[* Coming soon (D.V.) - a sixty- eight- page article, by R. Govett: CHRISTS JUDGMENT OF HIS SAINTS AT HIS RETURN: AND SOLUTION OF THE MAIN ARGUMENT AGAINST THE SECRET RAPTURE, 1895.]
THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST.
[1 THESSALONIANS] CHAPTER 1
The Presence of Christ, with its effects on the saved and lost of this dispensation, is the main subject of the Epistles to the Thessalonians.
It is necessary to translate the Greek word* by Presence, or the argument of the two Epistles cannot be properly understood. It does not, in itself, mean motion, though motion is often implied in the context. Therefore it is wrongly translated coming. It is mentioned in the Old Testament on several occasions. Adam and his wife hid themselves from the Presence (face) of the Lord God among the trees of the garden: Gen. 3: 8. And Cain went out from the Presence of the Lord: 4: 16.
* Those who wish to see the proofs of this are recommended to obtain
The Presence of
Christ the Centre, and The Secret Presence and Rapture defended. (Fletcher,
The history of the covenant-ma king of Jehovah with
The occurrences of this word are quite characteristic of these epistles. Seven times is the the Presence named in the two epistles: four times in the first epistle; three times in the, second. Around the Presence cluster the chief prophetic points in the two epistles.
These epistles are designed to correct two mistakes made by the Thessalonian believers.
1. Their first error was, that the saints departed and laid in the tomb could have
no part in the millennial
2. The second mistake,- treated of in the second epistle,- was that [all] the living saints must pass through the Great Trouble that is coming on the earth, and that its terrors had already begun.
I purpose, then, to base my observations mainly on the occurrences of THE PRESENCE.
Paul, Silvanus (or Silas), and Timotheus wish grace and peace from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ to the assembly of Thessalonian Christians. They were engaged in the work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope in Christ. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, Silas, and Timothy, had raised up this assembly of God, where, before there were only idolaters excepting, perhaps, any Jews there resident. The apostle Paul began his work there in the synagogue, and Gods chosen there, whether Jews or Gentiles, quickly and joyfully received the Word.
There is probably more in the repeated choice of the three names to stand at the head of each epistle than we might at first suppose. 1. Paul is a Jew, the commissioned apostle of the Lord Jesus to both Jew and Gentile. 2. Silvanus (or Silas) was a Jew. 3. Timothy was partly a Jew, and circumcised; and partly a Greek, or Gentile. The names of all three are Gentile.
Pauls Gospel came to them, not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance. The rapidity and energy of the work led the world itself to speak of it as a matter of wonderful news.
The effect of it was (ver. 9, 10) to turn the believers (1) from idols to serve the living and the true God,* (2) and to wait for His Son (coming) out from the heavens, whom He raised from among the dead - Jesus - our Deliverer from the coming wrath.
* God is the living and true God. The Man of Sin, who sets himself up as Christs rival, is, both a dead god, and a false one. He is a lost soul now, in the bottomless pit: Rev. 9: 1-11; 11: 7; 17: 8. He comes up to reign, in defiance of the Most High.
The apostasy, of which we read in the second epistle, is the turning back from the true God and His Son to worship idols, together with the denial of Christs resurrection, and of the day of wrath to come. The rest of men who were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils (demons), and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and wood; which can neither see, nor hear, nor hear, nor walk: Rev. 11: 20. So awful will be the latter day.
The ninth and tenth verses of the first chapter of our epistle are the key to both letters.
1. The Apostasy is named in 2 Thess. 2: 3, as the first sign of the day of wrath. Out of it proceeds the Man of Sin, the Lawless One, who sets up his own image (or statue) to be worshipped by all under penalty of death: Rev. 13.
2. Paul appeals to Christs being raised from among the dead [in Hades], as the answer to their mistake about the impossibility of the dead saints having part in the millennial kingdom: 1 Thess. 4: 14.
3. The apostle bases his correction of the mistake (in the second epistle) on our waiting for the Son of Gods descent out of the heavens, to be our Deliverer from the Day of Wrath.
(1) For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven: 4: 16. (2) To you who are troubled relief with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven: 2 Thess. 1: 7.
He comes to deliver His saints from the wrath ready to fall on the earth. If obedient, believers will not be left on earth to pass through that day. We beseech you, by the Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together to Him, That ye be not soon shaken out of your wits, or be troubled: 2 Thess. 2: 1, 2.
In this chapter the apostle exhibits his character, as shown during his residence in Thessalonica. He presents it both negatively and positively. With fatherly love and care he had exhorted them to walk worthy of the God who was inviting them to His own kingdom and glory: 11, 12. The millennial kingdom is named once in each of the epistles. The kingdom is not the kingdom of grace, as most take it; but the kingdom of glory.
And glory is the suited dress in which to enter on the kingdom of glory. (1) A manifest token of the righteous
judgment of God, that ye may be counted
worthy of the
men of earth boasted of the fourth great empire of
The next point in the argument worthy of notice is his portraiture of the Jews all through the Gospel day.
The Thessalonians reception of the Gospel of Christ led them into affliction.
For ye became imitators, brethren, of the assemblies of God that are in
(1) Who both slew the Lord Jesus,
(2) and the prophets,
(3) and drove us - (Paul, Silas, Timothy) - out.
(4) And they please not God,
(5) And are contrary to all,
(6) Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles, that they might be saved.
(7) But upon them the final wrath is already come.
Their chief sin was the slaughter of the Lord Jesus. Under the dispensation of the Law and the Prophets, they slew those sent to them by Jehovah. They drove out from their land, the three witnesses of God who are set at the beginning of the epistle. They were hateful to God, and hostile to men. They please not God. This is very significant in relation to the purpose of the letter. Enoch, the man of faith, pleasing God, was caught away out of earth before the Flood; for God becomes the Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him: Heb. 11. These therefore will have no part in the coming raptures of Gods beloved ones out of earth; while the saints obedient to Christ will by Him be rescued out of it, before the great and terrible Day of the Lord.
The Jews would not accept the Gospel themselves, and yet were fiercely seeking Pauls death, because he testified that they would not believe, and that therefore Christ sent him to nations far off: Acts 22.
This double iniquity against the Gospel formed an opening
through which the cup of the sins of
But the final wrath is upon them (Greek).
Prophets, in more than a few places, foretell the terribleness of the Lords
indignation against the nations, and especially against
I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation; for at the time appointed the end shall be: 8: 19. At the time of the end shall be the vision. Dan. 11. has a good deal of testimony concerning it. Seal up the book, even to the time of the end. Go thou thy way till the end be; for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot in the end of the days: 12: 4, 9, 13; Lam. 4: 18; Ezek. 21: 25. The same period described by our Lord as the end of the age. Matt. 13., 24: 21- 28. These passages treat of mans sin, and wrath thereon.
17, 18. But we, brethren, being taken from you for an hours time in face, not in heart, were the more earnest to see your face, with great desire. Wherefore we would have come to you, I mean, I Paul, once and again; and Satan hindered us.
The earnest love of the Apostle to his Thessalonian converts is very vividly depicted here. Also the Great Hinderer of the Apostles work for Christ. He who hinders Gods work of race must needs be evil. This tells us beforehand of what character the Two Hinderers of evil named in the next epistle must be.
19, 20. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even yourselves, before our Lord Jesus Christ in His Presence? (Yea); for ye are our glory and joy.
These verses show us one of the great occasions of the Saviours Presence. In that Presence evangelists and pastors will present to Christ the souls the Lord had given them. To such the redeemed would be a crown of rejoicing. They would then be suddenly and safely removed from earth, the scene of their trouble and persecution; and from the Divine judgments of the great and terrible day of wrath.
This is the first occurrence of the word PRESENCE here. Parousia, in Greek.
The apostles love toward the converts was manifested by his
sending Timothy to them; though it was trying to him to be left alone at
Athens, a city given up to idolatry. He
sent him, in order to establish them in their faith, and to comfort them with
the consolation, richly supplied by it.
The afflictions they were enduring were no proof of Gods displeasure,
but rather the reverse. To do
well, and to suffer for it - so strange a thought to men of the
law, - is the Christians portion now, as it was that of our Lord. His raising of Lazarus from the tomb close to
The Apostles fear was, lest sore trials coming on them in their weakness and ignorance, should root up the faith so lately begun.
What then was his joy, at the return of Timothy, to learn their faith, love, and desire to see again the three ministers of the faith who had led them to Christ? It was new life to Paul amid his heavy depression. He returned hearty and constant thanks to God for them, praying that he might again see their face, and perfect their intelligence in the Gospel. He entreated also God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ to direct his way to them.
12, 13. Now the Lord increase and cause you to abound in love to one another, and toward all, as we do toward you. Unto his establishing your hearts unblameable in holiness, before our God and Father, in the Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.
This tells us, that the great principles of love and holiness, if strong will quiet the heart of the saints at the solemn time of appearing before God the Father. That is something which will take place after the account given in before the Lord Jesus. The Saviour will then present His approved ones before the Father above. Behold here am I, and the children whom Thou hast given me.
Here is the SECOND notice of the PRESENCE of the Lord Jesus. Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven: Matt. 10. Then shall the righteous shine out as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
In both the epistles the Assembly is said to be in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. There are two thoughts I would connect herewith.
1. The second epistle brings prominently before us the Antichrist, who denies the Father and the Son. Therefore the Holy Spirit here presents to us markedly the Father and the Son. While in the second epistle we have the Son set before the Father, as denoting His equality. Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God even our Father which hath loved us ... Comfort your hearts and stablish you.
2. We have both united in the Presence. It is the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Father is there also, 3: 13. Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven: Matt. 10.
The apostle now treats of the holy walk which lie had commanded them, and of its necessity in order to a joyful appearing before Christ. He had laid the foundation for this in the last words of the former chapter. Only the holy would be unblamed and approved before God the Father.
Paul had taught them how to live before God, so as to please Him; and now he exhorts to grow therein continually. Herein he, as it were, points us to an Old Testament example.
And Enoch walked with God; and he was not; for God took Him: Gen. 5. This word is taken up in Hebrews 11. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
Where had he this testimony? In the passage cited from Genesis. What we translate walked with God, the Septuagint translates pleased God.
But without faith it is impossible to please God; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He becometh the Rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.
It is observable, that Paul gives here both the walk and the pleasing God.
Thus he has stated the matter both positively and negatively. He noticed before in sketching the standing of the Jews before God in the Gospel-day, that they pleased not God, and are contrary to all. Hence the rapture and its escape is not for them. But, on the contrary, on them chiefly is to fall the wrath of the Great Day, because of their unbelief, and its inevitable results of unholiness.
3-8. For this is the will of God, your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the affection of lust, even as the nations that know not God: That none should overstep and take advantage of his brother in the matter. For God hath not called us for uncleanness, but in holiness.
He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who also put His Holy Spirit within us.
Fornication and the like sins would be unholiness unfitting for the kingdom of God; causing the offender to be disapproved, yea, rejected from the Presence of the 1ord Jesus. It is a solemn word, indeed, that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Avenger of these trespasses! That cannot consist with His admitting them into His [millennial] kingdom of glory and His joy. What does the wrath on the cities of the plain testify? Here, then, is the proof of His saints.
These two epistles make much of sanctification, in view of the Saviours kingdom of the thousand years. The Gospel of John and the Romans take, as their chief subject, justification, carrying with it eternal life. The eternal life which is Gods gift: for the prize and the gift of God differ.
Paul evidently expected resistance to this part of his message. The sins of uncleanness were but little thought of among the nations, even the most civilized. Here, then, was lawlessness in mystery but slightly veiled, and making its appearance in the Church itself. He bears witness, therefore, that whatever were the thoughts of man, the commands of God and His just displeasure at their breach would certainly take effect in the day when the Most High should judge the secrets of men, according to His Gospel. It would be in vain to say, that Paul was too strict here, and was mistaken. The same pen that revealed the kingdom showed also a stern front against these trespasses. And will any say, that no [regenerate] believer is, or can be guilty of them?
How oft warnings hereon are found in apostolic addresses to Christians! How oft in the first epistle to the
Corinthians: 1 Cor. 5., 6., 7., 10.; 2 Cor.
12: 21. And, which is very strongly to the point, it
is declared, that they which do such
things shall have no part in the (millennial)
In the context we have the Holy Trinity bearing witness to believers. (1) The Father, before whom the approved are to be set (2: 13); (2) the Son, who gives the commands (3: 2); and the (3) Holy Spirit, put within the redeemed (3: 8).
The apostle could testify that they felt and exercised brotherly affection toward the members of Christ; let them advance therein! Instead of being politicians, whose motto is, Agitate, agitate, agitate! they were to study to be quiet, and to attend to their own business.
We have now arrived at one of the most important passages of the two epistles.
13. But I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those that have fallen asleep, in order that ye grieve not, even as the rest who have no hope.
There is a question here concerning the reading. Some prefer reading the present participle, and render it the sleepers. To me it seems, that the perfect participle is better: it denotes at once (1) the falling asleep by the stroke of death, and (2) the abiding place and state which follows on it.
Much interest attaches to the fact, that two words are used in the context. One is found only in chapter four, and occurs there three times. The other is employed only in chapter five, and occurs there four times. Thus the three and the four together make up the sacred seven. In cases where the three begin and the four follow, we pass from what is Gods, to that which belongs to man. The three occurrences in chapter four are -
1. I would not have you ignorant concerning the fallen asleep: ver. 13.
2. Those put to sleep by Jesus will God bring: ver. 14.
3. We who are alive shall not get the start of those fallen asleep: ver, 15.
The occurrences of the Second Word in chapter five are as follow-
1. So then let us not lie down to steep, as do the rest: ver. 6.
2, 3. They that lie down to steep, lie down to sleep by night: ver. 7.
4. Whether we keep awake, or lie down to sleep: ver. 10.
This Second Word is a compound: the verb by itself signifying to sleep: the preposition signifying down, and calling attention to the voluntary change of posture, the lying down of those wishing for repose.
The choice of these two words is beautifully adapted to the different aspects of the subject.
1. The Greek word occurring in chapter four presents to us the being lulled to sleep by a superior, without consultation whether the patient desires it or not; even as a mother or a nurse puts a child to sleep for its benefit, before it is able to decide for itself. Hence we have those put to sleep by Jesus. They are passive in the hands of Christ, as the infant in the mothers aims. And as the Saviour puts them to sleep, so He will awaken them at the fitting time. Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep but I am going that I may awaken him out of sleep: John 11.
2. The Greek word in chapter five signifies sleep as it is a matter of choice and of preparation for it, by those older, and able to decide for themselves. Hence it is connected, in the four occurrences there, with exhortation. Let us not sleep as the rest; but let us keep awake, and keep sober. For they that lie down to sleep, lie down to sleep by night. Here the, sleep is evil, because of the mischief following on it, and it is a matter of responsibility on the part of those that give way to it. Awake, thou that art lying asleep: and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light: Eph. 5.
But there is one apparent exception, on which I will say a few words, as it is really a beautiful confirmation of the distinction here stated.
Saviour, in the
He comes to them again, and again finds them lying asleep. He leaves them.
On coming the third time, He says: Are you lying asleep for the rest of the time, and taking repose? It is enough; the hour is come, behold the Son of man is being betrayed into the hands of the sinful.
These points are all in favour of the view given but there is a passage in Luke 22: 45, 46, which contains both the first (or passive word) for sleep, and also the second (or the word of choice and activity). He came to the disciples, and found them sleeping from sorrow, and saith unto them: Why lie ye asleep ? stand up and pray, in order that ye enter not into temptation.
So this example gives us sleep as a matter of choice on the disciples part, and the call to throw it off as evil. But it is not obscurely hinted, that there was a superior at work upon their passivity, and for their harm.
1. He findeth them lying asleep for their eyes had been made heavy; neither knew they what answer to make Him: Mark 14: 40.
2. He found them (the first and passive word) sleeping from sorrow (something not of their own will). And lastly He says to the armed foes: This is your hour, and the power of darkness: Luke 22: 53. The spirit indeed is willing; but the flesh is weak.
But to return. Both classes, the sleepers and the wakeful are referred to Jesus.
1. Those put to steep by Jesus. The dead in Christ shall rise. Those only who are in Him and put to sleep by Him, find the sleep of death a benefit. They are alive in Him, and death cannot break the bond.
2. But of the living saints we read also: We who are alive and remain to the Presence of the Lord. Then both parties are caught up together into air to meet the Lord.
That ye sorrow not, even as the rest, that have no hope.
Unbelievers views are bounded by this life. There is no life about to visit them when laid in the tomb; but only the sentence of corruption, and the turning to dust. But to those in Christ belong Christs death and resurrection, the hope of the coming forth from the tomb [at the First Resurrection], never to return thereto.
No hope! The wicked is driven away in his wickedness; but the righteous hath hope in his death: Prov. 14: 32.
14. For if we believe that Jesus died and arose, so also shall God bring with Jesus those put to sleep by Him.
The apostle recalls them to the first principles of the Christian faith. Jesus, as they believed, died and rose again. But He did not die and arise for Himself alone, but for us. And so death is no hindrance to our partaking the kingdom; for death to those in Christ is only a preparation for the kingdom; not wrath, but a benefit. Christ is our Forerunner; the Great Pattern, whom we are to be made to resemble.
Death was to Gods elect the result of His gracious care. The dead in Christ were put to sleep by Jesus after their days work was over, and He will wake them at the appropriate time.
But there is something beyond this.
Such will God bring with Him - Christ.
This moves another step onward, to establish the Thessalonians full comfort.
God is represented
through both epistles as the
But here God is to bring with Christ the holy sleepers. How then are we to understand the words? Shall God bring.
1. Shall we say, that they are now unclothed spirits (but glorified and dwelling in the Presence of God) who come down with Christ from heaven, and take up their bodies from the tomb, after descending to earth? There is no such statement here. On the contrary, the sleepers are said not to come down from above, but to rise up from below, and to be caught away in clouds into air, there to meet the Lord Jesus, together with the saints still living on earth. The dead in Christ shall rise. Are they actively singing and harping in joy before God in the Holiest above? Nay, they are those laid to sleep, whom Christ is coming to awake with His shout.
Paul desired that Christians, possessed of a hope beyond the tomb, should not sorrow
as those who believe not in resurrection.
Men in general find their hopes bounded by death. They have no hope of coming forth - [at the time
of the First Resurrection] - from the tomb.
Much less do they look for the happiness of the coming [millennial]
Our hope consists of two parts: (1) resurrection, which, in our Lords case, is past; and (2) the millennial kingdom, which He is waiting for. The resurrection is in order to the kingdom. It is a hope, because it is a prize, not certain to every [regenerate] believer; but to be sought with intense interest.
