2 1Ἐρωτῶμεν δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, ὑπὲρ τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἡμῶν ἐπισυναγωγῆς ἐπ’ αὐτὸν 2εἰς τὸ μὴ ταχέως σαλευθῆναι ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ νοὸς μηδὲ θροεῖσθαι, μήτε διὰ πνεύματος μήτε διὰ λόγου μήτε δι’ ἐπιστολῆς ὡς δι’ ἡμῶν, ὡς ὅτι ἐνέστηκεν ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου·
2:1 The writers initiate a new topic marked by δέ, the verb ἐρωτῶμεν, and the vocative ἀδελφοί. The first person plural subject incorporates all of the correspondents in the message. ἐρωτῶμεν has the sense “implore.” In 1 Thess. 4:1 it is compounded with παρακαλοῦμεν and explained with a ἵνα clause. In 1 Thess. 5:12 it is used by itself and explained by several infinitives. Here, it is explained by εἰς τὸ…σαλευθῆναι…μηδὲ θροεῖσθαι, using two articulated infinitives of purpose (“in order that”). The aorist passive infinitive σαλευθῆναι aspectually expresses a completed action, i.e., that no matter what happens in their experience, they would not “be shaken.” They place the adverb ταχέως in the focal point of the infinitive clause, giving it prominence. What does this adverb imply in the context? What is its reference point? ὑμᾶς is the accusative subject of the infinitive. ἀπό + genitive indicates separation from something, in this case νούς. This noun may have the sense of “mental composure” or perhaps “mental resilience based on Christian beliefs.” The following infinitive, θροεῖσθαι, is present passive indicating a continuing action or ongoing state in some sense. In classical Greek sources it means “cry aloud” out of agitation or fear. In Hellenistic writings, it develops a more general sense of “be moved” either from joy or from fear, but expressing some kind of emotional or psychological upset. Consider the use in Matt. 24:6; Mark 13:7; and Luke 24:37 in Jesus’ eschatological discourse, where fear is the primary reason for personal agitation. These are the only occurrences of this verb in the NT. Does ταχέως modify both infinitives or only the first one>
Returning to ὑπέρ + genitive (a “marker of general content” (BDAG)), it specifies the new topics, namely τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἡμῶν ἐπισυναγωγῆς ἐπ’ αὐτὸν. Note the single article binding this compound construction together, as well as the repeated pronouns ἡμῶν, used quite differently with each noun. παρουσία means “presence, coming” and generally in the NT refers to the second time when Jesus will be present/will come on the earth (e.g., Matt. 24:3, 27; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 2:19; James 5:8; 2 Peter 3:4; 1 John 2:28)). The writers use it several times (2:1, 8, 9). Paul can also use it to describe the “personal presence/coming” of people at a certain location (e.g., 1 Cor. 16:17; 2 Cor. 7:6; Phil. 1:26). The writers also use ἀποκάλυψις (see the use of ἐπιφάνεια in 2 Thess. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:14 and the verb φανερόω in 1 Peter 1:20; 5:4; Col. 3:4; 1 John 3:2). The subjective genitive τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ picks up the three part title used in 1:1-2 to refer to Jesus. ἡμῶν 1˚ is a genitive of subordination and probably modifies τοῦ κυρίου, indicating that Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ may be appositional. In 1:1-2 ἡμῶν modifies πατήρ.
The reference to the παρουσία is linked with ἐπισυναγωγή “gathering together” (cf. Heb. 10:25). This is the only use of this noun in reference to events at the Second Coming, but the idea may be alluded to in 1 Thess. 4:17. The cognate verb occurs in Matt. 24:31; Mark 13:27 (but not in Luke) to describe the action of angels at the Second Coming to gather “the elect.” ἡμῶν 2˚ is an objective genitive indicating who is “gathered.” It may be connected with the essential idea expressed in ἐκκλησία (assembly). The prepositional phrase ἐπὶ αὐτόν indicates directional movement and the location is a person, αὐτόν = κύριος.
2:2 Three διά + genitive phrases in v. 2 indicate the means (πνεύματος, λόγου, ἐπιστολῆς) that might cause these believers to be shaken or alarmed. Whether πνεύματος indicates that some are claiming that the Holy Spirit is revealing such knowledge or the writers are referencing demonic spirits (as in 1 Tim. 4:1) is not clear. λόγος may refer to prophetic utterances because Paul discusses this phenomenon in 1 Cor. 12:8; 14:9, 19. The third element refers to “letters” which some claim to originate with the writers of 2 Thessalonians (ὡς δι’ ἡμῶν). ὡς 1˚ has a comparative nuance, i.e., “as if written by us.”
