2 Thessalonians

Chapter 2

Blaine Robison, M.A.

 

Published 30 November 2011; Revised 12 November 2018

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Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison from the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. All other Scripture quotations are from the NASB Updated Edition (1995), unless otherwise indicated. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions.

Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited and resources consulted may be found at the end of the commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. Click here for Talmud Abbreviations.

Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations.

Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic writings and message I use the terms Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament) and Besekh (New Testament), and incorporate other appropriate Hebrew and Jewish terms. (See the glossary.) The Septuagint (LXX) refers the Greek translation of the Tanakh by Jewish scholars and completed by the mid-2nd century B.C.

In chapter two of 2Thessalonians Paul is entirely consistent with the revelation to Daniel, but adds new details, the first of which is calling the beast-ruler the "Man of Lawlessness" and the "Son of Destruction." The titles reveal much about his character and the nature of his reign.

1― Now we request you, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah and our gathering together to him,

Now: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. we request: Grk. erōtaō, pres., 1p-pl., to ask or inquire, with the connotation of an ameliorating tone for what might sound peremptory. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. brethren: pl. of Grk. adelphos, voc., lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant "brother." In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites. In the LXX adelphos is used for the Heb. ach, meaning (1) brother, a male sibling born of the same mother and father (Gen 4:2); also half-siblings (Gen 20:5).

Paul likely intended an ethnic meaning here since the "brethren" receiving Paul's ministry were Jewish (Acts 13:26, 38; 21:17; 22:1; 23:1) and the charter membership in the early congregations, including Thessalonica, were Jews. Paul use of "brethren" in direct address also emphasizes his affection for them, as well as tactfully asserting his apostolic authority.

with regard to the coming: Grk. parousia which means presence, coming or advent. The special word occurs some 25 times in the apostolic writings, mostly in the writings of Paul. And, it is Paul who tells us the most about this event. In 1Thessalonians 4:15-16 the parousia has four elements: (1) the believing dead are resurrected before the living, (2) Yeshua will descend from heaven with a shout, (3) Yeshua will descend with the voice of the archangel and (4) the living will be caught up to meet Yeshua and the resurrected people of God in the clouds.

Outside this chapter other passages on the parousia add these elements. The parousia of the Son of Man will be as the lightning flashes from east to west (Matt 24:27). The parousia of the Son of Man will take place after the great tribulation (Matt 24:29f). At the parousia the elect will be gathered from the four winds and from one end of the heavens to the other (Matt 24:29ff). The objects of God’s wrath in the parousia will be like Noah’s generation who did not understand until the flood took them all away (Matt 24:37, 39). The parousia is followed by Yeshua delivering the kingdom to His Father and all human rule and authority is abolished (1Cor 15:24). God will establish our hearts unblameable in holiness with all the people of God at the parousia (1Th 3:13). Peter likewise links the parousia and the Day of the Lord (2Pet 3:4, 10). Coincidental with the parousia the heavens will be destroyed by burning and the elements will melt with intense heat (2Pet 3:12).

of our: Grk. humeis. Lord: Grk. kurios generally means the owner of possessions. In Greek culture kurios was used to refer to persons of high or respected position, addressed as "sir," "lord" or "master," but especially as a designation for deity. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, principally to replace Heb. YHVH, but also renders adōn 310 times, 190 of which refers to men. Kurios also occurs frequently as a term for God in non-biblical Jewish literature (2 BC - 2 AD), including the apocryphal work Wisdom of Solomon, and writings of the Jewish philosopher Philo and the Jewish historian Josephus (DNTT 2:511f).

Kurios is the principal title used for Yeshua throughout the apostolic writings. However, Paul probably uses kurios as equivalent to the Heb. adōn ("Lord" in the sense of "ruler"), rather than the tetragrammaton. The frequent use of kurios to address Yeshua in the flesh likely did not consider deity. Expectant Jews would call Yeshua adōn because the Messiah would rule over Israel. Lordship implies all kinds of divine expectations that should be considered (Matt 7:21-23). Moreover, such a declaration in a time when Caesar worship held such strong influence, would be especially significant. Caesar believed he was kurios of the world and the Caesar cult, with faithful devotees scattered throughout the empire, provided a serious obstacle to discipleship. Eventually, the simple confession that "Yeshua is Lord" would create many martyrs.

Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). Yeshua has the same Hebrew root as yoshia ("He will save") and is also the masculine form of the Hebrew word yeshu‘ah, ("salvation") (Stern 4). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, probably Gabriel, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). The English rendering of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729.

In the LXX both Yeshua and Y’hoshua were common names and rendered as Iēsous. The name of Yeshua occurs 29 times in the Tanakh in reference to six men and translated as "Jeshua" in Christian Bibles. Four of these men were of the tribe of Levi (1Chr 24:11; 2Chr 31:15; Ezra 2:6; 3:2; Neh 3:19; 8:7). In the Besekh three men bear the name Yeshua. There is Bar-Yeshua (Acts 13:6), a Jewish false prophet and magician whom Paul cursed so that he became blind (Acts 13:11), and Yeshua called Justus, a fellow minister of Paul (Col 4:11). By far the most important of the three is the Yeshua of Nazareth, the Son of David, Son of Man and Son of God. By virtue of His incarnation and Jewish mother, Yeshua must still be a Jew. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?

the Messiah: the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. The English "Christ" transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. In Greek culture christos comes from chriein, to rub lightly, and in its secular use had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint, and was anything but an expression of honor. As a personal reference it even tended toward the disrespectful (DNTT 2:334). Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to render Heb. Mashiach and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word.

The title Mashiach means ‘anointed one’ or ‘poured on.’ Mashiach was used in the Tanakh for (1) the patriarchs (1Chr 16:16-22; Ps 105:15); (2) the High Priest, Lev 4:5; (3) the King, 1Sam 12:3; 2Sam 22:51; Isa 45:1; and (4) the Messiah, Ps 2:2 and Dan 9:25-26. This last usage defined the term among Jews in the first century A.D. The title of "Anointed One" alludes to a ceremony of pouring olive oil on the head to invest one with the authority of an office (Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; Ps 133:2). There was no comparable concept in Greek culture.

While Yeshua is described by a variety of titles (Lord, Redeemer, Savior, Son of God, Son of Man, Rabbi, Emmanuel, Lamb of God, Mediator, Apostle, Prophet and the Word) the predominate title (531 times in the Besekh) is Christos. The importance of this title is the authority it represents. Yeshua is the supreme ruler over the Kingdom of God. All authority has been given to him in heaven and earth (Matt 28:18). Yeshua's authority extends to all the nations of the earth (Rev 15:3) as was prophesied in Genesis 49:10, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh [i.e. Messiah] comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the nations." The essential part of the Great Commission is to bring about recognition of Yeshua's ruling authority and obedience to everything he taught (Matt 28:20; cf. Ezek 37:24). For more discussion on the Jewish title and Jewish expectations of the Messiah see my commentary on Mark 1:1.

and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. our: Grk. humeis. gathering together: Grk. episunagogōgē, a gathering, with respect to persons being brought together. The word is used in 2Maccabees 2:7 indicating a future time when God shall gather His people together (Rienecker). This word-group appears in the harvest parables told by both John the Immerser and Yeshua, as well as the eschatological teaching of the Olivet Discourse concerning what happens at the Second Coming.

"He will gather [Grk. sunagō] His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matt 3:12)

"First gather [Grk. sullegō, to collect] up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather [Grk. sunagō] the wheat into my barn." (Matt 13:30)

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering [Grk. sunagō] fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered [Grk. sullegō, to collect] the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away." (Matt 13:47-48)

"And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together [Grk. episunagō] His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven." (Mark 13:27)

The obvious fact of these analogies drawn from the farming and fishing practices is that time is of the essence in accomplishing the gathering and preserving. No farmer would harvest grain and then wait 3 or 7 years before he winnowed and placed it in his barn. Similarly, the fisherman has to act quickly to get the "good" fish to market. The straightforward meaning of these parables is that the similarity between the story details and the Second Coming also applies to the time required to accomplish the work. Thus, it is no accident that Paul should use the precise word used by both John and Yeshua of what would happen at the parousia.

to him: It should be noted that the gathering of the people of God is to Yeshua, not specifically to Heaven. Those who are alive at the Second Coming will meet him in the air above the surface of the earth (1Th 4:16-17).