As if the apostle had said: You
believe in the Second Coming, and the
The Kingdom is twice named in our epistles, and in both
occurrences it is called the
And God will bring such with Christ to the habitable earth of the future: Heb. 2. For it is His counsel to introduce His Son to the [this] earth a second time: Heb. 1: 6.
The word Bring is important; it gives the point to which the coming is directed. It refers generally to the place, occupied by the speaker, or by those spoken of. Bring your youngest brother unto me, says Joseph: Gen. 42: 20. Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: ver. 37. Ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her, loose them and bring them unto me Matt. 21: 2.
Here, Paul alive on earth, is comforting Thessalonian believers by the prospect of the restoration of the departed to the living, and to earth. God will bring back to earth both the living and the dead that are Christs; when He brings back His Son to receive His reward. As Christs resurrection and ascent were in order to His taking the kingdom; so are theirs. He will bring those put to sleep by Jesus.
The Thessalonians must have expected, that the coming of Christ would take place before their death. They regarded the departure of some, as a proof of Christs displeasure; and that they had no more interest in Christ than men in general. The apostles words then are directed to show, that their connections with the Lord Jesus were not broken by their death, and that the Saviour took constant interest in them. Does a mothers care for her child cease, when she has put it to sleep? Or is not her heart watching over it, intending in the morning to awake it, when it has received the full benefit of its slumbers? Christs saints differ from the worldly even in dying; how much more when they wake up in the Saviours likeness! Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep. I will raise him up at the Last Day.
In three forms the Redeemers interest in His departed ones appears here.
1. Those put to sleep by Jesus.
2. The dead in Christ shall first rise.
3. We shall be caught up to meet the Lord.
The raising the righteous dead is effected by Christ. The hope of the kingdom depends on God the Father; who invites to it, and will decide on the entry of each, in conjunction with His Sons testimony.
The bringing the sleepers with Jesus does not refer to their resurrection; for they and He meet together from opposite points. The coming with Jesus must refer to some movement in union after they have met. That would be a descent to the earth and to the kingdom.
The remaining verses of the chapter trace the ascent of both classes to the Presence. After the judgment there, God brings Christ and His approved ones out from the air into the earth.
The patriarchs were to die, but they looked for resurrection, in order
to enter on the enjoyment of the promised land. The
2. The meaning of bring then is the same as in Hebrews 1: 6., When He (God) a second time bringeth in the First Begotten into the habitable earth. After Christs and our resurrection, it is the mind of the Eternal to show Christ anew and under more glorious circumstances, to the men of the earth; when its happy days are come, and He is made King over the earth. The word bring refers to the Fathers taking the Saviour from His heavenly Presence to set Him as His Anointed in the millennial kingdom (Heb. 1: 8, 9), as the One who deserves it. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness, therefore O God, Thy God hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. See Luke 19: 15; 22: 15-30. Jesus is returned, having received the kingdom - and to His servants He says: Be thou over ten cities. Be thou over five cities.
15. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we the living, who survive up to the Presence of the Lord shall not get the, start of those fallen asleep.
That which follows is a special revelation granted to Paul, apparently with a view to disentangle the difficulty of the Thessalonian believers. It was given by word of the Lord that is, of Christ. We have also in other places the word of God. From you sounded out the word of the Lord: 1: 8, and 2 Thess. 3: 1. God, the Father, and Christ the Lord, run through the epistle.
In this verse we go back, beginning a new view of the return of the Lord, in relation both to the living and the dead. Paul is telling us, how both shall be reunited before the Lord Jesus at His coming. The management of the resurrection is committed to Christ as Lord.
Surviving unto the Presenee of the Lord. Like those of
The Presence of Christ is the goal (or ending) of the testimony of the Church on earth. Each rising in his own rank; Christ the first-fruits, afterwards they that are Christs at His Presence: 1 Cor. 15: 23. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye before our Lord Jesus Christ in His Presence? Here, then, the trial of the Church is over, and the award is given to each: 2: 19, 3: 13 and 5: 23.
The Saviour is present in person, according to His word. I will come again, and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there ye may be also: John 14: 3.
In verse 14 it was Jesus died and rose.
Now it is the Saviours dignity in resurrection. Let all the house of
There must be first a secret Presence of Christ. For we are taught in Col. 3: 3, that: When Christ, who is our Life, shall be manifested, then you also shall together with Him be manifested in glory. Now the Saviours manifestation to the world does not occur, till His glory, by its out-flashing, stills the Enemy and the Avenger: Psa. 8. The Saviours descent then to assemble to Him His saints, since it precedes that manifestation, must be in secret. The approved at last shine out as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. What force this gives to: We shall be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord. The Sun of Righteousness Himself awhile tarries behind the cloud, till the time of His manifestation, when the end of the Usurpers reign is come.
Believers are to pray, that they may escape the woes coming on the earth in the Great Day and terrible; and it is by being set (Greek) before the Son of Man: Luke 21: 36.
Those living on earth at Christs descent shall not get the start of those fallen asleep.
Those fallen asleep are unclothed by death (2 Cor. 5: 4); and the Lord cannot admit the naked to His Presence. The severance of body and soul is part of the sentence on sin; therefore not till the last trace of that is removed, can we take our eternal place of favour in the Presence of God on high. There is no place in the millennial kingdom for any, save as risen.* We are waiting for adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body: Rom. 8.
NOTE. Flesh and blood
The difference between mortal life and death is so small to the eye of the Lord - and He has passed through both - that those alive up to the Presence of the Lord will not even be the first to see the Redeemer. How that is arranged, is told us in the two next verses. This verse gives us the third occurrence of THE PRESENCE.
16. For the Lord Himself (1) with shout, (2) with voice of archangel, and (3) with trump of God, shall descend from heaven.
So deeply is the Saviour interested in these His ransomed ones, who are, by the Fathers counsel, to be His fellows, His brethren, and companions for ever: Rom. 8: 29. Here He comes alone. There shall be no one in the tabernacle of the congregation when He goeth in to make atonement in the holy place, till He come out: Lev. 16: 17.
The order of the Greek which is followed in the rendering given above, is designed to bind together the three signals of the Saviours descent; and to show that He is the Actor of them. They occur as He descends, and in the order here given.
1. With shout.
It is the shout of the Lord, as shown by its close connection. The word used is not a common one; it unites in itself (1) power of voice, and (2) the word of command.
Both meet in the resurrection of Lazarus.
The Saviour, arrived at the tomb of His friend, addresses a word to His Father. And when He had said this, with great voice He shouted, Lazarus come out, and (come) hither. Here are both stress of voice, and the word of command; they are immediately obeyed. I will raise him up at the last day, was said by our Lord more than once or twice. This sickness is not with a view to death, but for the glory of God, in order that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
I regard this great work of Christs descent as the designed
contrast to the impious session of the Antichrist in the temple. Both have
2. With voice of archangel.
There is but one archangel; or commander in chief of angels.* It is Christ.
The word occurs but once more in the New Testament, and that in Jude 9.
archangel when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses [after his death] dared not bring against him
a railing accusation.
The archangel Michael is also [typical
So Moses the servant of the Lord (Jehovah) died there in the
[* Better to have written: There is but one Commander-in-chief of angels. It is Christ, - the angel of the Lord.]
The Saviour comes with angels who execute His commands. The good angels are His. The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His [millennial] kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those that work iniquity: Matt. 13: 41-49. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me, and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels: Mark 8: 38; Luke 9: 26; Matt. 16: 27; Heb. 12: 22. At the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of His might: 2 Thess. 1: 7.
They come down with Him. Hence the word describing His command to them is changed. It is not with shout of archangel, but with voice of archangel. The angels are near Him; the dead are far off, and asleep. But as the ruler of angels, He addresses to them His command. What the nature of the command is, will presently appear,
This view is confirmed by 2 Thess. 1: 7, where the angels of Jesus are connected by Paul with our benefit and relief.
3. And with trump of God.
There were trumpets of silver under the law, and they were to
be blown by the priests. But this trump is blown by Christ. After
the prophets call to
This is confirmed by Psa. 1: 3-6.
Our God shall come and shall not keep silence, a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him. He shall call to the heavens above: [the word to His angels], and to the earth, that He may judge His people. Gather my saints together unto me, those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. And the heavens shall declare His righteousness, for God is Judge Himself.
The trump is the signal to the angels to fulfil the Lords command, by gathering His people to Himself.
Shall descend from heaven.
I understand the three signals as taking place during the Saviours descent from heaven into air; and in the order here given. The descent commences from heaven, and ceases in the air, where the Presence begins. When the motions of Christ downward, and of His [accounted worthy] people upward, have ceased, the Presence is begun.
The last clause of verse 16 properly belongs to verse 17. Then we have at one view the effect of the three signals of the Saviours descent.
17. And the dead in Christ shall first rise.* Then we who are alive and survive shall be away at the same time together with them (the dead) into air, to meet the Lord; and so shall we be for over with the Lord.
* The rendering rise first lives a wrong idea, into which many fall. The reference is to the two actions named. First the dead rise; then the living and dead are caught away. It gives the order of the events.
The believing dead continue in Christ, as well as the living: 2: 14.
The dead in Christ. Here we have the superiority over the worldly the dead in Adam. They are not knit by faith to Christ, and so are not awakened. But the dead in Christ are, in spite of death, one with Him who is Resurrection and Life.
The shout is wisely made to precede the voice and trump. The shout of Christ awakes the dead: it does what the Son of God alone can do. And the awaking of the dead is just the setting before the angels their work of lifting the departed to meet Christ.
He shall give His angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up. For both the living and the dead are alike unable to soar into air; but this the angels are able to effect for them. Then comes the judgment of both in the Presence of Christ.
Jehovah met with
We, the living, shall not get the start of those asleep. The Lord shall descend with shout. The dead in Christ shall first rise.*
[* NOTE. That is, rise up from Hades - the place of the souls of the dead, where they must wait for the time of resurrection; as was the case with the soul of our Lord Jesus, (Acts 2: 31): and the gates of Hades will not overcome those whom He will call out that is, His church, (Matt. 16: 18). cf. Rev. 1: 18; 6: 9-11.]
The Thessalonians were right in supposing, that the bodys lying under corruption was a hindrance to mens entry into the Presence of God. But Paul had to teach them, that moral corruption was yet deeper in Gods sight; and would call for punishment, and exclusion from reward: 4: 1-8.
Of the three signals, two are the abiding result. The shout of the Saviour awakes the faithful dead. It is commonly supposed that the trump awakes the dead; but it is not so. What awoke Lazarus? There, was no trump. It was the shout of Jesus. Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth. The multitude that was with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from among the dead, was bearing witness: John 12: 17. The hour is coming in which all that are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth: John 5: 28. It was by the Saviours voice that the daughter of Jairus, and the young man of Nain were recalled to life. (1) Talitha koumi. (2) Young man, arise! He who in grace puts his people to sleep, awakens them. I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
Thus the first of the signals, - the shout of Christ, - produces the first effect, the resurrection of the dead in Christ. The effects here follow the causes, and in the order of the causes, which are the commands of Christ.
Three are the signals, two the effects. And this is exhibited to us in the way in which the description is put together. The first and second signals have not the usual and between them.
The Lord Himself - (1) with shout -
(2) with voice of archangel,
[then comes the and] (3) and with trump of God.
Even so the answering results of (2) and (3) give the united effect of the rapture of both the dead and the living to the Presence of Christ.
1. The dead in Christ shall first rise.
2. Thereupon we, the living, at the same time shall be caught away together with them.
The dead do not descend with Christ out of heaven, but are called up - [souls fromHades and bodies] from the tombs to meet the Lord, and they are set before the Son of man: Luke 21: 36.*
[* NOTE. It should be apparent that the text in Luke 21: 36, refers to the first rapture of living saints before the Great Tribulation sets in: the resurrection of the dead and the rapture of those still alive, who are left, occurs at its end, 1 Thess. 4: 16.]
But might not the dead spring at once out of their graves by the magnetic attraction of the Saviour, the living being also caught up without a word?
It might have been, doubtless, had God so willed. But we have only to look at the description to see that that is not the divine plan.
We may notice, with interest, an advance in the different statements about the departed, as the plan of God unfolds.
In Genesis 5. we have the length of the lives of the patriarchs; with the notice at the close, And he died, save in Enochs case only.
Of Abrahams father we read also: Terah died in
Under the Law we read, at Aarons death, what was his age (Num. 33: 39).
At the death of Moses we read, that the Lord showed him the
land of promise, but he must not enter it.
Our position is a great advance on this. If obedient believers, we have died, been buried, and risen with Christ, the greater than Moses. And Christ is coming to wake us up, that we may ascend to meet the Lord, and be ever with Him; being by Him introduced to the mansions eternal, in the presence of the Father. But those believers who have not been immersed in obedience to Christ, are not ready to meet Him. For Christ Himself did not ascend to God till after His death, burial, and resurrection. Baptism is the figure of these.
There are two great difficulties in the way of the saints assembly to Christ.
1. Those dead must be raised. This is a task committed to the Son of God. To this Almighty work the angels are incompetent; and therefore it is wrought by Christ. This is a work effected on the dead, and is designed to set them on a level with those who have not died.
2. But angels are able to lift up to Christ both the living and the dead. And herein both the dead and the living occupy one level. Man cannot fly upward; whether he be alive, or among the dead. That, then, is effected for both parties by the angels. Men are wholly passive. We shall be caught up together. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape - [via rapture] - all these things that are coming to pass, and to be set before the Son of man: Luke 21: 36 (Greek).
* While the expression, First the dead shall rise, does not foretell directly the First Resurrection, as it is named by John: yet the context asserts it.
* Here I notice Dr. Eadies views, of which mention is made in the title of the book.
Here the stumbling-blocks which some find in Apoc. 20. are not. There is no seeing the souls, nor aught about the Wild Beast. There is no resurrection of principles.
This resurrection is not figurative. Leave out the word First found here, and it is a resurrection in the same sense as Jesus rose. If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so also those that are put to sleep by Jesus will God bring with Him. And that can be only after their resurrection. The dead stand in opposition to the saints remaining alive till Christs resurrection. The dead in Christ shall rise. And there is no resurrection before it. It takes place [after the Great Tribulation and] at the Saviours second advent. It is a reward - the result of being accounted worthy, both to escape what is coming on earth, and to be set before Christ, when he is descending to take His millennial kingdom: Luke 21: 35, 36.
It is the select resurrection;- out from among the dead. It is not the resurrection of the dead, but [a selection] of some among the dead, leaving the majority still in the tomb. It is caused by some of the dead hearing the Saviours voice, and coming out from [Hades and] their graves: John 5: 29. See also Phil. 3: 11.
In this seventeenth verse we have not, as before, we who are alive and survive up to the Presence of the Lord. Why is that omitted? Because we have its equivalent caught away into air to meet the Lord. It tells us what the Presence is, and where it is to be held. We are to leave earth by resurrection and ascent, as did Christ Himself.
At the Exodus, a pillar of cloud led the tribes. At the meeting of Jehovah with
While the sounds are heard by men, no light explanatory of them is given. The Saviours own ascent is twice spoken of as passive. While they beheld, He was taken up. This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven: Acts 1: 9-11. And it was also with, a cloud. A cloud received Him out of their sight. And so shall we be ever with the Lord.
It is the beginning of the abiding of the rescued with Christ, our Deliverer from the wrath coming on the living.
But, after meeting Christ, the ascended turn back with Him to
the earth. So those who went to meet
David on his return to his kingdom, after the overthrow of Absalom, turned back
with him to
18. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
By this revelation made to me, the difficulty, which has caused you sorrow, is removed. You were persuaded that the living would enter the kingdom. You see now, that the dead will be restored to life, and so set on the same footing as yourselves before the rapture to Christs Presence. Here is Gods comfort for you.
The remarkable expression, with these words, coupled with the solemn command that the epistle should be read to the whole church, seems to show, that the Holy Spirit foresaw that some of the leaders would like to have kept the letter as their own, dispensing it to whom, and at what times, they pleased. It is not therefore said Your leading brethren will expound what I have written to you, in their own way. Without their explanation it would be too difficult for you to understand.
In chapter 4. the apostle is treating of the resurrection from among the dead, which many, even now, are unprepared to receive. The Thessalonian believers, too, were slow to believe in an exit from death and corruption a thousand years before the general one; so that Paul was obliged to recall to them Jesus, as the pattern of the mind of God, in His death and resurrection.
1. But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, ye need not that any should write to you.
In this chapter Paul treats of unbelievers, as living upon earth, but spiritually asleep and without hope of a resurrection. The case of the unbelieving dead is not entered on.
To those put to sleep by Christ the slumber is a benefit. But those of the living unbelievers who voluntarily give themselves up to sleep, awake only to sudden and eternal destruction, without escape.
The former chapter has set before us the hope of the
The present chapter (5.) gives us the moral position of the world and of the Church, at the crisis of the Saviours return and judgment. The Hinderers are supposed to be gone, and the Man of Sin has now made his appearance, after the abandonment of the Christian faith by the nations.
In the day of the Lord there are various episodes; some of a longer period - times; - some of a shorter, seasons.
About these, it would seem, that the Thessalonians had made
enquiry. They are found treated of at
length in the Apocalypse. But the apostle
discourages study of them as the portion of the
2. For you yourselves know accurately that the Day of the Lord is coming as a thief (comes) at night.
This is a further unfolding of the apostles meaning. They already knew the great feature of the terrible Day, and how it would overtake unbelievers.
But here comes in the point which is so very frequently misunderstood. It is supposed, that by the Day of the Lord is meant the time of the Saviours blessing for His people. So Alford says, that the Day of the Lord is the day of the Lords coming, the Presence, which has been spoken of in some of its details above.
Now THE PRESENCE of the Lord Jesus is in order to the removal of the saints, out from the terrors of the Day of woe and wrath. It is spoken of as the saints hope and comfort. (1) For what is our hope or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye before our Lord Jesus Christ in His Presence? For ye are our glory and joy: 3: 19, 20. We shall be caught up together with them (the raised ones) to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
But Alford cites seven texts in proof of his interpretation. The three last speak of the Day of Christ, and apply to the saints: Phil. 1: 6, 10; 2: 16. That is not the Day of the Lord, as it is used in both the Old Testament and the New.
He who would understand the distinction must keep steadily to the expression, the Day of the Lord. If additions are made to it, it takes another aspect: as (1) We beseech you, brethren, by the Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him. That is not the Day of the Lord, but of the rapture which precedes it.
(2) Waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ: 1 Cor. 1: 8. (3) That the spirit may be saved in the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (4) We are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the Day of the Lord Jesus: 2 Cor. 1: 14.
