2 Thessalonians 2

CHAPTER II.

He exhorts the Thessalonians to stand fast in the faith, and

not to be alarmed at the rumours they heard concerning the

sudden coming of Christ, 1, 2.

Because, previously to this coming, there would be a great

apostasy from the true faith, and a manifestation of a son of

perdition, of whose unparalleled presumption he gives an awful

description; as well as of his pernicious success among men,

and the means which he would use to deceive and pervert the

world; and particularly those who do not receive the love of

the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness, 3-12.

He thanks God for their steadfastness; shows the great

privileges to which they were called; and prays that they may

be comforted and established in every good word and work,

13-17.

NOTES ON CHAP. II.

Verse 1. We beseech you-by the coming of our Lord] It is

evident that the Thessalonians, incited by deceived or false

teachers, had taken a wrong meaning out of the words of the first

epistle, 1Th 4:15,

&c., concerning the day of judgment; and were led then to conclude

that that day was at hand; and this had produced great confusion

in the Church: to correct this mistake, the apostle sent them this

second letter, in which he shows that this day must be necessarily

distant, because a great work is to be done previously to its

appearing.

Of the day of general judgment he had spoken before, and said

that it should come as a thief in the night, i.e. when not

expected; but he did not attempt to fix the time, nor did he

insinuate that it was either near at hand, or far off. Now,

however, he shows that it must necessarily be far off, because of

the great transactions which must take place before it can come.

Verse 2. Be not soon shaken in mind] αποτουνοος. From the

mind; i.e. that they should retain the persuasion they had of the

truths which he had before delivered to them; that they should

still hold the same opinions, and hold fast the doctrines which

they had been taught.

Neither by spirit] Any pretended revelation.

Nor by word] Any thing which any person may profess to have

heard the apostle speak.

Nor by letter] Either the former one which he had sent, some

passages of which have been misconceived and misconstrued; or by

any other letter, as from us-pretending to have been written by

us, the apostles, containing predictions of this kind. There is a

diversity of opinion among critics concerning this last clause,

some supposing that it refers simply to the first epistle; others

supposing that a forged epistle is intended. I have joined the

two senses.

The word σαλευθηναι, to be shaken, signifies to be agitated as

a ship at sea in a storm, and strongly marks the confusion and

distress which the Thessalonians had felt in their false

apprehension of this coming of Christ.

As that the day of Christ is at hand.] In the preface to this

epistle I have given a general view of the meaning of the phrase

the coming of Christ. Now the question is: Whether does the

apostle mean, the coming of Christ to execute judgment upon the

Jews, and destroy their polity, or his coming at the end of time,

to judge the world? There are certainly many expressions in the

following verses that may be applied indifferently to either, and

some seem to apply to the one, and not to the other; and yet the

whole can scarcely be so interpreted as to suit any one of these

comings exclusively. This is precisely the case with the

predictions of our Lord relative to these great events; one is

used to point out and illustrate the other. On this ground I am

led to think that the apostle, in the following confessedly

obscure words, has both these in view, speaking of none of them

exclusively; for it is the custom of the inspired penmen, or

rather of that Spirit by which they spoke, to point out as many

certain events by one prediction as it was possible to do, and to

choose the figures, metaphors, and similes accordingly; and thus,

from the beginning, God has pointed out the things that were not

by the things that then existed, making the one the types or

significations of the other. As the apostle spoke by the same

Spirit, he most probably followed the same plan; and thus the

following prophecy is to be interpreted and understood.

Verse 3. Except there come a falling away first] We have the

original word αποστασια in our word apostasy; and by this term we

understand a dereliction of the essential principles of religious

truth-either a total abandonment of Christianity itself, or such a

corruption of its doctrines as renders the whole system completely

inefficient to salvation. But what this apostasy means is a

question which has not yet, and perhaps never will be, answered to

general satisfaction. At present I shall content myself with

making a few literal remarks on this obscure prophecy, and

afterwards give the opinions of learned men on its principal

parts.