2― that you not be quickly shaken or disturbed from your mind neither by a spirit nor a message nor a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

that you not: Grk. , a particle of qualified negation, not. It differs from the other standard negative particle, , in that is objective, dealing only with facts, while is subjective, involving will and thought (DM 265). With the negation concerns a supposition. be quickly: Grk. tacheōs, adv., putting into effect with rapidity. shaken: Grk. saleuō (from salos, "disturbance"), aor. pass. inf., cause to waver or totter (BAG), here referring to an inner disturbance. The aorist tense emphasizes the suddenness of the shock (Rienecker). or be disturbed: Grk. throeō, pres. pass. inf., inward disturbance caused by outward circumstances. The present tense points to a continued state of agitation following upon a definite shock received and describes a state of "jumpiness" (Rienecker).

from your mind: Grk. nous may mean (1) the capacity to comprehend or discern; understanding; (2) medium for processing information or instruction; mind; or (3) the result of mental processing; mind, thought. All of these meanings could have a bearing Paul's statement. neither by a spirit: Grk. pneuma, wind, breath or spirit. By "spirit" Paul might refer to a revelation supposedly received from an angel (cf. Col 2:18), a demonic source (1Cor 2:12; Eph 2:2) or another human (cf. 1John 4:1). Paul obviously does not mean the Holy Spirit as God would not contradict revealed Scripture. nor a message: Grk. logos, a vocalized expression of the mind. Paul probably refers to a public sermon or teaching.

nor a letter: Grk. epistolē, written correspondence, of which this epistle is an example. Letter writing was a very popular means of communication in the first century, made possible by the extensive Roman postal system. as if from us: lit. "as through us." Paul warns of the very real possibility of someone claiming Paul's support without actually having it or forging a letter as if it were from Paul. to the effect: lit. "as that." This phrase alludes to the end result of the fraudulent activity. that the Day: Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). The third meaning applies here.

of the Lord: Grk. kurios (The LXX omits the definite article tou in its references to the Day of the Lord) The Hebrew expression is Yom ADONAI (Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14; Mal 4:5), "ADONAI" standing in for the tetragrammaton. has come: Grk. enistēmi, perf., to be present, to be here. The perfect tense points to an action in the past with continuing results in the present. Paul reports a similar error at 2Timothy 2:14–18 (cf. 1Thess 4:13), where he says that some taught that the resurrection had already taken place. Paul's letters to Thessalonica and Timothy are at least ten years apart, so this false belief persisted in spite of Paul's efforts to correct the heresy.

Additional Note on Day of the Lord: The expression "Day of the Lord" occurs only five times in the Besekh (Acts 2:20; 1Th 5:2; 2Th 2:2; 2Pet 3:10). However, as Paul's usage of the term here demonstrates the Day of the Lord is synonymous with the Second Coming and the Day of Messiah Yeshua (cf. 1Cor 5:5; Php 1:6, 10; 2:16; 2Pet 3:4-8). While the Parousia emphasizes deliverance of God's people the Day of the Lord emphasizes judgment of the wicked and the nations aligned against Israel. Here is a summary of the Scripture teaching concerning the Day of the Lord:

Tanakh

· Before Yom ADONAI the sun will be darkened and the moon will look like blood (Joel 2:31-32; Matt 24:30; Rev 6:12).

· Before Yom ADONAI all the tribes of Israel will repent and mourn so that the remnant may be saved (Zech 12:10-14; Matt 24:30).

· Before Yom ADONAI Elijah will appear (Mal 4:5).

· Yom ADONAI is a day of judgment on the nations (Isa 13:6; Ezek 30:3;Obad 1:15; Rom 2:5).

· Yom ADONAI will be a day of clouds (Ezek 30:3).

· Yom ADONAI will be a day of darkness (Amos 5:18, 20).

· On Yom ADONAI there will be multitudes in the valley of decision (judgment) (Joel 3:14; cf. Rev 16:13-16).

· Yom ADONAI is a day of destruction and battle (Zeph 1:15-16).

Besekh

· Before the Day of the Lord the Great Tribulation occurs (Matt 24:29; Mark 13:24; Rev 7:9-14).

· Before the Day of the Lord a great apostasy will occur (2Th 2:3).

· Before the Day of the Lord the Man of Lawlessness will be revealed (2Th 2:3).

· The Day of the Lord will be a day of salvation for the disciples of Yeshua (1Cor 5:5; Php 2:16; 2Th 1:10)

· The Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night for the unbelieving (1Th 5:2; 2Pet 3:10).

· On the Day of the Lord the wicked will be punished for afflicting the righteous (2Th 1:5-10).

· On the Day of the Lord the heavens will be shaken the evil works of the world will be brought to an end by fire (Matt 24:29; Mark 13:25; 1Cor 3:13-15; 2Pet 3:10-12).

3― Let not anyone deceive you in not one way, because the apostasy comes firstly, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

Let not: Grk. , a particle of qualified negation, not. See  the previous verse. anyone deceive: Grk. exapataō, aor. subj., to seduce in the sense of intellectual or spiritual swindling. The subjunctive mood is used with the negative particle to express a prohibition (Rienecker). you in not one: Grk. mēdeis, adj., not one, no one, none, nothing. way: Grk. tropos may mean (1) mode or procedure in which something takes place; way, manner; or (2) a person's manner of living; conduct, way of life. The first meaning applies here. The double emphasis of lit. "not anyone…not one way" constitutes a strong warning.

In other words, "don't let anyone tell you that end time events will happen differently than what I'm telling you." Without engaging in any date-setting Paul provides a basic outline of end time events. Paul categorically asserts that two specific and important events precede the Parousia, the Second Coming of Yeshua. Paul's straightforward explanation of end time events must necessitate treating the secret rapture doctrine as an error. It is not my intention to offend adherents of this doctrine, but this is not a matter where all interpretations are equally valid. One's view of eschatology may not affect one's salvation, but accepting the straightforward teaching of Paul matters.

because the apostasy: Grk. apostasia, renunciation of previous loyalty. The Greek word means rebellion or abandonment in a religious sense and in Acts 21:21 the term is used specifically of abandoning Moses. In one respect Christianity abandoned Moses with is replacement theology and many Christians today consider Moses to be irrelevant. However, the apostasy is not simply against Moses, but the God of Israel whom Moses represents. In this regard many people do not want to be associated with a God who identifies with and fulfills His covenantal promises to Israel. People want a universal god who loves all and condemns no one to hell. comes: Grk. erchomai, aor. subj., to come or arrive, here meaning an event, namely the apostasy. firstly: Grk. prōtos, adj., having to do with beforeness, first.

What does the word "first" mean? It means that nothing comes before it or it wouldn’t be called "first." Let’s consider two significant uses of "first." Paul said in his first letter to the congregation that the dead in the Messiah will rise to meet the Lord in the air first before the living (1Th 4:15-17). That is, there will be no rapture and transforming resurrection of the living until the dead are resurrected first. Revelation 20:5 speaks of the first resurrection and the verse just before it identifies those who participate in it. The first persons resurrected include those beheaded for their testimony and those who had refused to worship the beast or receive the mark of the beast. It’s difficult to comprehend how people raptured before the tribulation and enjoying heaven could be beheaded by the beast.

To interpret the resurrection of the people of God as taking place in stages separated by several years effectively empties "first" of its meaning. Given the time of the resurrection it cannot be a separate event from the gathering and reunion of the people of God. In fact, the gathering and the resurrection of the people of God are such interrelated events that the discussion of one in the apostolic writings implies the occurrence of the other at the same time. Here Paul declares very simply that the great apostasy and revelation of the man of lawlessness must occur before the Parousia at which the dead are raised. Prophecy will be fulfilled or otherwise God's integrity is called into question. Yeshua cannot come any time, but only when all Scripture has been fulfilled.

and the man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, used for a human male or generically for man and woman and as a contrast to animals (e.g., Gen 1:26, 27; 2:5; 2Sam 15:29); (2) ish, SH-376, adult male or husband (Gen 2:23, 24; Job 1:1) and (3) enosh, SH-582, man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (Job 5:17; Ps 8:4-5) (DNTT 2:564). of lawlessness: Grk. anomia may refer either to (1) a state or condition of opposition to the plans and purposes of God or (2) action or product of a lawless mindset.

In the LXX anomia occurs almost 190 times and is used to render 23 different Hebrew words (confirmed by collating ABP and BDB). By far the most common word translated (54 times) is Heb. avon (SH-5771), iniquity, guilt or punishment for iniquity (e.g., Gen 19:15), and the second most times for Heb. toebah (SH-8441), abomination, 25 times, all in the book of Ezekiel. The range of meaning that anomia represents in the LXX of the Hebrew words rendered includes wickedness, treacherous acts, rebellion, transgression, injustice, violence, defection, unrighteousness and destruction. The word "lawlessness" as applied to this evil personage does not mean abandonment of governmental laws, but a rejection of God’s authority, God's laws.

