The Events that Must Precede Christ’s Return
As mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:5, Paul gave the Thessalonians a detailed explanation of the events that must precede Christ’s return. We can also see the theme of the Day of the Lord in Paul’s letter of 1 Thessalonians 4-5. The Thessalonians were very interested in this topic, and as mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, some were concerned that Christ might appear very soon. But Paul assures them of a number of events that must precede Christ’s return, which include the revelation of the lawless One.
There is no reason to believe that Paul had a new revelation about the future. He appears to be simply interpreting the message of Daniel, which Christ also explained in Matthew 24.
2 Thess 1:7
when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty Angels – Christ as “the Captain of the Armies” (Daniel 8:11) of the Angels, as the Archangel Michael (1 Thess 4:16), who “stands up” in the last day, as recorded in Daniel 12:1, when there will be “a time of trouble as there was since there was a nation” (Daniel 12:1), (since, God first destroyed the earth with a flood).
in flaming fire – the Day of Christ’s return, and the Day of God’s wrath, “the Day of vengeance” (Isaiah 34:8) are also simultaneous events in 2 Peter 3:10,12. Christ’s quotation of Isaiah 34:15-16, that we find in Matthew 24:28: “Where the corpse is the eagles (aetoi) will be gathered there” also puts His return in the Day of God’s wrath. Isaiah puts the wrath of God, “their land shall be soaked with blood,” (Isaiah34:7), along with the resurrection of the saints, “His Spirit (Word, Targum) has gathered them” (Isaiah 34:16).
2 Thess 1:8
to those who do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ – those who have been deceived by Satan in the last days, per Rev 16:13-14.
2 Thess 1:9
these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction – those who obey another gospel.
2 Thess 1:10
to be glorified in His saints – the Body of Christ is the Spirit of Christ, in whom Christ is glorified. Specifically Paul seems to refer to the “glorious man,” in Daniel 10:5-6, who speaking with the “voice of a multitude” (Daniel 10:6), represents the Body of Christ, His Church, that appears as the Rider on the White Horse in Revelation 19.
2 Thess 1:12
the name of the Lord Jesus will be glorified in you – the name of the Lord Jesus, “God Saves,” is the name of His Church, as John records in Revelation 3:12, “the name of the My God, and the name of the City of My God, the New Jerusalem.”
2 Thess 2:1-2
that the Day of the Lord has already come – Paul is about to clear up any misinterpretation.
2 Thess 2:3
the falling away comes first – this refers to the departure from the truth in the second century.
and the man of lawlessness is revealed – this is identical to Jesus’ statement in Matt 24:15: “when you see the abomination of desolation.” In other words, the beast and his works must be revealed to the saints before the end comes.
2 Thess 2:4
who opposes and exalts himself – the beast, who speaks through the Bishop of Rome, from Daniel 7:20, 25, 11:36, “he shall exalt himself above every god,” and as explained in Revelation 13:5, “a mouth speaking arrogant words.”
2 Thess 2:5
do you not remember – there was a detailed explanation by Paul to the Church.
2 Thess 2:6
what restrains him – the expression “what” must mean the Holy Spirit, the anointing, the Spirit of truth poured out on the saints by Christ. “You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things,” (1John 2:20).
2 Thess 2:7
the mystery of lawlessness – there are two mysteries at work, the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven and the mystery of lawlessness (the opposing force)
until He is taken out of the way – from Ellicot’s commentary for English readers,
More correctly, Only [it cannot be revealed] until he that now withholdeth disappear from the midst… Evidently to St. Paul’s mind there was a great obstructive power, which was gathered up in, and wielded by, the person so described:” he that withholdeth.”
The great obstructive power that withheld the lawless One was the Spirit of truth. The Spirit of truth was taken away by God, in 193 AD, when the bishop of Rome exalted himself as high as Christ, and “the place of His sanctuary was cast to the ground” (Daniel 8:11).
2 Thess 2:8
then that lawless one will be revealed – referring to the Bishop of Rome,who taught his own commandments as the commandments of the Church, beginning with Easter Sunday. He excommunicated the Churches of Asia in 193 AD, when they did not accept his doctrine.
will kill by the breath of His mouth – the sword that proceeds from the mouth of the Rider on the White horse, as described in Revelation 19:15.
bring to nothing by the brightness of His coming – in Revelation 18:1-2, we see that the whole earth is illuminated with His glory, as He cries out “fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.”
2 Thess 2:9
with the activity of Satan – the false miracles, began immediately with Montanism, after 180 AD, by the spirit of the antichrist received by Tertullian.
2 Thess 2:10
because they did not receive the love of the truth – because they forsook the message of the Apostles, for the doctrines of Latin Christianity.
2 Thess 2:11
God will send a deluding influence – false spirits, and miracles will be allowed by Satan, with no opposition from God, for the reasons described in verse 12. Daniel described Satan saying, “a King will arise, insolent and skilled in intrigue. His power will be mighty, but not by his own power” (Daniel 8:23-24). Satan was given authority from God, as also mentioned in Revelation 13:5.
2 Thess 2:12
who did not believe the truth but delighted in unrighteousness – truth and unrighteousness are opposed; one cannot say he is righteous if he does not embrace the truth.