That man of sin] οανθρωποςτηςαμαρτιας. The same as the

Hebrew expresses by ish aven, and ish

beliyaal; the perverse, obstinate, and iniquitous man. It is

worthy of remark that, among the rabbins, Samael, or the devil, is

called ish beliyaal veish aven, the man of

Belial, and the man of iniquity; and that these titles are given

to Adam after his fall.

The son of perdition] ουιοςτηςαπωλειας. The son of

destruction; the same epithet that is given to Judas Iscariot,

Joh 17:12, where see the note.

The son of perdition, and the man of sin, or, as some excellent

MSS. and versions, with several of the fathers, read, ανθρωπος

τηςανομιας, the lawless man, see 2Th 2:8, must mean the same

person or thing. It is also remarkable that the wicked Jews are

styled by Isaiah, Isa 1:4,

benim mashchithim, "children of perdition;" persons

who destroy themselves and destroy others.

Verse 4. Who opposeth and exalteth] He stands against and

exalts himself above all Divine authority, and above every object

of adoration, and every institution relative to Divine worship,

σεβασμα, himself being the source, whence must originate all the

doctrines of religion, and all its rites and ceremonies; so that

sitting in the temple of God-having the highest place and

authority in the Christian Church, he acts as Godtaking upon

himself God's titles and attributes, and arrogating to himself the

authority that belongs to the Most High.

The words ωςθεον, as God, are wanting in ABD, many others,

Erpen's Arabic, the Coptic, Sahidic, AEthiopic, Armenian, the

Vulgate, some copies of the Itala, and the chief of the Greek

fathers. Griesbach has left them out of the text, and Professor

White says, Certissime delenda; "They should most certainly be

erased." There is indeed no evidence of their being authentic,

and the text reads much better with out them: So that he sitteth

in the temple of God, &c.

Verse 5. I told you these things] In several parts of this

description of the man of sin, the apostle alludes to a

conversation which had taken place between him and the members of

this Church when he was at Thessalonica; and this one circumstance

will account for much of the obscurity that is in these verses.

Besides, the apostle appears to speak with great caution, and does

not at all wish to publish what he had communicated to them; the

hints which he drops were sufficient to call the whole to their

remembrance.

Verse 6. And now ye know what withholdeth] I told you this

among other things; I informed you what it was that prevented this

man of sin, this son of perdition, from revealing himself fully.

Verse 7. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work] There

is a system of corrupt doctrine, which will lead to the general

apostasy, already in existence, but it is a mystery; it is as yet

hidden; it dare not show itself, because of that which hindereth

or withholdeth. But when that which now restraineth shall be

taken out of the way, then shall that wicked one be revealed-it

will then be manifest who he is, and what he is. See the

observations at the end of this chapter. "2Th 2:17"

Verse 8. Whom the Lord shall consume] He shall blast him so,

that he shall wither and die away; and this shall be done by the

spirit of his mouth-the words of eternal life, the true doctrine

of the Gospel of Jesus; this shall be the instrument used to

destroy this man of sin: therefore it is evident his death will

not be a sudden but a gradual one; because it is by the preaching

of the truth that he is to be exposed, overthrown, and finally

destroyed.

The brightness of his coming] This may refer to that full

manifestation of the truth which had been obscured and kept under

by the exaltation of this man of sin.

Verse 9. Whose coming is after the working of Satan] The

operation of God's Spirit sends his messengers; the operation of

Satan's spirit sends his emissaries. The one comes κατενεργειαν

τουθεου, after or according to the energy or inward powerful

working of God; the other comes καρενεργειαντουσατανα,

according to the energy or inward working of Satan.

With all power] πασηδυναμει. All kinds of miracles, like the

Egyptian magicians; and signs and lying wonders: the word lying

may be applied to the whole of these; they were lying miracles,

lying signs, and lying wonders; only appearances of what was

real, and done to give credit to his presumption and imposture.