As Stern says, "He is truly anti-Torah in the broadest sense" (627). Just as Daniel was told the King of the North would forsake the "gods of his fathers," so too there will be a great turning away from true faith and God’s boundaries for morality (cf. Matt 24:12; 2Pet. 3:3f). is revealed: Grk. apokaluptō, aor. pass. subj., to cause to be fully known. The verb indicates a public revelation, but this may mean his appearance as a public figure. The people of God will recognize him for what he is, but tragically the masses will not mind his deviation from God's standards, because they do not live by those standards themselves. See my article The Coming Antichrist for more information on the end time ruler.

the son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity, as the son of his father (Gen 5); (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor (e.g., Gen 32:32); or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of (e.g., Ps 89:22; Dan 3:25). The noun emphasizes more specifically that the maleness of the antimessiah. To be a "son of" also says something of his character. In the Bible and Judaism a man is normally identified as the son of his father. However, the Hebrew word ben can be used in the broad sense of possessing the characteristics of someone.

of destruction: Grk. apōleia, destruction, ruin or waste. The Hebrew idiom "son of destruction" refers to one who is destined to be destroyed (cf. Rev 17:8). In context the title may derive from the fact that he causes much destruction and will suffer the ultimate destruction of hell (2:8; cf. Rev 19:20). In the wider context of end time prophecy the title may also allude to Abaddon, the angel of the abyss (Rev 9:11). The Hebrew name Abaddon means destruction and the corresponding Greek title Apollyon means destroyer. Since the antimessiah is actually a demonic spirit that arises from the abyss (Rev 17:8), calling him the Son of Destruction suggests a link with Abaddon. Thus, Paul tells the Thessalonian congregation that before Yeshua comes to gather and resurrect the people of God and to punish the wicked, the Man of Lawlessness must come first.

Moreover, Yeshua does not gather and resurrect God's people until the end of the appointed period of the anti-messiah’s reign, because Paul said in his previous letter to the congregation that Yeshua will slay the anti-messiah at His Parousia (1Th 2:8). Paul shares this "bad news," not to discourage or mock the Thessalonian believers, but to reassure them that Yeshua had not already come, that they didn’t need to fret about Yeshua coming at any moment, and that when Yeshua did come He would do justice for His faithful disciples by destroying their enemies (2Th 1:6-10).

4― who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so as for him to take his seat in the sanctuary of God, displaying himself that he is a god.

who opposes: Grk. antikeimai, pres. mid. part., to be in opposition to, to resist. The present participle indicates a constant opposing as habitual or as a life style (Rienecker). The middle voice emphasizes the individual choice and initiative of the antimessiah. and exalts: Grk. huperairō, pres. mid. part., feel overly exalted by an experience,, to rate oneself too highly, to exalt oneself. himself above every so-called: Grk. legō, pres. pass. part., to make a statement, whether in oral or written form, lit. "over everything being called." god: Grk. theos. In secular Greek writings theos is used for a number of deities, always represented in anthropomorphic form. Most of the time in Scripture theos is used of the God of Israel, but the qualifier of "so-called" indicates deities worshipped by other religions, which have no real existence. or object of worship: Grk. sebasma, an object of religious veneration and worship.

so as: Grk. hōste, conj. connecting cause to necessary effect which emphasizes the result; so as to, so then. for him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. to sit down: Grk. kathizō, aor. inf., to sit, to take one's seat. The verb not only is used in a literal sense but the fig. sense of seating someone in a position of authority or staying in a place for a relatively long time. in the sanctuary: Grk. naos designates the sanctuary proper in contrast to hieros, which includes the outer courts. of God: Grk. theos, God or god, which must be determined from the context. In the LXX theos renders the generic designations of God, El (which occurs over 200 times, including combinations such as El Bethel, El Elyon, and El Shaddai) and Elohim (which occurs over 2300 times), as well as the tetragrammaton YHVH, over 300 times (DNTT 2:67-70). As with many other Greek words the LXX infused new meaning into theos.

The Greek phrase ton naon tou thēou, "the sanctuary of God," occurs three other times in the apostolic writings, first referring to the temple in Jerusalem (Matt 26:61; Rev 11:1), and then in a fig. sense of the community of Yeshua followers (1Cor 3:17). The statement alludes to the action of Antiochus Epiphanes during the Seleucid period. Interpretation is complicated by the fact that while the Temple was standing when Paul wrote this letter it was destroyed a few decades later. Since Paul is the only one to use the expression in a figurative sense then his usage here probably conforms to the usage in the Corinthian letter.

displaying: Grk. apodeiknumi, pres. part., set up for public display, put on exhibition, make a pretentious display. himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun. that: Grk. hoti, conj. he is: Grk. eimi, pres., to be, exist; a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). a god: Grk. theos again, but given the omission of a definite article theos probably should be translated "a god" (Marshall). The action of the anti-messiah is like that of the sorcerer, Simon of Samaria, whom some people deified (Acts 8:9-10), but in reality he was a "son of destruction" (Acts 8:20). Paul's description is also similar to Luke's narrative of King Herod:

On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them. 22 The people kept crying out, "The voice of a god and not of a man!" (Acts 12:21-22)

Paul repeats the prophecies of Daniel and Yeshua about the beast-ruler’s self-idolatry in "the holy place," with an added detail. The antimessiah will take "his seat in the temple of God." Many believe that this temple will be a rebuilt Jewish temple and if this were to come about, then there could be no greater blasphemy. (See my web article Rebuild the Temple?) Another possibility is that the antimessiah will presume to exercise authority over Christianity and Judaism, just as Hitler did in Germany.

5― Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I told you these things?

Do you not remember: Grk. mnēmoneuō, to recall with focus on thoughtful recollection. that while I was still with you: Paul points back to the time of his personal ministry in Thessalonica. Paul did not just preach the gospel, but taught disciples the full range of biblical doctrine. I was telling: Grk. legō, impf., to make a statement, whether in oral or written form. The imperfect tense is an auxiliary to the present tense, built on the present stem, functioning for it in the indicative to refer to continuous action in past time. Paul uses the imperfect tense to give vividness to his description of the teaching activity he had conducted in the past. you these things: i.e., the eschatological subjects of the resurrection, Second Coming and Day of the Lord.

6― And now the restraining, you know, for him to be revealed in his time.

And now: Grk. nun, an adv. referring to present time, now or just now. the restraining: Grk. katechō, pres. part., to prevent action; hold back, restrain. The participle with the definite article is lit. "the restraining" or "the restraining one." you know: Grk. oida, perf., 2p-pl., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The verb is used for various kinds of knowledge: (1) to know someone or about someone; (2) to be intimately acquainted with or stand in a close relation to someone; (3) to know or understand how to do something, be able; (4) understand, recognize, or come to know by experience; and (5) to remember (BAG).

In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045; e.g., Num 11:16; Deut 1:39; Josh 2:4; 2Sam 19:6), which has a wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning (DNTT 2:395). To the Hebrew mind "knowing" is not philosophical or theoretical, but based in reality.

for: Grk. eis, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. to be revealed: Grk. apokaluptō, aor. pass. inf., to cause to be fully known, to disclose, or to reveal. The passive voice emphasizes the receipt of insight from God. The infinitive is a verbal noun and so emphasizes that recipients of the revelation will be in no doubt as to the antimessiah's identity. in: Grk. en, prep. his: Grk. autos. time: Grk. kairos, an appropriate or definite period in which an activity takes place. Just as Yeshua came into the world as a man and fulfilled his redemptive mission at the right and prophesied time (Rom 5:6; Gal 4:4), so the antimessiah will make his appearance at the time determined by God.

7― For the mystery of lawlessness is already working; only the restraining at present until out of the midst he should come.

Perhaps the most controversial portion of Paul’s treatise on the antimessiah is this verse where he continues the thought of a restraining action of the previous verse. For: Grk. gar, conj., "certainly it follows that." the mystery: Grk. mustērion, that which awaits divine disclosure or interpretation. In Greek culture mustērion referred to a secret rite or secret teaching. The term occurs 28 times in the apostolic writings, 21 of which are in the writings of Paul. The concept of God’s secrecy was originally explained to Moses, “the secret things belong to the Lord” (Deut 29:29). In Scripture a mystery is a reality or plan that God kept concealed from his people but finally revealed to his apostles (cf. Eph 3:5). God had communicated several mysteries to his prophets, but the meaning remained obscure, in effect hidden in plain sight.

God's secret counsels were necessary because man cannot really be trusted (John 2:24f) and Satan engages in unceasing warfare against God’s kingdom and would certainly use any intelligence to hinder God’s workings (John 10:10; cf. Eph 6:12; 1Thess 2:18; 1Pet 5:8). of lawlessness: Grk. anomia. See verse 3 above. the question that comes to mind is — why is lawlessness or Torah-lessness considered a mystery? People are born sinners, so breaking God's law is common to human nature. The mystery aspect has to do with the revelation of the antimessiah, the epitome of lawlessness. The increasing tide of rebellion against God's commandments points to the coming of the antimessiah.

already: Grk. ēdē, adv., with focus on temporal culmination, now, already. is working: Grk. energeō, pres. mid., may mean (1) be vigorous in pursuit of an object; be active, work, operate; or (2) bring about; work, produce, effect. The first meaning applies here. only: Grk. monos, adj., signifying the exclusion of any other entity, alone, only. the restraining: Grk. ho katechō, pres. part. See the previous verse. The participle with the definite article could be rendered "the restraining one." at present: Grk. arti, lit. "just now." until: heōs, a conj. that emphasizes a limitation on time, till or until. out of: Grk. ek, prep., lit. "out of," which points to the transfer from one point to another.

the midst: Grk. mesos means midst, middle, or center. he should come: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. subj., to transfer from one state or condition to another, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being birth or natural process; be born or produced; (2) exist through application of will or effort by a person; be made, be performed; or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development; come to be, become, take place, happen, occur, arise, be, appear, come, arrive. The third person singular verb could also be "it comes."

