Personal Update & Exegetical Research on 2 Thessalonians 2 :1-12

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! My own is is ongoing as my wife and I are boarding a plane to spend a week with her parents in Iowa.  I really appreciate those of you who read my posts here on a regular basis and I have some exciting news. First, I finished my Masters of Arts degree in Theological Studies at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary last Fall semester. While now I have some credentials to serve in this capacity, I have hopes of perhaps teaching at the college or seminary level, so I will be pursing further study at Southeastern Baptist Theological seminary this Spring. I will be concentrating on Greek intensives, with the goal of entering the PhD program in the near future. Second, I have signed a contract to co-author a book with Tom Horn on the Malachy Prophecy of the Popes. The reason I have not posted here much lately is that I have been working 14 hour days on that project. I assure you the subject is much deeper than I ever imagined. The research for this book has taken me places I never imagined possible. Look for some jaw dropping revelations this Spring.

My last research project  for my Master’s Degree was an exegetical paper on Paul’s most definitive statement concerning the Antichrist and end-times, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. It is a notoriously difficult pericope for exegesis but I chose it due to my deep interest in things eschatological.  Fee and Stuart even use it as an example of “problem passages:”

In many cases the reason the texts are so difficult for us is that, frankly, they were not written to us. That is, the original author and his readers are on a similar wavelength that allows the inspired author to assume a great deal on the part of his readers. Thus, for example, when Paul tells the Thessalonians that they are to recall that he “used to tell [them] these things,” and therefore “you know what is holding him back” (2 Thess 2:5–6), we may need to learn to be content with our lack of knowledge. [1]

Even so, I think this passage has a very important word for us today. In lieu of cutting an pasting the entire paper, I am going to post the introduction and a link to down load the pdf if yu want to read the whole thing. I derive several important implications for the modern church which I may post later as a separate post but  I wanted to make it available to you now as 2012 promises to be a big year.

Introduction

No one likes waiting. Patience, persistence and perseverance are not popular words. They convey capricious craving, laborious longing and unrequited love. How intense is the longing when waiting for one of infinite worth? Christians live in the tension of what is called the “already but not yet” paradigm. This refers to the idea that Christ inaugurated the kingdom at the first advent but it will not be fully realized until the second at the eschaton. Gordon Fee writes, “The theological framework of the entire New Testament is eschatological.”[2] Thus, there is a tension inherent in the Christian worldview that eclipses all the yearnings of adolescence. It is the groaning of creation itself (Rom 8:22).

The purpose of this paper is to interpret 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 using sound exegetical methodology. This presentation will first give a survey of the historical and literary context, and then it will offer exegesis of the text. Difficulties arise because Paul assumes knowledge on the part of the original recipients that subsequent generations do not have. Allusions to the Old Testament will be discussed based on Paul’s background. Each issue will be handled sequentially. The paper will attempt to show that because we still live in the apocalyptic tension of the already/not yet, the eschatological content still has great value for the contemporary church. Paul taught the Thessalonian church that they would recognize the “day of the Lord” by two harbingers: the apostasy and the appearance of the man of lawlessness.

Download: 2 Thessalonians 2 Exegetical Research – Cris D. Putnam

 

[1]Gordon D. Fee and Douglas K. Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993), 69.

[2]Ibid, 145.

About Cris Putnam
Logos Apologia is the ministry of Cris D. Putnam. The mission of Logos Apologia is to show that logic, science, history and faith are complementary, not contradictory and to bring that life-changing truth to everybody who wants to know.

Comments

  1. Tama Ferrell says:

    In reference to the restrainer being taken out of the way, this cannot be the church as the church is still around to see the “man of sin” revealed, which happens after the restrainer is removed. I believe the restrainer is Michael as it would take a supernatural force to restrain the spirit of antichrist in the world. But when he stands up, the spirit of antichrist is let loose to reveal the “man of sin” just prior to The Day of the Lord, ie. Rapture. Then,” the man of sin”, “begins to be” as Tom Horn suggests,” the beast” those first 3.5 years until he enters the temple at the 5th Trumpet as The Antichrist/Beast/Abomination.

  2. Craig Doriot says:

    I am no expert, but I would like to point out that the KJV uses “what” withholdeth, rather than “who” (actually the English translations inject “what” and “who”, when they dont appear in the Greek as best I can tell).

    I am not sure how I came to this conclusion exactly, but my belief is that God is saying they are not ignorant of what still must be accomplished (and therefore is “withholding”) concerning the antichrist first, so why fret over missing the day of the lord. Many disciples were still looking for the change in heart of the Jews, because they knew it was a requirement, for example.

