2 Thessalonians 1:9-12

Taken from The Bible Treasury Number 318 - November 1882


2 Thessalonians 1:9-12

We have had the objects of the Lord's dealing at His revelation from heaven; and they are clearly His enemies, in no way or degree His friends. It is His judgment of all the earth, who cannot fail to do right. This is made yet more apparent by the solemn description which follows:—"Who (οἵτινες, men of the class which) shall pay as penalty everlasting destruction from [the] presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints and to be admired in all that believed) in that day. Whereunto we also pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of the calling and fulfill} every good pleasure of goodness and work of faith with power; so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and [the] Lord Jesus Christ."'(Ver. 9-12).

Present tribulation then though persecutors differs essentially from the trouble of that day which shall fall not on saints but on those that hate and injure them. In that day their persecutors shall pay the penalty of everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power. Like Matt. xxv. 31-46, it is not the great white throne judgment of the wicked dead; it is the judgment of the quick; yet is it final. Their perdition is irretrievable, everlasting from His presence and from the glory of His power; the wicked here (like apostates in Israel, Dan. xii. 2) are abandoned to shame and everlasting contempt.

On the other hand, the Lord shall have come at that time to be glorified in His saints and to be wondered at in all those that believed. Blessed prospect "in that day," and comforting in this day for the Thessalonians to hear themselves included, among those to be thus a marvel to His praise; for this appears to be the gracious motive of the parenthesis, "because our testimony unto you was believed." The saints in Thessalonica might have erred as to the dead, and been misled as to the living; yet the apostle quietly confirms their souls by the intimation that the divine testimony borne by himself and others had not been in vain, but had really taken effect upon them.

The careful reader will observe that the Lord is net said in that day to come for the saints and receive them to Himself, and present them in the Father's house, as in John xiv. Here He will have come to be glorified in them, and to be marvelled at in all those that believed. It is an evidently different and subsequent part of His advent: not the hidden scene, so near to the Lord's desire, that where He is, they also may be with Him, that they may behold His glory which the Father had given Him, but the outer display, Christ in them and the Father in Him, when they are in glory thus perfected in one, as we see in: Rev. xxi. 23, 24, and the world will know thereby that the Father sent the Son and loved the saints, a gearing with Him in glory, even as He loved Him. Compare John xvii. The translation of His saints to heaven is one thing; quite another and subsequent is their appearing with Him in judgment.

Further, it is interesting to notice the accuracy of the preterite, " believed," instead of the " believe " of the Received Text, in verse 10. The former is not only the reading in the Complutensian edition, but that of all the uncials, almost, all cursives, and the ancient versions and Fathers, unless a Latin copy or two. Erasmus seems to have misled Stephens, Beza, and others, and se our Authorised translators. No doubt the present is much the most frequent; but when the aorist occurs, there is always a special propriety as here. For the glorious display, which is predicated of the saints, refers with this reading expressly to the past believers. The importance of this becomes the more impressive on our learning that the great harvest of blessing for man on earth follows, He and, the glorified reigning over the world, when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah (and of His glory, Hab. ii. 14) as the waters cover the sea, Isa. xi. 9. In that day it will be no longer a question of .faith as now; and hence the monstrous error of the Peschito (not the Philoxeman) Syriac, &c., which connect the believing' of vur testimony with that day, and thus make it future, in flat contradiction of the. Scripture before them: Whatever may be the dealings of grace in that day, the apostle carefully restricts the faith and the glorious reward here described to a reception of the testimony before the display of glory and of righteous judgment arrives.