Whereas God sent his messengers with real miracles, real signs,

and real wonders; such Satan cannot produce.

Verse 10. And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness]

With every art that cunning can invent and unrighteousness

suggest, in order to delude and deceive.

In them that perish] εντοιςαπολλυμενοις. Among them that

are destroyed; and they are destroyed and perish because they

would not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

So they perish because they obstinately refuse to be saved, and

receive a lie in preference to the truth. This has been true of

all the Jews from the days of the apostle until now.

Verse 11. God shall send them strong delusion] For this very

cause, that they would not receive the love of the truth, but had

pleasure in unrighteousness, therefore God permits strong delusion

to occupy their minds; so that they believe a lie rather than the

truth, prefer false apostles and their erroneous doctrines to the

pure truths of the Gospel, brought to them by the well-accredited

messengers of God; being ever ready to receive any false Messiah,

while they systematically and virulently reject the true one.

Verse 12. That they all might be damned] Ινακριθωσι. So

that they may all be condemned who believed not the truth when it

was proclaimed to them; but took pleasure in unrighteousness,

preferring that to the way of holiness. Their condemnation was

the effect of their refusal to believe the truth; and they refused

to believe it because they loved their sins. For a farther and

more pointed illustration of the preceding verses, see the

conclusion of this chapter. "2Th 2:17"

Verse 13. & 14. God hath from the beginning chosen you to

salvation, &c.] In your calling, God has shown the purpose that

he had formed from the beginning, to call the Gentiles to the same

privileges with the Jews, not through circumcision, and the

observance of the Mosaic law, but by faith in Christ Jesus; but

this simple way of salvation referred to the same end-holiness,

without which no man, whether Jew or Gentile, can see the Lord.

Let us observe the order of Divine grace in this business: 1.

They were to hear the truth-the doctrines of the Gospel. 2. They

were to believe this truth when they heard it preached. 3. They

were to receive the Spirit of God in believing the truth. 4. That

Spirit was to sanctify their souls-produce an inward holiness,

which was to lead to all outward conformity to God. 5. All this

constituted their salvation-their being fitted for the inheritance

among the saints in light. 6. They were to obtain the glory of

our Lord Jesus Christ-that state of felicity for which they were

fitted, by being saved here from their sins, and by being

sanctified by the Spirit of God.

Verse 14. See Clarke on 2Th 2:13.

Verse 15. Therefore, brethren, stand fast] Their obtaining

eternal glory depended on their faithfulness to the grace of God;

for this calling did not necessarily and irresistibly lead to

faith; nor their faith to the sanctification of the spirit; nor

their sanctification of the spirit to the glory of our Lord Jesus.

Had they not attended to the calling, they could not have

believed; had they not believed, they could not have been

sanctified; had they not been sanctified they could not have been

glorified. All these things depended on each other; they were

stages of the great journey; and at any of these stages they might

have halted, and never finished their Christian race.

Hold the traditions which ye have been taught] The word

παραδοσις, which we render tradition, signifies any thing

delivered in the way of teaching; and here most obviously means

the doctrines delivered by the apostle to the Thessalonians;

whether in his preaching, private conversation, or by these

epistles; and particularly the first epistle, as the apostle here

states. Whatever these traditions were, as to their matter, they

were a revelation from God; for they came by men who spake and

acted under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; and on this ground

the passage here can never with any propriety be brought to

support the unapostolical and anti-apostolical traditions of the

Romish Church; those being matters which are, confessedly, not

taken from either Testament, nor were spoken either by a prophet

or an apostle.

Verse 16. Now our Lord Jesus] As all your grace came from God

through Christ, so the power that is necessary to strengthen and

confirm you unto the end must come in the same way.

Everlasting consolation] παρακλησιναιωνιαν. The glad tidings

of the Gospel, and the comfort which ye have received through

believing; a gift which God had in his original purpose, in

reference to the Gentiles; a purpose which has respected all times

and places, and which shall continue to the conclusion of time;

for the Gospel is everlasting, and shall not be superseded by any

other dispensation. It is the last and best which God has

provided for man; and it is good tidings, everlasting

consolation-a complete system of complete peace and happiness.