    It wouldnt surprise them like a thief, because they were well versed on prophecy and knew of the signs that held back the antichrist’s fulfillment. Once the signs occur, nothing would hold back the antichrist, and nobody would be surprised by the Lord’s return.

  3. craig doriot says:

    Im going to extend my suspicions by suggesting the concept of the church or spirit needing to be taken out of the way was done to confuse the meaning of the verses to support the false notion of pretribulationalism.

  4. craig doriot says:

    I see in your paper that you have tried addressing this by suggesting the restrainer is a personal force, based on vs 7. Have you tried to look at the original Greek of verse 7, with the idea of there being no personal restrainer at all? Seems odd that God would choose to allow this to remain a hidden contextual mystery, alternatively.

    Ignoring the English words and just putting the concepts down of the second half of verse 7:
    7A: the mystery of sin is at work;
    7B:
    – only / merely
    – held down / withhold
    – currently / now
    – up until
    – REACHES FULFILLMENT / COMES TO PASS (questionable translations perhaps here)
    – from (usually in conjunction with “completion”)

    My novice take on the Greek is that it is suggestion things need to come to pass, and those things are acting as a restrainer. This would tie together well with all of the other verses and the general theme of not being ignorant about these issues of prophecy not having been fulfilled yet.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      Craig,
      Thanks for your comments. Paul speaks of “the restrainer” as a force (v.6, to katechon, neuter participle) and as a personal figure (v.7, ho katechōn, masculine participle) in the original language

      “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.(2 Th 2:7)

      To be consistent with the inspired text your view should be able to accommodate both. My take it is being driven by the powers and principalities and unseen spiritual warfare; note there is a good case that the restrainer is actually a Satanic force, the Pillar NT Commentary fairly convincingly argues it is demonic.

  5. craig doriot says:

    Putting this all together, paraphrashing:

    2 – Dont be troubled thinking the Day of the Lord is here
    3 – Dont let someone fool you, because there is first a falling away and the antichrist must be revealed
    4 – You will know the antichrist because he pretends to be God, setting himself up in the temple
    5 – Dont you remember I already told you this?
    6 – You are now aware of what is holding back this fulfillment, that it may be revealed in his time
    7 – Therefore, the mystery of iniquity is already at work, only held back until these things come to pass

  6. craig doriot says:

    another outside possibility I see with it, is that the fulfillment of the antichrist is the restrainer and the day of the Lord, what is being restrained.

  7. craig doriot says:

    expounding on that last thought, it could play nicely into Revelation. Basically, you have the seals that prevent the judgment from occuring, and the opening of the seals correspond to the judgments of God. So, the seals act as the restrainer in Revelation, and Christ is able to open the seals, once the signs of Revelation to that point have been completed.

  8. Tama Ferrell says:

    I believe the seals started being opened right after the resurrection when the Lamb took the scroll from the Fathers hand. Nearly finished is right. Also see Gail Riplinger on youtube concerning bible translations and lexicons.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      Tama, I think you may be correct about the seals. I lean toward a hybrid historicist/futurist interpretation. However, Gail Ripplinger is not a good source. James White has proven that her information is very misleading. She really is not qualified to speak on the subject. The KJV only movement is based on very poor research. Please read this.

  9. Tama Ferrell says:

    Despite what Mr. white says, I understand his position to defend his faith, Ms.Riplinger makes some very valid points, and there is something to be said about when our Lord sets a King over the translating of the Word. Soon…we will be of one mind, without spot or wrinkle. I believe she is very qualified to speak on the subject, just as all Christians are qualified to speak about their understanding of the Word…lest anyone should boast.

  10. craig doriot says:

    Many of Riplinger’s arguments are quite valid, even if she goes off the deep end on some of the other issues. She is not the best rep for the KJV only crowd. I do think KJV is the most faithful translation, primarily because its based off the textus receptus instead of the jesuit manuscripts. I think I’ll be in good company with Charles Spurgeon on that issue. I tend to use KJV next to the NKJV, because I prefer the KJV, but sometimes it really is confusing and I use the NKJV as a crutch. Still, even with the NKJV, some of the changes raise eyebrows..

    • Cris Putnam says:

      I wonder why you think they are valid, because they really are not. The textus receptus came after the KJV and not the other way around. Its just the Greek text that the KJV translators used but they pieced it together from limited sources (and the Latin Vulgate!) to say it is a better Greek text is a circular argument. No reputable scholar agrees with her, archeology has uncovered thousands more Greek manuscripts since that time, the new versions like ESV & NASB are FAR superior if you care about being as close to the the original inspired text as possible. This article is really good at explaining it to a laymen.

