2 Thessalonian 2:13 Commentary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
13. But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you ] Comp. ch. 2Th 1:3, and notes. The strain of the opening thanksgiving of the two Epistles is here blended. For while this clause repeats the first words of 2Th, the sentence that follows echoes 1Th 1:4.
Here the subject, we, bears emphasis: “ we, with this sad prospect of apostasy and delusion in view.” Those who see deeply into the evil of the world, its immense power and untold possibilities, turn with the greater satisfaction to that which “speaks better things.”
brethren beloved by the Lord (R.V.) is parallel to “beloved by God” (1Th 1:4: see note).
“The Lord” is surely Christ, as distinguished from “God” in the adjoining clauses. The Church assailed by persecution, and appalled by the thought of Antichrist, finds in the love of Christ her refuge (comp. Rom 8:35; Rom 8:39). To the same Divine Protector the Apostle commits his “brethren,” so dear to him ( 2Th 2:16-17; ch. 2Th 3:3; 2Th 3:5). He recalls in this expression the blessing pronounced on Benjamin, his own tribe, in Deu 33:12: “The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him; He covereth him all the day long, and he dwelleth between His shoulders.” The two phrases correspond precisely in the Greek.
because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation ] Better, in that God chose you; see note on ch. 2Th 1:3.
These words are partly borrowed from Deu 7:6-7; Deu 10:15; Deu 26:18: “Thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God. He hath chosen you to be a peculiar people unto Himself … He set His love upon yon;” &c.
The Apostle’s thanksgivings in the First Epistle centred in the fact of the “election” of the Thessalonian believers in Christ. (See note on election, 1Th 1:4; and context.) To this his grateful thoughts now revert. God deals with them far otherwise than He will do with those to whom He “sends effectual delusion … that they may be judged” ( 2Th 2:11-12): He “chose you for salvation … not for wrath ” (1Th 5:9). How safe and high above fear are “God’s elect” (Rom 8:33-39)!
“From the beginning” points to the time when the Gospel first visited the Thessalonians; so the “election” of 1Th 1:4 is associated with the “coming of our gospel to you” (1Th 1:5; 1Th 1:9). Then it was that, practically and in human view, God chose this people i.e. selected them for His own out of the world in which they moved. In later Epistles this “beginning” is traced back, on its Divine side, to “the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4, &c.), and shown to be a part of that which was absolutely “from the beginning” (comp. 1Jn 1:1). There is an absolute beginning of salvation, hidden in the nature and eternal counsels of God; this is its relative, historical and manifest beginning (comp. Php 4:15; Act 15:7).
This salvation rests on God’s election; at the same time it has its human conditions: salvation (experienced) in sanctification of spirit and faith in the truth. God chooses none to salvation apart from these qualifications; the end implies the way. It is believing and sanctified men who wear “for a helmet the hope of salvation” (1Th 5:8). Comp. 1Pe 1:2: “Elect … in sanctification of spirit” ( or the Spirit).
“Chosen unto salvation ” stands in contrast with “son of perdition ” and “the perishing ” ( 2Th 2:3 ; 2Th 2:10); “sanctification of spirit” and “belief in truth” on the part of God’s elect, with the “pleasure in unrighteousness” and “belief in the lie” that mark the dupes of Antichrist. These are the moral preconditions of final salvation and perdition respectively.
St Paul writes sanctification of spirit, without the definite article. No doubt “spirit” may grammatically denote “the (Holy) Spirit,” but the Apostle can scarcely have so intended here. For (1) the intimate connection of this phrase with “belief of truth” inclines us to read the two (Greek) genitives alike “truth” being the object of “faith,” and “spirit” of “sanctification.” (2) “Your spirit” is the primary object of the sanctification prayed for in 1Th 5:23. That memorable prayer is probably in the mind both of writer and readers. (3) “Sanctification of spirit,” understood as an inward state of the Thessalonians, is a condition of “salvation” the opposite of the disposition described in 2Th 2:10-12 as marking “those who perish” at the coming of Antichrist. For this reason sanctification is put first; but it depends in turn upon faith, “belief in the truth.” See Act 26:18; Eph 1:13. The normal order therefore is that of 1Ti 2:15, “in faith and sanctification.” For sanctification, see note to 1Th 4:3.
Lit., belief of truth. The Apostle is not stating what the truth is that saves, but that it is truth which saves, and faith in it as truth. A truth-accepting faith is the root of salvation, while the disposition to “believe the lie” is the root of perdition ( 2Th 2:9-12). “Sanctify them in the truth,” prayed Jesus for His disciples; “Thy word is truth” (Joh 17:17). The trustful acceptance of the truth revealed by Christ brings with it the consecration of our spirit to God. In such faith and consecration our salvation lies.
Section IV. Words of Comfort and Prayer
Passing from the last Section, we breathe a sigh of relief, and gladly join in thanksgiving for those who will “prevail to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luk 21:36).
Under the solemn feelings awakened by his contemplation of the image of Antichrist, the Apostle turns to his readers, blending thanksgiving with exhortation and renewed prayer on their account. (1) He renders thanks to God Who had chosen and called them to salvation, 2Th 2:13-14; (2) he urges them to be steadfast, 2Th 2:15; (3) he prays that God’s love may be their comfort, 2Th 2:16-17. In turn he (4) requests their prayers for himself, ch. 2Th 3:1-2; (5) he assures them of God’s faithfulness, and of his own confidence in them, 2Th 2:3-4; and (6) prays once more for Divine guidance on their behalf, 2Th 2:5.
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The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".