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facts that suit the conception of Antichrist in this writing. If any political significance had to be found for it here, then, as Grotius saw long ago, the irreligious procedure of the madcap Caligula (Hausrath, ii. pp. 31–74) with his claim to deity (24) would furnish an even apter basis; and it is to be noted that the coincidences between the Apocalypse and this epistle mostly occur in passages of the Apocalypse (chaps. 13, 17), where on other grounds critics have suspected an original apocalyptic piece belonging to Caligula's reign. But the conception of an enemy of God and his manifestation is really a dogmatic postulate 2 taken over from the OT (Schürer,3 HJP, II. ii. p. 164 f.). It required no one emperor to suggest it. The whole scheme was prompted rather by the inner glow of expectation for the future and indignation at the present, which possessed the loyal heirs of the OT prophecies. Resemblances with outer conditions might be traced, but the aptness of the prophecy's repetition never depended altogether on its exact and detailed applicability to such conditions. Here, as in the Apocalypse of John, a certain contentment with indefiniteness is one of the self-denying ordinances of good criticism. Nor again has the reference of 2 Th 26. 7 to the restrain,ing influence of the Roman Empire, which still seems the most satis
factory view,4 any necessary connection with the individual Caligula, much less with Vespasian. The tone agrees perfectly with subsequent Pauline passages like Ro 131-7. It is the emperor officially not individually, who is meant. Indeed, the disposition on the part of many critics to assume a frequent reference to political affairs in Paul's epistles is often little better than a modern conceit. Paul viewed the world largely sub specie aeternitatis. He had by birth and training his apocalyptic categories and possibly an apocalyptic tradition of Jesus (1 Th 415) from the early church. These are quite sufficient of themselves to explain this and
On his attempted insult to the Jews, cp. Tacit. Hist. v. 9, “ Jussi a Caio Caesare effigiem eius in templo locare, arma potius sumpserunt: quem motum Caesaris mors diremit.” There is quite a case for dating 3 Mac at this period as a book of consolation written for Alexandrian Jews.
2 In Ps Sol 1713-20, Pompey, the first violator of the temple, is ó őropos, his people oi avouos. Cp. passages like Ps 8823 and Dan 725 1136. 37, with their traditional interpretation in Judaism (Gunkel, Schöpfung und Chaos, p. 221 f.).
3 He will not accept the epistle as authentic (EB, article “ Thessalonians "), but the reference to Nero is not one of his grounds for that decision. Bousset's researches into the Antichrist tradition (Antichrist, pp. 115 f., 129 f., 132 f.) throw some light upon its history. His aim is to prove the existence of a Jewish tradition going back to Herod's time or even to the later Maccabees, in which the ideas of a tyrant who is God's opponent and of a false Messiah were not strictly distinguished at all points. This originally unpolitical tradition (cp. his edition of Apoc. pp. 431 f.) would be reflected in the NT in 2 Th 2, the small apocalypse of the synoptic gospels, and Apoc 113-13. Cp. also Assumpt. Mos. 8–10 and Didachê, c. 16.
4 Cp. Weiss, NTTh, i. pp. 305-311. In this event the obstinate malevolence of Judaism underlies the “mystery of iniquity.” Warfield, however (Exp.3 iv. pp. 30-44), prefers to reverse the usual interpretation. He takes the man of sin as representing the imperial line and its rage for deification. The restraining power is the Jewish state, which “hid the tender infancy of the church within the canopy of a protecting sheath until it should grow strong enough to withstand all storms.” As a modern reading of the history, this has some truth. The question
is whether it would have occurred to Paul. It seems scarcely possible that he | would have subtly combined in one letter a polemic against Jewish obstinacy and antagonism, and also a theory of their providential and unconscious service to the Christian communities. For the eschatological atmosphere and vista of the epistle, cp. Sabatier, pp. 117–123, and Denney, « Thessalonians” (Expos. Bible, 1891), pp. 303-337, besides the catena of details in Bornemann's or Schmiedel's excursus, and Klöpper's paragraphs in the monograph cited below.
many other passages in his writings, without the importation of outside allusions. Further, the general reference to the restraint of the Empire is borne out by the Jewish character of “the man of lawlessness," who plays in the main the role of a pseudo-Messiah? (4 Esdras 41) among the Jews. The Antichrist is religious, not political. The secret antagonism which the Christian faith had to encounter is in all likelihood the hostility of Judaism both in Palestine and in the provinces, and the conception of Rome as a bar to this antagonism could hardly have survived the seventh decade with its Neronic frenzy. If this interpretation be correct, it helps to explain the almost cryptic and oracular vagueness of Paul's reference to the removal of the restraining force. Allusions to an emperor's death had of necessity to be couched in very guarded language.
