On “The Man Of Sin,” 2 Thess. 2:3-9 -- By: Henry Cowles

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 029:116 (Oct 1872)
Article: On “The Man Of Sin,” 2 Thess. 2:3-9
Author: Henry Cowles


On “The Man Of Sin,” 2 Thess. 2:3-9

Prof. Henry Cowles

This is a passage of acknowledged difficulty. The fact of difficulty should not deter from its investigation, cannot excuse crude speculation or reckless disregard of the legitimate laws of language; but may invite to the exercise of candor, not to say charity, toward any well-meant endeavor to fathom its mysteries. Such an endeavor promises well and deserves candid attention only as it shall apply faithfully to the passage all the means at command for bringing its salient points to the surface, and drawing the line between the known and the unknown.

As to the value of the results to be sought for in this passage—if it be a chapter of the future history of our race; if it tells us of the “last times,” immediately preceding the final coming of the Lord; if it opens new and most extraordinary developments in the great sin-problem of this fallen world — then, surely, the truths it has in it, if we may but reach them in very deed, must have momentous interest to every Christian mind.

The passage proposed for special consideration from Paul’s second Epistle stands related to these words: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are

alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:13–18).

Paul is here exhorting the brethren against excessive grief for those who “sleep in Jesus.” To this end he testifies that these sleeping ones are at no disadvantage compared with the saints living at the time of Christ’s final coming, because all the pious dead will be raised before any even of the living will ascend to meet the Lord, and so all will ascend together. This point is put in its strongest light by tacitly supposing that the glorious coming were to break upon themselves — the “we” of that generation. Even in such an event, the saints then living must needs wait for the raising of the dead before they can ascend. Hence they had not the least occasion to b...

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