BDAG (732. 5b) notes that ὡς ὅτι occurs three times in the Pauline corpus, “and simply means ‘that’.” However, Danker argues that “the subjective mng. of ὡς must be conceded.” Under the entry for ὡς (BDAG 1104.3b) Danker says that this conjunction can place “focus on a conclusion existing only in someone’s imagination or based solely on someone’s assertion.” I presume this is the subjective nuance that Danker references earlier. The sense would be “as though (in some people’s perspective it is believed) that….” The perfect indicative verb ἐνέστηκεν means “to take place as an event” and the aspect of the perfect would suggest “has already taken place and is now the state or condition in which people live” (consider the participle form in Gal. 1:4). The subject ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου is a phrase used in the OT to describe occasions when Yahweh intervenes in human history for salvation or judgment. It comes to have an eschatological flavor. Given the reference to the παρουσία of the Lord Jesus in v. 1, this would seem to be the reference in Gospel terms. However, in what sense people were making such a claim is unclear. Are these people arguing that the first and second comings of the Messiah are in fact one event, similar to current Jewish expectations about the Messiah?
3Μή τις ὑμᾶς ἐξαπατήσῃ κατὰ μηδένα τρόπον. ὅτι ἐὰν μὴ ἔλθῃ ἡ ἀποστασία πρῶτον καὶ ἀποκαλυφθῇ ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἀνομίας, ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας, 4ὁ ἀντικείμενος καὶ ὑπεραιρόμενος ἐπὶ πάντα λεγόμενον θεὸν ἢ σέβασμα, ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ καθίσαι ἀποδεικνύντα ἑαυτὸν ὅτι ἐστὶν θεός.
2;3 NA28 segregates 2:3-12 as a separate section and this might have some justification. However, note the different paragraphing in various English translations (NRSV and NIV for instance). From the standpoint of content, it continues the warning initiated in 2:1-2, but gives more specifics. The writers begin with a prohibition (μή + aorist subjunctive) that functions as a warning. ἐξαπατήσῃ (“deceive, led astray by false ideas”) occurs solely in Pauline writings in the NT (e.g., 1 Cor. 3:18) and several times with reference to Gen 3 (2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14). The simplex form ἀπατάω occurs in Eph. 5:6; 1 Tim. 2:14; James 1:26. They use the indefinite pronoun τις (not identifying any specific person as responsible) as subject, applying the prohibition generally, and place the object ὑμᾶς in the focal point of the clause before the verb. The adverbial prepositional phrase κατὰ μηδένα τρόπον modifies the verb and indicates the nature of the deception (“in any fashion”), but presumably the deception will be about “the presence of the day of the Lord” (as the NRSV and NIV translations indicate). Greek uses double negatives to emphasize negativity. Note that NA28 punctuate the first clause with a period. What interpretation does this imply?
The function of ὅτι seems to be causal (“because”) and the subordinate clause extends to the end of v. 4. It modifies ἐξάπατήσῃ. However, the subordinate clause within it marked by ἐὰν μή lacks an explicit apodosis and so most English translation supply a main clause such as “because that day is not present unless…,” referencing the clause at the end of v. 2. ἐάν μή marks a conditional, exceptive clause and means “unless, except that.” ἐὰν μή and εἰ μή occur with equal frequency in the NT and ἐὰν μή perhaps emphasizes an element of contingency. In this case it might be uncertainty about when exactly the ἀποστασία will occur, not whether it will occur. Two aorist subjunctive verb forms, namely ἔλθῃ…καὶ ἀποκαλυφθῇ, underscore the contingent nuance. ἡ ἀποστασία is related to the neuter noun ἀποστάσιον (e.g., Matt. 5:31; 19:1; Mark 10:4), a term used in the NT to describe divorce, and an older term ἀπόστασις (perhaps used in Heb. 11:1) meaning “rebellion.” The feminine noun only occurs elsewhere in the NT in Act 21:21, where James reports to Paul that some Jews claim that he teaches ἀποστασίαν…ἀπὸ Μωϋσέως. In a Jewish frame of reference it means “rebellion against Yahweh; defiance of his revealed covenant.” The term occurs in OG Josh. 22:22 when the tribes of Gad and Manasseh claim that they have not departed from the covenant by building an altar at the Jordan River. See also OG Jer. 2:19. The cognate verb is ἀφίστημι. πρῶτον is an adverbial accusative expressing a temporal relationship “first.”
Concurrent with this ἀποστασία is an “unveiling, revealing” (ἀποκαλυφθῇ; see 1:7) of ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἀνομίας. The term ἄνθρωπος in this context means “human being,” and not necessarily male. The genitive is probably attributive, with the sense “characterized by lawlessness.” In the Psalter ἀνομία defines those who oppose God, who is the source of true νόμος. Τhe following appositional phrase ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας probably influences our perception that this is a male figure. However, that phrase itself is metaphorical and not literal. Similar phrases occur elsewhere in the NT (e.g., υἱοὶ τῆς ἀνομίας (Eph. 2:2; 5:6); υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας (John 17:12), a reference to Judas. In that context the noun ἀπωλεία reflects the prior verb ἀπώλετο. Jesus indicates that Judas is a person now bound for destruction because of choices he has made and thus is associated with destruction, in contrast with the sons of light, etc. The genitive ἀπωλείας could function similarly in 2 Thess. 2:3 and signal that this apostate figure is bound for destruction. However, it could also have an objective sense, indicating that this person generates destruction through his actions. The declaration in v. 8 (ὃν ὁ κύριος ἀνελεῖ) suggests that the former meaning is intended (cf. 1:9).