Thus was the way gradually made plain for the more complete and decisive correction of the error which had been foisted in at Thessalonica. The true nature of God's intervention has been cleared. That day will be characterised by the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of His power in flaming fire. This it would be hard for the most resolute spiritualiser to apply to any such providential events as were then in progress, of which the enemy was taking advantage to mislead the saints. Nor had men gone so far in those early days as in later, when Macknight could say that, when the apostles wrote, there were, four comings of Christ to happen—three of them figurative, but the fourth a real and personal appearing; that these different comings are frequently spoken of in Scripture; and that, although the coming of Christ to destroy Jerusalem (!), and to establish His everlasting kingdom, be represented by His apostles as then at hand, no passage from their writings can be produced in which His personal appearance to judge the world is said or even insinuated to be at hand! The truth is .that it is one and the same appearing of the Lord which shall overthrow the last head of Gentile power, destroy the man of sin, and display the saints in glory, as He will judge the world iii' righteousness in that day also. Nothing can be farther from the truth than that the Spirit does not speak of one and the same day, which is invariably declared to be at hand, not at a great distance. Moreover, the presence of the Lord to gather His own to be with Him on high is not distinct from the various aspects of His appearing we have just enumerated, but is necessarily anterior to them, for they follow Him out of heaven for that day and appear with Him in glory, instead of being just then caught up to meet Him. His coming for the saints is sovereign grace completing its work for us; His revelation from heaven, when rendering vengeance to His enemies and glorified in His saints, is righteous and retributive government in that day.

Now the apostle lets the saints know his prayer for them, of course in view of their existing circumstances and need. "Whereunto we also pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of the calling, and fulfill every good pleasure of goodness and work of faith in power, se that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." Re had already, while introducing the preliminary topic of their persecutions, sought to lift up their hearts by speaking of their endurance and faith in ell such troubles. It was a manifest token of God's righteous judgment to the end of their being counted worthy of His kingdom, for which they too suffered, as the apostle might well remind them, instead of their tribulation being an indication that God's judgments were let loose upon them. So now he also prays always for them that God would count them worthy of the calling. Elsewhere we hear of "His" calling, and of "your" calling, and again of "the calling wherewith ye are called." Here it seems better to leave "the" in its own generality than to restrict it simply to "your." The next clause is that He would bring to competition every good pleasure of goodness and work of faith in power. Certainly this could not be, if they were driven from their steadfastness by listening to the delusion of false teachers. Confidence in the Master's grace produces faithful service, and loves to own that, whatever purpose of goodness may be, whatever work of faith, it is only God that fulfils each and all in power; "so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." As He is not here in fact, nor yet reigning over the universe, the name of our Lord, the revelation of Himself, is given us that it may in the rower of the Spirit be glorified in us, as we serve the true God and await His Son from heaven. It is a question of keeping His word and not denying His name, whatever the difficulty or discouragements.

But the apostle adds, "and ye in Him," for his eye was ever on the bright day, and he would have theirs drawn from their troubles and every possible misconstruction of them to that manifestation of the glory of His might and righteousness. For as surely as His name is glorified in the saints now, still more fully, yea absolutely, in that day shall they be glorified in Him, as He is in them (ver. 10). It is no mere iteration of the previous intimation of the apostle, but fresh thoughts completing all, such as only the inspiring Spirit could furnish. To say "in it" for "in Him," would be havoc with the truth in general, as well as the context; yet it has been said, doubtless through rage for novelty and lack of appreciating the truth. May we be kept walking surely in the truth according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ, even as the apostle prayed for his dear Thessalonians. An admirable introduction, before directly touching the error by which they had been drawn aside from the freshness of hope into agitation and fear, the result of a misjudgment of the deep trials that were pressing on them.

It is needless to discuss here at length the true bearing of the last clause, which some, out of zeal for the divine glory of our Lord, would have to designate His person only. "of our God and Lord Jesus Christ." ]3ιιt, though this is grammatically a quite possible construction, as it is dogmatically also true in itself, contextual suitability is another matter. That one article in the singular may in Greek designate even distinct persons, if the object be to express their union in a common category (as here in "grace"), ought to be known not only to scholars in general, but familiarly to all students of the later body of revelation in its original tongue. Supposing God the Father to be here meant, as well as the Lord Jesus Christ, the insertion of the Greek article was not at all required, though we need "the" before Lord Jesus Christ. On the contrary, its insertion in Greek would have been an intrusive error, if both were expressly to be united in a common object; for the repeated article would have had for its effect to present the persons as separate agents rather than as joined. And the nature of the case as well as the clearly revealed truth of Scripture shows abundantly that the joint agency of these blessed persons could not be, save in that which lies behind all,—the unity of the divine nature.