Advent 2020: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

During the season of Advent, I am translating from Greek to English the weekday epistle readings out of the Daily Lectionary of the Book of Common Prayer.

Thursday, 10 December 2020 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Chapter Two

1. Now, brothers and sisters, we ask you, as it pertains the coming of our Lord Jesus Messiah and our gathering together around him

2. to not be hastily agitated in your mind nor be disturbed in your spirit about the Day of the Lord, especially not by any word or letter passed off as if it were from us.

3. Let no one deceive you. In no way will it come except the apostasy comes first. Then the man of lawlessness, the very son of perdition, shall be revealed,

4. the adversary, the one exalting himself over everything called or worshipped as god, so much so as to sit himself in the Temple of God claiming that he is god.

5. Do you not remember I kept telling you these things while I was with you?

6. Now you know what is restraining the one to be revealed until his own time. 

7. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, until the only one restraining him is out of the way. 

8. When the lawless one is revealed, the Lord will kill him by the breath of his mouth and annihilate him in the manifestation of his coming. 

9. Him who is by his actions, power, and marvelous lies the coming of the Satan.

10. Every deception and wickedness of those being destroyed is for those who did not welcome the love and truth that would save them.

11. Because of this, God sends them an effective error so that they will believe a lie.

12. Such that everyone who doesn’t believe the truth and who takes pleasure in wickedness shall be judged.


Four things stand out in this tight section of amazing prophecy.

First, we are told to not be agitated by any kind of discussion regarding the end of all things. If only the people of God would listen to the Bible on this issue, for our history seems to be one of constant agitation about these things. Paul gives us the amazing stuff, but he couches it with the encouragement we need to just go on with our peaceful lives and not be bothered by it. These are things Jesus will take care of and he doesn’t need our help.

Second, the break in the levy is not the coming of the evil one, the antichrist, but instead it is the apostasy that seems to give him oxygen to operate. Not to be too wound up, but we live in a age of apostasy — ever increasing apostasy. People are walking away from the belief systems of the historic faith in favor of selfishness, sensuality, or down-right occultic practices. I am not saying the antichrist is imminent, but I am saying the cultural soup we live in is the perfect environment for one such as him to thrive.

Third, Jesus will kill this man of lawlessness, this son of perdition, the denizen of destruction. He will kill him with the breath of his mouth. That reminds me of Jesus saying, “I am” in John 18 and the guards falling down. It also reminds me of the image of Jesus with the word coming out of his mouth as a sword in Revelation 19. Jesus needs no army to accomplish is goals and to set things right.

Fourth, God is the one who will send a lie to the people who rejected him. I translate this as ‘effective error.’ The ESV talks about a ‘strong delusion.’ Either way, the Lord himself will bait the trap and then spring it. If you are concerned about this apparent duplicity in the Lord’s behavior, don’t be. This seems something closer akin in my mind to the decision the Lord made in Romans 1 where he let people who chased after idols and lies have their way and so he, ‘gave them up’ to their own desires. If people want to follow a lie, then he will let them follow it right one the cliff.

Questions For Application

  1. Are you agitated about world events? How can faith help you?
  2. Apostasy is all around us. Who do you know that has walked away from the faith? Assuming they are gone, what can you do to help others not make the same awful mistake?
  3. God’s word is a sword — cutting and piercing. How might this idea of Jesus cutting down the antichrist be about the proper application of the scriptures?
  4. How can you sharpen your skills to detective errors in the way people think and live, and also keep them from infecting your heart and mind?


The second week of Advent finishes what was started in week one and then adds all of 2 Thessalonians.  There is no significant change in voice, as Paul uses the same vocabulary and continues the same basic voice as he emotionally exhorts this beloved congregation.  There are a couple of things, though, worth noting before you begin reading my translation.

First, and this is a bit of personal pastoral theology here, but for Paul, in 1 Thessalonians, tradition is a positive thing, not a bad thing.  The way he uses the word, “paradosis” it can almost mean ‘body of teaching’ but I have kept with the word tradition in my rendering.  When he uses the word paradosis in other places it tends to mean ‘ritual actions’ and as such it is almost always negative.

Second, please note that the verb “to walk” continues to be used extensively as euphemism for live.  It does not translate as well in 2 Thessalonians, but I have tried ot make it fit anyway because I still like the ‘spiritual journey’ metaphor for our lives.  (C/f 2 Thessalonaisn 3:6 for how the awkward fit.

Third, I find myself in a bit of disagreement with most English renderings of the confrontation between the Lord Jesus and the “person of wickedness” in 2 Thessalonians 2:8.  Most English renderings want to make the splendor in the text be about Jesus and somehow they make Jesus defeating the person of wickedness with his splendor.  However, the way I read the text, with the adjoining mentions of false signs and wonders, is that the Lord will “annihilate” the “false splendor” or the anti-christ figure.  I have included a note to denote this.

Okay, besides, that enjoy!  Remember, I’ve broken it down so that you can read the sections as your daily devotions, just like in the Advent lectionary from the Book of Common Prayer.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

1. Brothers and sisters, you do not have a need for us to write about the times and the crucial moments

2. for you yourselves know perfectly well that the Lord’s day will come as a thief in the night.

3. When they will say, “Peace” and, “Safety” then suddenly destruction itself comes upon them, like birth pangs do to a pregnant woman. They will not escape.