2:4 The writers add a second appositional syntagm, constituted with two substantival participles linked by one article, to define this wicked leader. Both are present middle participles (ἀντικείμενος, ὑπεραιρόμενος), indicating continuing situations. ἀντίκειμαι describes “opposition to someone” (e.g., Luke 21:15; 1 Tim. 5:14). ὑπεραίρω means “to have an undue sense of one’s self-importance, rise up, exalt oneself” and it only occurs in the NT elsewhere in 2 Cor. 12:7. ὑπεραίρω + ἐπί + accusative is not a common construction in Greek literature, but the sense is ambiguous because it could mean “to elevate oneself over everything…,” or “to exalt oneself against everything….” λεγόμενον, present passive participle, in this context means “so-called (deity)” (similar usage in 1 Cor. 8:5). σέβασμα refers to “something venerated” or a “devotional practice.” In other words, this person who will emerge sometime in the future seeks to establish himself as the primary deity or perhaps, the only deity. The arthrous phrases indicate generic expressions. Similar terminology occurs in OG Daniel 11:36.
The warning ends with a result clause marked by ὥστε. The main verb is the aorist infinitive καθίσαι. The subject is the accusative αὐτόν. The adverbial prepositional phrase εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ modifying καθίσαι seems to be motion-locative in force (BDAG reference a 3rd century BCE inscription that reads καθίσαντες εἰς τὸ ἱερόν; White in Light from Ancient Letters, 42 translates this expression as “taking up residence in the temple.”). The preposition suggests movement into a place where the person sits in the prominent place. There are numerous examples in pre-Christian inscriptions of καθίζω ἐν + dative “to sit in” describing someone sitting in a temple. εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ could refer to any temple, but this language is employed occasionally in the LXX to describe the Jewish temple. Usually the phrase is ὁ ναὸς τοῦ κυρίου. The article may suggest a specific temple. ἀποδεικνύντα is an adverbial, present active participle that defines καθίσαι and means “proclaiming.” Wanamaker suggests several lexical connections with Psalms of Solomon 17-18 based upon terms used in 2:3-12. Much discussion ensues about whether this language should be read literally, symbolically, or metaphorically. The destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 CE creates some challenges with respect to this prophetic word, but would not be problematic in c. 52-53 CE.
2:5 Οὐ μνημονεύετε ὅτι ἔτι ὢν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ταῦτα ἔλεγον ὑμῖν;
Given the epistolary context, the correspondents indicate that they had already communicated this information when previously they were “with you” (ἔτι ὣν πρὸς ὑμᾶς), an adverbial, temporal, participial construction. They pose the question οὺ μνημονεύετε that probably anticipates a positive response. ὅτι marks the content clause of indirect speech that functions as the object of μνημονεύετε. The first person singular ending of the imperfect verb form ἔλεγον probably singles out Paul, among the three correspondents as the primary communicator of the gospel initially. The imperfect tense form indicates a past continuous action.
2:6 καὶ νῦν τὸ κατέχον οἴδατε εἰς τὸ ἀποκαλυφθῆναι αὐτὸν ἐν τῷ ἑαυτοῦ καιρῷ.
The writers proceed to offer further explanation, based upon what their audience knows because of their previous teaching. The adverb νῦν provides a temporal indicator pointing to the audience’s present reality and knowledge. They place the object τὸ κατέχον before the verb in the focal point of the clause, giving it prominence. τὸ κατέχον is a neuter singular, substantival, present active participle describing “the restraining thing” or “that which restrains,” i.e., either a person (if it is referenced by a neuter noun such as τὸ πνεῦμα), or some force, institution or other phenomonen. The writers expect that the audience knows what they are referencing, but it is not clear to us. This verb is used to describe negative moral behavior, i.e., “restraining/hindering/suppressing truth,” in Rom. 1:18. In Luke 4:42 it describes the action of the crowds that restrains Jesus. Usually it has the sense of “hold fast” with the faith or some other moral principle being the object (e.g., 1 Thess. 5:21). Here it seems to have the sense of “preventing someone from exercising power” (BDAG, 532). In v. 7 the writers use the masculine singular form ὁ κατέχων as the subject of γένηται. Much discussion occurs in the literature about the referent, as well as what is being restrained. Given that the discourse section is discussing when events occur and persons arrive (note the various temporal markers), presumably the restraining prevents such events and arrivals from occurring in some fashion. The writers offer no explanation as to why such events or persons are being restrained.
They assert that their audience οἶδατε “knows” what this restraining force is and that it functions “for the purpose of,” εἰς + an articulated infinitive (τὸ ἀποκαλυφθῆνψαι). This is an aorist passive infinitive and the verb previously has referenced the unveiling of the Messiah at the Second Coming, but also the revelation of “the man of lawlessness.” Presumably the accusative, pronominal subject of the infinitive αὐτόν refers to this person. The adverbial, prepositional phrase ἐν τῷ ἑαυτοῦ καιρῷ defines the “opportune time” when this figure appears. The genitive reflexive pronoun indicates that the time selected is somehow dictated by him or perhaps Satan who controls him.