Let me now show, that by the Day of the Lord is intended the time of
Gods wrath on
1. That day is the fulfilment of the Covenant of Marvels made
with Moses, after the Sin of the Calf. Behold I make
a covenant; before all Thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done
in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom thou art
shall see the work of the Lord, for it is a terrible thing that I will do with
thee. Ex. 34: 10. It is wrath on the
people of Moses; not on the
2. Yet it is not woe on
(2) Behold the Day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land (earth) desolate; and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. And I will punish the world for their evil of it. and the wicked for their iniquity: Isa. 13., 24., 34: 1-6. For it is the Day of the Lords vengeance: Isa. 34: 8.
(3) He (Christ) shall put down all rule and authority and power. For He must reign till He hath put all enemies under his feet: 1 Cor. 15: 24, 25.
That day is coming as (comes) a thief by night.
The thief waits till he can come unseen and unexpected. In the darkness his proceedings are not seen. He comes not when men are awake, sober, armed. Then his power for mischief would be but small.
If I mistake not, chapter 5. answers to the cutting off of the first-born in
3. For* when they shall be saying - Peace and Safety, then sudden destruction is impending over them, as the birth-pang on her that is with child, and they shall not escape.
* The for is, I believe, genuine. It gives the explanation of the previous paradox.
This verse is very important; it gives the other side of the scene in chapter 4. That told us the effect of the Saviours Presence and descent for his friends. This tells us how the Presence affects his foes.
The Saviour descends with shout, voice, trump. Are they heard by His people only? Far from it! Here we learn the thoughts of the world upon these sounds of dread. They are given from another point of view in the prophets of the Old Testament.
1. The Lord shall roar from on high, and utter His voice from His holy habitation. He shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations, He will plead with all flesh; He will give them that are wicked to the sword: Jer. 25: 30, 31.
2. The centre of this is fixed at
The question arises in the mind of the hearers: What meaneth this? So it was in the mind of Jews at the sound of a mighty rushing wind at Pentecost. But there is no Peter now to beat down their foolish theory, or to tell them that Whoever should call on the name of the Lord should be saved. Mercy is past. The hearers have heard of Christ and cast Him off. He is about to make His foes His footstool. It is the time of Gods severance between His elect, and the crooked generation.
Unbelievers are saying, Peace and Safety. Here is the proof, that the Day has come as a thief in the night. They are not aware, and will not believe the meaning of these signs to Christs friends. Many of the living have suddenly disappeared. Many of the tombs are broken open, and no bones or dust remain within. But they will not allow the interpretation which faith gives of these signs. When Lot, taught of the angels, seeks to arouse his sons in law to their danger The Lord will destroy this city - he seems to them as if uttering a joke, and they go to sleep again, only to perish.
Moreover they discern not the application to themselves. The shout and trump have fulfilled their purpose in setting Gods obedient ones in Peace and Safety. They have for ever escaped out of the hand of their persecutors. But against them, tis the trump of heaven telling of war, and the shout of battle against the unprepared, dreaming of peace. Grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are upon the children of God. But against the foes it is the voice of justice, and the trump of war.
They are shaken, aroused; but are loath to be disquieted. With words of false comfort springing from their wishes and resting on no evidence, they compose themselves again to sleep. The believers of Pauls day were afraid, that they were in the terrible Day; and they received the solid comfort of the Holy Ghost, that it is the Day of Gospel-peace. But then the Day of wrath and woe is come, and men foolishly and falsely comfort themselves with words of unbelief.
They have provoked God to wrath, by casting off the name of Christ; and yet they cry, Peace. They believe not in Gods [righteous] judgment, and now its warning trump has sounded. A masked battery covering their camp has just been planted; but they shut their eyes, and lay themselves down to sleep anew.
Destruction is above them; but there is a little interval of quiet, while the Lord is judging His people in His Presence. God has removed His children from the battle-field, on which the artillery of heaven is just about to open, that there may be a clear sweep of death against His foes.
Then sudden destruction is impending over them.
They see no army encamped against them below, and they do not believe in any army from the sky. But it is there. Unexpected, swift, unwelcome, destruction is hanging over them from above.
So, when the seven days of Noahs entry into the ark were swiftly passing, the clouds of the forty days rain were gathering, and the fountains of the subterranean sea were preparing to destroy.
So, when the sun was risen over the earth, as Lot entered Zoar, The Lord rained upon
As the birth-pang upon her that is with child.
This is the second comparison of the verse. The Day of wrath is come, and its engines are all in position; yet they believe it not.
But there is a second point. After the Saviours judgment of His people in His Presence, He is free to attend to the deserts of His enemies and their Leader, gathered in blasphemy and idolatry under him. Then comes the sudden out-flash of light from the opened clouds of the Lords Presence, against the Great Enemy of the Father and the Son, Whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of His mouth, and shall paralyze with the manifestation of His Presence: 2 Thess. 2: 8. Now we learn that this sudden view of the Lord and His host gathered for vengeance on high, smites not the Antichrist alone, but his worshippers, with dismay.
This is the birth-pang. It is the fearful sight of destruction from heaven about to strike. He whom they have slandered and defied, is descending in flames of fire with His angels.
The sight, instead of rousing their martial valour, renders
them unfit for flight. It brings on at
once the palsy of dismay. The parturient
woman cannot flee. So, at the
So the men of Ai, at their last confident sally against
And they shall not escape.
So not one of that self-confident host of Pharaoh found his
way to the
It is not meant here, that there shall be no escape of any;
but none of the congregation of unbelief.
There are indeed two escapes; one, the earthly one of
So Belshazzar, after his insult to Jehovah and his temple, when the hand wrote his doom on the plaster of the wall beside the full light of the candlestick, is in a moment bereft of power. The joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
Beside affright at the supernatural hand and its writing, there was moral terror, arising from a sense of sin and desert of wrath. They who rejoice over the two Witness-Prophets slain at Jerusalem, and refuse them burial; when on the fourth day their discoloured and dishonoured bodies change to the fair complexion of life, and they stand again upon their feet, are seized with dismay; and look on terrified, as they ascend to heaven in the cloud, while the greatest of earthquakes slays at least seven millions of the enemy.
4. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, in order that the day should overtake you as a thief.
There are three points supposed in what follows:-
The world is in spiritual darkness. And the things of nature which surround it, lend it no light. It dwells in the night of unbelief and hatred. It has none but false hopes. The light of Gods word and of His Holy Spirit shines indeed around them. But they prefer the darkness. This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world: and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. Darkness is an element of danger, which at length ends in destruction. Judas had darkness of soul in his unbelief, and he went out from the Presence of Christ to betray Him. He, then, having received the sop went immediately out; and it was night; night without, and darkness within. Self-chosen darkness ends in the Destruction of the Day of wrath.
The apostle is showing us, how the different destinies that attach to the world and to the church respectively, in the Day of the Lord, are already preparing, by the different spiritual states and conduct of the two parties. It is fitting, that they who know God and obey His Gospel should escape the doom of the wicked.
In order that the Day should overtake you as a thief. It is Gods counsel, that the wicked, who prefer natures darkness to His light, should perish in the darkness they have chosen, when the Day of recompense is come. They are specially exposed to danger; for they believe not in the wrath of God, nor in its appointed Day. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you, for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he is going: John 12: 35.
As in the plagues of
As at the Red Sea, when the persecutors pursued after Gods
people, the Angel of the Lord came with His cloud between
You are not in the darkness with a view to being destroyed, when the day of
recompense is come. You are begotten
from on high by the Holy Spirit to love God, and to believe promise and
prophecy. Yours is present Peace, given
of God, and future Safety, and salvation, when the time of divine deliverance is
come. To the obedient angel of
5. For ye are all sons of light, and sons of day; we are not of night, nor of darkness.
We, too, were by nature once darkness, but are now light in
the Lord Jesus. We are sons of light, as
believing in Christ the Light. Part of
the Saviours solemn appeal to
The saints are sons of day, knowing what is at hand, and avoiding danger. Such see the mind of God, and are preparing to meet Christ, the Deliverer from the coming wrath.
1. You are sons of light, as begotten again by the Holy Spirit to faith in Christ. 2. You are sons of day; your heritage is not that of the flesh. 3. As then you are of another origin, and, as sons, destined to an eternal heritage of Gods gift, let your conduct be opposite to that of the men of the world.
We are not of the night.
Why does the apostle thus distinguish, between Ye are all, and We are not?
I think it is as carrying out the
distinction he had made of the
6. Consequently, therefore, let us not go to sleep as do the rest: but let us keep awake and keep sober.
The apostle now gathers up the results of the principles just laid down. Having light, hope, and the knowledge of God and of His scheme of the future, what befits us as men in Christ, awaiting His return?
It has been observed before, that in this epistle there are two different words for sleep, one occurring thrice in chapter 4., and one occurring four times in this chapter 5. There also are two forms of entering sleep in nature. The first is that where the superior puts to sleep the very young, without needing to ask their consent; but benevolently seeking the benefit of those so won to slumber, and looking on to their awakening, strengthened and refreshed. This answers to death brought on the people of God, without their being consulted, and something not to be avoided by any care.
In this chapter the sleep is regarded as a matter of choice
and preparation by those grown up. There
is the voluntary assumption of the attitude fittest for slumber - the lying
down, and composing of the feelings for repose.
Sleep so sought comes as matter of choice; and hence exhortation against it here comes in. Those so going to sleep are warned against the danger attendant on spiritual slumber. Of those so sleeping
Night and its sons have one career and destiny; day and its sons, another.
Sleep can generally be kept off by adults by standing and walking; because, where the sentinel is made responsible to watch, the safety of an army in time of war depends thereon.
7. For they that go to sleep go to sleep by night; and they who drink themselves drunk are drunken by night.
Here is set before us the usual conduct of those who live after the flesh. It is the course of this evil age, unbelieving in the day of wrath, and in judgment then come upon them. But night and its darkness are really around.
Their conduct is not to be imitated by the Christian, who knows that the return of Christ is to be always expected. The world is under judgment; only respited from day to day by the mercy of the Most High.
But some of the world go beyond the former measure of un-preparedness-sleep. They drink themselves drunk.
Now if sleep be unfavourable to escape from sudden danger, drunkenness is worse. And if sleep and drunkenness be both joined, all hopes of escape are shut up.
The unbelievers here seem bent on proving that there is no danger; tis Peace and Safety - and they will prove their words true by their acts. It is only superstition which finds anything threatening in the three signs of the Saviours descent, and in the opening of the tombs, and the disappearance of the living. Thereupon sudden destruction seizes them, and they do not escape.
Against these exhortations of the Saviour and of the Holy Spirit some, even of believers, will offend.
1. Now of that day and hour none knoweth, not even the angels that are in heaven, nor even the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed, watch and pray, for ye know not when the season is. But what I say to you, I say to all Watch Mark 13.
2. But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with gluttony and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come suddenly upon you. For as a snare of the fowler shall it come upon all who are settled upon the face of all the earth. Keep awake, therefore, in every season, entreating that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to be set before the Son of man: Luke 21: 34-36.
The Saviours words suppose that some [regenerate] believers will be overtaken in a state nearly resembling that of the world; and He warns us of the penalty which will then fall on them.
1. But if that evil servant say in his heart: My Lord delays to come, and shall begin to beat his fellow-servants, but to eat and drink with the drunken, the Lord of that servant shall arrive in a day that he does not expect, and in an hour which he recognizes not, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites! there shall be the mourning and the gnashing of teeth: Matt. 24: 48-51.
The next warning goes farther still: Luke 12: 45-47.
2. But if that servant say in his heart, My Lord is delaying to come, and shall begin to beat the man-servants, and the maid-servants, but to eat and drink, and to be drunken, the Lord of that servant will arrive in a day that he expects not, and in an hour which he recognizes not, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint his portion with the unbelievers.
How solemn the warning!
8. But let us, who belong to daylight, keep sober; having put on the breast-plate of faith and love, and as helmet the hope of [a future] salvation.
Soberness befits the daylight. Let us keep sober! Had teetotalism been our Lords mind, what an opening here to say: Let us totally abstain!
The waking and sober are ready to escape; the brain is clear, the feet ready for the activity of flight.
But it is not only a time of danger, but of war; and to war armour of defence is suitable. [We must] Put on, then, the armour of Gods providing! To the unbeliever and the feasters of the world armour is preposterous. Peace and Safety! Put off your armour, you who would sit down to the feast, and you who would compose yourselves to slumber! It is not armour of the flesh which God provides, but spiritual armour. The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore put off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light: Rom. 13.
So our Lord, who knew His hour was come, and the power of
darkness, gave no way to sleep, and exhorted the disciples to keep awake, and
to pray not to be led into temptation.
Ordinarily, Forewarned is forearmed. But with them it was not so; and only the
Saviour was ready to meet the onset
of the foe. But He was clad, not with offensive, but with defensive armour, and rebuked
Peter for drawing the sword of the flesh.
He submitted Himself in faith, love, and hope to that time of sifting,
and of sorrow; and the enemy prevailed not against Him. He gained the victory over Satan in
1. Thinkest thou not, that I cannot at this moment call upon my Father, and He will set beside Me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? Here is faith: faith with patience of submission.
2. And one of them smote the slave of the high priest, and took off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said: Suffer ye thus far. And He touched his ear and healed him. Here is love; both to Peter: (1) Put up thy sword into its place, for all they that take sword with sword shall perish. (2) And to Malchus, He healed him.
I will smite the shepherd, and the
sheep of the flock shall be scattered.
But after I am risen again, I will go before you into
To the worldly [disciples] belong (1) unbelief, (2) enmity, and (3) false hope, ending in despair. How are all these seen in Judas! He that eateth bread with Me, lifteth up his heel against Me. He cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
Christians, who know that the present is the time of spiritual war, are ever to be girded with the panoply of God: their heart defended by the breastplate of faith and love; and their head intelligent of the hope of deliverance and reward promised by the Lord. These are words addressed to those alive on earth up to the Presence of Christ. So our choice and conduct are to be at all points the opposite to those of the world. As our principles are opposed, so also must be the conduct that flows from them. As you, believers, are destined by God to [a future] salvation, so let your lives now be opposite to those who are moving onward, through unbelief, to destruction.*
[* See Heb. 10: 39, A.V., R.V. and Greek]
9. For God appointed us not to wrath, but to the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The believer who is obedient stands on a different footing to the worldly. He is the wakeful, sober, armed soldier, walking in the light of day. The worldly are the unguarded, sleepy, drunken banqueters, when the enemy, with drawn sword, rushes in upon those wholly off their guard.
The obedient co-operates with Gods decree to give him salvation. The unbelieving is not only under wrath; but he also prepares himself for destruction by his sleep and drunkenness. Pharaoh and his host walk into the sea which is to drown them. Their hope, born of unbelief, fatally fails them.
But Gods mercy delivers the believer and obedient one from the wrath he deserves, and bestows an eternal [millennial] heritage of bliss, which he deserves not. It comes to him through the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
10, 11. Who died for us, in order that whether we keep awake or lie down to sleep, we may together live with Him. Wherefore comfort (or exhort) one another, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
Christ is not only our Leader as Moses, but our Passover-Lamb also. Those He has to save are sinners, even the best of them. And without shedding of blood is no forgiveness.
At this point a difficulty meets us. In what sense are we to take wake and sleep?
1. In a physical sense? Referring to life or death?
1. But that is not put to our choice.
2. The word for physical death is not the one used in this chapter.
3. But if we take the sleep in a general sense, as a matter left to our choice, a fresh difficulty arises.
Is not that, saying, that it matters not whether, against the Holy Spirits exhortation, we sinfully go to sleep, like the world; or obediently keep awake!
Many Christians, specially of those who despise prophecy, are spiritually
are pursuing, with full bent of soul, the worlds prizes. And
thus they are blind to the effects of the Saviours return. Here, then, we
obtain a reply to the momentous question: Is it perdition for such to give themselves up to
spiritual slumber? And the reply, in grace, is: No! The Saviour has died; and disobedience to
this command, will not be their [eternal] destruction. If ye seek Me, let these go their way, said our Lord, concerning them. But, like
the disciples slumbering in
Grace interposes to prevent the consequences of this disobedience. Those spiritually alive in Christ shall not be for ever mixed up with the spiritually dead.
The Old Testament history gives us a
typical reply to this question: Abraham and
Gods gracious counsel shall bring to eternal life those who are in Christ. The Saviours intercession is of mightier force than Abrahams. God has chosen many, who will be saved, though not rewarded. The gift of God (against our deserts) is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. So shall we be ever with the Lord.
The verses that follow, up to 23, fall outside the line treated of in this work. But a brief notice must be given of verses 22, 23, 24.
23, 24. Now the God of Peace Himself sanctify you wholly; and may your entire spirit, soul, and body be preserved (unto, and found) without blame in THE PRESENCE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. Faithful is he who is inviting you, who also will do it.
Here is the settled ground of Peace, - given from above. The worlds hope is a shadow; but God will keep His word. Sanctification is the great basis of these epistles, and Gods invitation to His own [millennial] kingdom and glory.
Man gives the constituents of human nature in the opposite order to that of verse 23. We say, body, soul, and spirit. But the Most High begins with that part of human nature to which principally sanctification attaches, while He will not leave His work till spirit, soul, and body are all redeemed. He will bring His elect into the glorious Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some, on their presentation before Christ, will be ashamed.
Here is the fourth and last occurrence of Presence in this first epistle.
God is inviting His people now on earth to [millennial] glory and reward. The steadfastness needed thereto can only be derived from a divine source. Those He loves He will love to the end.
Verse 22 should be rendered, Abstain from all kinds of evil. It is observable that two different Greek prepositions, both rightly rendered with, are found in the two epistles. One of these intimates a nearer conjunction than the others.*
* The first denotes a less intimate conjunction than the other.
1. Christ shall be revealed with His angels. The Lord and His grace are with us already.
2. The second preposition is used, where the believers eternal association with Christ is named. God will bring with Christ: 1 Thess. 4. Ever with the Lord. We shall live together with Him: 1 Thess. 5: 10.
The four occurrences of the Presence in this first epistle relate chiefly to our being accepted as blameless before the Lord Jesus.
1. What is our hope? Ye in the Presence of the Lord : 2: 9.
2. How are we to be received by the Father and the Lord without blame? 3: 13.
3. How the Presence will be constituted; and the assembly there of the living and the dead saints: 4: 13-18.
4. How shall we be set before Christ without blame? 5: 23-24.
2 THESSALONIANS 1. - 2: 3.
Much of the second epistle relates to TWO GREAT DAYS of opposite principles. The Thessalonians were wrong, in supposing that they were living under the Day of Wrath; that the sufferings they endured from their persecutors were a proof of Gods displeasure; and that they would have to pass through the Great Tribulation.