The words may also refer to the happiness which the believing

Thessalonians then possessed.

And good hope through grace] The hope of the Gospel was the

resurrection of the body, and the final glorification of it and

the soul throughout eternity. This was the good hope which the

Thessalonians had; not a hope that they should be pardoned or

sanctified, &c. Pardon and holiness they enjoyed, therefore they

were no objects of hope; but the resurrection of the body and

eternal glory were necessarily future; these they had in

expectation; these they hoped for; and, through the grace which

they had already received they had a good hope-a well-grounded

expectation, of this glorious state.

Verse 17. Comfort your hearts] Keep your souls ever under the

influence of his Holy Spirit: and stablish you-confirm and

strengthen you in your belief of every good word or doctrine,

which we have delivered unto you; and in the practice of every

good work, recommended and enjoined by the doctrines of the

Gospel.

It is not enough that we believe the truth; we must love the

truth. Antinomianism says: "Believe the doctrines, and ye are

safe." The testimony borne by the Gospel is: Believe, love, obey:

none of these can subsist without the other. The faith of a devil

may exist without loving obedience; but the faith of a true

believer worketh by love; and this faith and love have not respect

to some one commandment, but to all; for God writes his whole law

on the heart of every genuine Christian, and gives him that love

which is the fulfilling of the law.

THE reader will have observed that, in going through this

chapter, while examining the import of every leading word, I have

avoided fixing any specific meaning to terms: the apostasy or

falling away; the man of sin; son of perdition; him who letteth or

withholdeth, &c. The reason is, I have found it extremely

difficult to fix any sense to my own satisfaction; and it was

natural for me to think that, if I could not satisfy myself, it

was not likely I could satisfy my readers. But, as something

should be said relative to the persons and things intended by the

apostle, I choose to give rather what others have said, than

attempt any new mode of interpretation. The great variety of

explanations given by wise and learned men only prove the

difficulty of the place.

1. The general run of Protestant writers understand the whole as

referring to the popes and Church of Rome, or the whole system of

the papacy. 2. Others think that the defection of the Jewish

nation, from their allegiance to the Roman emperor, is what is to

be understood by the apostasy or falling off; and that all the

other terms refer to the destruction of Jerusalem. 3. The fathers

understood the Antichrist to be intended, but of this person they

seem to have formed no specific idea. 4. Dr. Hammond refers the

apostasy to the defection of the primitive Christians to the

Gnostic heresy; and supposes that, by the man of sin and son of

perdition, Simon Magus is meant. 5. Grotius applies the whole to

Caius Caesar. 6. Wetstein applies the apostasy to the rebellion

and slaughter of the three princes that were proclaimed by the

Roman armies, previously to the reign of Vespasian; and supposes

Titus and the Flavian family to be intended by the man of sin and

son of perdition. 7. Schoettgen contends strongly that the whole

refers to the case of the Jews, incited to rebellion by the

scribes and Pharisees, and to the utter and final destruction of

the rabbinic and Pharisaic system; and thinks he finds something

in their spirit and conduct, and in what has happened to them, to

illustrate every word in this prophecy. Dr. Whitby is nearly of

the same sentiments. 8. Calmet follows, in the main, the

interpretation given by the ancient fathers; and wonders at the

want of candour in the Protestant writers, who have gleaned up

every abusive tale against the bishops and Church of Rome; and

asks them, would they be willing that the Catholics should credit

all the aspersions cast on Protestantism by its enemies? 9.

Bishop Newton has examined the whole prophecy with his usual

skill and judgment. The sum of what he says, as abridged by Dr.

Dodd, I think it right to subjoin. The principal part of modern

commentators follow his steps. He applies the whole to the Romish

Church: the apostasy, its defection from the pure doctrines of

Christianity; and the man of sin, &c. the general succession of

the popes of Rome. But we must hear him for himself, as he takes

up the subject in the order of the verses.