Almost all versions translate the second half of the verse as "only he who restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way" or words to that effect. Such a translation is inexplicable considering the literal translation of the Greek that I have provided. The words "will do so" do not appear in the Greek text and are pure invention. Most versions translate the verb ginomai as "taken," which totally misses the intended meaning. When the English word "taken" is used to translate ginomai in the rest of the apostolic writings it is normally in the sense of an event taking place. If the apostle wanted to convey the notion of taking "away" the Greek word airō, which does include that meaning, would be more appropriate.

These versions also translate mesos as "way," but the only other translation of mesos as "way" is in Colossians 2:14 where it is used in the sense of taking out of everyone’s sight or out of the midst of everyone (and there airō is used instead of ginomai). If Paul wanted to convey taken out of "the earth" then he would more likely have used one of two words for earth, or oikoumenē, but it makes no sense for him to use mesos for that purpose. Two versions give a literal translation comparable to my own:

LITV: "For the mystery of lawlessness already is working, only he is holding back now, until it comes out of the midst."

Marshall: "For the mystery already operates of lawlessness only the restraining just now until out of the midst it comes."

The standard translation of the second half of the verse has been seized upon by advocates of pretribulationism to justify their view of eschatology. According to this theory, the people of God acting as salt and light is restraining the "mystery of lawlessness" (and therefore the Man of Lawlessness) and must be removed (along with the Holy Spirit) in order for the full activity of Satan to take place and for the antimessiah to appear. After all, if the antimessiah came while Christians were in the world, then they would point him out and he would not succeed in fooling anyone.

Actually, Paul makes no explicit reference to the Holy Spirit in these verses. Paul only refers to the Holy Spirit once in this letter (2:13), in which he speaks of the sanctifying work of the Spirit. While the Holy Spirit may depart individuals (cf. Num 14:42f; Josh 7:12; Jdg 16:20; 1Sam 16:14), the whole notion that any part of God’s universe could ever be void of His Spirit, which is His presence, is utterly impossible. There simply is no Scriptural evidence that God’s Spirit ever has or ever shall literally depart in any partial or complete sense from any part of His universe, especially the earth (cf. Ps 139:7-12). And wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, God’s grace and mercy are available.

Moreover, the concept of removing the Holy Spirit is devastating to the Good News, which asserts the indispensable role of the Holy Spirit in conviction of sin, justification, regeneration, sanctification and other spiritual graces. The report of apostolic ministry detailed in Acts also demonstrates that successful ministry depends utterly on the work of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit how could the Father expect anyone to be convicted of sin when the angel proclaims the "eternal Good News" for the last time (Rev 14:6f)? Without the Holy Spirit what is left is "another Good News" that would rely on legalistic works to achieve salvation.

In context Paul's prophecy is not about the leaving of the Holy Spirit, but the coming of the antimessiah, and here Paul confirms the prophecy that would be later given to John that the beast will come from the abyss (Rev 11:7). Considering the grammar and word definitions are critical to a correct understanding of this verse. It is difficult to believe that the rabbinic trained apostle Paul would speak of this theoretical leaving in such a clumsy manner as implied by standard English versions. Paul's actual words in the Greek text assert that rather than people being taken out of the world to heaven, the spirit of the antimessiah is being restrained in the abyss and one day will be released to possess the future man of sin (cf. Rev 11:7; 13:11; 17:8). For a complete critique of pretribulationism see my web article The Rapture Debate.

8― And then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord Yeshua will slay with the breath of his mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;

Then: Grk. tote, a demonstrative temporal adverb, specifically of a time that is later. that lawless one: Grk. anomos, manifesting social lawlessness and religious impiety, thus defiant of custom or ordinance, but in this case the epitome of lawlessness. will be revealed: Grk. apokaluptō, fut. pass., to uncover, to reveal, to disclose. The verb (found c. 80 times in the Besekh) generally represents forms of the Heb. galah, "to strip" or "to expose." Whatever the context, "the goal of the uncovering is thus not distant observation, but entrance into the most intense form of encounter which can involve the individual person" (DNTT, III, 310). whom the Lord Yeshua: See verse 1 above. will slay: Grk. anaireō, fut., to remove by causing death, to kill by execution.

with the breath: Grk. pneuma, wind, breath or spirit. "Breath" is chosen because of the next noun, but "spirit" would also work. of his mouth: Grk. stoma, the mouth as a bodily organ. This is a typical Hebraic way of speaking of emphasizing the body part engaged in an activity. The book of Revelation depicts Yeshua fighting his enemies with the sword of his mouth (Rev 1:16; 2:16; 19:21). and bring to an end: Grk. katargeō, fut., cause to become ineffective or inoperative. For this verse Mounce gives the meaning as to destroy or annihilate. by the appearance: Grk. epiphaneia, extraordinary coming into view, appearing,, probably with connotation of splendor. of his coming: Grk. parousia. See verse 1 above. A fuller account of the Lord's judgment is found in Revelation 19.

Paul apparently draws on the imagery of Isaiah 11:4, which describes the actions of the branch of Jesse, "And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked." A Messianic psalm also has a bearing on this event:

"I have found David My servant; with My holy oil I have anointed him, 21 with whom My hand will be established; My arm also will strengthen him. 22 The enemy will not deceive him, nor the son of wickedness [anomia] afflict him. 23 But I shall crush his adversaries before him, and strike those who hate him."" (Ps 89:20-23 NASB)

9― of whom the presence is according to the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,

of whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. The antecedent is the lawless one in the previous verse. the presence: Grk. parousia, presence or coming. See verse 1 above. is: Grk. eimi, to be or to exist. according to: Grk. kata, prep., lit. "down," but in emphasizing the relation between two assertions it carries the meaning of "according to, with reference to." the activity: Grk. energeia, productive activity, with a focus on outward exhibition of inner resources. of Satan: Grk. Satanas, lit. "the Satan," the chief enemy of God and all who belong to God. Satanas may be a name, but functions more as a descriptive title of his function as heavenly prosecutor. In both the Besekh and the LXX satanas transliterates the Heb. satan (pronounced "sah-tahn"), which means accuser or adversary (BDB 966).

In the Tanakh the Heb. satan refers to a person, whether human (1Sam 29:4; 1Kgs 11:14, 24, 25; Ps 109:6) or heavenly being (Num 22:22, 32; 1Sam 29:4; 1Chron 21:1; Job 2:1; Zech 3:1), who opposes other humans. Satan is a created being and not equal to God in power or knowledge. Many commentators believe that the taunt against the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14:11-15 and the lament for the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28:11-19 depict the original perfection and downfall of the leading cherub. Exactly when Satan was created or became evil is not disclosed in Scripture. The angels were most likely created on the second day (cf. Job 38:4-7). In contrast to the common depiction of angels the cherubim and seraphim are the only heavenly beings described as having wings. All the other heavenly messengers, translated as "angels," appeared as ordinary men.

Of importance is that Satan is not an angel, and is sometimes contrasted with angels (Mark 1:13; Zech 3:1; 2Cor 11:14; Rev 12:9). In the Tanakh Satan is most frequently mentioned in the story of Job in which the prince of cherubs is an adversary of man. There is no question that the serpent in Genesis 3 who tempts the first couple is Satan (Rev 12:9). Why the good and loving God permits the existence of Satan is also not explained. In the Besekh satanas is never used to describe a human. In the apostolic narratives Satan is depicted as an opponent of Yeshua and the Good News (Mark 4:15), as a tempter (Mark 1:13) and as the head of a demonic empire (Mark 3:23-26). In contrast with the "God of peace" Satan’s character and life goals are summed up in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy."

with all: Grk. pas, adj. conveying the idea of comprehensiveness, all or every. "All" does not mean equal to God, but "all" at Satan's disposal. power: Grk. dunamis, which refers to the quality or state of being capable to carry something out, whether it be physical, spiritual, military or political ,and thus may mean power, strength or might. In the Besekh dunamis is primarily used to refer to the power of God, but here of Satan. In the LXX dunamis was used to translate Hebrew words that referred to military forces or the power of a ruler (DNTT 2:602). "All power" for Satan would include both his demonic organization and governmental structures carrying out his bidding.

and signs: Grk. sēmeion means sign, miracle or wonder. In the LXX sēmeion predominately translates the Heb. word oth, which means (a) sign, mark, token; (b) miraculous sign or miracle (DNTT 2:626). Most of the usages of "sign" in the LXX are related to miraculous wonders that only the Creator could perform (e.g. Ex 7:3; Num 17:25; Josh 4:6; 2Kgs 20:9). Sēmeion is used in the apostolic narratives in reference to miracles performed by Yeshua that attested his authority and validated his divinity (John 2:11, 18; 4:54; 6:14; 12:18; 20:30f; Acts 2:22), as well as miracles performed by the apostles that confirmed their authority and message (Acts 5:12; 6:8; 8:6; 14:3; 15:12; Rom 15:19). Satan is also capable of performing supra-human feats, as Job's experience attests (Job 1:13-19; 2:7).

and false: Grk. pseudos, a distortion of the way something really is, a lie, a falsehood. wonders: Grk. teras, a phenomenon with an astounding effect, and in the Besekh always with "signs" (cf. Isa 8:18). In Greek sources teras denotes terrible appearances which elicit fright and horror and which contradict the orderly unity of nature (DNTT 2:633). In the LXX teras chiefly renders mopheth ("wonder, sign or portent," BDB 68). The Hebrew and Greek words feature in contexts of supra-terrestrial occurrences and divine intervention. Since "signs" and "wonders" appear together they may be considered two sides of the same coin. In other words, "sign" is the event and "wonder" is the impact on those who witness the sign. The wonders performed by Satan are false because they reveal his character as a liar (John 10:10). Thus, it no surprise that Paul warns that the Man of Lawlessness will arrive because of the activity of Satan (cf. Rev 13:1).