2:7 τὸ γὰρ μυστήριον ἤδη ἐνεργεῖται τῆς ἀνομίας· μόνον ὁ κατέχων ἄρτι ἕως ἐκ μέσου γένηται.
The writers offer an explanation, marked by γάρ, for these developments. The use of temporal adverbs (ἤδη, ἄρτι, ἑως) indicates that the sequencing of these events is the important factor. ἤδη suggests something that previously was not engaged in this way. Perhaps the incarnation has started the clock running. Their description of these events as τὸ…μυστήριον references specific “secret activities.” They do not indicate who is in control of these events, but whatever such plans might be, they “already” (ἤδη) are “being activated” (ἐνεργεῖται – present middle or passive indicative; see 1 Thess. 2:13). Note the construction κατ’ ἐνέργειαν τοῦ σατανᾶ in v. 8, that might suggest that Satan is the agent implied in v. 7. The middle voice might suggest “intentionality” on the part of the agent responsible. “The man of lawlessness” is collaborating in some way with τὸ…μυστήριον…τῆς ἀνομίας (see a contrasting phrase used in 1 Tim. 3:16). The separation of the genitive modifier from its head noun is a case of hyperbaton. One could argue for either a subjective (personifying ἀνομία) or objective (describing a process?) genitive.
The interpretation of the second clause has its challenges. Are we dealing with two clauses, with ἕως marking a subordinate, temporal clause? This would mean that μόνον…ἄρτι is a verbless clause and requires us to supply a verb. Alternatively, perhaps the writers have pre-posed the subject (ὁ κατέχων ἄρτι) of the ἕως clause and the entire clause is a subordinate temporal clause. The subject is a masculine, present active participle, in contrast to the neuter, present active participle of this verb used in v. 6. The adverb μόνον indicates a limitation to the action described in the previous clause – probably a temporal limitation. γίνομαι + ἐκ μέσου occurs several times in classical Greek writers with the sense “remove” (e.g. Plutarch Timoleon 5.3 “move away”; Achilles Tatius Leucippe and Clitophon 2.27 “when Clio has been removed.” Sourced from F. F. Bruce, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, WBC 45. 170).
2:8 καὶ τότε ἀποκαλυφθήσεται ὁ ἄνομος, ὃν ὁ κύριος [Ἰησοῦς] ἀνελεῖ τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ καὶ καταργήσει τῇ ἐπιφανείᾳ τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ, 9οὗ ἐστιν ἡ παρουσία κατ’ ἐνέργειαν τοῦ σατανᾶ ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει καὶ σημείοις καὶ τέρασιν ψεύδους 10καὶ ἐν πάσῃ ἀπάτῃ ἀδικίας τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις, ἀνθ’ ὧν τὴν ἀγάπην τῆς ἀληθείας οὐκ ἐδέξαντο εἰς τὸ σωθῆναι αὐτούς.
2:8 The writers describe what happens when ὁ κατέχων is removed. Verses 8-10 form one sentence. The topic of the sentence is expressed in the first clause, that is the main clause. The subject ὁ ἄνομος reflects the previous ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἀνομίας (v.3). Similarly the future passive verb ἀποκαλυφθήσεται parallels the earlier ἀποκαλυφθῇ (v. 3). Both verbs are passive forms, but have no expressed agent. The repeated use of ἀποκαλύπτω is probably related to the use of the noun μυστήριον to describe the gradual revelation of Gods secret purposes. The temporal adverb τότε expresses chronological sequence “then” and is correlative with the previous καὶ νῦν used in v. 6.
The writers inject a compound relative clause to assure their audience that this evil figure will not prevail and then in vv. 9-10 proceed to describe his activity. The accusative relative pronoun ὅν marks the relative clause, with ὁ ἄνομος as the antecedent. They place the subject of both clauses in the focal point of the first clause, preceding the first verb, namely ὁ κύριος [‘Ιησοῦς]. They neatly juxtapose these two figures, but the lexeme κύριος hints at the outcome defined by the following future active indicative verb ἀνελεῖ. Presumably, its aspect reflects a completed action in the future. The verb ἀναιρέω means “to take away; to get rid of by execution, remove.” In Exod. 2:14 it describes Moses’ murder of the Egyptian. Should we render it as “execute” here? A dative of means τῷ πνεύματι defines how the Lord Jesus will do this. However, it is modified by the genitive τοῦ στόματος that characterizes πνεῦμα and perhaps means “breath of his mouth.” Breath and mouth are associated ideas. αὐτοῦ refers to the Lord Jesus clarifies whose “mouth” is involved. The Lord Jesus achieves the destruction of the lawless leader by verbal command.