Verses 3, 4. For that day shall not come, except, &c.-"The day

of Christ shall not come except there come the apostasy first."

The apostasy here described is plainly not of a civil but of a

religious nature; not a revolt from the government, but a

defection from the true religion and worship. In the original, it

is the apostasy, with an article to give it an emphasis; the

article being added signifies, "that famous and before-mentioned

prophecy." So likewise is the man of sin with the like article,

and the like emphasis. If, then, the notion of the man of sin be

derived from any ancient prophet, it must be derived from

Da 7:25; 11:36. Any man may be satisfied that St. Paul alluded

to Daniel's description, because he has not only borrowed the same

ideas, but has even adopted some of the phrases and expressions.

The man of sin may signify either a single man, or a succession of

men; a succession of men being meant in Daniel, it is probable

that the same was intended here also. It is the more probable,

because a single man appears hardly sufficient for the work here

assigned; and it is agreeable to the phraseology of Scripture, and

especially to that of the prophets, to speak of a body or number

of men, under the character of one: thus, a king, Da 7:8;

Re 17:1-18, is used for a succession of kings. The man of sin

being to be expressed from Da 7:24, according to the Greek

translation, He shall exceed in evil all that went before him; and

he may fulfil the character either by promoting wickedness in

general, or by advancing idolatry in particular, as the word sin

signifies frequently in Scripture. The son of perdition is also

the denomination of the traitor Judas, Joh 17:12, which implies

that the man of sin should be, like Judas, a false apostle; like

him, betray Christ; and, like him, be devoted to destruction. Who

opposeth, &c., is manifestly copied from Daniel, He shall exalt

himself, &c. The features exactly resemble each other: He

opposeth and exalteth himself above all; or, according to the

Greek, above every one that is called God, or that is worshipped.

The Greek word for worshipped is σεβασμα, alluding to the Greek

title of the Roman emperors, σεβαστος, which signifies august or

venerable. He shall oppose; for the prophets speak of things

future as present; he shall oppose and exalt himself, not only

above inferior magistrates, (who are sometimes called gods in holy

writ,) but even above the greatest emperors; and shall arrogate to

himself Divine honours. So that he, as God, sitteth in the

temple, &c. By the temple of God the apostle could not well mean

the temple of Jerusalem; because that, he knew, would be destroyed

within a few years. After the death of Christ the temple of

Jerusalem is never called by the apostles the temple of God; and

if at any time they make mention of the house or temple of God,

they mean the Church in general, or every particular believer.

Who ever will consult 1Co 3:16, 17; 2Co 6:16; 1Ti 3:15;

Re 3:12; will want no examples to prove that, under the Gospel

dispensation, the temple of God is the Church of Christ; and the

man of sin sitting implies this ruling and presiding there; and

sitting there as God implies his claiming Divine authority in

things spiritual as well as temporal; and showing himself that he

is God, implies his doing it with ostentation.

Verses 5, 6, 7. Remember ye not, &c.-The apostle thought it

part of his duty, as he made it a part of his preaching and

doctrine, to forewarn his new converts of the grand apostasy that

would infect the Church, even while he was at Thessalonica. From

these verses it appears that the man of sin was not then revealed;

his time was not yet come, or the season of his manifestation.

The mystery of iniquity was indeed already working; the seeds of

corruption were sown, but they were not grown up to maturity; the

man of sin was yet hardly conceived in the womb; it must be some

time before he could be brought forth; there was some obstacle

that hindered his appearing. What this was we cannot determine

with absolute certainty at so great a distance of time; but if we

may rely upon the concurrent testimony of the fathers, it was the

Roman empire. Most probably it was somewhat relating to the

higher powers, because the apostle observes such caution; he

mentioned it in discourse, but would not commit it to writing.

