Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5

To help provide context this post includes Fr. MacEvilly’s brief summaries of chapters 2 & 3. Text in purple indicates his interpretive paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.


Chapter 2: It appears, that certain expressions employed by the Apostle in chapters 4, 5, of the preceding Epistle, as implying the near approach of the day of judgment, produced feelings of terror and alarm in the minds of the Thessalonians. They, in consequence, became indifferent about their temporal concerns and their duties to society. This state of feeling had been artfully employed by the false teachers, to confirm them in these erroneous impressions; these also alleged certain expressions and epistles as emanating from the Apostle, to the same effect. To remedy this state of things, the Apostle beseeches them to be no way affrighted, and to pay no attention to any assertion or epistle purporting to emanate from himself, on this subject (1, 2).

In the next place, he gives two precursory signs, that are to usher in the day of judgment viz., a general apostacy, and the coming of Antichrist (3). He describes the sacrilegious impiety and wicked morals of Antichrist, and reminds the Thessalonians of his oral instructions on the subject, when amongst them, and also of the cause which, he told them, was to retard the public appearance of this impious man, who, at present, works clandestinely and privately by means of his wicked precursors, until the obstacle to his public appearance is removed (4–8). But when this obstacle, whatever it be, is removed, then, this wicked impostor will appear, performing wonders and prodigies, and leading into error those who, in punishment of their resistance to God’s light, will be delivered over by him to the spirit of error (9–11).

He calms any apprehension which the character given of Antichrist might be apt to beget in the minds of the Thessalonians, by assuring them, that there is room for dread on the part of the incredulous, but none whatever as regards those, who are the first fruits of the faithful, or of God’s elect (12, 13). He exhorts them to persevere and firmly hold to the traditions which they have learned (14). He, finally, wishes them perseverance in grace and good works (15, 16).

Chapter 3: The Apostle had been informed that, notwithstanding his instructions, when at Thessalonica, and his injunctions conveyed in his former Epistle, some able-bodied men among the Thessalonians continued to go about, begging, when they might procure means of support by manual labour; indulging in idle curiosity, prying into the concerns of others and neglecting their own, to the great disedification and estrangement of the unbelievers. Hence, in this chapter, after recommending himself to their prayers (1, 2); and promising them the aid of the Almighty (3); and praying to God in turn for them (4, 5); he repeats his former injunctions on this important subject, and conjures these disorderly men, in the most solemn manner, to devote themselves to a life of labour.

He quotes himself as an example in this matter, and refers to the laborious life which he led amongst them; but should any person, after this admonition, continue refractory, he enjoins on the rulers of the Church to separate such a one from the society of the faithful. He tells them that severity should, however, be blended with tenderness and brotherly compassion (6–15). He concludes, by wishing them the abundance of peace and grace.

2 Th 2:16 Exhort your hearts and confirm you in every good work and word. ‎

May he, I say, increase your consolation and strengthen your hearts (amidst the persecutions you endure), and confirm you in the belief of sound doctrine, and in the practice of all sort of good works.

May he “exhort your hearts.” The Greek word for “exhort” (ταρακαλέσαι), means also to console. Hence, it means, may he increase in your hearts that “eternal consolation,” which in the preceding verse he says, has been already imparted to them.

“In every good work and word.” The order is inverted in the common Greek, which runs thus: The Codex Vaticanus has the order of the Vulgate.

2 Th 3:1 FOR the rest, brethren, pray for us that the word of God may run and may be glorified, even as among you:

For the rest, brethren, pray for us (ministers of the Gospel), that the word of God, the true doctrine of Christ, may be successfully propagated by our ministry, and may be received with reverence and honour elsewhere, as it has been with you.

“For the rest.” A form of transition from one subject to another, usual with the Apostle.

‎2 Th 3:2 And that we may be delivered from importunate and evil men: for all men have not faith.

Pray, therefore, that we may be delivered from the annoyance caused us by importunate and wicked men, who everywhere oppose us, and resist the progress of the Gospel; and no wonder, for all men to whom the Gospel is preached, do not believe; or, all who profess the faith, do not in reality believe.

“Importunate.” The Greek word, τῶν ἀτοπων, unsteady; remaining in no one place. He probably alludes to the Jews, his chief adversaries, who persecuted him from place to place, and everywhere excited commotions against him. Others understand him to refer to the Judaizantes and false Christians, by whom the name of Christ was brought into disrepute.

“For all men have not faith.” If we understand the word “importunate,” of the obstinate and unbelieving Jews; then, these words mean, all to whom the Gospel is preached, do not believe: if, of bad Christians, then, they mean, all who profess the faith externally, have not faith in reality.—(Vide Paraphrase).

2 Th ‎3:3 But God is faithful, who will strengthen and keep you from evil. ‎

(Still, notwithstanding the many domestic and foreign enemies whom the faith has to encounter, you should not be afraid), for God is faithful to his engagements, and will confirm you in the faith, and deliver you from the power of the wicked adversary (Satan).

“God is faithful.” In Greeks, the Lord is faithful. God will perfect what he began in those whom he has elected to salvation: hence, as each one should hope, that God has predestined him, so ought he trust that God will strengthen him in faith, guard him from the wiles, and protect him from the power of Satan, the evil one, by nature.

2 Th 3:4 And we have confidence concerning you in the Lord that the things which we command, you both do and will do. ‎

But we have the greatest hopes regarding you, and we trust, that aided by God’s grace and succour, you fulfil, and will continue to fulfil, the precepts which we have given you.

But, nevertheless, all does not rest with God, human co-operation is required; hence, we should not grow idle or apathetic, in reference to our salvation. “You do,” shows that their co-operation is required; and “will do,” shows that they must co-operate perseveringly, to the end of life. “In the Lord,” i.e., by the aid of God’s grace and succour, “we command.” In Greek, command you.

2 Th 3:5 And the Lord direct your hearts, in the charity of God and the patience of Christ.

But may the Lord direct your hearts unto the love of God, and the patient expectation of Christ’s coming.

He again recurs to God, the source of all justice and the author of our salvation; and he prays him to grant them, to arrive straightway at salvation, by observing God’s precepts, which is the test of the “love of God,” and by patiently enduring the evils of this life, after the example of Christ. “Patience of Christ,” probably means the patient expectation of Christ’s coming to remunerate us. In this, however, patient suffering of evils is implied; so that the meaning is the same, whether we make it the patience of Christ in enduring suffering, or the patient expectation, &c. (as in Paraphrase), “in the charity of God.” In Greek, unto the charity, &c.

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One Response to Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C | stjoeofoblog

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