2 Thessalonians 1 Supports Amillennialism -- By: Vern Sheridan Poythress

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 37:4 (Dec 1994)
Article: 2 Thessalonians 1 Supports Amillennialism
Author: Vern Sheridan Poythress

2 Thessalonians 1 Supports Amillennialism

Vern Sheridan Poythress*

2 Thessalonians 1 provides support for amillennialism because the chapter is in tension with all the other major millennial views. We shall consider separately how it is in tension with pre- and midtribulational premillennialism, posttribulational premillennialism, and postmillennialism.1 As one might expect, none of the global issues connected to 2 Thessalonians 1 is new to the millennial debate. But new angles appear as we consider how the global issues interface with a careful reading of 2 Thessalonians 1 in the context of first-century Thessalonica.

I. Tension With Pretribulational And Midtribulational Premillennialism

Let us begin by looking at pretribulational and midtribulational premillennialism. In both of these views the rapture of the saints and the open appearing of Christ are chronologically distinct. Only the saints see Christ at the rapture, while the visible second coming takes place several years later.

The idea that we have here two chronologically separate events does not easily harmonize with 2 Thessalonians 1.2

Let us start with vv. 6–7. They indicate that the revelation (apokalypsis) of Christ brings a reversal of status. Those who trouble “you” will be troubled. “You” who are troubled will experience relief. “You” means the Thessalonian Christians. Paul includes himself and his friends by saying “and to us as well.” The relief envisioned here is clearly relief from the trouble that the Thessalonian Christians and other Christians are now experiencing at the hands of opponents.

Verse 7 specifies that this relief comes “in the revelation of Jesus Christ from heaven with his powerful angels”—that is, relief comes in connection with this revelation

* Vern Poythress is professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary, Chestnut Hill, PA 19118.

of Jesus Christ. It comes at the time of this revelation and as an aspect or implication of this revelation.3 By implication the Thessalonian Christians should not focus their hopes on expecting relief before the revelation of Jesus Christ. Other passages confirm the general idea that Christians must expect suffering a...

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