  11. craig doriot says:

    Cris, I do not trust modern scholarship, just like I don’t trust other things that are running rampant in the seminaries these days. I think its all been overrun at this point. Specifically, I would investigate the differences between the bible versions and look to the writings of the early churches, which can validate much of the textus receptus over the modern Greek. I think there is also a history of very skilled forgery within the Catholic church..

    • Cris Putnam says:

      1) You cannot examine textus receptus in relation to early chruch writing as it did not exist. It was created by the KJV translators based on Erasmus’ use of 12th century Greek manuscripts and even the Roman Catholic Latin Vulgate for some passages. It is a product of the 17th century. And its Roman! 2) The Byzantine MS are 4th century but TR used 12th century sources. Because KJV is based on a later 12th century text it has things that were added to it by monks and scribes. So to argue something was taken out the KJV is silly because the KJV has things that were not ever in the writings of Paul and the apostles. (cf. 1 Jn 5:7) 3) Difference in translation is a product of translation theory more than the MS but even NIV is more accurate than KJV, sorry but its a fact. (That is if you care about what the originals recorded.) 4) People who have not studied Greek textual criticism really do not have an informed opinion. Its like a pastry chef arguing with a nuclear engineer about physics. You should listen to the scientist.

      I think you are wise to carefully examine modern scholarship as a lot of it is naturalistic. Overall biblical exegesis and interpretation is much better today than the past. For instance, We know a lot more about the context of the OT today than the church fathers did. We can read Ugaritic and Sumerian texts which were discovered recently and we can pick up references in the prophets that people had no clue about a few decades ago. NT scholarship is similar. There are plenty of trustworthy Christian scholars and seminaries. There are sincere Bible believing scholars like Daniel Wallace who I linked too that uphold inerrancy and defend the Bible. DA Carson is another great evangelical scholar. This article by DA Carson here shows conclusively that the KJV arguments are spurious. I don’t have to agree with everything they say to see that they are clearly correct on this issue.

  12. Tama Ferrell says:

    Are we denying the Power of God here? The translation was Our Lords who used men. Not the other way around. Remember the old ways that He gave us….it cannot be improved upon.

  13. Tama Ferrell says:
    • Cris Putnam says:

      Are we denying the Power of God here? The translation was Our Lords who used men. Not the other way around. Remember the old ways that He gave us….it cannot be improved upon.

      If by “The translation” you mean the KJV cannot be improved upon you need a reality check. Only the originals were inspired. Even the men who translated the KJV admitted they were unsure of how to translate certain words. It has many flaws. Be careful to not engage in bibliolatry, please do not make an idol out of a translation. We worship Jesus Christ not a Bible translation. It seems to me you are being misled.

      which Bible should I believe?

      There is only one Bible and it is written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, if you are really concerned with accuracy go to school and learn them. If you don’t have time for that, there are much better English translations than the KJV. I usually look at 4-5 different ones including the KJV, and then do word studies in the original languages, as no translation is perfect.

      WOW………….. = BARBARIAN

      Its like a deaf music critic. Please explain how can someone one who does not read Greek can evaluate how well Greek is translated?

      Do you believe in unicorns? The KJV does… or maybe it was a mistranslation

      KJV ONLY REFUTED

  14. Tama Ferrell says:

    ” 4) People who have not studied Greek textual criticism really do not have an informed opinion.”

    WOW…………..

    = BARBARIAN………….listen to the video above.

  15. David says:

    Cris,

    Page 1 states, “Founded by in 315 BC”

    Typo? Think you need to delete the “by”. I’m currently reading the PDF.

    Blessings,
    David

  16. craig doriot says:

    First off, I was raised on NIV and only in the past year or two, after listening to much on textual criticism, have gone to the KJV side of things. Here are a few sites that do a better job of examining the issues:

    http://av1611.com/kjbp/

    http://www.wayoflife.org/pdf/unholyhands.pdf

    this one is particularly relevant:
    http://www.equalparenting-bc.ca/news/wescott-hort.htm
    – especially that first video that gets into textual criticism and the writings of the early church

    • Cris Putnam says:

      Craig,
      For me its mostly a non issue because I will read more than one translation to see the differences and then look at the original language to think about why there are differences… its nearly always not anything conspiratorial or theological at all, it is about grammar issues, Greek is complex and Hebrew is even worse — no translation is perfect. KJV was great for the 17th century but is is demonstrably based on inferior 12th century manuscripts that we know to be corrupted by scribes who added their own theology to them, 1 John 5:7 is a famous example. I still like KJV for things like memorizing Psalms. But for doctrine, I want to read what the original authors wrote more than monastic editorializing. My NT professor from last term reads Koine Greek fluently and he helped me see that there are a lot of nuanced issues. The video series learn to use Greek and Hebrew with Logos Bible software really opened my eyes as well. I mostly rely on the reverse interlinear that come with logos bible software. I will be taking an intensive Greek track this spring semester to do 1 year of Greek in a semester so I am about to be up to my eyeballs in it. I recommend that you use all the awesome resources we have today and look at several versions when doing serious Bible study. NIV is a little too loose for me too. They tried to translate idea for idea more than word for word. I prefer the NASB and ESV as the most true to the best manuscripts. Its not a conspiracy — its academic — its mostly about grammar and linguistics, I just hate to see all of the fear mongering. It’s a waste of time.

  17. craig doriot says:

    Thanks for helping me get to my point about the sophistry of modern academia. First off, I do actually use the modern resources available to investigate Greek texts, but I also think the technology (and confidence in it) can be equally used to deceive people. I grew up on NIV, at a much later age got “born again”, spent considerable efforts examining the arguments and listening to God for guidance, and finally switched to KJV. You may find the Psalms pleasant for memorization, but I find them difficult compared to the fluidity of modern versions. Suggesting KJV for its flow as opposed to substance, is kind of like an atheist backhandedly crediting Jesus as a good person.

    And putting of your faith in the supposedly oldest manuscripts available to determine accuracy is like me putting my faith in Darwinism because it is the best science supposedly available. You must ask yourself: where did these manuscripts come from? Who found them? Who created them? What other documents were they found with? Were they forged? Who stands to gain? Did God create this confusion? Did God allow His texts to go corrupted for centuries? Do you have confidence that God would protect His Word and supply His people with the right weapons? Our we putting “puffed up” with faith in ourselves or in God?

    So with those questions in mind, let’s talk the supposed “gotcha” proof in favor of the older texts, 1 John 5:7, aka the Johannine Comma. I ask “who has the most to gain by the difference?”, while academia cries “overzealous”! We already know the lack of this verse in modern translations has been pivotal for the health and spread of cult knockoffs, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses; no other verse in the Bible so clearly demonstrates the doctrine of Trinity, and its corruption has allowed many heresies avoid being stamped out. I think establishing a motive for Satan here would be very easy. In fact, there are probably not many other verses he so craved to get his hands on, in a way that would be inconspicuous.

    Another thing I am told, but don’t fully understand due to my lack of Greek, is the glaring weakness of those verses without the text. For example, the phrasing of the words makes it apparently clear that other words are being referenced and compared in the following verse. Simply put, the words cant stand on their own, without the missing phrase. Satan is crafty, God is craftier.

    But the real proof lies in the writings of the early church leaders. People that drew praise from Paul in the Bible wrote about verses that are now considered modern forgeries of the Textus Receptus, due to their absence from the supposed “oldest and best manuscripts”. The oldest manuscripts we have are significantly pre-dated by the writings of the early church leaders. And so that is where we should go to determine whether these verses were tossed in during the 12th century, or if they existed long before. And in those writings, we find clear references to those missing words, currently as early as c200 AD by Tertullian, and c250 by Cyprian of Carthage… and we have many other early writings from various sources that also confirm these words of John.

    http://brandplucked.webs.com/1john57.htm
    http://www.1john57.com/1john57.htm
    http://www.avdefense.webs.com/1John5-7.html
    http://av1611.com/kjbp/faq/holland_1jo5_7.html

  18. Rob Keator says:

    In regards (again) to the restrainer, I have to agree with the writings of many early church fathers. The restrainer was The Roman Kingdom. The RCC was born out of the ashes of Rome at the Justinian papacy. Once the Roman kingdom died, The beast and the whore (and her children) were almost unstoppable.

  19. GumBoocho says:

    Actually apostasia (found in 2 Th 2:3) is said to be equivalent to apostasis = departure in LSJ (big LIddell & Scott). And the Dormition of Mary (aka Assumption of the Virgin) written possibly c 400 AD (in what looks like koine Greek to me) calls a rapture of Mary & of apostles an apostasia. This is found at the bottom of p. 105 of Tischendorf’s NT apocrypha collection (if you want the Greek). The NewAdvent RCC site has an English translation. The English text is also at BibleAndTheology.com along with inserted Greek words. It is remarkable that this is not merely an instance of a physical departure, but of a Rapture of physical bodies! I think it safe to suppose that apostasia could mean physical departure or rapture in 2 Th 2:3 because the corresponding verb definitely has the meaning “depart” and the -ia suffix seems to be very productive (somewhat like -er in English for agent is productive).

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