They also reversed the order of events; supposing as they did, that the Day of Trouble would precede the coming and Presence of the Saviour. This mistake is set right in the first verse of the second chapter.
The not distinguishing these two days, and their different principles, is the source of great mistakes in prophetic systems. Christian writers have been endeavouring to explain the Apocalypse, as already nearly fulfilled in the present day of Gospel-mercy! We are said by some to be living under the sixth or the seventh Vial of Gods sorest vengeance on His foes! How then do you call it the day when sinners are to be won to the wonderful grace of God?
It is only when the Day of mercy is past, that the judgments on the world here foretold will take effect; and only after the ready saints have been removed from the earth.
The three who head each of the two epistles take a lofty stand above their converts. Paul and Silas (Silvanus) were born Jews. Paul was commissioned by the Saviour as His evangelist, a teacher, and ruler of the Assemblies of Christ which He had raised. Timothy the third, is one of mixed standing. He was son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek. Him Paul would have to go forth with him and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters; for they knew all that his father was a Greek.
He is Pauls messenger to Thessalonian Christians, when Paul himself was unable to visit them.
1. Paul and Silvanus and Timothy unto the assembly of Thessalonians (who are) in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Two Days are supposed in these two epistles. The present day is the season of grace and peace to Christians, in which God is showing Himself the Father of them that believe. How much better are grace and peace, than war and destruction from God.
2. We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith greatly increaseth, and the love of each of you all toward one another aboundeth. So that we ourselves boast of you in the assemblies of God, because of your patience and faith in all your persecutions, and in the trouble which ye are enduring.
Assemblies of God!
How much better is it now than when there was only one righteous
Since the apostle had written his first epistle, the Thessalonian believers had grown in faith and love. He had said of them in the first epistle, Remembering without ceasing your (1) work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in the Lord Jesus. How is it that he says nothing of their increase of hope? Because the idea, that they were left by God to pass through the dreadful Day of Wrath, had almost driven them to despair. Here was the error, which, with divine love and skill, he proceeds to remove.
Instead of thinking the Christians of Thessalonica deficient in the graces of the Gospel, he boasted of them to the Churches of God, because of their patience and faith. They neither sought to avenge themselves, as the men of law; nor did they draw back, because the path of Christ led them into such trials. This is not nature; but grace.
The apostle distinguishes by two articles, persecutions from afflictions. May we regard the first of these as the persecutors active measures, harassing the saints while they were left at liberty? the afflictions, a more general word, including the sufferings after their being imprisoned?*
* Matt. 10: 23; 23: 34. Acts 9: 45; Rev. 12: 13. And driven out, in 1 Thess. 2: 15. As to [the Greek word ], see Matt. 24: 9; Acts 7: 10; 20: 23.
The Day of Mercy is the season in which the Seed of the Serpent persecute the saints of God. To do well, and to suffer for it, is our strange calling.
5. A manifest token of the righteous
judgment of God, that ye may be accounted worthy of the
Was it then a proof of Gods righteous judgment that he gave up His beloved saints to affliction, and allowed the wicked to trouble them?
That was not righteous judgment, but a preparation for reward in another day, when another principle would be the foundation of His rule.
His people suffer during the day of His Patience. He shall requite them in the Day of Justice to come, by joy and reward.
At once, therefore, Paul speaks of the millennial recompense
and consolation which the Most High has provided for His suffering people. If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: 2 Tim. 2: 12.
Blessed are the persecuted for righteousness
sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: Matt.
5: 10. Through
many troubles (in
this day) we
must enter (in another
Thessalonian believers were suffering, because of their faith
in the coming [millennial]
Suffering and service now are the way by which believers will enter the millennial kingdom: Matt. 20: 20. The kingdom is the consolation provided for Gods suffering ones. Alas for those [duped by Satan] who get their consolation now! Luke 6: 20-26.
That ye may be accounted worthy of the
That is never said of eternal life; because it is the gift of God against our desert. But the reign of a thousand years is a reward, suspended on His saints individual conduct after their justification. The Father is judging of the work of each without respect to faces; and the result will be reaped, when we appear before Christ: 1 Peter 1: 17. For, in relation to the Day of Reward, - By works a man is justified, and not by faith only: James 2: 24.
Ye even suffer. Many believe in the future kingdom, but are not called to suffer as these Christians were. Without faith in it there will indeed be no entrance into it: Mark 10: 15; Luke 18: 16, 17. But there may be faith in the kingdom of glory without suffering for it. Only, the hope of the kingdom will grow stronger with patient endurance.
6, 7. If, at all events, it be righteous with God to recompense to those who trouble you, trouble; and to you the troubled relief together with ourselves, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of His power.
They had been frightened with the tidings, that the Day of
Justice had come upon the world. They
need not have been alarmed. Righteousness
here is the rendering of a ruler to each according to his deeds. And, if so, it was not they who
would have to suffer, but their persecutors. It
would be just in God to award to their troublers, trouble.
Those who have bruised the heels of the saints will have to endure the
bruising of their heads. This was the
principle announced, even in
The trouble to persecutors, and the consolation to believers, would both take effect at the same time. It would be at the Revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven. They would be caught up to Him at once, and Jesus would be seen in His glory, before the heavy woo fell on their troublers. Their assembly to Christ would take them out of the earth, the scene of their harassment. Relief* is the opposite to affliction. The relief precedes the rest of God. Some time (at least three and a half years) must elapse, before the Saviour, after His judgment of the saints, would descend from His Presence in the air to take possession of His kingdom over the earth.
* The relaxation felt after the strain and tension of the whole man, produced by affliction. It is not the rest of which Paul speaks in Heb. 3., 4.
A brief analysis will show, that the apostle is teaching the two opposite results of the Saviours coming (1) to the persecutor, and (2) to the sufferers for Christ.
Righteousness is coming.
A.* Trouble to the troubler.
B. To the troubled relief.
* A, notes the award to the wicked; B, to Christs [obedient] people.
B At the revelation of Jesus with His angels of power.
A1. In flame of fire, taking vengeance on
(1) those ignorant of God;
(2) those disobedient to the gospel.
A2. Their doom, eternal destruction
(1) from the face of Christ.
(2) From the glory of His might.
B. Wnen Christ has come, -
(1) to be glorified in His saints;
(2) to be admired in all believers, such as you.
In nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God: Phil 1: 28.
The revelation of the Lord Jesus takes place first to the saints in the secrecy of His Presence. That expression points to the remarkable phrase found in the next chapter: The Lawless One, whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of His mouth, and paralyze with the manifested brightness of His Presence. His Presence is in secrecy at first; but after the three and a half years of the reign of the Blasphemer, the Saviour causes the clouds that have hid Him to roll away: Psa. 17: 6-9.
The manifestation of Christs presence is in heaven, while the presence of His impious rival is on earth.
Christ comes attended by the angels of God, who at His word
will seize and cast His foes into their just punishment. In the time of harvest I will say to
gather the tares, then bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat
into My barn. Here is the voice of
8, 9. In flame of fire taking vengeance (1) on them that know not God, and on (2) them that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall suffer as His vengeance, everlasting destruction proceeding from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of His might.
Vengeance on the open transgressors falls in fire, when He appears in heaven. There are two classes of sinners involved in it.
1. Those who know not God.* That is, Gentile idolaters, who have never professed Christ, and so are ignorant of God, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. 1 Thess. 4: 5.
* Acts. 22: 11-14; 1 Cor. 9: 1. When ye knew not God, ye did service to them that by nature are no gods. But now after that ye have known God: Gal. 4: 8. As the persecutors used fire against the Lords holy ones, fire will be justly used against them.
2. And those that obey not the Gospel of Christ.
These include (1) the Jews, to whom at the first the good news of the Lord Jesus as the Saviour was proclaimed: and (2) all the nations upon whom My Name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things: Acts 15. For the Apostasy from faith in the Son of God is at hand.
The rather obscure phrases - (1) from the face
of the Lord, and
(2) from the glory of
His might, receive
much light from the history of Sauls arrest as the persecutor, on his way to
Paul tells us, that, as he drew near
When wrath falls on the Man of Sin in the Day of judgment, he is paralyzed by a view of the glory; and fire out of the Lords mouth consumes him.
Their doom will be destruction. What is destruction? It is the opposite to construction.
Construction is the putting together of parts, which go to make up a useful whole, as the laying of brick on brick to make a house. It is a process requiring time to complete it. Destruction is the opposite process; the taking down. How long is the process to go on? For ever! Everlasting destruction. It is the penalty to be inflicted by the Judge. It is not the destruction of being; but of welfare. If it were to cease at any moment, it might be destruction, but it would not be eternal destruction.
It proceeds from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of His might. So when Nadab and Abihu* were cut off, we read: There went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them; and they died before the Lord: Lev. 10: 2; 9: 24; Num. 16: 35. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil: Psa. 34: 16.
[* NOTE. If the word and is recognised as a disjunction - separating them that know not God (the unregenerate), from them that obey not the gospel; then the latter clause - (them that obey not the gospel), may be applied to disobedient regenerate believers!
Of course this interpretation would depend on the Greek adjective aionian (translated everlasting above), to being translated age-lasting destruction. Hence the Divine judgment which was passed upon Nadab and Abihu, who rebelled against the council of God and His chosen leader, Moses!
Mr. Govetts definition of destruction - the opposite to construction, the putting together of parts, which go to make up a useful whole - would then have to seen to refer to the time of the First Resurrection when the face of the Lord and the glory of His might will be manifested for all upon this earth to see. Only those Christians raised out from amongst the dead - ( a select resurrection of reward) - will then partake of that glory, when the soul and body are reunited: and that event could also be described as: the putting together of parts - (i.e., body and soul) - which go together to make up a useful whole!
It was God who said: Not one of the men - (and Paul was referring to all the children of Israel who left Egypt after the Passover and their shelter under the blood - for not a hoof was left behind - that they: Were all under the cloud all passed through the sea all baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ: 1 Cor. 10: 1-4) - who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who DISOBEYED me and tested me ten times not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No-one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it: (Num. 14: 22, 23).
Will some of the redeemed, who treat God with contempt, suffer Everlasting destruction? NO! But as God cut off Nadab and Abihu from that inheritance in the land of promise, because of their disobedience; He will most certainly cut off all His disobedient, unrepentant, and like-minded people today from the glory of the Lord, when it fills the whole earth, (Num. 14: 21, 22)! . The face of the Lord is against them that do evil and against those who OBEY NOT the gospel: (2 Thess. 1: 8b). Hence we understand the importance of being: considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead, (Luke 20: 35, N.I.V.). cf. Rev. 20: 4-6; Heb. 11: 35b, etc.
Failure to understand and distinguish between the salvation which we presently possess [our eternal salvation] and the salvation to be revealed when our Lord returns [the future salvation of the soul] has wrought untold confusion in Christian circles.
Many Christians take Scriptures dealing with the
salvation to be revealed and seek to
apply them to the salvation which we
presently possess. And misapplying
Scripture in this manner, these individuals arrive at the erroneous conclusion
that it is possible for a saved person to be lost, which not only casts
reproach upon the sufficiency of the finished work of Christ at
Both classes of the Persecutors are ignorant of the Father and of the Son, as our Lord says: John 16: 2, 3. Both will suffer eternal destruction proceeding from the face of the Lord, as soon as He shows it.
During the time of mercy A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench - till He send forth justice to victory: Matt. 12: 20. Verse 8, then of the first chapter of our Second Epistle shows us Christs aspect changed from mercy to wrath, and dealing out deserved vengeance. The next verse gives the amount and duration of it, as suffered by the Persecutors. Their time of bruising the heel of Gods people is over; and the bruising of their heads is begun.
They are by the angels bound together and borne to the furnace
of fire: as the saints are by the angels borne to the Presence of Christ. Glory and might are both engaged in the wrath. The Glory of Jehovah on Mount Sinai under Law
looked like devouring fire to the eyes of
10. When He shall have come to be glorified in His saints, and to be wondered at in all that believed (for our testimony unto you was believed) in that day.
We have now a view of the other side of Gods judgment, or His appointing the eternal bliss of His obedient ones. Here we have Christs descent to earth with the approved. Jesus is revealed from heaven first; His glory, like a flash of lightning fills in a moment the whole heaven: Matt. 24. But after that, He and His fellows come with Him to earth to rule it. This is, I think, parallel with Those that sleep through Jesus will God bring with Him.
Whence is the bringing? Are Gods saints up in heaven already, glorified spirits admitted, while their bodies are under corruption, to the Presence of God in the Holiest above?
No! It is not supposed, that they descend with Christ out of heaven, to take up their bodies from below. The apostles whole testimony about the dead in Christ must have been wholly different, if he believed that they were not waiting for adoption, the redemption of their body: Rom. 8: 23. The teaching of the apostle is this: But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning the sleepers [O, then, they are not, with all their full powers, engaged in singing glory to God before their resurrection]; that ye grieve not, even as the others that have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and arose, so also God will bring with Jesus those put to sleep by Him.
He will bring. As the Christians alive on earth are those whom Paul is addressing, Gods bringing His approved ones is the taking them to earth, over which Christ and they are to reign. For this we say unto you, by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain unto the Presence of the Lord, shall not get the start of those laid to sleep. For the Lord Himself with shout, with voice of archangel, and with the trump of God shall descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ shall first rise.
Theirs, then, is not a descent from heaven with Christ into air. They are sleeping, and with a shout Christ wakes them, as he did Lazarus; and from the tombs they come forth in their resurrection-bodies. Then we, the living who remain, shall be caught away together with them in clouds to meet the Lord in air: 1 Thess. 4.
Christ then will have come visibly to the men of earth, and He will be glorified in His saints. Men will find the glory with which Christ Himself shines, shining from His risen and changed saints. Then shall the righteous shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father: Matt. 13.
There is no passage, so far as I am aware, that declares that all
believers shall attain the
This passage comes the nearest to such a doctrine. But it has been preceded by: That ye may
worthy of the
When He shall have come! This supposes a later time than His revelation from heaven, when the work of the Presence is finished, and the Saviour takes the throne on earth. He will then be glorifled in His saints. That is much more than the first relief from the hands of persecutors. It is reward and glory; the [millennial] kingdom begun. Then shall the righteous shine out as the sun in the kingdom of their Father: Matt. 13.
The people of Christ are presented here in two classes: (1) as saints and as (2) those who believed. What is the difference between the two? Saintship is the result of the obedience of believers. Sanctification is more than justification by faith. After faith are to come the works of faith: Matt. 3.; Rom. 4.
Not all [regenerate] believers will be rewarded as saints, as the apostle showed at the opening of the fourth chapter of the first Epistle. And glorification in Christ is more than being admired.
We should read, on good authority:
And to be admired in all that believed - the past tense. Why so ? Because at Christs coming faith ends, and reward and glory begin. The distinction then, I believe, is the one taught us in Rev. 20: 4-6: Blessed and a saint is he that hath part in the first resurrection. They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. But the rest of the dead came not to life until the thousand years were finished. Believers, in this connection, are those not accounted worthy of the kingdom.
This second class reappears at the judgment of the Great White Throne: Rev. 20. Another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. Some are written there. And they are not cast into the lake of fire, as are those who are judged according to their works. Beside the resurrection of life is the resurrection of judgment: John 5: 29.
But, how are they to be admired? And by whom?
By the nations of the new earth, after the destruction of the old one; Rev. 21: 24, 26.
In that day, qualifies, I think, the previous paragraph from verse 6-10. It sums up the differences of the coining day of judgment from the present day of mercy. The coming day will show results quite opposite to the persecuted and to the persecutors.
That day is an expression several times occurring in the New Testament and often in the Old. It is used by the Saviour to mark the time of His judging whether those that are professed disciples shall enter the [millennial] kingdom or not. Matt. 7: 21-23: Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity. See also 2 Tim. 1: 12, 18; 4: 8.
11. Unto which end also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of the calling, and fulfil in you all good pleasure in goodness, and the work of faith with power.
Two things are presented before the believer, (1) the GIFT, eternal, life; (2) the PRIZE, the attaining the kingdom of the thousand years. Paul desired that his converts might obtain the prize of their calling - the millennial glory, as well as the gift of God - eternal life, We cannot be counted worthy of eternal life.
The apostle himself did not feel himself secure of the prize, when writing to the Philippians: Phil. 3. But at the close the Holy Spirit gave him to see that, as the faithful and suffering warrior that had so well maintained his ground, he should receive the crown: 2 Tim. 4. Now it is the time of struggle against the Old Serpent, and his Seed, calling for patience; and for faith, as the root of the patience. Also there is to be the doing of good towards all, specially to the household of faith.
But we are invited to Gods own kingdom and glory. The way to it is through holiness. Great offences against that would exclude. The Most High will decide at last, whether we shall enter the millennial glory, or no.
The apostle prayed also, that Gods word of sanctification, the end of which is eternal life, might go forward in them; that they might take delight in acts of kindness, and that He would make their faith powerful within, and manifest to those without. The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul and body may be kept, so as to be blameless in The Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The delight in acts of goodness and works of faith taught and effected by the Holy Ghost, has been already named in 1 Thess. 4: 9-12. There is also word against the believers acting in righteousness of law. See that none render evil unto any but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves and to all: 1 Thess. 5: 15. Pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you.
12. That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
The effect of Gods sanctifying work on them now would be the glorifying of Christs name that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven: Matt. 5: 16. Who but the Father and the Son could so change the fallen, as to make the thorn-bush bear grapes?
But, in the coming day, Christ will glorify you in Himself as His members. For the union between you and the Christ of God will then be seen. As with Him you were despised and suffered, so with Him will you be exalted and reign.
In the last clause of the verse Jesus is proclaimed to be both our God and Lord. Our glorification is, however, not from our native power and desert; but Jehovah has in grace promised eternal life, and will fulfil it. If we bring glory to the name of Christ in this day of trial and difficulty, He will glorify us in Himself in the day to come. That is a matter of grace. I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hand: John 10: 28.
A PRELIMINARY remark or two will promote the reader intelligence of this chapter.
Commentators of the best type, almost without exception, confound THE SECOND ADVENT OF CHRIST with THE DAY OF THE LORD.
Take but a single example from Alford. He translates thus: But we entreat you, brethren, in regard of the coming of our Lord. He defends the rendering thus: It is most unnatural, that the apostle should conjure them by that, concerning which he was about to teach them.
Now the apostle had four times in the former epistle spoken of the Coming of the Lord. And the subject of Pauls instruction here is primarily concerning the Day of the Lord.