10― and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.

and with all the deception: Grk. apatē, deceit, deception, delusion. of wickedness: Grk. adikia means wrongdoing, unrighteousness, wickedness or injustice. The word group (adikia, the adj. adikos, and the vb. adikeō) pictures the unjust man as opposite of the just man. Adikia covers all that offends against morals, custom or decency, all things that are unseemly, unspeakable or fraudulent and is what harms the order of the world. Adikia is rooted in legal thinking. (DNTT 3:573f). The Hebrew vocabulary is far more complex and varied than the Greek. In the LXX adikia, occurring about 250 times and rendering 36 different Hebrew words indicates that sin in ancient Israel was above all an offence against the sacred order of divine justice (1Sam 3:13f). Thus, it affects the community, whose existence is most intimately connected with the preservation of divine justice. Adikia is ultimately sin against God and the community (cf. 1John 5:17).

for those who perish: Grk. apollumi, pres. pass. part., may mean (1) cause severe damage; destroy, kill; or (2) experience disconnection or separation; lose, perish. The first meaning applies here. because they did not receive: Grk. dechomai, aor. mid. ind., to take into ones hands, receive. the love: Grk. agapē, a relatively high level of interest in the well-being of another, affection, esteem, love. The noun is one of the four Greek words for "love" and the one that occurs most frequently in the Besekh. The corresponding Hebrew noun (ahava) encompasses all four Greek meanings (BDB 12). God's nature and actions are the epitome of agapē. The common factor in every passage employing the agapē word-group is the willingness to sacrifice for an object, which sets it apart from the affection of phileō, the family loyalty of storgē and the passion of eros.

of the truth: Grk. alētheia may mean (1) truthfulness, dependability, uprightness in thought and deed, (2) truth as opposed to what is false, or (3) reality as opposed to mere appearance (BAG). All those meanings have application here. In the LXX alētheia regularly translates the Heb. emet (SH-571), "firmness, faithfulness, truth," (BDB 54), although Christian Bibles sometimes render it as "truth" and sometimes as "faithfulness" (DNTT 3:877). Emet is often used for truthfulness in God and piety in man. The Rabbis explain rather pedantically that emet contains the first, middle and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and that truth ought to be trustworthy through and through (Santala 72).

so as to be saved: Grk. sōzō, aor. pass. inf. (from saos, 'free from harm'), to deliver, or rescue from a hazardous condition, often in the sense of bodily harm (Matt 14:30), as well from spiritual peril (Matt 24:13). The subjunctive mood looks toward what is conceivable, not actual. In the LXX sōzō translates no less than 15 different Hebrew verbs, but the most important yasha, used in the Hiphil meaning to deliver and save (e.g., 1Sam 23:5), and malat, used in the Piel meaning to escape, deliver, save (e.g., 1Kgs 1:12).

The Hebrew verbs are used in relation to various external threats and bodily peril, especially enemies (DNTT 3:206). Two important principles may be noted in the Tanakh. First, deliverance may come about through men, even though possessing significant limitations (e.g., Gideon, Judg 7:2). Second, the pious Israelite was aware of the fact that deliverance comes ultimately from God himself (Ps 18:2; 44:3). It is by His power and name that foes are vanquished and evil defeated. In the Besekh sōzō frequently refers to rescue from spiritual peril, including deliverance from God's wrath on the Day of the Lord.

11― And because of this God will send to them an operation of delusion so that they will believe what is false,

And because of: Grk. dia, prep., lit. "through, on account of" but with the accusative of the pronoun following the preposition stresses causation; on account of, by reason of, for the sake of, because of. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, this, this thing. God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 4 above. In the LXX theos renders the generic designations of God, El (which occurs over 200 times, including combinations such as El Bethel, El Elyon, and El Shaddai) and Elohim (which occurs over 2300 times), as well as the tetragrammaton YHVH, over 300 times (DNTT 2:67-70). As with many other Greek words the LXX infused new meaning into theos. The only God in existence is the "God of Israel." The gods of other religions are the result of Satan's deception and man's imagination.

will send: Grk. pempō, to dispatch someone for a variety of purposes; lit. "sends." to them an operation: Grk. energeia, productive activity, with a focus on outward exhibition of inner resources. Mounce defines as energy, efficacy, power, active energy, or operation. of delusion: Grk. planē, a wandering, a deceit, deception, delusion, imposture, fraud (Mounce). so that they will believe: Grk. pisteuō, aor. inf., in general Greek usage means to have confidence or faith in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. The verb describes an active behavior and the aorist tense stresses a completed act. In the LXX pisteuō renders the Heb. 'aman, which means to confirm or support, as well as to be true, reliable or faithful, and to stand firm or trust (BDB 52). what is false: Grk. pseudos. See verse 9 above. Paul's description has the ring of a military operation, no doubt carried out by angels.

It needs to be remembered that the action of God to send a "deluding influence," which, combined with the public distrust of followers of Yeshua, would override any efforts of faithful disciples to expose the antimessiah. Indeed, the presence of the Holy Spirit and the Body of Messiah have not prevented previous world dictators from appearing in history nor the persecution of God’s people by those same despots. In addition, the presence of the Holy Spirit and the Body of Messiah down through the centuries has not significantly diminished the working of evil around the world, as evidenced by the persistence of wars, racism, totalitarian regimes, genocide, slavery, feudalism, poverty, and all the works of the flesh by sinful humanity. So, why should the Holy Spirit be suddenly removed so this last despot can make his appearance?

12― in order that all the ones not having believed the truth, but took delight in wickedness may be judged.

in order that: Grk. hina, conj., used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed; in order that. all the ones not: Grk. , not. See verse 2 above. having believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. part. See the previous verse. the truth: Grk. alētheia. See verse 10 above. but took delight: Grk. eudokeō, aor. part., to take delight in or with something or someone; be delighted, be well pleased. in wickedness: Grk. adikia. See verse 10 above.

may be judged: Grk. krinō, aor. pass. subj., has a wide variety of applications: (1) distinguish, select, prefer, consider, look upon (Acts 13:46; Rom 14:5); (2) decide, propose, intend (Acts 3:13); (3) as a legal term to judge, decide, hale before a court, condemn, also hand over for judicial punishment (Acts 13:27; 23:3; Rev 6:10); (4) of the judgment which people customarily pass upon the lives and actions of their fellowmen and express an opinion about, especially in an unfavorable sense, to find fault, to criticize (Rom 2:1; 1Cor 10:29) (BAG). A continuum of judgment may be defined: observe, distinguish, evaluate, analyze, and decide, with the result being positive or negative.

In the LXX krinō is used mainly to translate three different Heb. words: din, rib and shaphat (DNTT 2:363). Din means not only to judge (in a legal sense, usually by tribal elders, e.g., Ruth 4:1-3), but also to punish, wrangle, vindicate and obtain justice for someone (Gen 15:14; 30:6; Deut 32:36; 2Sam 19:9; Ps 54:3; Jer 5:28). Rib means to quarrel, to litigate, to carry on a lawsuit (Gen 26:21; Judg 8:1; 21:22; 1Sam 24:16). Shaphat, which occurs the most frequently and means to judge in a legal sense or to govern. The judgment alluded to here will occur at the Second Coming when all must appear before the judgment seat of the Messiah (2Cor 5:10).

13― Now we ought to offer a blessing to God always concerning you, brethren, having been loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits for salvation by sanctification of spirit and faithfulness to the truth.