Verse 8. Then shall that Wicked be revealed.-When the

obstacle, mentioned in the preceding verse, should be removed,

then shall that wicked, &c. Nothing can be plainer than that the

lawless, (οανομος,) as the Greek signifies, the wicked one, here

mentioned, and the man of sin, must be one and the same person.

The apostle was speaking before of what hindered that he should be

revealed, and would continue to hinder it till it was taken away;

and then the wicked one, &c. Not that he should be consumed

immediately after he was revealed. But the apostle, to comfort

the Thessalonians, no sooner mentions his revelation than he

foretells also his destruction, even before he describes his other

qualifications. His other qualifications should have been

described first, in order of time; but the apostle hastens to what

was first and warmest in his thoughts and wishes: Whom the Lord

shall consume, &c. If these two clauses refer to two distinct and

different events, the meaning manifestly is, that the Lord Jesus

shall gradually consume him with the free preaching and

publication of his word; and shall utterly destroy him at his

second coming, in the glory of his Father, with all the holy

angels. If these two clauses relate to one and the same event, it

is a pleonasm very usual in the sacred, as well as other oriental

writings; and the purport plainly is, that the Lord Jesus shall

destroy him with the greatest facility, when he shall be revealed

from heaven, as the apostle has expressed it in the preceding

chapter.

Verses 9-12. Whose coming is after, &c.-The apostle was eager

to foretell the destruction of the man of sin; and for this

purpose having broken in upon his subject, he now returns to it

again, and describes the other qualifications by which this wicked

one should advance and establish himself in the world. He should

rise to credit and authority by the most diabolical methods;

should pretend to supernatural powers; and boast of revelations,

visions, and miracles, false in themselves, and applied to promote

false doctrines.

Verse 9. He should likewise practise all other wicked acts of

deceit; should be guilty of the most impious frauds and

impositions upon mankind; but should prevail only among those who

are destitute of a sincere affection for the truth; whereby they

might attain eternal salvation.

Verse 10. And indeed it is a just and righteous judgment of

God, to give them over to vanities and lies in this world, and to

condemnation in the next, who have no regard to truth and virtue,

but delight in falsehood and wickedness; 2Th 2:11, 12.

Upon this survey there appears little room to doubt of the

genuine sense and meaning of the passage. The Thessalonians, as

we have seen from some expressions in the former epistle, were

alarmed as if the end of the world was at hand. The apostle, to

correct their mistake and dissipate their fears, assures them that

a great apostasy, or defection of the Christians from the true

faith and worship, must happen before the coming of Christ. This

apostasy all the concurrent marks and characters will justify us

in charging upon the Church of Rome. The true Christian worship

is the worship of the one only God, through the one only Mediator,

the man Christ Jesus; and from this worship the Church of Rome has

most notoriously departed, by substituting other mediators, and

invocating and adoring saints and angels, nothing is apostasy, if

idolatry be not. And are not the members of the Church of Rome

guilty of idolatry in the worship of images, in the adoration of

the host, in the invocation of angels and saints, and in the

oblation of prayers and praises to the Virgin Mary, as much or

more than to God blessed for ever? This is the grand corruption

of the Christian Church: this is the apostasy as it is

emphatically called, and deserves to be called; which was not only

predicted by St. Paul, but by the Prophet Daniel likewise. If

the apostasy be rightly charged upon the Church of Rome, it

follows of consequence that the man of sin is the pope; not

meaning any pope in particular, but the pope in general, as the

chief head and supporter of this apostasy. He is properly the man

of sin, not only on account of the scandalous lives of many popes,

but by reason of their most scandalous doctrines and principles;

dispensing with the most necessary duties; and granting, or rather

selling, pardons and indulgences to the most abominable crimes.

Or, if by sin be meant idolatry in particular, as in the Old

Testament, it is evident how he has perverted the worship of God

to superstition and idolatry of the grossest kind. He also, like

the false apostle, Judas, is the son of perdition; whether

actively, as being the cause of destruction to others; or

passively, as being devoted to destruction himself. He

opposeth-he is the great adversary of God and man; persecuting and

destroying, by croisades, inquisitions, and massacres, those

Christians who prefer the word of God to the authority of men.