4. But brothers and sisters do not be in the dark and let that day seize you like a thief would.

5. For you all are children of light and children of the day, we are neither of night nor darkness.

6. So we should not sleep as all the rest but we should be alert and sober.

7. The ones who go to sleep at night sleep and the ones who drink at night get drunk

8. but we who are of the day should be sober, wearing a breastplate of faith and love and a helmet for hope of salvation.

9. Because God did not appoint you for wrath but he obtained salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

10. the one who died for us so that we might live with him together, whether we keep alert or whether we have fallen asleep.

11. Encourage one another and strengthen each other, just as you do.


1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

12. Brothers and sisters, now we ask you to value those who labor and lead among you as they advise you in the Lord.

13. And to have a high regard of them in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.

14. We encourage you brothers and sisters to warn those who are undisciplined, cheer the sorrowful, stand by the weak, and show patience for everyone.

15. Make certain you do not repay anyone bad for bad but always pursue good for one another and for everyone.

16. Rejoice always.

17. Pray constantly.

18. Give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

19. Do not hinder the Spirit.

20. Do not despise prophecies.

21. Test everything and hold onto the good things.

22. Avoid all types of sexual immorality.

23. May the God of peace himself make you completely holy—perfected and called—faultlessly kept in your spirit, soul, and body until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

24. The one calling you is faithful and he will do it.

25. Brothers and sisters, pray for us.

26. Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss.

27. I insist by the Lord that you read this letter to all the brothers and sisters.

28. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.


2 Thessalonians 1:1-12

1. Paul, Silas and Timothy to the Thessalonian church in God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ.

2. Grace and peace to you from Father God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

3. It is proper that we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, because your faith flourished and the love each one of you has for everyone and one another increases.

4. We ourselves take pride in you, the church of God, because of your patience and faith in all the persecution and distress you endure.

5. It is evidence of God’s righteous judgment that your suffering makes you worthy of the kingdom of God.

6. Yes, indeed, it is just for God to repay those who afflict you with affliction

7. and bring relief to those suffering affliction with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven with his powerful angels

8. in flames of fire, giving our punishment to those not having known God and those not obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

9. For those it is just that they pay with eternal doom, away from the presence of the Lord and away from the glory of his strength.

10. On that day, when he comes, he will have his glory acknowledged among his holy ones and be marveled at by all those believing, those who trusted in our testimony to you.

11. We always pray this for you, that our God would make you worthy of the call and fulfill all good intentions and the work of faith in power

12. so that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ might be glorified among you and you be glorified in him, according to the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.


2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

1. Now, about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together with him, we ask you brothers and sisters

2. to not be easily shaken or disturbed in your mind, not by a spirit nor by a word and certainly not by a letter claiming to be from us saying that the Day of the Lord has come.

3. Do not let anyone deceive in you in anyway. It is not until the apostasy comes first, then the revelation of the man of wickedness–the son of destruction–

4. the one lying and exalting himself over everyone saying, “Worship me as a God,” and then who sits down in God’s temple claiming that he himself is God.

5. Do you not remember how I kept telling these things to you when I was with you?

6. You know who is retraining him until it is time for him to be revealed

7. for the wicked man’s activities are a secret until the one restraining him is off the scene.

8. Then the man of wickedness will be revealed and the Lord Jesus will kill him with the breath of his mouth and annihilate his splendor [trans. Note—the splendor is that of the wicked man, not Jesus—this is a departure from most English translations, but I think it is the correct one.]

9. which Satan worked at his coming with all kinds of false power, signs, and wonders.

10. And so in evil deception those who are perishing did not love the truth nor accept it to save them.

11. So God sends them an enticing lie to believe.

12. So that they will all be judged for not believing the truth but enjoying evil.


2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5

13. We ourselves ought to give thanks always to God for you, brothers and sisters, loved by the Lord, because he chose you as the first fruits for salvation in holiness of the spirit and a belief in the truth.

14. For which he called you by our gospel, and so obtaining the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

15. Therefore, brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep the traditions you were taught, whether by our words or by our letter.

16. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our father, who loved us and gave us eternal encouragement and good hope in grace

17. encourage your hearts and strengthen every good work and word.

3:1. Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us, that the word of the Lord might grow and might be honored like it did with you

2. and so that we might be delivered from perverse and evil people, for not everyone has faith.

3. But the Lord is faithful. He will strengthen and guard you from evil people.

4. We are confident about you in the Lord, that you do and will do the things we commanded you.

5. Now may the Lord direct your hearts in the love of God and in the patience of Christ.


2 Thessalonians 3:6-18

6. We command you brothers and sisters, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to avoid every brother or sister walking worthlessly and not according of the tradition they received from us.

7. For you yourselves know how important it is for you to mimic us. We were not “worthless” among you.

8. Neither did we eat free bread from anyone. Instead, we worked in labor and toil night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you.

9. Not because we were lacking authority but because we gave ourselves as an example for you to mimic.

10. For this very reason we commanded you when we were with you that if anyone does not want to work neither let him eat.

11. For we hear some walking among you are worthless, people not working but who work at nothing.

12. We command and encourage people like this, in the Lord Jesus Christ, work quietly and eat your own bread!

13. Brothers and sisters, do not let yourselves become weary by doing what is right.

14. Now pay attention to anyone who does not obey our word in this letter and do not associate with them for they are worthless.

15. Do not, though, regard them as enemies, but advise them as you would brothers and sisters.

16. May now the Lord of peace himself give you peace, in every way to all of you.

17. I, Paul, write in this way. It is my own signature as in all my letters.

18. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.