Growth and Fall
The former chapter was spent in a consolation against troubles, this in a caution against error, or to rectify their judgments concerning the time of Christ’s second coming.
We come now to the matter of the apostle’s caution, which is in the second verse: ‘That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.’
In these words we have these two things:—1. A caution against the error set afoot at that time concerning Christ’s sudden coming to judgment. 2. The confutation of it.
In this matter of Antichrist we have made this progress:—First, That he arose upon and by a falling away from, the ancient pure state of Christianity. Secondly, That the Holy Ghost points him out by his names and titles, which are two:—‘the man of sin,’ wherein he is resembled to Antiochus; and ‘the son of perdition,’ wherein he is resembled to Judas.
In these words is:—First, A digression, calling them to remembrance of what he delivered by word of mouth, Secondly, A progress in the further description of Antichrist.
These words contain both the rise and ruin of Antichrist, his revelation and destruction.
We have considered the titles of Antichrist, his nature and properties, the time of his rise, and with it his ruin; now we are to consider the way and means how he doth acquire and keep up this power in the world.
We have described unto you the head of the antichristian state; we come now to the subjects, especially the zealous abettors and promoters of this kingdom.
We have considered the sin of those seduced by Antichrist; now the judgment. It is twofold:—(1.) Delusion in this world, ver. 11; (2.) Damnation in the next, ver. 12.
Their punishment in the other world. Where—(1.) The terribleness of it; (2.) The righteousness and justice of it.
He had spoken of God’s direful judgment, of sending strong delusion on them that had no love to the pure truth, but sinned against light, and had pleasure in the false worship and superstitions countenanced by the world. Now, lest the Thessalonians should be troubled at this sad prediction, he showeth what cause he had to bless God in their behalf.
After the doctrine of Antichrist, and God’s dreadful spiritual judgments on his abettors and followers, the apostle interposeth some matter of consolation to the Thessalonians; as before he comforted them from their election, so now from their vocation.
The apostle, after he had comforted the Thessalonians, he exhorteth them to constancy in the truth, whatever temptations they had to the contrary.
The apostle—1. Giveth thanks for their election and vocation, vers. 13, 14. 2. Exhorteth them to stick fast to the truths delivered by epistles, or word of mouth, ver. 15. 3. Prayeth for them, in the words now read. So that is the third means of confirming their faith in the truth of the gospel; prayer to God for them.
We come now to the second branch, the ground of audience and success in prayer: ‘Which hath loved us, and given us everlasting consolation, and good hope through grace.’
We now come to the third ground of audience and acceptance. He hath given us ‘good hope through grace.’ This showeth how we entertain the everlasting consolation offered in the gospel—with good hope, and this wrought in us by God.
We come now, thirdly, to the prayer itself. He asketh two benefits:—1. Comfort. 2. Establishment.
We come now to the apostle’s second request for them: ‘And stablish you in every good word and work.’ By ‘every good word’ is meant sound doctrine; by ‘every good work,’ holiness of life.