The writers add a second clause maintaining the same subject, but including another, future active indicative verb καταργήσει, that reinforces the message expressed by the first verb. The Lord Jesus “will make him nothing” or “bring him to an end.” This verb occurs primarily in Pauline writings in the NT (cf. Rom. 6:6; 7:2; 1 Cor. 15:24, 26; Gal. 3:17; 5:4; 2 Tim. 1:10). The object of the verb is the initial relative pronoun ὅν. The second verb also is modified by a dative of means, namely τῇ ἐπιφανείᾳ (“appearance”). A genitive, τῆς παρουσίας defines the nature of this appearance, i.e., it is a coming, an arrival in person. αὐτοῦ clarifies whose presence is being referenced, namely the Lord Jesus.
2:9 A second relative clause begins in v. 9, marked by the genitive singular relative pronoun οὗ. ὁ ἅνομος and αὐτοῦ (v.8) probably function as the antecedent. It is genitive because it modifies the subject of the clause ἡ παρουσία and clarifies that this “arrival, presence” refers to the lawless person, not the Messiah. However, the writers cleverly juxtapose the two different παρουσίαι mentioned at the end of v. 8 and the beginning of v. 9. This second “arrival” is κατ’ ἐνέργειαν τοῦ σατανᾶ. The adverbial prepositional phrase indicates what purpose or activity this παρουσία aligns with, i.e., “it is in accord with Satan’s work/efforts/activity.” The writers create a word-play between the verb καταργήσει and this phrase κατ’ ἐνέργειαν. Note also the interplay between the verbs καταργέω and ἐνεργέω. They mention σατανᾶ (1 Thess. 2:18), a genitive form, as if the audience recognizes him as a well-known figure. The declension of σατανάς follows a Doric Greek pattern (ᾱς, ᾱ, ᾳ, ᾱν; BDF, 31). Other names such as Βαραββᾶς, βαρναβᾶς, Ζηνᾶς follow a similar declension. The arrival of this lawless leader is accompanied by ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει (“with every kind of power/miracle”), σημείοις καὶ τέρασιν ψεύδους (“with signs and deceptive wonders”), and ἐν πάσῃ ἀπάτῃ ἀδικίας (“with every kind of unjust deception”) (Rev. 13:13 might indicate what these might include). The genitive singular noun ψεῦδος is probably an attributed genitive, characterizing τέρατα alone or both σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα. The writers use ἐν twice to indicate two separate kinds of actions. The first probably refers to supernatural actions and the second to supernatural messages. Peter uses this same cluster of extraordinary activities to describe Jesus’ actions in Acts 2:22. However, in this case the dative of reference τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις, a substantival, present participle, indicates that these displays by the lawless leader affect “those who are being destroyed.” The aspect of the present tense form suggests a continuing, incomplete activity. Satan is by definition “the deceiver” and this characterization of his agent fits his essential character.
2:10 A third relative clause gives the reason why such people are perishing. It is marked by the prepositional phrase ἀνθ’ ὧν (because), with the miracles, signs, wonders, and unrighteous deception being the antecedent. The writers place the object τὴν ἀγάπην τῆς ἀληθείας in the focal point of the clause. ἀληθείας is an objective genitive. This phrase only seems to occur here in the NT. The main verb is an aorist middle form ἐδέξαντο, indicating a past, completed action (cf. 1:8). What does the middle voice add to the meaning of the verb? It is modified by the negative adverb οὐκ. εἰς + an articulated infinitive indicates the consequences of their unresponsiveness to the truth. σωθῆναι is an aorist passive infinitive and contrasts with the previous τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις. The subject of the infinitive is αὐτούς and its antecedent is the subject of the main verb. The implied agent of the passive infinitive presumably is the Lord Jesus (cf. 1 Thess. 2:16).
11καὶ διὰ τοῦτο πέμπει αὐτοῖς ὁ θεὸς ἐνέργειαν πλάνης εἰς τὸ πιστεῦσαι αὐτοὺς τῷ ψεύδει, 12ἵνα κριθῶσιν πάντες οἱ μὴ πιστεύσαντες τῇ ἀληθείᾳ ἀλλ’ εὐδοκήσαντες τῇ ἀδικίᾳ.
2:11 The writers provide more explanation for the deception and unresponsiveness of these people to the gospel. καί could be conjunctive. What is the conjunction coordinating? It might have a resultative nuance, i.e., “and so.” Alternatively, perhaps it has an ascensive function here. διὰ τοῦτο is an adverbial prepositional phrase marking an explanation. The referent for τοῦτο probably is the content of v. 10. The present active indicative πέμπει describes a current action that ὁ θεός engages. αὐτοῖς is a dative of indirect object, referencing τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις and those who did not receive the truth. The direct object is the nominal phrase ἐνέργειαν πλάνης, with the genitive functioning adjectivally, i.e., “activity that leads astray.” Although Satan may be the intermediate agent through whom deception comes to unbelievers (vv. 9-10), the writers affirm that God’s purposes get accomplished because ultimately Satan’s work is embedded in God’s larger purposes (2 Cor. 4:4). When people reject the truth and fail to obey the gospel, then God acts in such ways that they become firmly entangled in falsehood. A second result construction, namely εἰς + articulated infinitive (εἰς τὸ πιστεῦσαι), defines the consequence. The aspect of the aorist active infinitive indicates a completed action, i.e., they put confidence in falsehood (dative object 2:2: ψεύδει). αὐτούς is the subject of the infinitive. Paul develops this idea more comprehensively in Romans 1:21-28 or 11:8.