Be it observed then first, (1) that the coming (Presence) of the Lord is the hope and comfort of His people. Thessalonian believers had turned from idols to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, our Deliverer from the wrath to come: 1: 10.
(2) The converts Paul had made would be his joy and glory in the Presence of Christ: 2: 19, 20.
(3) We shall be caught up into air to meet the Lord, and so be ever with Him.
Wherefore COMFORT one another with these words: 4: 17, 18.
The following passages suffice as proof of the other point.
The Day of the Lord is GODS VENGEANCE ON AN EVIL WORLD. 1. Howl ye for the Day of the Lord is at hand: and it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Behold, the Day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the earth desolate; and He shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it: Isa. 13: 6, 9.
2. Alas for the Day! for the Day of the Lord is at hand: and as a destruction front the Almighty shall it come. The Day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand. Let all the inhabitants of the earth tremble: Joel 1: 2.
3. Woe unto you that desire the Day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? The Day of the Lord is darkness and not light: Amos 5: 18.
These will suffice; but any who desire more evidence can easily find it in Isa. 24., 34., Joel, and Zephaniah.
The effects of the Day upon men are trembling, hiding,
howling. It is the great and terrible Day of the Lord, foretold to Moses
as the day of vengeance for the broken covenant of
It will now be easily understood, what confusion the misunderstanding of things so different must introduce into any attempt to perceive the apostles meaning. Paul is, in these two epistles to Thessalonians, treating of Two Days founded on opposite principles. The present Day is that of Gospel-mercy. The coming Day is of wrath, because of that mercy refused.
The Day of justice will inflict woe on the troublers of Gods people: they will he punished with everlasting destruction. But to Christs persecuted ones that day would bring first relief; then glory and admiration from those left on earth (2 Thess. 1.) and eternally from the nations of the new earth.
Let us look now at the first verse of this second chapter.
12. But we beseech you brethren, by the Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering, together unto Him, that ye be not soon shaken out of your wits, or be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by letter as from us, as that the Day of the Lord has set in.
But we beseech you.
The general tone of the first chapter of this Epistle, and especially of its close, is one of approval. But there was one point of which this could not be truly said. They were not glorifying God or His Christ, by the terror they were manifesting at the thought and belief, that the terrible Day of Wrath was upon them. 1. That was the Day of justice, and its woes would fall upon the enemies of Christ - not upon His friends. 2. They were mistaken also in supposing, that the day in which they were living, was the Day of Wrath. It was the time of the mercy of the Gospel, and the tidings to the contrary, which had so distracted them with fear, were false intelligence.
Now a word again about the Coming* of Christ. It is a mistake to render it Coming. That supposes the Saviours descent continuous, and visible to men.
* No motion is expressed in the word itself though it is oft supposed in the context.
But the word used by the Holy Spirit tells of the cessation of the two motions of Christ and the saints.
The abiding of the Lord on Sinai is called His Presence. My Presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he (Moses) said unto Him, If Thy Presence go not with me, carry us not up hence: Ex. 33: 14, 15. Thou shalt hide them in the Secret of Thy Presence from the pride of man; Thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues: Psalm 31: 20.
The Saviour will indeed come down from heaven into the air, and His people will be lifted up to meet Him. But the Presence begins only, when these two motions have ended, and the Saviour and His ransomed ones are set face to face. Our Lord descends from heaven invisibly; His people go up to Him in clouds - invisibly. He does not manifest the glory of His Presence, nor descend from air to earth, till the reign of the Man of Sin is concluded. The Presence must therefore be of more than three and a half years duration;- which is the length of the reign of Antichrist. But it must be longer still, and may last, as far as any intimations of prophecy are given, - thirty, forty, or fifty years.
And our gathering to Him.
The Greek word is found only once in the New Testament beside its present occurrence. But that once is suggestive.
Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the Day [of wrath] approaching: Heb. 10: 25.
This suggests, that Christians meetings now for worship and edification are the preparation for meeting Christ at last with joy. I remember seeing once a notice, that those who did not attend the military meetings of Volunteers for drill, would not be allowed to march in parade on some grand public day that was approaching.
Christ is our great Centre. He is our Deliverer from the Day of Wrath on the world. And in His great prophecy of His return, He gives a hint of the mode of His peoples deliverance, provided they be watchful: Matt. 24: 36-42: But of that day and hour knoweth none, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the Presence of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the Presence of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth Come.
The taken is caught up to Christ - the left one is to pass through the Great Tribulation.
Our gathering together unto Him. This briefly summarises the fourth chapter of the first epistle. The Three, and the Thessalonian believers, the raised and the living, would both together be set in the Lords Presence.
is, I believe, the true re-assembling of the scattered disciples. The Saviour had said: All ye shall be stumbled
because of Me this night; for it is written - I will smite the shepherd, and the
sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad: Matt.
26. The assembly at the Mount in
We who are alive and remain unto the Presence
of the Lord, (15), is taken up in verse 17 thus We who are alive and remain
shall be caught away
to meet the Lord. That shows us how the Presence is produced. In the Second Epistle we have: The Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto Him.
This takes the matter up at a later
point. It is not only the meeting with Christ; but our abiding with Him, and
coming with Him in His kingdom. The,
disciples meeting of Paul on his way to
Enoch prophesied of the Lords coming in wrath, and so was not overtaken by the Flood. This is a comfort to us who testify of the Lords coming in judgment. Some will escape the dread trial: Rev. 3: 10.
Christ then will leave the throne of God for the air; and we who are approved shall be caught away
out of earth into the air. So shall we
be taken out of the sins and woes of men in that day. This is the instruction which was to remove
their fears. When the dark and terrible
day should spread its wings over the earth, they would be out of the range of
its storms. Words to the same effect had
been dropped early in the first epistle. Ye turned to God from idols to serve
the living and true God - and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus,
Deliverer from the coming wrath. It speaks of wrath on men alive upon the earth. Now we are informed, how He delivers His people. The final wrath
This is also implied in the little word soon. That ye be not soon shaken ... as that the Day of the Lord has set in. They were afraid, who [if obedient] needed not to be so. But there would be some [regenerate] believers, who as unwatchful, would be left, after the Day of the Lord had set in. They would learn their loss and fault by the sudden and unseen removal of their watchful brethren; and their fears concerning the trial of that day would be no longer unwarranted.
We have, then, a statement of the threefold testimony, on the ground of which they believed, that the Day of Judgment had come.
1. A spirit. One possessed by an
evil spirit - such as the apostle had met at
2, 3. Nor by word, nor by letter as from us.
Some pretended saying of Paul was alleged; and a letter was forged in the apostles name, affirming the same thing. Satan tried his deceits on Gods elect. But God speedily, through Paul, broke the snare.
As that the Day of the Lord has set in.
That is the true reading. The Day of the Lord is a season - which begins when mercy is past, and wrath is increasing continually. To be affrighted then, is not a subject of blame. Much is said in the prophets concerning that time: Isa. 13.; Joel 2.; Isa. 24., 34., &c.
The characteristic testimony of the Assembly
of God to the world is, that the present day is that of salvation. That testimony must end, and witness
be borne by elect ones of
3. Let none deceive you by any means: for (the Day shall not set in) until the Apostasy shall first have come, and the Man of Sin have been revealed, the Son of Perdition.
Other means of deceit, beside the three just noted, might be used. But, forewarned thus, they would be forearmed against them. The Church is the witness to the world of the accepted time; of the Day of salvation.* There must, therefore, one day be Gods testimony, that that Day is gone by, and the Day of vengeance is come. The Church is deposed from its office of witness, as soon as the time of justice and of wrath has arrived.
[* NOTE. The salvation, which the Apostle writes about on this occasion, - to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 1: 1, N.I.V.) - is to be realized sometime in the future when our Lord Jesus returns. 2 Pet. 3: 8.]
The Thessalonians had put the (1) Day of the Lord before (2) the Presence of Christ; and therefore supposed, that the Church must pass through the Great Tribulation; a mistake made even now.*
[* Read a good example of what Robert Govett calls a mistake made even now in the FOOTNOTE: Published by Hunt Barnard & Co 100 years ago, it is NOW republished in Watching and Waiting October, December, 2012. a magazine which teaches that there will be no pre-tribulation rapture for watchful saints!]
Before the time changes from the grace of God to His wrath, there must be present just causes of His anger. And they are two.
Observe, signs will precede the Day of Wrath, But no sign is given, as necessary to precede the Lords Advent. We beseech you by the Presence of the Lord Jesus, and by our gathering together to Him, be not troubled!
1. The first of the causes of wrath is THE APOSTASY. What is that?
Liddell and Scotts Greek Lexicon gives: An apostate, renegade. It is one who has abandoned the true religion. So the Emperor Julian, who at one time professed faith in Christ, but afterwards returned to heathenism, was called the Apostate.
When this prophecy was applied to
It is the Apostasy. That is, it has been foretold. Yes! (1) Isaiah describes some who will forsake Jehovah. Great and opposite shall be the difference between the servants of Jehovah, and the apostates. Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry sorrow of heart, and shall howl vexation of' spirit. And ye shall leave your name a curse unto My chosen: Isa. 65: 11-15. (2) Daniel, in his prophecy of the Wilful King, says that he shall have indignation against the holy covenant, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant. And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. And such as do wickedly against the Covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: Dan. 11: 30-32.
In these passages we see that the Apostasy is not a corruption of the covenant, but an abandonment of it.
The revelation of the Antichrist to the lawless occurs before his Presence. The revelation is named in verse 3 the Presence in verse 9. But with the True Christ the Presence occurs before His revelation to the world. The four first notices of the Saviour's Presence belong to the Christians entry into it. Our Lords Revelation is named but once in the second epistle: 2 Thess. 1: 7.
The Apostasy would be a sin greatly provoking the Most High to end the days of mercy. It would be the direct opposite to that for which Paul praised the Thessalonian believers. Ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, our Deliverer from the wrath to come. This, on the contrary, is (1) the turning away* from the true God and His service, (2) to idols again. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts: Rev. 9: 20, 21; 13: 14-18.
* Observe, the movement of the Thessalonian Christians was away from their former religion, to the true. The Apostasy is a turning away from the true religion to the false,- the lie of Satan.
(3) The return of Christ, His resurrection, and ascension will be scouted and ridiculed. And in consequence,
(4) the refusers of Gods mercy will be justly plunged in the woes of the great and terrible Day.
11. And the Man of Sin be revealed. Here is the Second Cause of wrath. It is not the series of the Popes.
1. It is a single Individual that is spoken of. The time of his reign and sustaining by all Satans power is but the short time of three years and a half, after the Day of mercy is past.
Antichrists title is, the Man of Sin. All men are sinners, but this one is pre-eminent above all others. So some men are made holy; but Christ is the Holy One of God. Ye denied the Holy and Righteous One: Acts 3: 14.
So Scripture speaks of a man of war, a man of rest, a man of God.
there came a man of God out of
Both Christ, the man of holiness, and Antichrist, the Man of Sin, are at present concealed. Christ is hidden in heaven; the False Christ in the bottomless pit. The Wild Beast which thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the Bottomless pit, and go into Perdition - the lake of fire: Rev. 17: 8. That is, after his three years and a half reign on earth.
2. Be revealed. The Deceiver was already in existence. He was then covered with a veil, and had not exercised his last fatal power. Paul was brought before Nero, probably about A.D. 63, and was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. The proclamation of the Saviour was thus fully made known; that all the nations might hear: 2 Tim. 4: 16, 17.
We have revelation attributed both to the Christ, and to the False Christ.
1. To the troubled relief, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven.
2. That Day shall not set in, except there come the falling away first, and the Man of Sin be revealed.
3. Now ye know what hindereth, that he may be revealed in his own season. Then shall the Lawless One be revealed.
4. His revelation, I think, is twofold. (1) His person, now concealed, is then presented to the eyes of men. (2) His bitter hostility to every being called God, and his self exaltation above all, have not as yet appeared.
This feature is manifested when he is allowed to come up out
of the Pit, the place of torment. The
apostle who wrote these two epistles; is sent to
Many trust that the torments inflicted on transgressors will soften them; and turn them to repentance. Hence God gives two or three witnesses to the contrary. One, who for awhile escapes from the Pit, is a Jew, once attendant on the Lord Jesus, as an apostle of His. When he comes up out of the Pit, he sets up idolatry, and the worship of the False Christ: Rev. 13.
One is a Gentile. His detention under the wrath of God in the Pit turns him to the bitterest hatred of the Father and of the Son; and he not only professedly declares his godhead, and sets up his statue to be worshipped; but he compels all to worship, and to mark themselves as his, body and soul.
Satan, after his dismissal from the Bottomless Pit, goes forth
to the northern nations, and leads them up to battle against Christ at
The sin of the Antichrist is a special one. He, being but a man, claims to be the One True God; and allows the worship of none but himself. Herein he stands distinguished from the Popes. They have never claimed to be worshipped as the One True God.
They could not raise such a claim, and yet declare themselves the servants of the servants of God, the Vicars of Jesus Christ. Beside that, their pretensions have been all set up in the Day of Salvation, and not in the Day of Wrath. This is the fundamental fallacy in most systems of interpretation of the Apocalypse: the woes of the Days of Vengeance are declared to have been fulfilled in the Gospel-day of mercy!
The Apostasy is the poisonous plant, out of which springs this deadly fruit, the Man of Sin. Of Him Jesus spoke to the Jews. I am come in My Fathers name, and ye receive Me not; if another shall come in His own name, Him ye will receive: John 5: 43. Antichrist denies the Father and the Son. The Popes confess both.
The Son of Perdition.*
As he is a mighty example of impiety, God will make him an answering example of punishment. He and Judas, the other Son of Perdition (John 17: 12), stand up together in Rev. 13. as the leaders of the world's rebellion. Together they lead the nations to the great battle; and both being seized, are together thrown alive into the lake of fire. Rev. 19: 20. There, when the final judgment arrives, they are found, before the remaining transgressors are cast in, having been in prison there during the millennium.
Perdition, answers to the Hebrew Abaddon, and to the Greek Apollyon. Antichrists inheritance is the lake of fire for ever. He is called the Son of Perdition,* as being worthy of it; and also as coming up and being born out of the Bottomless Pit.
* The Hebrews called one deserving of death, a son of death, or a man of death: 1 Sam. 26: 16; 1 Kings 2: 26.
At the close of the first chapter and the beginning of the second chapter of second Thessalonians, the Two Rivals are presented to us.
1. We are taught of the grace of our GOD and LORD, Jesus Christ.
2. Then we read of the Blasphemer, who sits in
The worship of the Roman Emperor as God is more clearly stated in the Acts than would be gathered from the established translation. Festus observes to Agrippa, that Paul had appealed to be heard by the Worshipped One. He had kept him, therefore, till he could send him to Caesar: Acts 25: 21. He repeats the observation on the morrow. As Paul has appealed to the Worshipped One, I have determined to send him.
Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto THE LORD: not My Lord.
The Wild Beast, Satans king, is a Caesar. God intends that a Caesar shall be King of the Jews in that day of sin and woe: Rev. 17: 8-11. It is in punishment of their evil word, when they rejected Christ. Shall I crucify your King? says Pilate, We have no king but Caesar, is the reply which wins them the victory; and the Saviour is given up to the cross.
At length the Son of God takes His place in the air above
4. Who opposeth himself to, and
exalteth himself above, every being who is called God, and every object of
worship; so that he enters into and seats himself in the
This statement discovers to us wherein consists the Antichrists pre-eminence in sin.
(1) The heart of man by nature is enmity against God, and this is the greatest exhibition of that, that the world ever has seen, or will see: Rom. 8.
(2) It is also the most fearful discovery of extravagant pride. Ye shall be as God, was Satans lure at the first. Here is audacious self-exaltation under Satans tuition, and with his full support. So he tempted our Lord to render him worship, with the bait that he should have the whole world at his feet.
Kings, in former ages, have received worship as being of the number of the many gods of heathenism. But never was man found who dared to proclaim himself the One True God, pushing aside all others, true or false; and refusing every object of worship, whether living animals, or objects of nature, or the fetish of the savage.
So that he (enters)
into and sits
Two names are given in the New Testament to the
1. That which takes in the whole sacred enclosure - the courts (open to the air), and the Holy House in the centre - is called the Hieron.
2. The other name marks out the sacred building with its two chambers of different degrees of holiness. That is called Naos, and it is the one used here to describe the impiety of the Man of Sin.
It were no sin for a Jew to enter the court of the Jew, nor for a priest of Aarons race to enter the court of their ministration.
But this hater of God enters the Holy House (Naos) and no
doubt he sits in the Holiest of all, for his sin advances beyond all
others. Pompey and Titus both entered
the Holiest through curiosity, and were, for their presumption, soon cut
off. This man sits in the
The mad pride of the Blasphemer spurs him on to put himself in
the very spot to which Christ is descending in wrath. The Saviour, after His resurrection, went up
to heaven from Olivet, and the angels promise suggests, that thither He will
again descend. Yea, the prophecy of Zechariah 14. tells us that His feet
shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before
How are we to understand the
There are two main views on the matter.
1. Some regard it as the
1. Any assembly receiving as their god this Monster of wickedness, who denies the Father and the Son, would cease to be an Assembly of Christ.
2. Again, the [watchful
and obedient members of the]
3. Further, how would the figurative sitting in the
4. Lastly, there is also a well-established principle of interpretation, which at once settles the question. Every doubtful word in a text is first to be taken literally. Only if the literal sense introduces absurdity, may we take it in a figurative sense.
Now the building at
Let us notice the connexion of the true Christ with the temple
1. He is presented there as the child, the First-born, and prophecy greets Him.
2. In the Devils Temptation Christ is set on the pinnacle of the Holy House, and is tempted to presumption; but refuses. The kingdom is offered Him by Satan, if He will but worship. The Saviour indignantly refuses. But the false Christ must accept Satans offer, and to him Satan hands over the kingdom of earth.
3. Twice does our Lord cleanse the
There were several offences against
But why should a tree be worshipped? And why
called blessed? Asherah, What is the meaning of Asherah? It was, I
believe, a very provoking reference to the Fall of man in the Garden. God forbade the eating of the of knowledge of
good and evil under the penalty of death.
Man did eat; death and corruption fell on him, and the was laid on the
ground. The guilty pair were driven
This view is confirmed by the parallel
place in Chronicles. There it is said
that Manasseh set the graven
image, the idol which he had
made, in the house of God, of which God said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem,
which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel will I put My name for ever: 2 Chron. 33. Moreover, the people
But the Antichrist combines the offences (1) of his own entry
As regards himself, he has experienced the indignation of the Lord in the Bottomless Pit ever since he died (Rev. 17: 8). Released for a brief time from his prison, he uses the opportunity to vent his hatred against the Most High.
