New Defender's Study Bible Notes
2:3 falling away. The “falling away” (Greek apostasia) has commonly been transliterated as “the apostasy” (the definite article in the Greek indicates Paul had already told them about it), and then assumed to apply to the final great religious apostasy at the end of the age. The context, however, as well as the etymology of the word itself, makes this interpretation unlikely. In this precise form it is used nowhere else in the New Testament, so its meaning must be defined by its context here. It is derived from two Greek words, apo (meaning “away from”) and stasis (meaning “standing”). It thus could properly be rendered “standing away” instead of “falling away.” In Paul’s previous letter, he had made no reference whatever to a coming departure from the faith, but he had discussed at length a coming departure from the earth by all believers, when Christ returns to meet them in the air (I Thessalonians 4:13-18). Thus this “standing away from,” in context, seems to refer to all the raptured believers standing away from the earth, as they stand before their returning Lord when they meet Him in the heavens. Paul here is simply reminding them that the “sudden destruction” that would come upon unbelievers when “the day of the Lord” begins could not happen until the rapture—“the standing-away” from the earth before Christ (note Romans 14:10)—had taken place. The entire context, before and after, fits this understanding of the text better than the idea of the apostasy from the faith. Over the 1950 years since Paul wrote these lines, there have been numerous great apostasies form the faith, and none of these introduced the day of the Lord, although persecuted believers in each case might easily have so interpreted them.
2:3 man of sin. “The man of sin” is also called “the son of perdition” because of his being so fully energized and controlled by Satan that he is, in a unique way, the son of the devil. Judas, who was a type of this evil man, was also called “son of perdition” (John 17:12; note also Luke 22:3; John 6:70). The same person is also called “antichrist” (I John 2:18), “the prince that shall come” (Daniel 9:26) and various other names, but especially “the Beast” (Revelation 13:1,18, etc.). According to this verse, his identity will only be revealed after the rapture has taken place (note also II Thessalonians 2:7-9). Soon (perhaps immediately) thereafter, the great day of the Lord will begin on earth, while the day of Christ is also under way in the heavens. See notes on I Corinthians 3:13-15; Revelation 4:1-11.
2:6 ye know what withholdeth. The Thessalonians should have known what was restraining the manifestation of the man of sin. This dread event must await the rapture. The influence of true Christians in the world, both in winning others to Christ and in serving as the “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14), is preventing the inevitable, quick decay of the world into the darkness and corruption of global evolutionary humanism. Since these Christians actually are indwelt and guided by God’s Holy Spirit, it is the presence of the Holy Spirit Himself in the world that is really preventing the triumphant revelation of the man of sin.
2:7 letteth. The Holy Spirit, through the true Church, “letteth” (that is, delays, or hinders) the revelation of the son of perdition. In effect, He will be “taken out of the way” when all those He indwells and guides are caught up to meet the Lord. Of course, since He is omnipresent, He will still be present and working on earth, though not through the Church.
2:7 let. The English word “let” is derived from the Old English laetan, which in turn came from the ancient Teutonic. Our modern word “late” is from the same source, the original meaning of laetan being “to make late” or “delay.” Thus, this word, as used in this verse, meant “make late” or “delay.” By a strange permutation of language meanings, it has in more recent times come to mean “permit,” almost the opposite of its original meaning.
2:8 spirit of his mouth. The man of sin will finally be triumphant, but only for a brief time. The Lord Jesus Christ, returning soon in power and glory, will destroy him with the Sword of the Spirit proceeding from His mouth (Isaiah 11:4; Revelation 19:15, 20-21).
2:9 signs. In these confusing times, many Christians are seeking for “signs and wonders” to bolster their faith. This attitude, however, was rebuked by Christ, when He lamented: “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (John 4:48). The danger of being led thereby into a false occultic pseudo-Christianity is very real, for Satan and his false christs and false prophets are also able to “shew great signs and wonders” (Matthew 24:24). But these are “lying wonders,” intended to deceive men into a false worship.
2:10 received not. Those who refused “the truth” (that is, Christ—John 14:6) before the rapture will “perish” under the rule of the man of sin. There will be no second chance after the rapture for any who understood but rejected the gospel before the return of Christ. It is, therefore, desperately urgent for all such people (no doubt especially including Americans, who have had every opportunity to receive Christ), to believe on Christ for salvation before He returns. “Behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2).