2:12 The writers spell out the divine judgment in the result clause (v. 12) marked by ἵνα. The verb is the aorist passive subjunctive κριθῶσιν, with God as the implied agent. The aspect of the aorist subjunctive suggests an anticipated, completed action. The subject is the articulated substantival aorist active participle οἱ πιστεύσαντες, whose aspect indicates a completed action. The negative μή modifies the participle and the adjective πάντες has an inclusive sense. The participle is modified by a dative object τῇ ἀληθείᾳ. A second aorist active participle (εὐδοκήσαντες) is linked to the first by the contrasting particle ἀλλά. Further, the single article applies both participles to the same referent, i.e., “those perishing.” These people “give approval to/take pleasure in unrighteousness/unjust activity/wickedness.” This is the divine judgment that results from rejection of the gospel.
13Ἡμεῖς δὲ ὀφείλομεν εὐχαριστεῖν τῷ θεῷ πάντοτε περὶ ὑμῶν, ἀδελφοὶ ἠγαπημένοι ὑπὸ κυρίου, ὅτι εἵλατο ὑμᾶς ὁ θεὸς ἀπαρχὴν εἰς σωτηρίαν ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος καὶ πίστει ἀληθείας, 14εἰς ὃ [καὶ] ἐκάλεσεν ὑμᾶς διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου ἡμῶν εἰς περιποίησιν δόξης τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
2:13 The writers introduce a new topic with the postpositive particle δέ. They make the verb’s subject explicit with ἡμεῖς giving it prominence in the clause. For ὀφείλομεν + infinitive see the comments at 1:3. In that context the infinitive precedes the main verb and has the emphasis. Here the subject has the emphasis and indicates who has this obligation/responsibility to the deity. Responsibilities to God carry some priority in human decision-making and ethics. The last two elements modify the action expressed by the combined verb and infinitive, as in 1:3. The writers use the vocative ἀδελφοί (see 1:3). However, in this context it may, as Runge (118) argues, function as a forward-pointing device and “create a break in the discourse just before something surprising or important.” In this context the writers characterize it with an attributive perfect passive participle ἠγαπημένοι. A similar construction only occurs elsewhere in the NT in 1 Thess 1:4. In that context the agent is defined as ὑπὸ θεοῦ, whereas in 2 Thess 2:13 the agent is ὑπὸ κυρίου. The absence of the article raises the question whether the authors intended a reference to Yahweh or to Jesus. Apart from several instances where κύριος is anarthrous in conjunction with the prepositions ἀπό (1:2) and ἐν (1:1; 3:4, 12) and is modified by appositional Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, this is the only context in 2 Thess where κύριος is anarthrous and has no additional descriptors. The writers mention ὁ θεός in the clauses that precede and follow and the use of κύριος, if it refers to Yahweh, may be a stylistic variation or reflect intertextual influence from OT passages. Apart from the initial ὀφείλομεν God is the subject-agent of each verb in vv. 13-14.
This participial phrase occurs in OG Deut 33:12 (describing Benjamin). See also OG Isa 44:2 where Yahweh describes Israel as ὁ ἡγαπημένος, ὃν ἐξελεξάμην. In 2:16 the writers describe God as ὁ ἀγαπήσας ὑμᾶς.
The ὅτι clause is probably causal, explaining why thanks to God for these believers always is required. A normal word order, i.e., verb, object, subject occurs in the subordinate clause. εἵλατο is an aorist middle indicative form of αἱρέω (not to be confused with αἴρω), meaning in this context “choose.” It only occurs as a middle form in the NT (Phil 1:22; Heb 11:25), perhaps indicating the subject’s cognitive involvement in the action. In OG Deut 26:18 Moses declares to Israel κύριος εἵλατό σε σήμερον γενέσθαι σε αὐτῷ λαὸν περιούσιον (using terminology similar to OG Exod 19:5-6). The concept of “calling” (1:11) and “choosing” (2:13) are perhaps related and may indicate that the writers seek to assure non-Jewish believers of their place in God’s plans through Jesus Christ, their Saviour. This is also terminology related to the concept of covenant.
The verb takes a double object (ὑμᾶς…ἀπαρχήν) indicating what or whom (ὑμᾶς) is chosen and the purpose for which it is chosen (ἀπαρχήν “firstfruits”). This occurs primarily in the Pauline writings in the NT, but is found also in James 1:18 and Rev 14:4. It refers to the believers who first responded in the province of Asia in Rom 16:5 and similarly applies to the household of Stephanus who were among the first believers in Achaia (1 Cor 16:15). It communicates the same idea in James 1:18. However, a significant number of textual witnesses read απ αρχης, “from the beginning.” Given the usage in Romans and 1 Corinthians, ἀπαρχήν is probably original. If this is the case then it is another affirmation of the status of non-Jewish believers in the Thessalonian church. This noun may carry some sacrificial nuance.