Jehovahs delaying to smite this intruder and his idol will be regarded as proof of His weakness. But the weakness of God is stronger than man, and the foolishness of God is wiser than man.
At length the uncovered Presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit flashes deadly dismay into the heart of the Pretender to Godhead; and he and his False Prophet are cast into the lake of fire.
The idol suits the heathen. The False Christ finds a ready reception into the hearts of the apostates from the True Christ.
A king of
That will be the fulfilment of Samuels warning to
The superiority of Jehovah to Dagon was shown, when the Ark of
His Presence was taken captive, and set in the
Observe the significant place which is
given to the Jews in the first epistle: (1) For ye, brethren, became followers of
the Churches of God, which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have
suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the
Jews, who both killed
the Lord Jesus and the
prophets, and have
driven us out; and they please
not God, and are contrary
to all men, forbidding us to
speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway, for the
final wrath, is upon them:
2: 14-16 (Greek). The
final wrath to
(2) Note the Saviours memorable leave-taking of the
In the prophecy on Olivet, which followed, He warns His Jewish disciples that when the end shall come, and they see the abomination of desolation standing in a holy spot, they are to flee.
The abomination is the idol. It is the sign of the day of desolation; the statue of the Antichrist lifted up on the temple. And then is the time of the Great Tribulation, the like to which has never been, nor ever will be. That is, in other words, the great and terrible Day of the Lord, when False Christs and False Prophets shall put forth great wonders, so that none but Gods elect shall escape their deceit.
To this season belongs the threatening words Is this house, which is called by My Name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold I have even seen it, saith the Lord: Jer. 7: 11.
When the king, and some of the Jews fell away from Jehovah, in
the days of Ahaz, and of Manasseh, the
Let us look at our Lords connexion with the
When He presents Himself to
A short time after He leaves the
The Saviours last prophecy starts from the disciples
admiration of the buildings of the
It will also be the time of False Christs, and False Prophets, possessed of powers of miracle from Satan. Let none be deceived by any who would promise to conduct them to a sight of Messiah, in the desert, or in the secret chambers. When the Lord does come, it will be in a glory which in an instant will fill the sky! The heavens shall be shaken, and then the Son of man will come in the clouds of heaven, and He will gather His Jewish elect by trumpet to their land and city.
Judas, one of the two Sons of Perdition, after betraying Christ and making confession of his sin, casts into the Holy House the thirty pieces, the produce of his crime: Matt. 27: 5.
At the Saviours death the veil of the Holiest is rent; and
after His resurrection, many saints come out of their tombs, and enter the
On the stairs of the
Let me confirm this view of the
1. Daniel, in his eleventh chapter, foretells the rise of a Wilful King, in whose time there shall be Apostasy. And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. And the King shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain. Yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.
2. Our Lord, in the twenty-fourth of Matthew begins His great prophecy at the Temple, and instructs disciples concerning the time of the end, tells of persecutions, and the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom - at once upon which the end shall come. The Abomination of Desolation, foretold by Daniel, shall be set up in a holy spot. At once disciples are to flee. There will be a time of unparalleled trouble, the rise of false Christs and false prophets with miracles. But let none believe, that the Christ is to be pointed out on earth. He will, in a moment, flood the heaven from end to end with His glory.
3. Revelation 11.-17. is full of our subject.
We have the
But a point of much importance remains to be observed. The Antichrist not only opposes every god,
and exalts himself above them; but he is also the antagonist of every idol
save one, which is closely
related to himself. He is the August
One; a living
man, and occupies a seat in the
It is an idol which carries desolation with it, both from man,
and from God. With its setting up come
the armies which lay waste
1 The session of the Antichrist in the
While Paul speaks of the Antichrist as seated in the temple, Jesus speaks of the Abomination of Desolation as standing in a holy spot, where, above all other places, it ought not to be set. Now standing is a word often employed with regard to an idol. Ye shall make you no idols, nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image; neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down to it; for I am the Lord your God. This is made, under Moses, the turning point for blessing or the curse: Lev. 26: 1. Neither shalt thou set thee up any image, which the Lord thy God hateth: Deut. 16: 22. The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it to thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God. Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be accursed thine, like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it: for it is a cursed thing: Deut. 7: 25, 26.
Great as Manassehs wickedness was, it was far inferior to the impiety of this Blaspheming King.
This Impious One is full of hatred against God, and his
session in the rebuilt
But this man breaks through that command, and contemptuously seats himself in the Holy House. All the world then will argue, that Jehovah is unable to strike down this invader of His Holiest. A stronger than the strong man armed (they will say) has entered the palace, has bound the previous occupant, and is justly spoiling his goods.
Showing himself that he is God.
The Greek word signifies his giving visible proof, that he is God. He is the One True God, independent of all beings, whose deity must be owned to be superior to that of Jehovah, for Jehovah is unable to dislodge or destroy him, though the spot he occupies is that which has been formally dedicated to him and accepted by him.
1. Christs invisible session in the Holiest above is the token of the Day of grace.
2. Antichrists visible entrance into the temple at
We need to discriminate here. Three different Greek expressions are found thus translated in the New Testament.
1. The Hieron. This means the Sacred Enclosure generally; including both the courts and the sacred buildings.*
* The vaos, or building covered in, and consisting of the Sanctuary and the Holiest. The Man of Sin enters this part, and seats himself in the Holiest. That is the perfect attitude of enmity, and of defiance. He has caused to cease the sacrifices to Jehovah.
2. The House, or Abode, or
The Antichrist denies the foundations of Christianity.
He is the Antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
The entry, therefore, and the sitting must be a literal one;
and then the only building that is called the
* Observe the two articles which define it, and its God.
1. Solomon was the builder of it, by the command of
Jehovah. He dedicated it to the God of
Israel, and prayed for blessing on it, as the centre of
2. Pass we on to the Saviours day on earth. After twice cleansing it of Israels defilements, He takes leave of it as no longer the House of God, but the desolate house of the tribes: Matt. 23: 37-39. In about forty years after His ascent, it was burnt by the Romans under Titus.
Jesus, when showing Himself as Israels King, entered the temple-court, and manifested His Godhead by His words of claim, and His deeds of miracle: Matt. 21: 12- 14. But He kept His place as an Israelite. He never entered even the court of the priests. But this man seats himself in the Holiest, as a higher God than Jehovah.
Then comes the Day of Great Trouble. The temple is polluted by strangers and robbers: Ezek. 7: 20-22. The Wilful King will come, and make a league with apostates from Judaism. And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished. ... Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all: Dan. 11: 36, 37.
But those days of vengeance shall pass away, and God's mercy return to the remnant of His people.
3. Then the Lords House shall be the centre to which the nations go up to worship Jehovah: Isa. 2.; Mic. 4.
Isa. 56: 6, 7.
And He (Jesus) taught, saying unto them, My house shall be called by all nations* the House of Prayer, but ye have made it a den of robbers: Mark 11: 17.
[* Anit-Millennialsts take note.]
We have to do, in
this passage, with the dark day when Antichrist sits there. He sitteth in the
5. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
These subjects were of sufficient moment to engage the apostle to deliver instruction on them, during his brief stay at Thessalonica.
6. And now ye know what hindereth, with a view to His being revealed in His own time.
Now ye know, as the result of what I have just written. It is commonly supposed, that this was something previously communicated, by word of mouth, to the Thessalonian Christians; so that it is lost to us. But Paul really here distinguishes between what they knew from his teaching, while he was with them; and what he had now written to them. If, then, we can find something in this epistle hindering evil on earth, and staying especially the Presence of the Man of Sin, we may know the point meant as well as those to whom the letter first came.
What then are the subjects of which the apostle has treated?
1. The Day of Wrath: as yet it is the Day of Mercy. (1) The Presence of Christ. (2) The Church. And then (3) the Apostasy, and (4) the Man of Sin.
Which of these was the hindrance?
1. The Presence of Christ does not hinder. He has not yet come.
3. Nor does the Apostasy. That also has yet to arise.
4. It is not the Man of Sin. It is he who is hindered from appearing, by the Hindrance which God has set.
It remains then that it must be [the watchful and obedient members of] the Church. As long as it abides on earth, the Man of Sin cannot be revealed. The veil which God has thrown over him must remain.
1. That is shown by our Lords earliest teaching; where He
speaks of the disciples, as (1) the salt, preventing the full corruption of the earth; and as (2) the
light of the world: Matt. 5.
So also Paul in the first epistle. In chapter four we have the rapture of Christs people, preceding the Day of Wrath; which is treated of in chapter five.
2. It is further proved, by the Churchs characteristic testimony given by God to the world.- Now is the accepted time; now is the Day of salvation. That will not be true, when Gods trumpets of war sound against the earth. Tis the good news - of God the Gospel of peace, the Gospel of your salvation. But the Day is coming, when it is proclaimed Rejoice, ye heavens; and ye that tabernacle in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea: Rev. 12.
The Presence then of Christs obedient and watchful ones on earth hinders the forth-coming of the Defiant Blasphemer. While the band of those who accept the words of the Father and the Son are on earth, the temper of men is not fitted to receive the evil words of the Hater of God and His Christ.
But the apostle had testified, that this Hindrance would be removed; and then the Day of Mercy and of Salvation would be superseded by the Day of Wrath and of Tribulation; tribulation so great, that unless those days were shortened, none would be left on the earth. After the acceptable year of the Lord comes the Day of Vengeance of our God: Isa. 61. Luke 4.
Now of this good thing at present found on earth, and also of its remoral from the earth, Paul had just before spoken. We beseech you, brethren, by the Presence of the Lord Jesus, and by our gathering together to Him dont be deceived by any testimony, making it to be the Day of Woe, and of Wrath. It is not so yet. Before the war of God begins, His ambassadors must be removed to Christ, who has come down to take them out of the hour of the temptation that is to assail the whole habitable earth.
The rain of fire and
brimstone fell not on
God has set this Hindrance with a view to the Man of Sins not being revealed, before the Day morally adapted to him. And the Day of woe is suited to his Presence, both as the Day of boastful impiety, and also as the Day of Gods indignation against men, who cast off the authority and name of the Christ.
In His own season.*
* Some MSS. read his season, some his own season; the difference is but small. But I would again testify against making the Uncials the regulators of the text.
1. It is the time when men have been brought into sympathy with this Deceiver, by their open rejection of the Father and the Son. 2. And the Hinderers are then both removed.
For Apostasy is not secret corruption of the truth, but open revolt from it. Paul was accused of teaching Jews, not to corrupt Moses doctrine, but to abandon it: Acts 21: 21. Divorce is not secret dissatisfaction, between husband and wife, but the open and abiding separation between them. Some shall depart from the faith. The Antichrist denies the Father and the Son: 1 John 2: 22. He comes in his own name. His followers deny the Lord that bought them. We will not have this man to reign over us.
7. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only there is the Hinderer at present, until he remove out of the way.
1. Paul is refuting the idea, that the Day of Wrath was then upon the world: it was the Day of Mercy. Then he points out that two Hinderers, set by God on the earth, characterised the Gospel-Day. Of these one is visible - the Church - the body of Christ raised up by the Holy Spirit to be members of Christ; both by word and deed bearing witness to the Father and the Son. Its preaching, its prayers, its testimony, hinder the Man of Sins arrival.
2. The other Hinderer is the Holy Spirit,* invisible, but sent down by the Father and the Son, in order to raise up the Church as the body of Christ; and to maintain it on the earth.
[* NOTE. The Holy Spirit is given only to those who obey Christ. We are witnesses says Peter, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who OBEY God: (Acts 5: 32, N.I.V.) Obedient disciples - (as faithful ambassadors of Gods responsibility truths and conditional promises) - will be removed before the Great Tribulation; and disobedient disciples will be Left - (to endure the hour of trial, Rev. 3: 10 - till the coming of the Lord - 1 Thess. 4: 15) - at its end.]
This is apparent on the face of the two epistles.
Paul traces the origin of the
He was also the Spirit of Holiness: He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also put within us His Holy Spirit. Here is the Holy Spirit, resisting the spirit of lawlessness in the Church.
In the second epistle also we are taught, that God hath chosen believers unto [a future] salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.
Thus we learn how the Day of Mercy ends, and that of Wrath begins. We must always remember, as considerably modifying our views, that all the believers of Thessalonica were fully interested in the hope of the Saviours return. It is far from being so in our day. The Apostasy and Man of Sin at length take the place of the true-hearted of the Church, and the Holy Spirit.
For the mystery is already working, of lawlessness.
Such is the order of the words in the Greek. That is the state of things during the Gospel Day. The wheat and darnel (tares) are growing side by side.
But if lawlessness, has been at work nearly two thousand years, how is it that it has not proved victorious?
Because there is a Hinderer. That is more fully stated. Already, in Gospel times, while the Church and Holy Spirit are here. The epistle shows us, that lawlessness was at work even in the Church. We find that in the despisal by some of the converts of the apostles solemn warning: 4: 1-8. In the second epistle, there were those who were not working, but living on others, and needing rebuke.
In the first of these cases, we have a beautiful example of the conflict of the Holy Spirit with lawlessness among [regenerate] believers. Paul gives his solemn warning of judgment to come upon the workers of evil in this form. For God hath not called us to uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also put His Holy Spirit into us.
The Spirit of Truth is seen in the second epistle counter-working error of doctrine.
The Spirit of the Father and of the Son is found counteracting the Spirit
of Antichrist, in his denial of the Father and the Son. The
Who is the liar, says John, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is the Antichrist who denieth the Father and the Son.
Only there is at present the Hinderer, till he move out of the way.
John in his epistle bids believers try the spirits; for False Prophets, moved by the Spirit of Antichrist, were abroad. Hence we see, that the Spirit which declared that the Day of Wrath had begun, was a spirit of the Antichrist: 1 John 2: 18-22; 3: 24; 4: 1-3.
1. The Holy Spirit prevents the Apostasy of the nations that call themselves Christians. 2. The Church prevents the appearing of the Man of Sin. When the Holy Spirit departs, we have the Apostasy, and the Man of Sin come. And Satan is the spirit that works effectually in the Presence of the Man of Sin: 2: 9. As long as the two Hinderers are on earth, it is the Gospel Day of Mercy.
Until he move out of the way.
The Holy Spirit has raised up the Church, as an obstacle to the working of Satan and of the Man of Sin, as a general throws down trees across the road whereby an enemy must advance. And the Spirit Himself is present, to meet with wisdom and promptitude any device of the foe. The issue of the struggle is, that the Holy Spirit, at the appropriate time withdraws - when Gods gracious patience with an evil world is exhausted. The Saviours descent for His people furnishes the occasion for the Holy Ghost withdrawing with them. He too will then have finished the work given Him to do.
Here is the second removal of a Hinderer.
1. The Church is taken away by force from without.
We shall be caught away.
2. The Holy Spirit needs no aid from without. He moves at His own will, which is in full sympathy and intelligence with the plans of the Father and Son.
Hence the translation until he be taken out of the way - is wrong. It was probably so rendered, because it was thought that the Roman Emperor was the Hinderer.
The Hinderers given of God are good and heavenly; but one day to be withdrawn. The Apostasy and Man of Sin are evil and tied to the earth.
The Holy Spirit and the Church leave earth together; or in speedy sequence one of the other. The Presence of Christ is the magnet that attracts both. Christ descends out of heaven, when His enemies are to be put under His feet.
The moral reason of the retiring of the Holy Ghost is that the Apostasy, denying the Father and the Son, is at the doors. Men will not receive His testimony; so that mercy is over, and justice in full and terrible play. The Spirit of grace and peace leaves, when earth is on the eve of war against God, and God at war against earth.
8. And then shall be revealed the Lawless One, whom the Lord Jesus shall consume with the breath of His mouth, and shall paralyze with the bright display* of His Presence.
* The Man of Sin in several points resembles Christ. He has a Presence, as Christ has.
The Lawless One was in existence, but concealed, as early as the days of Paul. But he is detained from the earth till the time of sin and of woe is completed.
The Man of Sin is the Lawless One.
Sin is lawlessness: 1 John 3: 4. (Greek).
Two Days are spoken of and implied in these epistles. (1) one of Wrath; and (2) one of Mercy. The Thessalonian saints were thrown into great fear, by the tidings that the Day of Wrath had begun. This error was backed by three evidences, all of which were false. The Holy Ghost assures us, that this is the Day of Grace. Two things must precede the terrors of the Day of Wrath: (1) the Apostasy of men; and (2) the revelation of the Man of Sin; the Leader.
Not till the removal of the Two Hinderers, would the lawlessness among men display itself in apostasy; and then alone would the field be open for Satans acting, and for Gods wrath, in the reign of the Lawless One. He would gladly escape earlier from the place of torment, if he could.* But God has fixed an obstacle to His return to earth, before the Day of His Wrath on men, because of their throwing off the name and faith of Christ.
* Rev. 9: 1, 2, 11; 11: 7; 17: 8.
The words Then shall be revealed the Lawless One - are an advance upon what has been previously said.
1. The Day of Wrath cannot arrive till the Apostasy and Revelation of the Man of Sin: ver. 3.
2. The Hindrance prevents His reappearance on earth, till the moral atmosphere of the world is suited to His outrageous impiety: ver. 6.
3. But now it is not said Then shall come the Apostasy; but Then shall be revealed the Lawless One. This gives us some further intelligence. Both the Hinderers depart in close conjunction one with another. Both are attracted to the Secret Presence of Christ in air. The removal of the Church, alone* would not of itself bring on the revelation of the Lawless One; for the Apostasy must precede. And the Holy Spirit it is who prevents the lawlessness of men from ripening into apostasy.
* By this word please to understand the removal of the watchful ones of it. The rest are tasteless salt.
We learn, then, that at the time named the Holy Spirit has withdrawn, no less than the Church: the Apostasy has come, and the Lawless One is in the field. The true worshippers of the Father and of the Son have been moved out of earth and the judgments of the terrible day. The Holy Spirit, it would seem, presents to Christ His elect; the Body which the Spirit descended to earth in order to raise up.
Are the Man of Sin and the Lawless One the same person? Yes: the essence of sin is the breaking away from Gods counsels, and setting up our own. Whosoever committeth sin, committeth also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness: 1 John 3: 4.
Whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of His mouth.
Two descriptions of this Blasphemer are given in close conjunction - (1) the Man of Sin, (2) the Son of Perdition. What is his pre-eminent sin has been told us; and now we learn the judgment of God upon it and him - his damnation. There is a Second Son of Perdition, even Judas. Those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the Son of Perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled: John 17: 12. Two Sons of Perdition are seen at work on earth (Rev. 13.); two are caught alive [for they have risen from among the dead, and cannot die any more] and cast into the lake of fire for a thousand years before Satan, or any of the sons of men: Rev. 19: 20. To them the devil is added, after his last rebellion - and when the judgment of the Throne has taken place.
