Thes 2:4) recalls what the Thessalonians had already been taught, an apocalyptic scenario depicting, in terms borrowed especially from Dn 11:36–37 and related verses, human self-assertiveness against God in the temple of God itself. The lawless one represents the climax of such activity in this account.
- 2:4 Seat himself in the temple of God: a reflection of the language in Dn 7:23–25; 8:9–12; 9:27; 11:36–37; 12:11 about the attempt of Antiochus IV Epiphanes to set up a statue of Zeus in the Jerusalem temple and possibly of the Roman emperor Caligula to do a similar thing (Mk 13:14). Here the imagery suggests an attempt to install someone in the place of God, claiming that he is a god (cf. Ez 28:2). Usually, it is the Jerusalem temple that is assumed to be meant; on the alternative view sketched above (see note on 2 Thes 2:1–17), the temple refers to the Christian community.
- 2:6–7 What is restraining…the one who restrains: neuter and masculine, respectively, of a force and person holding back the lawless one. The Thessalonians know what is meant (2 Thes 2:6), but the terms, seemingly found only in this passage and in writings dependent on it, have been variously interpreted. Traditionally, 2 Thes 2:6 has been applied to the Roman empire and 2 Thes 2:7 to the Roman emperor (in Paul’s day, Nero) as bulwarks holding back chaos (cf. Rom 13:1–7). A second interpretation suggests that cosmic or angelic powers are binding Satan (2 Thes 2:9) and so restraining him; some relate this to an anti-Christ figure (1 Jn 2:18) or to Michael the archangel (Rev 12:7–9; 20:1–3). A more recent view suggests that it is the preaching of the Christian gospel that restrains the end, for in God’s plan the end cannot come until the gospel is preached to all nations (Mk 13:10); in that case, Paul as missionary preacher par excellence is “the one who restrains,” whose removal (death) will bring the end (2 Thes 2:7). On the alternative view (see note on 2 Thes 2:1–17), the phrases should be referred to that which and to him who seizes (a prophet) in ecstasy so as to have him speak pseudo-oracles.
- 2:7–12 The lawless one and the one who restrains are involved in an activity or process, the mystery of lawlessness, behind which Satan stands (2 Thes 2:9). The action of the Lord [Jesus] in overcoming the lawless one is described in Old Testament language (with the breath of his mouth; cf. Is 11:4; Jb 4:9; Rev 19:15). His coming is literally the Lord’s “parousia.” The biblical concept of the “holy war,” eschatologically conceived, may underlie the imagery.