The adverbial prepositional εἰς phrase explains why they are chosen as firstfruits. It is “for salvation.” The writers may include a past, present, and future perspective with the noun σωτηρίαν. They use the aorist passive infinitive σωθῆναι in 2:10, but these are the only occurrences of this terminology in 2 Thess (see 1 Thess 2:16). The compound adverbial ἐν phrase that follows probably indicates the means by which they possess salvation. The means include both a state produced by the action of a divine agent (ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος “by means of holiness generated by Spirit”) and the believers’ own response to the gospel (πίστει ἀληθείας “by means of confidence in truth”). See the participial phrase οἱ μὴ πιστεύσαντες τῇ ἀληθείᾳ that describes non-believers in 2:12. For ἁγιασμός see 1 Thess 4:7 (believers probably are τοῖς ἁγίοις in 2 Thess 1:10; see also 1 Thess 3:13; 4:8; 5:23). The genitive is a subjective genitive. Discerning whether πνεύματος here refers to the Holy Spirit or some aspect of a human being requires careful exegesis. In my view, the usage in 1 Thess 4 points in the direction of the Holy Spirit. In the case of the genitive ἀληθείας, I think it functions as an objective genitive.
2:14 The writers continue this complex sentence with a relative clause introduced by the phrase εἰς ὅ. The writers used this adverbial phrase in 1:11 with an explanatory nuance (see the commentary) and it probably has the same function in this context. The clause gives more explanation why God has chosen these people for salvation. The subject of the previous clause continues as the subject of ἐκάλεσεν. The aspect of the aorist tense indicates a completed action. Does the verb mean “called” or “invited”? If the καί is original, it has an ascensive function. Mss. A B D* 1881 b f vgmss read ημας as object and this is certainly possible, but NA28 regards ὑμᾶς as original. Presumably, the subjective genitive ἡμῶν (the good news that we communicated) tips the scales in favour of ὑμᾶς. δία + genitive describes means.
The phrase εἰς περιποίησιν could indicate metaphorical motion (invited into) or purpose. περιποίησις means “preservation or possession” (LSJ, 1384). It gains prominence in the LXX. Muraoka (GELS, 551) distinguishes between “the act of gaining possession” (Hag 2:9) and “that which is acquired” (Mal 3:17). The cognate verb περιποιοῦμαι means to preserve or procure for oneself and occurs three times in the NT (Lk. 17:33; Acts 20:28; 1 Tim 3:13). The writers used the cognate noun in 1 Thess 5:9 similarly to describe the procurement of salvation through Jesus Christ (see also Eph 1:14; Heb 10:39; 1 Pet 2:9 (an allusion to Ex 19:5)). In that context it seems that the believers now possess something. In other contexts it is God who “procures” something for himself (e.g., Eph 1:14; 1 Pet 2:9). In OG Isa 43:21 Yahweh describes Israel as λαόν μου ὃν περιεποιησάμην (“my people whom I acquired” (cf. Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:14). The verb is used together with σῳζω in terms of preserving life (OG Isa 31:5; 1 Macc 6:44). Philo uses the noun to describe the procurement of glory, joy, or virtue, often through divine actions. In the Thessalonians’ context what these believers obtain for themselves through responding to the gospel is δόξης, an objective genitive (what is procured). This is the glory that belongs to τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (see 1:9). ἡμῶν is a genitive of subordination.
This thanksgiving section may function somewhat as an inclusio with 1:3-4 and signals that the initial discussion or message the writers desire to communicate is now completed. The intervening comments encourage continued ὑπομονή (1:4) already displayed by these believers at some cost to themselves. The writers introduce a new topic in 2:15.
15Ἄρα οὖν, ἀδελφοί, στήκετε καὶ κρατεῖτε τὰς παραδόσεις ἃς ἐδιδάχθητε εἴτε διὰ λόγου εἴτε δι’ ἐπιστολῆς ἡμῶν. 16Αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ κύριος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς καὶ [ὁ] θεὸς ὁ πατὴρ ἡμῶν ὁ ἀγαπήσας ἡμᾶς καὶ δοὺς παράκλησιν αἰωνίαν καὶ ἐλπίδα ἀγαθὴν ἐν χάριτι, 17παρακαλέσαι ὑμῶν τὰς καρδίας καὶ στηρίξαι ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ καὶ λόγῳ ἀγαθῷ.
