2 Thessalonians 2:6 MEANING

2 Thessalonians 2:6
(6) And now ye know.--Not "now, because of what I have just said," for nothing has yet been said in the Letter from which the Thessalonians could gather what withheld the premature manifestation of the Man of Sin. The word "now" is not used exactly in a temporal sense, but as introducing another item. "You remember about Antichrist and his characteristics: very good; and now, what keeps Antichrist back? You know that too." Knowing not only that Antichrist's apocalypse must precede Christ's, but also that Antichrist could not reveal himself yet, because the way was blocked by something still (as they saw) unremoved, the Thessalonians were absurd in acting as if the day of the Lord was come.

What withholdeth.--Rather, that which withholdeth: they did not merely know it as a dogma, but as a familiar object. "You are perfectly acquainted with the thing which acts as a check upon the Man of Sin." Unlike the Man of Sin himself, who was a dim figure in the mysterious future, the Obstacle was present and tangible. They may have forgotten what the thing is, but St. Paul stirs their memory by telling them that they well know the thing itself. It must needs be a marked and mighty power which can prevent the development of the great Antichrist. At the same time, St. Paul's doctrine is that this marked power is destined by-and-by to be removed (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Possibly, then, St. Paul may shrink from naming it in writing, not only because he wishes to exercise the Thessalonians' memories, but also for fear the power should discover and disapprove of his prophecies. For the question what the withholding power is, see the Excursus on the Interpretation of the Prophecy.

That he might . . . in his time.--Or, with a view to his being revealed at his proper moment. Not that the withholding power is conscious of such desire, but God's design is to use that power for the purpose.

Verse 6. - And now. The particle "now" has been variously interpreted. Some connect it with the restraining influence: "And ye know what now withholdeth;" but if so, there would have been a different arrangement of the words in the original Others consider it as a mere particle of transition: "Now, to pass over to another subject;" but there is no transition, the apostle continues his description of the man of sin. It is rather to be considered as a particle of time: "Now ye know, because you have been instructed on this point." Ye know; Paul having told them when he was at Thessalonica. What withholdeth; hindereth. The hindrance does not refer to the prevention of the apostle from speaking freely on this subject, lest he should involve himself in political difficulties; nor to any delay in the coming of Christ; but to a restraint upon the appearance of the man of sin: "Ye know what prevents his open manifestation." That he; namely, the man of sin. Might be revealed in his time; literally, in his season; in his proper time, the time appointed by God. Events were not yet ripe for his appearance. Just as there was a "fulness of time" when Christ should appear (Galatians 4:4), so there was a "fulness of time" when the man of sin should be revealed; there was a series of events going on which would culminate in his revelation. The nature of this restraining or withholding influence will afterwards be considered; whatever it was, the Thessalonians were formerly explicitly informed.

2:5-12 Something hindered or withheld the man of sin. It is supposed to be the power of the Roman empire, which the apostle did not mention more plainly at that time. Corruption of doctrine and worship came in by degrees, and the usurping of power was gradual; thus the mystery of iniquity prevailed. Superstition and idolatry were advanced by pretended devotion, and bigotry and persecution were promoted by pretended zeal for God and his glory. This mystery of iniquity was even then begun; while the apostles were yet living, persons pretended zeal for Christ, but really opposed him. The fall or ruin of the antichristian state is declared. The pure word of God, with the Spirit of God, will discover this mystery of iniquity, and in due time it shall be destroyed by the brightness of Christ's coming. Signs and wonders, visions and miracles, are pretended; but they are false signs to support false doctrines; and lying wonders, or only pretended miracles, to cheat the people; and the diabolical deceits with which the antichristian state has been supported, are notorious. The persons are described, who are his willing subjects. Their sin is this; They did not love the truth, and therefore did not believe it; and they were pleased with false notions. God leaves them to themselves, then sin will follow of course, and spiritual judgments here, and eternal punishments hereafter. These prophecies have, in a great measure, come to pass, and confirm the truth of the Scriptures. This passage exactly agrees with the system of popery, as it prevails in the Romish church, and under the Romish popes. But though the son of perdition has been revealed, though he has opposed and exalted himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; and has spoken and acted as if he were a god upon earth, and has proclaimed his insolent pride, and supported his delusions, by lying miracles and all kinds of frauds; still the Lord has not yet fully destroyed him with the brightness of his coming; that and other prophecies remain to be fulfilled before the end shall come.And now ye know what withholdeth,.... Or hinders the revelation of the man of sin, or antichrist; by which is meant not the Apostle Paul, though he by his ministry was a very great hinderance of the growth of error, and the spread of evil practices in the churches, and so of the more open appearance of the man of sin in his forerunners; and after his departure from Ephesus, and imprisonment at Rome, and suffering death, there was a great falling off in the churches, and among professors of religion, which made way for the manifestation of antichrist in due time: nor the preaching of the Gospel, in its power and purity, in the several parts of the world; though so long as this obtained, got ground, and gained success, the man of sin could not show his head; and therefore it must, as it did, decline, and was gradually taken away that he might appear: nor the Spirit of God, as the spirit of truth and holiness, though as long as he continued in his gifts and operations of grace in the churches, they were preserved from antichristian doctrine and worship; but when he removed from them, this enemy and adversary of Christ and his Gospel came in like a flood: nor the general defection in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 though that was to be previous to the revelation of antichrist, and was to be what would usher him in; nor could he appear until the wickedness of men was come to a pitch, that they would be ready to receive him, and pay homage and worship to him: nor is the decree of God meant, though till the time came fixed by God for his appearance, the decree must be a bar in his way; since as there is a time for every purpose, nothing can come to pass till that time comes: but by that which withheld, let or hindered the open appearance of antichrist, were the Roman empire and emperors; these stood in his way, and while this empire lasted, and the emperors wore the imperial crown, and sat on the throne, and held the government in their hands, the popes could not come at the height of their ambition, dignity, and authority, nor shine in their glory; nor could the whore of Babylon take her seat, and sit upon the seven hills of Rome until the Roman emperor was taken out of the way: this therefore hindered,

that he might be revealed in his time. The Ethiopic version renders it, "until his time appointed came": wherefore till the time that God had fixed for the appearance of this monster of iniquity, this son of perdition, the Roman empire must continue, and Roman emperors must keep their place and dignity to prevent his appearance sooner: the reason why the apostle expresses this not in plain words, but in an obscure manner, and with so much caution, was, that he might not offend the Roman emperors, and provoke them to a severe persecution of them as seditious persons, that sought the destruction of the empire: the word here used, which is rendered "withholdeth", or "letteth", as in the next verse, signifies a ruler or governor, and answers to the Hebrew word "to keep back, or restrain"; and which is used of kings, who by their laws and government restrain and withhold people from doing what they would; see 1 Samuel 9:17 to which the apostle, who well understood the Hebrew language, doubtless had reference; so , is rendered, "a magistrate", in Judges 18:7.

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