The heathen emperor of Rome may have slain his thousands of

innocent Christians; but the Christian bishop of Rome has slain

his ten thousands. He exalteth himself above all that is called

God, or is worshipped-not only above inferior magistrates, but

likewise above bishops and primates; not only above bishops and

primates, but likewise above kings and emperors; deposing some,

obliging them to kiss his toe, to hold his stirrup, treading even

upon the neck of a king, and kicking off the imperial crown with

his foot; nay, not only kings and emperors, but likewise above

Christ and God himself; making even the word of God of none effect

by his traditions-forbidding what God has commanded; as marriage,

the use of the Scriptures, &c.; and also commanding or allowing

what God has forbidden, as idolatry, persecution, &c. So that he,

as God, sitteth in the temple of God, &c.; he is therefore in

profession a Christian, and a Christian bishop. His sitting in

the temple of God implies plainly his having a seat or cathedra in

the Christian Church; and he sitteth there as God, especially at

his inauguration, when he sits upon the high altar in St. Peter's

church, and makes the table of the Lord his footstool, and in that

position receives adoration. At all times he exercises Divine

authority in the Church, showing himself that he is God-affecting

Divine titles, and asserting that his decrees are of the same or

greater authority than the word of God. So that the pope is

evidently, according to the titles given him in the public

decretals, The God upon earth; at least there is no one, like him,

who exalteth himself above every god; no one, like him, who

sitteth as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is

God. The foundations of popery were laid in the apostle's days,

but of which the superstructure was raised by degrees; and several

ages passed before the building was completed, and the man of sin

revealed in full perfection. The tradition that generally

prevailed was that that which hindered was the Roman empire: this

tradition might have been derived even from the apostle himself;

and therefore the primitive Christians, in the public offices of

the Church, prayed for its peace and welfare, as knowing that,

when the Roman empire should be dissolved and broken in pieces,

the empire of the man of sin would be raised upon its ruins. In

the same proportion as the power of the empire decreased, the

authority of the Church increased, and the latter at the expense

and ruin of the former; till at length the pope grew up above all,

and the wicked, or lawless one, was fully manifested and revealed.

His coming is after the energy of Satan, and does it require

any particular proof that the pretensions of the pope, and the

corruption of the Church of Rome, are all supported and authorized

by feigned visions and miracles, by pious frauds and impositions

of every kind? But how much soever the man of sin may be exalted,

and how long soever he may reign, yet at last the Lord shall

consume him, &c. This is partly taken from Isa 11:4,

And with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked one;

where the Jews put an emphasis upon the words the wicked one; as

appears from the Chaldee, which renders it, "He shall destroy the

wicked Roman." If the two clauses, as said in the note on

2Th 2:8, relate to two different events, the meaning is, "that

the Lord Jesus shall gradually consume him with the free preaching

of the Gospel; and shall utterly destroy him at his second coming

in the glory of the Father." The former began to take effect at

the Reformation; and the latter will be accomplished in God's

appointed time. The man of sin is now upon the decline, and he

will be totally abolished when Christ shall come in judgment.

Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Origen, Lactantius, Cyril of Jerusalem,

Ambrose, Hilary, Jerome, Augustine, and Chrysostom, give much the

same interpretation that has here been given of the whole passage.

And it must be owned that this is the genuine meaning of the

apostle; that this only is consistent with the context; that every

other interpretation is forced and unnatural; that this is liable

to no material objection; that it coincides perfectly with Daniel;

that it is agreeable to the tradition of the primitive Church; and

that it has been exactly fulfilled in all its particulars; which

cannot be said of any other interpretation whatever. Such a

prophecy as this is an illustrious proof of Divine revelation, and

an excellent antidote to the poison of popery.

See the Dissertations on the Prophecies; and Dodd, as above.

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