Now: Grk. de, conj., used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also" (BAG). In this verse the conjunction introduces a transition. we ought: Grk. opheilō, to be under a prescribed obligation, to have a duty or to owe someone. to offer a blessing: Grk. eucharisteō, pres. inf., to thank or to give thanks. For the verb here God is explicitly the recipient of the thanksgiving. The verb occurs not at all in the LXX of the Tanakh, but is found six times in the Jewish Apocrypha (DNTT 3:818). The verb eucharisteō occurs 38 times in the Besekh in a variety of contexts in relation to something that has been received (cf. Ps 100:4; Php 4:6; 1Tim 2:1; Rev 7:12).

I translated the verb with "offer a blessing" rather than "gave thanks" to emphasize the fact that in writing to a Jewish congregation Paul followed Jewish custom as did Yeshua (Matt 14:19; Mark 6:41; Luke 9:16). Jews learned very early to offer a b'rakhah to God on many occasions for every good thing in life. (These may be found in the Talmud tractate Berakoth.) The b'rakhah is a sentence or paragraph of praise and thanksgiving to God, commencing with the formula, Barukh attah Adonai, ("Blessed are you, O LORD," quoting Psalm 119:12) (Ber. 1:4) and continuing with an action verb and phrase that describes what God does that merits praise. Paul supplies the content of his b'rakhah by describing what God did in Thessalonica.

to God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 11 above. always: Grk. pantote, adv., always, at all times. concerning: Grk. peri, prep., lit. "around;" about, concerning. you, brethren: pl. of Grk. adelphos. See verse 1 above. having been loved: Grk. agapaō, perf. pass. part., to have such an interest in another that one wishes to contribute to the other's well-being, even if it means making a personal sacrifice to do so. In the LXX agapaō translates aheb, but aheb is a far more comprehensive word than agapaō. Aheb is like the English word "love" which has a variety of meanings. The verb points to both the character of God (1John 4:8) and the faithfulness of God to his covenant promises.

by the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 1 above. because God chose: Grk. haireō, to make a selection expressing preference; to prefer, to take, to choose. In the LXX h occurs only 6 times for four different words: (1) Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, to say, Deut 26:17-18, used in the sense that Israel chose ADONAI to be their God and promised to walk in His ways; (2) Heb. chaphets (SH-2654), to delight in, to desire; 1Sam 19:1; (3) Heb. bachar (SH-977), to choose, 2Sam 15:15; Jer 8:3; and (4) Heb. natah (SH-5186), to incline, to offer, 1Chron 21:10. Of these passages the first three Hebrew words refers to the action of men. Yet, Paul uses the word to emphasize God's action, which no doubt originates from the fact that the Good News was for the Jews first.

you as firstfruits: Grk. aparchē, make a beginning in sacrifice, by offering something as first fruits to God. In the LXX aparchē renders Heb. reishit, lit. "beginning," "chief," "first of fruits," meaning the first fruits of natural products that were consecrated to the LORD, the giver of fruitfulness (Ex 23:19; Lev 2:12; 23:10; Num 15:20; 18:2; Deut 18:4; 26:2, 10; 33:21). Aparchē most commonly translates Heb. terumah, which denotes the contribution of natural products or money specifically for the priests and Levites (e.g., Ex 25:2; Deut 12:11), similarly understood as a thank-offering to the LORD (DNTT 3:415).

A number of versions translate aparchē with "beginning" as a time reference, making it a statement about predestination (ASV, CEB, EXB, GW, HCSB, HNV, KJV, MSG, NASB, NCV, NKJV, and RSV). However, six Bible versions give the literal translation of "firstfruits" (CJB, ESV, LEB, MW, NIV, NRSV, OJB, TNIV and TLV) and three others employ a similar concept of "first" (CEV, NLT, and TEV). In addition, BAG allows that aparchē should be translated as "first fruits" in this passage. Paul's point is that the Thessalonica disciples were among the first fruits in Macedonia (Acts 17:1-4) along with Lydia and the jailer (with their households) in Philippi (Acts 16:14-15, 31-33).

Paul uses aparchē purposefully as in the Torah, alluding to the "first fruits" harvest offerings to the God of Israel (as cited above) and the later idiomatic use for the patriarchs and Israel as the "first fruits" chosen from the nations (Hos 9:10; Jer 2:3). More significant is that Yeshua rose from the dead on Reishit Katzir, "First Fruits of Harvest," that fell on the first day of the week following Passover. Sheaves of the barley harvest were raised up and waved before the Lord in the temple in thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. Yeshua being raised up was the initial first fruits that held forth the promise of resurrection for all (1Cor 15:20) and thus Yeshua became the "firstborn of many brethren" (Rom 8:29).

for salvation: Grk. sōtēria, rescue, deliverance or salvation from physical harm, but often from God's wrath. The context of this important theological term is the loss of freedom. "Whenever men by their own fault or through some superior power have come under the control of someone else, and have lost their freedom to implement their will and decisions, and when their own resources are inadequate to deal with that other power, they can regain their freedom only by the intervention of a third party" (DNTT 3:177). That third party is the God of Israel and his agent to accomplish deliverance is the Messiah. In the LXX sōtēria translates six different Hebrew formations derived from the root verb yasha, to deliver (DNTT 3:206).

by sanctification: Grk. hagiasmos, holiness, consecration, or sanctification. The term may refer to a process or its result (the state of being made holy). In the LXX hagiasmos has no clear Hebrew equivalent (DNTT 2:224), although cognates of hagiasmos (hagiazō, hagiasma and hagios) do translate the qadosh word-group. Christian theologians tend to distinguish "the process" and "the result" with the term "sanctification" for the process and "holiness" for the result. However the qadosh word-group really describes the state or condition, whether of God, angels, people, the sanctuary or vessels devoted to worship. Qadosh, based on its usage in the Torah of things and people, can be defined simply as "wholly His," i.e., ownership by the God of Israel. It is being set apart for God's service, a servant devoted to performing His will. The purpose of sanctification as a spiritual grace is to return human nature to normality by freeing the personality from the reign of Sin.

of spirit: Grk. pneuma (for Heb. ruach), wind, breath or spirit as the animating force for bodily movement (Luke 8:55). Pneuma is used for transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10). Though pneuma in this verse is commonly translated in English versions as "the Spirit" (meaning the Holy Spirit), the absence of the definite article and the genitive case of pneuma suggests that Paul might have intended the human spirit. Another possibility is that Paul uses pneuma as a double entendre, alluding to the promise given to Ezekiel:

"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances." (Ezek 36:25-27 NASB)

Fifty days later on Yom HaBikkurim, "Day of First Fruits," also called Shavuot ("Weeks"), sheaves of the wheat harvest were waved before the Lord in thanksgiving for the harvest while at the same time the Holy Spirit came in power and ushered in a harvest of souls who embraced Yeshua as their Messiah and Redeemer. Jacob in his letter uses aparchē or "first fruits" to describe these first disciples in Judea (Jas 1:18). To call the Thessalonian disciples "first fruits" declares both their participation in the saving and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit begun at Shavuot and his eligibility for the redemption of the body at the resurrection on the last day (Rom 8:23).

and faithfulness: Grk. pistis means (1) constancy in awareness of obligation to others, thus faithfulness or fidelity; and (2) belief or confidence evoked by another's reputation for trustworthiness, thus faith, trust or confidence. In the LXX pistis is used to twice translate Heb. emun (Deut 32:20; Prov 13:17; 'faithfulness,' BDB 53), but renders Heb. emunah ('firmness, steadfastness, fidelity,' BDB 53) over 20 times mainly of men's faithfulness (e.g., 1Sam 26:23; 2Kgs 12:15; 22:7; Prov 3:3; 12:17, 22; Jer 5:1, 3; 7:28; 9:3; Hos 2:20), but also of God's faithfulness (Ps 33:4; Lam 3:23; Hab 2:4). Pistis also translates Heb. aman (to confirm, to support, Jer 15:18), amanah ('fixed support,' Neh 9:38; 11:23) and emet (firmness, faithfulness, truth, Prov 14:22; Jer 28:9; 33:6).

The LXX usage emphasizes that the Hebrew meaning of faithfulness is the intended usage of pistis. The apostles build on this meaning and represent pistis as composed of two elements. The first element of faithfulness is confidence or trust: "And without faith[fulness] it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb 11:6; cf. Heb 4:2). True faith leads one to seek God and then trust Him to respond with His good gifts. The second element of faithfulness involves commitment and obedience, which includes following God’s direction for life and producing works of righteousness (cf. Eph 2:8-10).