2:15 The collocation of particles ἄρα οὖν signals a conclusion based upon the argument recently made. It has frequent usage in the Pauline correspondence (e.g., Rom 5:8; 7:3; Gal 6:10; Eph 2:19; 1 Thess 5:6). The vocative ἀδελφοί marks a new instruction, accompanying the imperative verb forms. στήκετε…κρατεῖτε are present active imperatives whose aspect indicates incomplete activity. We might render them as “be established in and be holding forcefully….” στήκω is a by-form of ἵστημι and it occurs frequently in Pauline correspondence (e.g., Gal 5:1; 1 Thess 3:8; Phil 1:27), usually with the sense of retaining loyalty or commitment to specific truth or tradition. Here it is coupled with κρατέω, a verb that means “to hold firmly or forcefully” onto something (either accusative or genitive complement (as with most verbs of holding)). Their commitment pertains to τὰς παραδόσεις “things handed down, transmitted; tradition” (see the use in Matt 15:2; 1 Cor 11:2; Gal 2:8; 2 Thess 3:6). It is used in the Gospels to refer to Jewish legal instructions and in the letters of Paul to refer to the message of the gospel that he proclaims. In classical Greek sources, it describes the transmission of legends or teaching. It can describe the process of transmission or what is transmitted.
The writers employ a relative clause to define what παραδόσεις they are referencing. In both uses in 2 Thessalonians it describes the message of the gospel proclaimed by the writers. ἐδιδάχθητε is an aorist passive tense form whose aspect indicates a completed action. This verb often takes two accusatives and in the passive transformation one becomes subject and the other continues in the accusative case (ἅς). εἴτε…εἴτε is a correlative construction marking alternatives (either…or). In this case, the writers express the alternatives as adverbial prepositional phrases of means (διά + genitive), referring to oral proclamation or written expression in letter form. ἡμῶν is a subjective genitive and references the grouping authoring this letter.
2:16-17 The postpositive particle δέ indicates a shift to a new topic that includes vv. 16-17 and logically is related to the previous imperatives. The form of the subject reflects the wording in 1:1, 12, but in reverse order and with ἡμῶν repeated. The two main verbs παρακάλεσαι…στηρίξαι are 3rd person singular aorist active optative forms and they indicate that this is a prayer-wish, because optative tense forms often express a voluntative sense. The aspect of the aorist tense indicates a completed action, probably in this context viewed wholistically.
The singular verb form raises the question of how we should read the compound subject ὁ κύριος…καὶ [ὁ] θεός. If the second article is not original, then the single article modifying the compound nominal phrase that refers to two persons, may indicate that the writers are viewing the subject as a single entity in some fashion. This perspective may also be signaled by the initial, singular intensive pronoun αὐτός, and also the singular verb forms that follow. If this is the case, then the two attributive participles marked by the single article ὁ may also modify both of the persons included in the compound subject.
In this reading, the two persons included in the subject also are both equally and unitedly involved in ἀγαπήσας ἡμᾶς καὶ δούς. The use of ἀγαπήσας may echo the perfect passive participle ἠγαπημένοι used in 2:13. The participles are aorist active forms, indicating aspectually completed action. They govern two anarthrous objects, namely παράκλησιν…ἐλπίδα. The meaning of the first noun is reflected in the cognate verb παρακάλεσαι. This cognate construction occurs elsewhere in the Pauline corpus (e.g., 1 Cor 1:4). The noun can mean “encouragement,” exhortation,” or “comfort” and it is difficult to know which sense the writers intended in this context. See the usage in 1 Thess 2:3; Rom 12:8; 15:5; 2 Cor 1:3. The verb παρακαλέω recurs in 2 Thess 3:12, with the sense “exhort.” The verb occurs frequently in 1 Thessalonians. Wanamaker opts for the sense “eternal encouragement.” NRSV translates as “eternal comfort.” The adjective αἰωνίαν frames the reference to ἐλπίδα ἀγαθήν. Otzen (ZNW 49(1958):293-84) claims that in some Hellenistic writers the phrase ἐλπίδα ἀγαθήν refers to life after death, but I have not been able to verify the references to inscriptional evidence he cites. He also references potential use of this nominal phrase in material linked with the Eleusinian Mysteries and its rituals. The gifts of the deity come ἐν χάριτι “by means of grace/favor.”
The object τὰς καρδίας comes between two verbs and function as object for both (a form of brachylogy according to Smyth, Greek Grammar, 1973, 676 §3018h). ὑμῶν is a genitive of possession. καρδία means “inner person,” inclusive of mind, emotions, and will. στηρίζω is a causative verb form meaning “to cause to be inwardly firm or committed” (e.g., 1 Thess 3:2, 13; Rom 16:25; 1 Pet 5:10). The writers employ it twice in 2 Thess 2:17 and 3:3. Both verbs are modified by two adverbial prepositional phrases that define means (ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ καὶ λόγῳ ἀγαθῷ). This is the third in the series of anarthrous prepositional phrases in these two verses. Whose action and message is being referenced – the deity’s or some human agent? Note in v. 16 the nouns λόγου…ἐπιστολῆς are modified by ἡμῶν. παντί is inclusive and probably means “every kind of.” The adjective ἀγαθῷ defines both terms. Note how the actions of the deity correlate to the actions of the believers in a mutually supportive manner.