With the withdrawal of the Two Hinderers of evil, and with the presence and acting of the Two Promoters of wickedness, the Days of vengeance are come! And in this verse we are taught the two strokes of Divine displeasure, whereby the course of the Lawless One is ended.
These are not stated according to the order of time. The paralyzing with the bright display of His Presence comes first in time. But this order is here changed for sufficient reasons.
The Usurper is consumed by the breath of Christs mouth. For our God is a consuming fire. The cities of the plain are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Of the Two Witnesses sent down to earth, it is said: If any man wish to hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies.
The Saviours Godhead outraged and defied, He at length closes
with His enemy. For Tophet is ordained If
old; yea, for the king is it prepared; he hath made it deep and large, the pile
thereof is fire and ranch wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of
brimstone, doth kindle it: Isa. 30: 33 66: 24. As at
And paralyze with the bright display of His Presence.
Up to this point the Saviours Presence has been concealed in clouds the secret of His Presence. But now, after that He has judged His saints and arranged their places in the millennial kingdom, He turns His face of glory to the discomfiture of the Boastful One.
Thus once He acted in the deliverance of
In the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians.
He bids, at that moment, the clouds that have long concealed Him and His ransomed ones to flee away, and the sight strikes dumb and powerless this Blasphemer. He whom he has denied, defied, and cursed is in the air above Him, and His glory is like devouring fire. Antichrists power is gone. The indignation of the God whom he has provoked is upon him. Thus the Presence of Christ is the source of deliverance to His friends, and of destruction to His foes.
We may compare with this Pauls antagonists conduct at
The Secret of Christs Presence is for blessing to His friends. The revelation of its glory brings judgment on His foes. With what majestic ease is this bubble of Satans raising dissolved!
To the Lord Jesus an epiphany, or brightness
from on high,* is attributed, not only in this
verse, but in other places. But while
Antichrist has, like Christ, both a Revelation and a Presence, he is never said to have an epiphany; for his place is down on earth, and
* For the meaning of Epiphany in the Greek, see Acts 27: 20.
The paralyzing of the Antichrist takes place while Christ is up in air; the consuming by the breath of His mouth begins when Christ is descended to earth; and it goes on for ever.
9. Him, whose Presence is according to the working of Satan, with all power and signs and wonders of falsehood.
We see now why the order of time in the Saviours judgment against the Man of Sin, is broken through. It is in order to set in sharp contrast the rival Presences, (1) that of the Son of God; and (2) that of the Antichrist.
His Presence is the centre of
attraction to the lost: He is their god.
His station is at
Some deny Satans existence.
It shows the advance of unbelief.
The Scriptures affirm, not only his existence, but his power of
miracle. It is asserted in the history
of the magicians of
With, all power, and, signs, and wonders of falsehood.
For there shall arise False Christs, and False Prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect, Matt. 24: 24.
The same three expressions of supernatural energy are attributed to the Antichrist, that were displayed by Christ on behalf of the truth. Jesus the Nazarite, a man accredited by God among you by miracles and signs and wonders, which God did by Him in the midst of you: Acts 2: 22.
This mans signs are, however, signs of falsehood, proceeding from Satan, and aiming at establishing his deadly scheme.
10. And with all deceit of unrighteousness for the lost; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved!
The effect of the Presence of the Man of Sin on men, and of the falsehood that is dispensed by it, is here shown.
They are called, I believe, the lost, because all who accept this Deceiver will certainly perish. The true Christ and His salvation have been set before them; and they received it not. Their not closing with Christ opens the door to this deceit of Satan, which suits their evil heart. They will, by Gods just decision, fully accept and with the heart, the Devil and his Blaspheming King. Greedily do the refusers of the True Christ swallow the False Christ.
If they had been only willing to receive the truth, God has given sufficient warning of the awful state of things in the last days, to keep them from the paths of the Destroyer.
But they are justly duped by error, who love not the truth. God oft avenges sin by giving up to further and more heinous sin. They justly suffer, at last, eternal woe, who refuse Gods salvation by grace.
The apostle is giving the reason of the surprising success which attends the false religion set up by Satan in the latter days. It results from Gods high displeasure against these who were once called Christians; but who now, like Judas, turn over to Christs enemies. Those who did not embrace the truth, but accept with the heart the lie of the Wicked One, must dwell with Satan, and with the Liar, who denies the Father and the Son. The unbelieving will find their dread portion in the lake of fire, which is the Second Death.
11. And because of this, God sends them an energy of delusion, that they should believe the lie.
First, we, have wonders of falsehood, now belief of the falsehood (or the lie) of Satan - his scheme of deceit - the opposite to belief of Gods truth.
Because of this - The non-reception of Gods salvation by Christ. They never loved it, though it was the truth and salvation. But the lie of the Wicked One suits their fallen hearts, and their damnation is its righteous consequence.
Many manuscripts and editors read God sendeth instead of God shall send. But the difference is small. If we read God sendeth it denotes the certainty of the mission. It is the prospective present.
Sin is punished by a being given up to sin. And advance in sin leads to advance in the punishment.
An energy of delusion.
After Gods patience with wicked Ahab, who turned away from Jehovah to follow Baal, and to slay the Lords prophets, the prophet Micaiah was instructed to declare to the king, that his scheme of attempted recovery of Ramoth Gilead was only the deceit of an evil spirit to lure him and many of his army to destruction. Ahab openly confesses his hatred of the prophet of Jehovah, because his testimony was of evil. He loved the lie, and perished.
That they should believe the Lie.
The lie, the scheme of Satan in setting up the False Christ, as God, against the true Christ the Son of God.
We have laid before us in this and the next verse the two systems, that of truth, and that of falsehood, face to face.
In ver. 10 it was deceit of unrighteousness because they received not the love of the
truth, that they might be saved. Then an energy
of delusion is upon them, leading them to believe the lie. The reference is to the former part of the chapter,
which describes the Man of Sin, and his impious self-assertion of Godhead. They
yield to his claims; they give him the worship which he demands. They mark themselves with his literal mark on
forehead or right hand. They trust the manifestation that he
gives of his godhead by his impious defying of Jehovah in His temple at
12. That they all might be damned, who believed not the truth, but took pleasure in the wrong.
God sends His truth, with the gracious purpose, that any, or all of the sons of men may believe it, and be saved. But through disinclination of the heart, they refuse it: (1) at present, by neglecting it; (2) at the close of the dispensation, in the days now described, by clamorous and blasphemous refusal. What can follow that, but eternal damnation? Man is fixed in hatred of the truth: God is decided to punish it.
But took pleasure in the wrong.
Their sympathies are fully drawn out to this Pretender: specially, as I think these words prove, because of his impious pretensions in seating himself on the throne of Jehovah.
That which in verse ten was deceit of unrighteousness* generally, is now spoken of as the wrong, the Greek word being the same in both cases. They are heartily glad, that Jehovah has
found one (as they imagine) more than a match for Him; so that they are
released from His righteous law. There! there! So would we have it! God judges men by their sympathies: Rev. 11: 10.
Instead of resenting the wrong thrust on the Lord God by the refusal of the True
Christ, the impious blasphemy of the False Christ, and desecration of the
13, 14. But we are bound to give thanks always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth: Whereunto He called you through our Gospel, unto the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The apostle turns now to present the opposite portion of Gods elect, believers of the truth. The raising up of this body is due to the love of Christ, the Lord. The Father chose the elect from the beginning, before the world was made, to salvation, against their deserts. It was a choice, not only to their having offered them the means of salvation - but to the blessed end, salvation itself is bestowed.
Here then again we have the Hindrance to the appearing of the Man of Sin, and to the terrible Day of Wrath. God has His beloved on earth; and not till they are removed, shall the judgments of the Awful Day fall upon men.
But if so, they may live as they please; for their salvation is secure. God foresaw this wicked perversion of His truth, and corrects it by the next words. He who provides the end - a view which most at this point deny - provides also the means. They are saved in the holiness of spirit, wrought by the Holy Ghost. And the way to holiness is the reception of the truth. Left to themselves, they would have given way to the lawlessness of the flesh, and the rejection of the Gospel of Christ. In this holiness of the Spirit we perceive the other Hinderer: yea, we see, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are all engaged in this great, blessed, and sure work.
The truth was presented to men by the Gospel, specially as it was made known to the apostle Paul, and preached by him. He it is who declares to us the especial honour of believers of this dispensation,- their being made companions eternal of the true Christ, and the brightness which belongs to Him being set on them also. In resurrection they shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of the Father.
15. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle.
Paul was treating of the instructions which they had already received from him by word of mouth; he is not showing, how, without written communication, the truths which he taught were to be handed down from age to age. How superior is the written word of inspiration to all statements by fallible men!
16, 17. Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father who loved us, and gave us eternal consolation, and a good hope in grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work!
Here is a prayer to the Father and to the Son, yet the verbs and participles are in the singular!
Eternal consolation and a good hope through grace are the opposites to eternal destruction, and the shutting out of hope, by Gods sentence in justice on the lost.
* * *
In conclusion, let us take a glance at the effects of the Presence of Christ on His people; and of the Day of the Lord in wrath on the world. Three views are given in the two epistles of these main points.
I. The first is found in 1 Thess. 4., 5. Chapter 4. gives the effects on the saved, considered as BELIEVERS. Chapter 5., the effects on the worldly, regarded as UNBELIEVERS.
In chapter 4., the saved are viewed as (1) dead, or (2) living; and we are instructed, how those, so widely apart physically speaking, are together brought to Christ, and led on to the millennial kingdom.
Thessalonian believers were, by the craft and malice of Satan, put into extreme fear, by the false testimony from three sources, that the Day of Wrath had already come on them. The Lord, by His servant Paul, exposes the error, and sends them solid comfort. There shall indeed be a terrible Day of Wrath; but it cannot arrive, till the watchful saints have been caught away from earth to the Presence of Christ. In the meanwhile, it is the Day of Grace, in which saints can be acceptably serving the Lord.
There are two different kinds of sleep.
1. The one is induced on the believer in the present time of grace. From that Christ shall awaken in due time those whom He has put to sleep. They rise from the tomb at the call of the Redeemer. As Jeremiah says, in the chapter describing the New Covenant. Upon this I awaked, and beheld, and my sleep was sweet to me: Jer. 31: 26. Peter laid down himself expecting to be martyred in the morning; but he awakes to escape out of the lions den: Acts 12.
There is a sleep of those that belong to God, of which the consequences, though not eternal, are sad. (1) Samson slept; and awoke only to find himself in the hands of those who put out his eyes, and fettered him in prison. (2) Eutychus falls asleep while Paul is preaching, and falls out from the window of the upper room, only to be taken up dead.
(3) The abusers of the Lords Supper at
But we have also a view of the wilful and moral sleep of the unbeliever. He accepts not the testimony of Gods justice, and of His Day of Wrath. And he is overtaken by the sleep which ends in sudden destruction: 5: 3. Unbelief closes the eye against judgment to come. And to the heart of unbelief is added the conduct of unbelief. Men flatter themselves with the hopes of Peace and Safety, when the War of God in the Day of Judgment is bringing the threatened doom. In their heat I will make their feasts, and make them drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the Lord: Jer. 51: 39-57.
In chapter four of the first epistle we have a sudden salvation before the Day of Wrath; for the holy dead a deliverance from death; for the holy [left] living a deliverance frorn foes.
In chapter five we have the faithful living exhorted to conduct fitting them for the promised [future] salvation. Armed with faith, hope, and love, awake and sober, they are spiritual opposites to the lost, overcome with sudden destruction in the Day of Judgment on the living. The Presence of Christ carries fire for these unbelievers, dead of soul, who try to drive away fear by the assertion of Peace and Safety, when the shout of battle and the trump of God tell of the Saviours [millennial] kingdom come, and of wrath on those who renounce Him and His mercy.
THE SECOND VIEW IS FOUND IN 2 THESS. 1.
That gives us the Day of Mercy, the Presence of Christ and the Day of Wrath, as they affect (1) the PERSECUTORS, and (2) the PERSECUTED.
1. First, as it regards the Day of Grace. The Lord Jesus gave an
example of His mercy on Saul, the chief Persecutor of His disciples. He was
travelling, full of the spirit of hatred, with a view to punish the saints of
But what shall be the effect of the Day of Wrath on the impenitent persecutors, whether of the heathen, or apostate Christians? In flaming fire He will take vengeance on them. Their punishment will be eternal destruction flashing from the face of the Lord, and a being borne by the angels of the Presence to the furnace of fire.
Light from Christs glory struck down Saul, the Persecutor, in the day of grace; and a brief blindness was removed by the hands of Ananias. But when the Day of Justice is come, it is fire and the eternal prison. In nothing terrified by your adversaries which is to them an evident token of perdition; but to you of salvation, and that from God: Phil. 1.
How in that day will the patient and persecuted men of faith,
fare? Mighty angels bear them to the
Presence of Christ, giving them instant relief.
They will be counted worthy of
3. THE THIRD VIEW REGARDS MAN (1) EITHER AS OBEDIENT TO THE WILL OF GOD AND HIS CHRIST, OR AS (2) LAWLESS, FOLLOWING THE WILL OF FALLEN FLESH.
This difference may be considered as existing either (1) during the Time of the Gospel, or (2) under the justice of the Day of the Lord. Christ is the perfect example of obedience even unto death the opposite to Adam; and yet for our sakes numbered among the lawless: Mark 15: 28. He it is whom the Father delights to exalt above every name, and one day He shall be seen in the glory of the kingdom (Phil. 2.) putting down all the foes of God.
Men are alway lawless; but, during the Gospel-day they are restrained from following out their own will by two Hinderers. These began to act in Pauls time, and either passively, or actively, or in both ways, have prevented the awful results which will speedily follow their removal. Their long continuance and activity prove, that no emperor or empire can be intended.
This agrees well with their being (1) the Church, and (2) the Holy Spirit. 1. The [obedient members of the] Church prevents the revelation of the Man of Sin: 2. But even if the Church were removed, the Antichrist could not at once appear. For the Apostasy must go before His manifestation. (2) The other Hinderer, the Holy Spirit, prevents the Apostasy. So that both the Hinderers must remove, or be removed, before the dark time of worlds sin and judgment can arrive.
When the light and salt are removed from earth, men who once professed to belong to Christ become blasphemers and idolaters. That evil spirit of idolatry returning again to earth, comes back with seven other spirits worse than itself, and the darkest time of the world has arrived.
Then shall the Lawless One be revealed.
1. He will refuse law, as given to
2. He will also reject grace as brought by Christ. He is applauded by the lawless, until his wickedness turns upon themselves; and he discovers himself as the Wild Beast.* He enforces idolatry on every one; and on that idolatry he erects his ordinance (or sacrament, as many would call it). Whoever yields thereto, is shut up from repentance and salvation. Worship of the Wild Beasts image, and sealing with his mark, proclaim men the enemies eternal of God and of His Son.
* The opposite of Christ, the Lamb. Both are individuals.
The truth is come, and salvation for all who accept it. But the world will not have either the one, or the other. Then the Judge of All punishes them, by giving them up to embracing with the heart the lie of Satan. They admire and adore with the heart as their god, this monster of iniquity. They rejoice in the Antichrists crowning impiety of demanding worship of himself in the spot chosen by the true God. The Lord at first created man in His own image. Satan cannot create man in his image; but he is permitted to lead refusers of the truth to a point of wickedness from which there is no return; and the sentence of eternal wrath is speedily executed.
1. This Pretender seats himself in the
But if both righteousness and mercy are refused, what principle can be the foundation of the Wild Beasts throne?
WILL! Execution of the Blasphemers good pleasure, without regard to right or wrong! The king shall do according to his will: Dan. 11: 36. And His will is full of enmity against God and man.
Rejection of the sacrifice of the Son of God, and insult to the Spirit of grace is that which will draw down the intensest indignation of the Governor of all: Heb. 10: 29-31.
The Saviours teaching breathed grace; and His prayer for His murderers disclosed His heart of goodness under circumstances the most provoking. But murmurs are beginning to arise, against the obedience to grace of any one who wishes to be manly and not poor spirited.
Do your own will! Avenge yourself!
And this Great Deceiver will act out the principle. He hates righteousness and loves iniquity; and shall therefore be the mark for the arrows of Divine indignation.
What must befall men who are sinners, yet refuse grace? The terrors of justice! This principle affects not only mans relations with his fellows, but with God. When a man has cast off mercy toward his fellow, he has virtually changed his God, and takes sides openly against the Father, the Son, and the Spirit of grace! No servant can serve two Masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.
May the Lord bless this attempt to elucidate this prophecy! To Him be glory! Amen.
* * *
NOTICE OF THE HINDERERS OF 2 THESS. 2.
A THEORY has been started by the Rev. Dr. Bullinger, that the Hindrance and the Hinderer of verses six and seven are (1) the Well of the Abyss, and (2) the Devil, respectively.
The theory is stated in Notes on the Structure of the Second Epistle, and the argument is given thus:
1. And now ye know what withholdeth.
NOTE 1. To the pit. Can it be Rev. 9: 1, 2? Ye know what it is that holds [him]* fast. The verb , to hold fast, being transitive, must have the object supplied, as in 1 Thess. 5: 21. Hold fast that which is good..
Note 2. There is one ( , Satan) that holdeth fast (see 1 Thess. 5: 21) [his possession of]* the heavenly places (Eph. 2: 2; 6: 12). Until he be taken out of the way (i.e., be cast down), and then shall that Wicked One be revealed. It is when Satan is cast out of the heavenly places into the earth (Rev. 12: 9, 12) that he stands on the sand of the sea (Rev. 13: 1, R.V.), and we see the Beast in the act of rising up out of the sea, who is then revealed as here stated.
* The two square brackets are of my insertion.
There are then three main propositions on which the theory rests.
1. The verb is a transitive verb; it means to hold fast. It is not an intransitive verb signifying to hinder.
2. The - that which withholdeth - is the well of the bottomless pit: Rev. 9.
3. The is the Devil holding fast the heavenly places. (There is nothing in the Greek answering to the possession of.)
Dr. B.s interpretation of the Hindrance is, that it is the well of the bottomless pit: the Hinderer is the Devil.
1. Dr. B. affirms, that the Greek word for withholdeth is transitive; and that is true of some of its occurrences, as in the one taken from 1 Thess. 5: 21, where an accusative follows.