While salvation is accomplished by trusting in the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua, no disciple can be unfaithful and expect to ultimately receive deliverance from the wrath of God (cf. Rom 6:1; Heb 10:26-31). In reality salvation relies primarily on the faithfulness of Messiah Yeshua to complete the work the Father assigned to him and the faithfulness of the Father to keep His word concerning the gift of mercy. Paul's viewpoint on the "faithfulness of Yeshua" is expressed in several passages, typically mistranslated as "faith in Yeshua" (Rom 3:22, 26; Gal 2:16, 20; 3:22, 26; Eph 3:12; Php 3:9). In Ephesians 2:8 "for by grace you have been saved through faith" = faithfulness. The conclusion of the verse "it is the gift of God" identifies the faithfulness as belonging to God.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Many Christian interpreters recognize a third usage in the Besekh of pistis as a body of belief, i.e., doctrine (found in Acts 6:7; Rom 1:5; 12:6; Gal 1:23; 1Tim 1:19; 4:1, 6; 6:10; 2Tim 2:18; 4:3, 7; Jude 1:3, 20) (BAG 669). However, this objectivizing of the pistis-concept owes more to later Christian misunderstanding of the use of the definite article ho (the) with pistis than apostolic intention. The Greek of the apostolic writings is really Jewish Greek, that is, it communicates the Hebrew language of the apostles. In Hebrew the definite article ha with a noun only serves to specify the noun in a sentence or make the noun more emphatic (Ross 59). So, too, the function of the definite article in Greek is to point out an object or to draw attention to it (DM 137). The definite article does not change the definition of the noun. For example, the Greek name Iēsous (Yeshua, Jesus) often appears in the genitive case as tou Iēsou, but no Christian Bible translates the name with the definite article as "the Jesus." Paul never uses pistis to mean 'creedal doctrine.'

to the Truth: Grk. alētheia. See verse 10 above. Most versions translate the closing phrase with either "belief in the truth" (CEB, ESV, HCSB, HNV, KJV, MW, NIV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV, RSV, TLV) or "faith in the truth" (CEV, ERV, EXB, GW, LEB, NASB, NCV, NET, NJB, TEV). Closer to Paul's point is the CJB with "faithfulness that has its origin in the truth." The phrase contains a subtle play on words because the corresponding Hebrew word emet also means faithfulness. It is very possible that Paul here personifies Truth as he does elsewhere (Rom 2:8). Yeshua is the Truth and the only Way to God (John 14:6; cf. Acts 4:12; 1Tim 2:5; Heb 8:6; 12:24). The truth of Yeshua's mediatorial work is the substance of the Good News (Gal 2:5, 14; Eph 1:13; Col 1:5), which Paul emphasizes in the next verse.

14― to which he also called you through our Good News, to the obtainment of the glory of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.

to: Grk. eis, prep., focus on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival; into, to, toward. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun, who, which, what, that. he also called: Grk. kaleō, aor., often means either to call or summon to divine relationship and responsibility, or to identify by name. There are nuances of both meanings here since the Thessalonians were invited to a relationship with God and would receive a new name (cf. cf. Isa 56:5; 62:2; 65:15; Rev 2:17; 3:12). you: The personal pronoun is plural. through: Grk. dia, prep. emphasizing instrumentality; through. our: pl. of Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. This is an indirect way of Paul referring to himself.

Good News: Grk. euangelion originally meant a reward for good news and then simply good news. See 1:1. In the LXX euangelion renders besorah, which may mean either a reward for good news (2Sam 4:10) or glad tidings (2Sam 18:20, 22). Given the origin of "gospel" in Old English ("god-spell"), many Jews regard the word as a distinctively Christian word without Jewish connotation. Most Christians think of the gospel only as 'Yeshua died on the cross to save me from my sins and give me a home in heaven,' a gospel totally divorced from its Jewish context. However, the message of the apostles is clear that the Good News of the Messiah was the good news for Israel that God had fulfilled his covenantal promises.

The Good News is the same message the angel Gabriel gave to Zechariah (Luke 1:13-17), to Joseph (Matt 1:20-23) and Miriam (Luke 1:30-37). This is the same message that Zechariah then declared to his fellow Jews (Luke 1:68-75), all of which reflected the Jewish hopes and expectations of a redeemer and deliverer and continuing rights to the Promised Land. Consistent with these prior announcements the apostles declared that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah, who fulfilled the promises made to Israel through the prophets; that God has made Yeshua Lord; that forgiveness of sins is available to all through Yeshua’s atoning sacrifice; and that the proof of God’s Word is that Yeshua was raised from the dead (Acts 2:14-40; 10:34-43). Gentiles were therefore called to turn to the God of Israel and serve him. The Gentiles all have different gods (small "g"). Only the God of Israel saves (Jer 16:19-20; Acts 17:23-31).

When Paul says "our Good News" (i.e., "his Good News," Rom 2:16; 16:25; 1Th 1:5; 2Tim 2:8) he is not being egotistical or talking about a new message that replaced the good news announced by the angels in the nativity story (Luke 1-2), Yeshua himself or the other apostles. Contrary to many Christian theologians Paul did not change religions or invent a new religion; he did not repudiate the Torah and circumcision; and he most certainly did not teach God’s rejection of the Jews. Harrison points out that Paul would hardly ask God to confirm readers in his gospel if it were different from that preached by others. "My Good News" may declare five things. First, Paul felt the need to rebut the distortions of his teaching (verse 17 above; cf. Rom 3:8, 31; 7:7; 11:1; 1Cor 4:13; 10:30; Gal 1:11; 3:21; 2Thess 2:2; 1Tim 2:7). So, Paul's Good News contrasts with those who taught a different message (2Cor 11:4; Gal 1:6).

Second, the Good News is "his" in the sense that it was good news for him. The content of Paul's preaching included telling his own story of grace experienced on the Damascus Road. "God can save the worst sinners, because he saved me." Third, "his" Good News came by means of divine revelation as he says in Galatians 1:11, "For I would have you know, brethren, that the Good News which was proclaimed by me is not according to man." Fourth, the Good News is "his" in the sense of his commission to convey this message received directly from Yeshua, just as Ananias was informed, "He is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel" (Acts 9:15). His Good News was particularly intended for the Gentiles among whom he labored in four missionary journeys throughout the Diaspora to seek their obedience to God (Rom 15:18). Fifth, "his" Good News emphasized the Jewish roots of the Messiah and Redeemer (Acts 13:22-23, 34; Rom 1:3; 9:5; 15:8; 2Tim 2:8), a fact sadly lacking in Christian creeds.

to the gaining: Grk. peripoiēsis, circumstance of security; preserving, possessing, possession, or gaining. The idea is of obtaining full possession for abundant gain. of the glory: Grk. doxa originally meant opinion, conjecture, praise or repute in secular Greek in regard to what one thought about a person or thing. In the LXX doxa renders Heb. kabod (pronounced "kah-vohd"), "abundance, honor, glory" (SH-3519; BDB 458). Kabod does include the meanings of dignity of position, reputation of character and the reverence due to or ascribed to someone, and is frequently used for the honor brought or given to God (e.g., Ps 29:1; Isa 42:12). In the Besekh doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45). In one respect becoming a disciple is a gain for the reputation of the Messiah.

of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah: See verse 1 above. Paul emphasizes the three-fold aspect of our redeemer - Master, Messiah, and Savior. None of these identities or characteristics can be found in the antimessiah or any other substitute.

15― So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by message or by letter from us.

So then, brethren: pl. of Grk. adelphos. See verse 1 above. Paul follows the address with two important commands. stand firm: Grk. stēkō, pres. imp., of a position that is up or erect, here fig. of unwavering stability; stand firm, be constant, persevere. and hold: Grk. krateō, pres. imp., to have firm hold on; take hold of, hold fast, hold to. to the traditions: pl. of Grk. paradosis, what is transmitted by way of teaching, precept or doctrine; that which may be passed on from one generation to the next; tradition. The noun occurs 13 times in the Besekh, 8 of which are in the Synoptic Narratives of Pharisaic traditions (e.g., Matt 15:2-3; Gal 1:14) which had been granted higher authority than the written Torah. The term is also used of Paul's teaching on practical matters (cf. 1Cor 11:2; 2Thess 3:6).

which you were taught: Grk. didaskō, aor. pass., to teach or instruct. Thayer defines the verb as "to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, deliver didactic discourses." Mounce adds "to speak in a public assembly; to direct or admonish." In the LXX didaskō occurs about 100 times and is used to translate nine different verbs (DNTT 3:760). In contrast with Greek education Jewish teaching since the time of Moses has been more concerned with communicating God's ethical demands than imparting information (DNTT 3:766). whether: Grk. eite, conj. used in combination to denote an alternative; "whether … or." by message: Grk. logos, here referring to oral speech. Some versions render as "word of mouth."

or: Grk. eite. by letter: Grk. epistolē, letter, of various types and subject matter. Mounce adds "word sent, an order, command, epistle." The noun occurs 22 times in the Besekh, 17 of which are in the letters of Paul. In scholarly works the apostolic letters are generally referred to as epistles because of their public and didactic character. In Greek culture epistolē originally referred to a military dispatch or an administrative order. Within Hellenistic culture there were many types of letters, from private letters of a personal or intimate nature, didactic letters of philosophers, aesthetic treatises in letter form and letters of recommendation. Greek letters generally followed a basic structure (DNTT 1:246). Letter writing was also very common among Jews. A wide range of epistolary literature occurs in the latter part of the Tanakh, often letters from rulers to other rulers or to their subjects.

