2 Thessalonians 2:5
Remember you not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
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(5) Remember ye not.—A rebuke of the same character as Romans 6:3; 1Corinthians 6:19, and, like those, levelled at ignorance of what in apostolic days were thought the six fundamental points of Christian teaching (Hebrews 5:12; Hebrews 6:1-2). The doctrine of Antichrist would naturally form part of the course on resurrection and judgment. This explains how the doctrine was enforced (1) so early in the education of the Christian churches: “while I was yet with you” (see Introduction to the First Epistle to Thessalonians); and (2) so emphatically and repeatedly:” my habit was to tell you these things”—for the word translated “told” is in the imperfect tense, which means more than a single action. Notice that in St. Paul’s eager personal recollection, of thus teaching, he for once (and nowhere else) forgets Silas and Timothy: not “we,” but “I.” Imagine a forger who should forge with such subtlety! Mark also how erroneous is the opinion that St. Paul in this Epistle recedes from his former teaching about the Advent and its date.

2 Thessalonians 2:5-6. Remember ye not, &c. — These things were not asserted now merely to serve the present occasion: the apostle had spoken, yea, and borne a faithful testimony concerning them while he was at Thessalonica. Indeed, the rise and progress of this apostacy, with the various heresies connected with it, and the evils which were about to be occasioned by it, were matters of such offence and scandal, that unless the disciples had been forewarned concerning them, their happening might have led the weak to fancy that God had cast away all care of his church. The apostle, knowing this, made the prediction of these events the subject even of his first sermons to the Thessalonians, after they had embraced the gospel; and doubtless he followed the same course in all other places where he preached with any degree of success. See 1 Timothy 4:6. Beza observes that this prophecy was often repeated and earnestly inculcated in the first age, but is overlooked and neglected in modern times. And now ye know — By what I told you when I was with you; what with-holdeth — Restraineth the man of sin from exercising his impious tyranny. It seems the apostle, when at Thessalonica, besides speaking of the apostacy and of the man of sin, had told them what it was that hindered his appearance. But as he has not thought fit to commit that discovery to writing, we cannot determine with absolute certainty what it was; but if we may rely upon the concurrent testimonies of the Christian fathers, it was the Roman empire. Indeed, the caution which the apostle observes with respect to speaking of it, renders it highly probable that it was somewhat relating to the higher powers. He mentioned it in discourse, but would not commit it to writing. As he afterward exhorts the Thessalonians to hold the traditions which had been taught them, whether by word or his epistle, it is likely this was one of the traditions which he thought it proper to teach them. The apostle’s manner of speaking here, (that he might be revealed in his time, or in his own season, as εν τω εαυτου καιρω properly signifies,) seems to imply that there were reasons for permitting the corruptions of Christianity to proceed to a certain length. “Now what could these reasons be, unless to show mankind the danger of admitting any thing in religion but what is of divine appointment? For one error productive of superstition admitted, naturally leads to others, till at length religion is utterly deformed. Perhaps also these evils were permitted, that in the natural course of human affairs, Christianity being first corrupted and then purged, the truth might be so clearly established, as to be in no danger of any corruption in time to come.” — Macknight.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.Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? - The whole subject of the second coming of the Saviour seems to have constituted an important part of the instructions of Paul when at Thessalonica. He now refers them to what he had told them respecting the great apostasy, to show that his views had not changed, and that he did not mean to have them understand that the world would soon come to an end. He had stated these things to them implying that a considerable interval must elapse before the Saviour would appear. Much of the obscurity of this prophecy arises from the fact, that the apostle alludes to things which he had told them when with them, of which we have now no knowledge. Hence, what would be perfectly clear to them, on reading this letter, is now difficult to be understood. 5. Remember, &c.—confuting those who represent Paul as having labored under error as to Christ's immediate coming when writing his first Epistle, and as now correcting that error.

I told you—more than once, literally, "I was telling," or "used to tell."

The apostle tacitly upbraids them for their forgetfulness. To forget the things that have been taught us, is a great evil: Solomon often cautions against it, Proverbs 3:1 4:5; and it is often reproved, Hebrews 12:5 Jam 1:24; and the contrary required, Malachi 4:4 John 16:4 Judges 1:17 Revelation 3:3. David hid the word in his heart, Psalm 119:11, and the virgin Mary kept the angel’s sayings, Luke 2:19. The apostles did take care to tell the churches of the apostacy that would come, and of false prophets and teachers that would arise, as Paul the elders of Ephesus, Acts 20:29,30, and Peter, 2 Peter 2:1, and St. John of the coming of antichrist, 1Jo 2:18; and more fully, though obscurely, in the book of the Revelation; and the apostle here in this verse minds these Thessalonians that he told them of the coming of the man of sin before the coming of Christ, so that they should not have been shaken in their minds about Christ’s coming in that present age. And they told the churches of these things, that they might not be surprised by them, or offended at them, when they came. Remember ye not, that when I was yet with you,.... At Thessalonica, for the apostle had been there in person, and had preached there with great boldness and success; he had declared the whole counsel of God, and the Gospel came in power and worked effectually in them, and yet there was too great a forgetfulness of it; with which the apostle tacitly charges them, and rebukes them gently for it; and as a faithful monitor, stirs up their pure minds by way of remembrance, and reminds them of former truths delivered to them:

I told you these things: or "words" as the Arabic version; concerning the coming of Christ as that it would not be yet, that there, must be a defection from the faith, and antichrist must be revealed; which shows that these were things of moment and importance, and were useful and profitable to be insisted on; and therefore the apostle had told them of them, and spoke freely and largely about them, at his first preaching among them, and were what he inculcated everywhere; and also that his doctrine was all of a piece at one time as another; it was not yea and nay, or contradictory; what he now said was no other than what he had said before; and therefore it was the more inexcusable in them, to be shaken or troubled by any means with another doctrine.

{5} Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

(5) This prophecy was continually declared to the ancient Church, but it was neglected by those that followed.

2 Thessalonians 2:5. Estius: “Est … tacita objurgatio, quasi dicat: quum haec vobis praesens dixerim, non debebatis commoveri rumoribus aliquorum dicentium instare diem domini.”

On πρὸς ὑμᾶς] see on 1 Thessalonians 3:4.

ταῦτα] namely, the contents of 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4. To assume, however, a parenthesis from 2 Thessalonians 2:5 to οἴδατε in 2 Thessalonians 2:6 (so Heinsius) is arbitrary.2 Thessalonians 2:5. It was no after-thought, on Paul’s part (the singular rules out Spitta’s idea that Timothy wrote this apocalyptic piece). Nor was it an idiosyncrasy of his teaching. Especially since the days of Antiochus Epiphanes (Daniel 7, 11; cf. Gunkel’s Schöpfung u. Chaos, 221 f.), a more or less esoteric and varied Jewish tradition had pervaded pious circles, that the last days would be heralded by a proud uprising against God. The champion of this movement was no longer the Dragon or cosmic opponent of God, as in the older mythology (though traces of this belief still linger), but an individual (ὁ ἄνομος) who incorporates human wickedness (τὸ μυστήριον τῆς ἀνομίας) and infernal cunning in his own person, and who essays to supplant and suppress the worship of the true God, by claiming divine honours for himself. He is Satan’s messiah, an infernal caricature of the true messiah. Cf. Asc. Isa., iv. 6, where it is said that Belial “will do and speak like the Beloved and he will say, I am God and before me there has been none”.5. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?] More precisely, I used to tell you; comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:4, for the tense.

This reminder serves two purposes:—(1) It is a gentle reproof to the readers, who ought not to have been so easily unsettled by the alarmists, after what the Apostle had told them, (2) It obviates the necessity of explanation by letter. Any more explicit statement would probably have raised political suspicion, exposing the Apostle to a renewal of the charges which led to his expulsion from Thessalonica (see Acts 17:6-7; Introd. pp. 15, 20, 21). St Paul had watchful enemies, who would be quick to seize on anything that might compromise him with the Roman Government.2 Thessalonians 2:5. Οὐ μνημονεύετε; do ye not remember?) The apostle intimates, that he neither contradicts himself, nor helps out his former statement by some sort of new declaration, as men under the influence of a fond imagination (conjecturers) are wont to do after being the cause of offence: that he had not said, the day of the Lord was near in such a sense, as that other important great events would not occur in the meantime.—ἔτι, yet) The Antithesis is νῦν, now, 2 Thessalonians 2:6.—προς ὑμᾶς, with you) In the present day Judaism greatly prevails at Thessalonica, and at the proper time the opportunity will be given of observing whether the Iniquitous one [‘Wicked’] is to have a great party, especially in that city. Some even of the tribes [φυλῶν; not as Engl. Vers. kindreds] of Israel, before the death and resurrection of the two witnesses, will stand by the beast, Revelation 11:9, and after the ascension of the witnesses into heaven, and the earthquake, will repent. In my opinion, it may happen, that a concealed Jew may become Pope; comp. Thes. 16., on 2 Thessalonians 2:3 above. I do not assert this positively.—ἔλεγον ὑμῖν, I told you) So, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, ye have been taught.Verse 5. - Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? These words contain a reproach. Had the Thessalonians remembered the instructions of the apostle, they would not have been so soon shaken from their sober reason or troubled. The apostle, when he was in Thessalonica, had told them of these things; he had instructed them concerning the nature of the apostasy and the coming of the man of sin; so that, as already observed, this description, so obscure to us, was not obscure to the Thessalonians, - they possessed the key to its interpretation.
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