2. But it is also intransitive. (1) See Liddell and Scotts Lexicon, where we read that is -
1. Transitive, to hold or keep back, withhold.*
* This is its natural sense, as derived from its component parts , down,and , I hold.
(2) In Robinsons Lexicon of the New Testantent, we have -
A. Genr. in various senses. (a) To retain, to detain a person. Luke 4: 42; [And they held Him back, that He should not go.] Philem. 13: Whom I would have retained with me. In the sense of to hinder, to repress: 2 Thess. 2: 6, 7 - [the very passage in question].
(3) In Schleusners Lexicon, fourth sense, I retain, I retard, I hinder. Luke 4: 42; Philem. 13; Rom. 1: 18; [and last our passage] 2 Thess. 2: 6. The words of Schleusner are given in Latin. But as this tract is not meant chiefly for the learned, I give the sense in English.
So that the question does not turn on the point, whether the Greek verb is transitive or not.
In the two passages of Thessalonians, both are intransitive. Dr. B. observes, that the verb must have the object of it supplied.
Yes; but by the original writer, not by the commentator. The accusative must be found in the Greek text of the verses in question; not an accusative taken from another writing, or another author.
Dr. B. then supplies accusatives without warrant here.
1. Ye know what withholdeth, that He might be revealed in His own time. Dr. B. has it: Ye know what it is that holds [him] fast. There is no him.
2. There is one ( - Satan) that holdeth fast [his possession of] the heavenly places. The accusative is taken from another writing, the proper accusative. Nor does Dr. B. say whom or what Satan holds fast. The Greek word, then, is here, in both cases, intransitive, and in both it signifies hinder, or withhold.
(1) The Hindrance is not the Well of the bottomless Pit; the (2) Hinderer is not the Devil.
The Hindrance are Christs true-hearted ones; the Hinderer is the Holy Spirit. These latter two are closely related; as also are the words Hindrance and Hinderer.
Are the Hinderers good or evil?
1. If they hinder good, they are evil. If they hinder evil, they are good. The Hinderers here are working against evil. The true Christians on earth, by their presence and prayers and efforts, keep back the advance of lawlessness. As long as they are on earth, the time is not one suited to the daring impiety of the Man of Sin. Now Satan hinders good. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us: 1 Thess. 2: 18. 0, then, the Hinderer is not the devil!
Much less is it the devil cast down from heaven. For that takes place in the great and terrible Day of the Lord; and the apostle is speaking of the Day of grace, before Satan breaks the peace, and loses the battle: Rev. 12.
Moreover, the translation should not have been Until he be taken out of the way. Literally translated, it is Until he become out of the way. There is but one place that I know of, where the rendering should be be taken out of the midst. That is in 1 Cor. 5: 2. And ye have been puffed up, and have not rather mourned, in order that he that hath done this deed might be taken out of your midst. Here, a verb of force, and in the passive voice, precedes. The other, the true rendering, adapts itself perfectly to the voluntary removal of the Holy Spirit, as the Great Hinderer.
Why then was it rendered Until he be
taken out of the way?
It was probably so given as adapted to the idea then entertained of the
Hindrance - that it was either the
The Hinderers, I am persuaded, are (1) the Church, - the Hindrance; and (2) the Holy Spirit, - the Great Hinderer. The Holy Spirit, sent to earth at Christs intercession, raised up the Church, and still keeps it in its place. The Church and the Spirit are both existing on earth, and both powerful. God has set them both here in mercy. Together they move out of earth, and then the dread Day of Wrath at once begins.
The Saviour, in His first recorded sermon, speaks of His disciples as salt, and as light. Here are two neuter nouns applying to the Gospel-day. Dr. B.s neuter noun belongs to the great and terrible Day to come.
2. The Holy Spirit is the Great Hinderer of unholiness. As the Holy Spirit, He copes with the spirit of lawlessness far better than men can do. As the Spirit of Christ, He produces lowliness before God and obedience to Christ. Lawlessness of spirit is of the very essence of sin.
The Holy Spirit is spoken of several times in the two epistles, in ways and on occasions confirming the view here taken. The Gospel raised up, by its coming, the Church at Thessalonica. It came not in word alone, but in power and in the Holy Ghost Ye became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost. The effect of the Gospel on them would produce love and holiness. God had put His Holy Spirit within them: 4. The Most High chose them through sanctification of the Spirit unto salvation, with belief of the truth.
The Hindrance - the Church - is removed from earth by force. We shall be caught away: 1 Thess. 4: 17. The departure of the Holy Spirit is voluntary. Until he become out of the way. Satans departure out of heaven is involuntary. The great Dragon was cast down - after a lost battle: Rev. 12: 9.
During Gospel times Satan is not on earth, but on high; accusing Gods people day and night. Both the participles are in the present. Ye know what hindereth. Only there is a Hinderer.
Vainly does any make Satan - the Liar and the Murderer - to be a hinderer of lawlessness. When power is given him, he opens the door to the Lawless One to do his will.
Thus, then, the objections to Dr. B.s theory are grammatical.
The mention of the Two Hinderers is intransitive. Dr. B. has, indeed, supplied accusatives to the two passages in question.
1. Now ye know what holds him fast. But the Holy Ghost has not given the word him.
2. Only there is the holder fast. No accusative follows. Dr. B.s suggestion, then, falls to the ground. Both cases are intransitive. The intransitive sense of the Greek word is hinder. Even where the verb is transitive, it may signify hinder. Where two parties are concerned, and the holding fast by one of them thwarts the will of him who is held - there is hindrance: Luke 4: 42.
Both cases refer to Gospel times; and speak of what God hath set, in order to stay the coming of the dreadful day.
FURTHER REMARKS ON DR. EADIES VIEWS.
DR. EADIE, in his book on Thessalonians, when commenting on 1 Thess. 4: 16, says:-
To identify the resurrection asserted in this verse with The First Resurrection of Rev. 20: 6, is quite unwarranted.
For, first, if the (First Resurrection) - the prophetic picture in the Apocalypse, - be a literal (m.i.) resurrection, it is confined to the martyrs.
That the word first in The dead in Christ shall rise first, does not prove it to be the First Resurrection, is quite true. But, omitting that word, resurrection is asserted there. The dead in Christ shall rise. It is a literal resurrection of persons called out of their graves. It is a resurrection like that of Christ Himself. The believers of Thessalonica were waiting Gods Son from heaven, whom He raised from among the dead, even Jesus: 1: 10. We believe that Jesus died and rose again: 4: 14. It is the foundation of the faith. And believers are to rise and ascend, as Jesus did, literally.
The Epistles to the Thessalonians cannot be called a symbolic book. Paul is not treating of any resurrection of principles: an idea out of place in the Apocalypse even, where men are said to have died by being beheaded: Rev. 20: 4-6.
The resurrection is spoken of here as a sleep: as the Saviour said of Lazarus: and He comes with shout to wake the sleepers, as He awoke Lazarus.
It is a resurrection. Is there any resurrection here named as preceding it? If not, it is the First Resurrection. It is a resurrection of some to be with the Lord for ever. It is the resurrection of which Paul speaks, - as following next after that of Christ the Firstfruits.
Afterward they that are Christs at His Presence. 1 Cor. 15: 23. This resurrection in Pauls epistle is the resurrection of believers at Christs Presence: 2: 1. We who are alive and remain unto the Presence of the Lord shall not get the start of those who are asleep: 4: 15.
It is the resurrection just preceding the Day of the Lord, and the
Other points might be added; but these will suffice.
But Dr. E. objects, that the first resurrection is confined to the martyrs.
That is a mistake. The very passage cited shows the error.
And I saw (1) thrones, and (men) sat upon them, and judgment was given to them; (2) and (I saw) the souls of those that had been beheaded because of the testimony to Jesus; (3) and because of the Word of God; and (4) whoever worshipped not the Wild Beast, nor his Image, nor received the Mark on their forehead, and on their hand, both came to life, and reigned with the Christ a thousand years.
Here are four different classes, as I have numbered them. 1. The first class are apparently the warriors that descend with Christ out of the open heaven, described in the nineteenth chapter. 2. The second class are martyrs of the New Testament. 3. The third class are the martyrs of the Old Testament. 4. The fourth class are the refusers of worship and of dedication to the False Christ, during his reign of three and a half years. Of any martyrdom of those of the first class we have no hint.
And it is quite an error to take our views of so great a
subject as the future
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: Matt. 5: 3.
2. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: ver. 10.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you: vers. 11, 12. See also Luke 6: 20-26; 14: 12-14; and many other passages.
Dr. E. objects again:-
The first resurrection is that of souls,- said to live: not to be re-clothed, and it is in contrast to the Second death, which is explained to be the lake of fire. Are the martyrs only to escape the Second Death? Is not that death the death of a soul severed for ever from God the source of life?
The First Resurrection is that of souls.
It is not so said. I saw the souls of those beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus ..., and they lived (came to life) and reigned with the Christ a thousand years.
Spiritual life is not spoken of in these words. We are engaged with those who were Christs martyrs, and who had spiritual life before they suffered literal death. What is death? The separation of soul and body. What, then, is the coming to life after death? It is the return of the soul to the body; and that is resurrection.
1. 0 Lord my God (says Elijah), I pray thee, let this childs soul come into him again. And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he lived (came to life). He delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth: 1 Kings 17.
2. And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha; and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he lived (came to life), and stood upon his feet: 2 Kings 13: 21. Here is resurrection again, from the soul entering the body a second time.
3. Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Teacher. He took her by the hand, saying, Girl arise. And her spirit returned, and she arose immediately: Luke 8: 49, 54, 55.
4. My little daughter lieth at the point of death come, and lay Thy hands upon her, that she may be healed, and she shall live. And He took the damsel by the hand, and saith to her, Damsel, I say unto thee, Arise! And immediately the damsel arose, and walked: Mark 5.
5. These things saith the First and the Last, which was dead and lived (came to life): Rev. 2: 8.
6. Saying unto the dwellers upon the earth, that they should make an image to the Wild Beast, which hath the blow of the sword, and lived. The wound of his death was healed: Rev. 13: 12, 14.
The Second Death is a place of torment the lake of fire. It is not the death of a soul severed for aye from God the source of life.
Dr. E. objects again:-
The apostle does not say where the
souls of the dead are. The thief went to
Hadees is the name of the place of disembodied spirits [souls]. But it is divided into two compartments - and when this distinction is brought into view - as in the Saviours words: I have the keys of Hadees and of Death - there Hadees signifies the abode of the righteous dead, and Death, the abode of lost souls.
* * *
The Lords Coming [Gk. Presence.]
(Taken from an article published by Hunt Barnard & Co approximately 100 years ago).
During the 19th century the attention of many of Gods people was directed to the study of prophetic truth, and a sad feature is the much disagreement. Many have been hindered in their progress by receiving unscriptural teaching as to the coming of Christ; the division of New Testament Scripture into Jewish and Church Scripture; the misunderstanding of the terms Gospel of God, Gospel of the Kingdom, etc., making a distinction between the Church and the Old Testament saints; and dividing the first resurrection into parts or groups, one group to rise some years before the great tribulation, the other at the manifestation of Christ.
The following are some of the arguments against the unscriptural theories with which we have earnestly to contend:
1. The Any-moment Coming and Rapture Theory.
As to the Second Advent of Christ, it is alleged that Christ will come for His saints before the Coming of the antichrist and the great tribulation; that then He will come again with His saints to judge and to reign in manifest glory over the earth. To get over certain difficulties it is called one coming, and is said to extend over a long period, and to be a coming in stages. Where in the Scripture is this taught? How can it be called one coming, if He comes and takes His saints to glory, and then comes again seven or more years later with His saints for other purposes? The question is, What does the Scripture teach as to this? If it be seen that there is but one future coming of the Lord and one resurrection on the one day; a coming for and with the saints to give them rest when He shall be revealed taking vengeance on them that know not God, as taught in 2 Thessalonians 1: 6-9, then all difficulty vanishes directly.*
[* On the contrary, all difficulty does not vanish directly, simply because of the Lords imposed conditions for anyone to partake in the first rapture of saints (presumably before the Great Tribulation commences, as the context suggests)! These conditions - (indicating the type of lifestyle required by the God, the Righteous Judge) - must first be fulfilled, before our Lords promise of an escape becomes effective upon those who will be alive at this time!
(1) Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man: (Luke 21: 35, 36, N.I.V.)
And again (2): Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no-one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches: (Rev. 3: 10-13).
To neglect the divinely imposed conditions, is to disregard the Holy Spirits exhortation and warning to the churches!
It must also be observed that the church at Thessalonica,
were described as those who: became imitators
of us (apostles) and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering: (1 Thess. 1: 6). And again, Paul says of them: We ought to thank God for you, brothers, and
rightly so, because
we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are
enduring. All this is evidence
that Gods judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy
of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering: (2 Thess. 1: 3-5). If we endure,
says the divinely inspired apostle of himself and Timothy: We will also
reign with him. If we
disown him, he will also disown us:
(2 Tim. 12).
Disown them what? The Reign in the coming
One of the chief arguments for the any-moment coming and rapture theory is that the word parousia (personal coming) is used for the coming for the saints, and is distinct from the other two words epiphaneia (appearance, manifestation), and apokalupsis (unveiling, manifestation), which are used for the coming some years later with the saints. If the Scriptures where the words are used be read and compared, it will be proved absolutely that this distinction as marking long interval does not exist. The parousia, or personal advent, immediately results in the epiphaneia, the bright manifestation of Christ in glory, and this constitutes the apokalupsis, or the revelation. The saints are said to be gathered (2 Thessalonians 11), raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15: 23), caught up (1 Thessalonians 4: 17), preserved blameless (1 Thessalonians 5: 23), at the parousia; but they are also told to keep this commandment ... until the epiphaneia (1 Timothy 6: 13-14), and to look for that as the blessed hope (Titus 2: 13). They are also commanded to wait for the apokalupsis (1 Corinthians 1: 7), when they will enter into rest (2 Thessalonians 1: 7). Antichrist will be destroyed by the epiphaneia of Christs parousia (2 Thessalonians 2: 8); and the parousia will be as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth unto the west (Matthew 24: 27).
Thus it will be seen that the saints wait for, are raised, enter into glorious rest, on the day when Christ comes to destroy antichrist, and, consequently after the great tribulation. There can, therefore, be no great interval (as is supposed, and it is only supposition) between the coming for and with the saints taught from these words. The writer has often asked some who hold this peculiar, extended view of the Lords coming for direct Scripture proof. The passage chiefly given is 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-17. Now how can this portion prove that the saints are taken before the great tribulation, when that is not so much as mentioned? It has another object altogether, that is, to correct false teaching in the Thessalonian Church, and to give a source of comfort to those who lose dear ones, teaching them that they sleep in or are put to sleep by Jesus, and will be raised first, that the living saints will not be taken before them, but together they will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. The very words used in this passage show that this will be a manifested coming; shout, voice of the archangel, trump of God indicate this. Moreover, by meeting the Lord in the air is implied, not the taking away the saints to heaven, but their coming on with Him to the earth. See the meaning of this word meet as used also in Luke 22: 10, Acts 28: 15.
2. The Jewish Theory.
A stronghold of most who teach the any-moment coming of Christ is what may be called the Jewish Theory. The Scriptures which disprove this view of the Lords return (Matthew 13 and 24 are examples), are set aside as Jewish. This interpretation of definite New Testament prophecies, if carefully examined, will refute itself. Thus, if Matthew 24 be referred to, to show how to expect Christs coming, it is said to be entirely Jewish. In one sense all Scripture is Jewish. For it was mostly, if not altogether, written by Jews, and preserved for centuries by God through the instrumentality of Jews. The early church was Jewish. The Saviour was a Jew. But who are to use Matthew 24 and other such portions? Surely those who have Christ as their Saviour and Teacher, those who look for His coming; in a word, believers, whether Jew or Gentile, and therefore members of the Church. Will the Jew, who does not believe in Jesus, heed the Lords words of warning? Are they not meant for all true believers, whether Jew or Gentile?
3. The Gospel Theory.
A dispensational difference is drawn between the various terms used to express the gospel. Thus the Gospel of the Kingdom (explained to be the good tidings of Messiahs reign on earth) is now no longer preached, though it will be again after the removal of the Church; but the Gospel of the Grace of God now takes its place. This statement will not stand the test of Scripture. What gospel was preached to Abraham (Galatians 3: 8)? Was it different from that which Paul preached? After the Lords rejection, He told His disciples, the apostles of the church, that the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, etc. (Matthew 24: 14). Philip, after Pentecost and after the church had been organised as a body, preached the good tidings of the kingdom (Acts 8: 12). Paul preached the same at Ephesus and in Rome (Acts 19:8; 28: 23, 31) and when addressing the elders of the Asian Churches at Miletus, his words show that the gospel of the grace of God and the gospel of the kingdom are one and the same thing (Acts 20: 24, 25). Indeed, in 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11, and Galatians 1 - 3, Paul labours to prove that there is but one gospel as preached by the twelve and himself; and this one gospel is the means of translating believing sinners into Christs kingdom (Colossians 1: 13).
4. The Church and the Kingdom Theory.
If these things be so, then there cannot be two bodies, one formed of believers gathered out during this age and called 'the Church' exclusively; the other forming the Kingdom. The Old Testament saints, therefore, cannot be excluded from the Church in glory. It is readily admitted that while on earth there are great differences in the condition of the saints as to knowledge, privilege, etc. The Old Testament saints may not have had the same fullness of light as Peter and Paul. But Abraham was a justified person equally with Paul (Romans 4 and 5). In 1 Corinthians 15: 20 we read, Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. This would include the Old Testament saints, and they will rise as part of those who are Christs at His coming. The third of Galatians speaks of our final blessing in a remarkable way, firmly establishing the title of the Old Testament saints to that blessing. They which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham (verse 7); In thee shall all nations be blessed (verse 8); Those which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham (verse 9); that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ (verse 14); If ye be Christs then are ye Abrahams seed (verse 29); To Abraham and his seed were the promises made (verse 16). So the question is not. Will Abraham be excluded from the blessing we receive? But, Shall believers in Christ, i.e., the Church, reach the height of blessing granted to Abraham? The object is to show that by faith we enter on Abrahams privileges. The blessing of Abraham Paul assumes to include all that God promises in Christ, which we receive as he did, by faith. This is the Churchs privilege: If ye be Christs, then are ye Abrahams seed.
5. The Resurrection Theory.
The above will show that there is no need to divide the first Resurrection into parts or groups, making a first first and a second first, and so on. All the dead in Christ at His coming take part in the first resurrection, including the Old Testament saints (Hebrews 11: 40), and those who suffer death under Antichrist and during the great tribulation (Revelation 20: 4-6).