In the LXX epistolē translates three different Heb terms for written communications. The first use is for Heb. sepher (SH-5612), a didactic letter, document, writing, book; used of letters sent by the King of Babylon to King Hezekiah (2Kgs 20:12; Isa 39:1). The second use is for Heb. iggereth (SH-107), letter, letter-missive; used of letters sent by King Hezekiah to all Israelite tribes inviting them to Passover observance in Jerusalem (2Chron 30:1, 6). After the return from exile the term is used of letters requested by Nehemiah from King Artaxerxes (Neh 2:7-9) and letters exchanged between opponents of rebuilding and leaders of Israel (Ezra 4:8, 11; 5:6; Neh 6:5, 17). This word is also used of a letter sent by King Ahasuerus to provinces to quash the letter of Haman (Esth 9:26) and then a letter from Queen Esther confirming the instruction concerning Purim. The third word, Heb. kethab (SH-3791), a writing, is used of letters sent by Haman to Persian provinces ordering the destruction of Jews (Esth 3:14).

from us: Paul again uses the first person plural pronoun to refer to himself. The pronoun alludes to both of the means of communication he mentions. The "message" is the proclamation of the Good News and following instruction he gave to disciples in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-4) and the "letter" is his first letter to this congregation. First Thessalonians contains considerable ethical and practical instruction concerning how to live as a disciple of Yeshua.

16― Now our Lord Messiah Yeshua himself and God our Father, having loved us and having given eternal comfort and a good hope in grace,

Verses 16-17 are one sentence expressing a sincere wish prayer for the congregation. Now our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. Paul's use of the plural pronoun could be a personal testimony of his submission to the authority of his Savior. Given the Jewish recipients of this letter he might also intend the plural pronoun to refer to the covenant people of Israel to whom belongs the Messiah (cf. Rom 9:5). Lord Messiah Yeshua: See verse 1 above. himself: Grk. autos, personal pronoun of the third person, referring to Yeshua. The purpose of the redundancy appears to emphasizes that Yeshua also has participated in the following described actions. and God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 11 above.

our Father: Grk. patēr, a male biological parent or ancestor. In Greek culture patēr was used of biological relation, of the patriarch of a family, as a title of honor for an old man or a philosopher, and of a deity to emphasize his authority and his power to beget. In the LXX patēr renders ab ("av"), which occurs over a thousand times. In the Tanakh the concept of God as Father occurs only in relation to Israel (Ex 4:22; Deut 1:31; 8:5; 32:6; 2Sam 7:14; 1Chron 17:13; 22:10; 28:6; Ps 89:26; 103:13; Prov 3:12; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jer 31:9; Hos 11:1; Mal 1:6; 2:10) (DNTT 1:616f).

Many people think of God as father in relation to all mankind as Paul in his Athenian sermon quotes the Greek philosopher Epimenides, "we also are His children" (Acts 17:28). While God gave physical life to mankind, he is only Father in a spiritual and covenantal sense in relation to Israel (Rom 9:4). Even more particularly God is the father of the disciples of Yeshua, emphasized exclusively in Paul's writings as "our Father" (Rom 1:7; 1Cor 1:3; 2Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2; Col 1:2; 2Thess 1:1; Phlm 1:3). Other apostles refer to God simply as "the Father" (Acts 2:33; Jas 1:17; 1Pet 1:2; 1John 1:2; Jude 1:1).

The first usage in the Tanakh of "our father" is on the lips of David: "Blessed are you, ADONAI, God of Israel our father from eternity to eternity" (1Chron 29:10 TLV). In Isaiah 63:16 "our father" is identical to "Our Redeemer from of old" and in Isaiah 64:18 "our father" is the potter who formed the clay of Israel. When Yeshua taught his disciples to pray, "our Father" (Heb. Avinu) was a commonly used form in Jewish prayers. God can be the father of Gentile disciples by virtue of being grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel and granted citizenship in the Commonwealth of Israel.

Paul then describes what the Father has done. having loved: Grk. agapaō, aor. part. See verse 13 above. us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. Paul's use of the plural pronoun could be a testimony of God's actions toward him. Paul wrote much of the mercies of God (Rom 9:16; 12:1; 15:9; 2Cor 1:3; 1Tim 1:2), and often included himself among those who received God's mercy (1Cor 7:25; 2Cor 4:1; Eph 2:4; Titus 3:5). Paul was very conscious of being a recipient of God's grace (Rom 1:5; 12:3; 1Cor 3:10; 15:10; 2Cor 5:18; Gal 1:15; 2:9; Eph 1:6-7; 2:5; 3:7-8; Php 1:7; 2Tim 1:9). The plural pronoun could also be inclusive of Israel since the Scriptures repeatedly affirm God's everlasting love for His covenant people in contrast to the nations of the world (Deut 4:37; 7:7-8, 13; 33:3; Ps 78:68; 87:2; 146:8; Jer 31:3; Mic 7:18, 20; Mal 1:2).

and having given: Grk. didōmi, aor. part., to give, generally denoting a generous and free-will act. eternal: aiōnios, adj., can mean (1) relating to a period of time extending far into the past; long ages ago; (2) relating to time without boundaries or interruption; eternal; or (3) relating to a period of unending duration; permanent, lasting. In the LXX aiōnios renders Heb. olam, "a long duration, antiquity or indefinite futurity" (BDB 761), which is also used as an adverb meaning "for ever, for all time" (DNTT 3:827). comfort: Grk. paraklēsis, heartening in a time of trouble through word or demeanor, encouragement, consolation or comfort. The word can also mean challenge or appeal to moral excellence. and a good: Grk. agathos, adj., achieving a high standard of excellence in meeting a need or interest, beneficial, useful, helpful or good.

hope: Grk. elpis, the state of looking forward to something that is desirable. The Jewish concept of hope is far different than the pagan Greek, which was little more than a possible outcome of circumstances. Jews anchored their hope in the person and promises of the covenant-keeping God. in: Grk. en, prep., lit. "in or within." Most versions translate the preposition as "by" to emphasize means, but in this case the word can also emphasize agency or position, so "in" seemed appropriate. grace: Grk. charis, a disposition marked by inclination to generosity, frequently unmotivated by the worth of the recipient. In various contexts charis may mean (1) graciousness, attractiveness; (2) favor, grace, gracious care or help, goodwill; (3) practical application of goodwill, benefaction; (4) exceptional effects produced by divine grace over and above what others experience; (5) thanks, gratitude (BAG).

In the LXX charis occurs about 190 times of which only about 75 have a Heb. equivalent. Among the equivalents are Heb. hên (favor, inclination) most frequently, ratson, goodwill, favor, acceptance (Prov 10:32; 11:27; 12:2) and hesed, favor, kindness, or covenant loyalty (Esth 2:9, 17) (DNTT 2:116). The use of the Hebrew word hên clarifies the meaning of grace in history. Hên denotes the stronger coming to the help of the weaker who stands in need of help by reason of circumstances or natural weakness. The stronger acts voluntarily, though he is moved by the dependence or the request of the weaker party (e.g., Gen 32:5; 50:4; Ruth 2:2; 1Sam 1:18). Hên also denotes God's unilateral gift of favor toward selected individuals, such as in the cases of Noah (Gen 6:8), Abraham (Gen 18:3), Lot (Gen 19:19), Moses (Ex 33:12-13; 34:9) and Israel (Ex 33:16) and in this case Paul.

17― may he comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.

may he comfort: Grk. parakaleō, aor. opt., to encourage, comfort or console; also to admonish, exhort or to entreat. The optative mood conveys strong contingency or possibility. There is no definite anticipation of realization, but it sees what is conceivable. A wish. and strengthen: Grk. stērizō, aor. opt., to cause to be inwardly firm or committed; strengthen, confirm, establish. your hearts: pl. of Grk. kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, here used metaphorically as the center for personhood, character, cognition, emotion and volition. in every good: Grk. agathos. See the previous verse. work: Grk. ergon, generally means a deed, work, action or accomplishment used here to refer to the deeds of men, exhibiting a consistent moral character. and word: Grk. logos. See the previous verse. Paul wishes for God, the one who has loved and given so much, to enable the Thessalonian disciples to produce spiritual excellence.

Works Cited

ABP: The Apostolic Bible Polyglot. ed. Charles Van der Pool. Apostolic Press, 2006. An interlinear of the Septuagint with English translation and Strong's numbers. Online.

BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.

BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. London: Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.

DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.

Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.

DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology. 3 Vols., ed. Colin Brown, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.

LITV: J.P. Green, Literal Translation of the Holy Bible, 1976. Online.

Marshall: Alfred Marshall, NASB-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English. Zondervan Pub. House, 1986.

Mounce: Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament edited by William D. Mounce. Zondervan Pub. Co., 2011. Online.

Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, 2 Vols. Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.

Ross: Allen P. Ross, Introducing Biblical Hebrew. Baker Academic, 2001.

Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Trans. William Kinnaird. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1992. Online.

Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.

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