ii. Even were the alleged contradiction between the views of the two epistles upon the second Advent established, it would tell in favour of the authenticity of 2 Thessalonians rather than otherwise. The discrepancy would be easier of explanation as the variation of one man's mind, than as the work of a later Christian who ostensibly intended to reproduce Paul's ideas, and yet allows himself to openly dispute the apostle's written utterances. But between passages like 1 Th 52 and 2 Th 23 there is little discrepancy-except on paper. To be instantaneous and to be heralded by a historical prelude, are not contradictory ideas (e.g. Mt 2429-39, Apoc 33=61f.). The second passage represents another aspect
of the belief which Paul afterwards found it useful to press. Then, as rever, he was inore concerned for the practical situation of his readers than
careful to be strictly and verbally consistent with his past utterances. 2 Apostasy as a prelude to the second Advent is neither to be taken as an essential dogma of Paulinism up to the last, nor to be set aside as in itself an impossible conception for the apostle. At this time he cannot have
had then any crystallised dogma-if he ever had-upon the contents of a the interval between the present and the finale, For practical purposes
it was enough to insist now on the unexpectedness of the Advent, now on its possible delay, according to the trend of current notions upon the subject. In reality the future outlook in both epistles is substantially identical : the crisis is not localised in either, yet it is not far away.
Baur, who rejected both the Thessalonian epistles, dated the second after Paul's death, c. 68–70, the Antichrist being Nero, the apocalyptic
1 This is corroborated if the scene of the beast's activity in Apoc 11 is interpreted to be Jerusalem. So Bousset (Antichrist, ch. i.), who accepts the authenticity of 2 Thessalonians, “without, however, laying too much weight on this assumption." He rightly quotes Jo 543 as a direct parallel to 2 Th 29-12. But one is less sure about his theory of the personal pseudo-Messiah. This figure he traces back to the dragon-opponent of God in the old myths, but without proving that such an incarnation of rebellion must necessarily have been viewed as a false Messiah by the Jews. At the same time, so far from being a political personality, he is “a purely eschatological figure in every sense of the word,” neither Simon Magus nor BarKokhba.
2 “Dass P. immer viel über die Gründe des Verzuges der Parusie nachgedacht hat, ist selbstverständlich, halb freute er sich desselben, halb war darob betrübt; er kann aber auch lebenslänglich bei der Anschauung von 2 Th 2 stehen geblieben sein. Eine religiöse Fundamentalfrage war es nicht, was vor der Parusie sich noch abspielen müsse; die Katechumenen hat er darüber unterrichtet, an solche wendet er sich aber nicht in seinen späteren Briefen, braucht also auf den Gegenstand nicht einzugehen” (Jülicher); cp. Clemen, Chron. pp. 41-43, also- from an opposite standpoint-Holtzmann, NTTh, ii. 190–192, and Dr. O. Cone, Paul the Man, the Missionary, and the Teacher (pp. 102, 103), Gospel and its Interpretations, pp. 348, 349.
“ beast" (Paul (Eng. tr.), ii. 85–97, 314-340), and Schmiedel (HC, 11. i.) has recently supported this date with much candour. On the later form of this view, the epistle is an apocalypse 1 which desires to win Pauline sanction for its conceptions, founding itself upon 1 Thessalonians and the Corinthian epistles especially. If a later date than the usual one has to be taken, certainly the close of the seventh decade is infinitely more probable than one in Trajan's reign, when the background of the writing would consist of antinomian Gnostic controversies. The latter position is held, after Hilgenfeld, by Bahnsen (“ Zum Verständniss von 2 Th 2," JpTh. (1880), pp. 681-705, the “ restraint” being in this case the episcopate), Pfleiderer (Urc. 77–78, 356–358), who considers it as a pendant to the Johannine Apocalypse, composed not earlier than Trajan's reign, and Brückner, Chron. pp. 253–256. Havet (Origines, iv. p. 373) thinks of Vespasian as the katéxwv (27), J. Weiss (SK (1892), pp. 253, 254) assigns both epistles to Silvanus “ Der nutzmassliche Schreiber oder Inspirator des ersten Petrusbriefes die Thessalonicherbriefe zum wenigstens mitgestaltet habe”), while C. Rauch again (ZwTh. (1895), pp. 457-465) regards 2 Thessalonians as composed fifty years after Paul's death, subsequent to the Apocalypse and previous to Barnabas, in order to exhibit Pauline eschatology under Jewish-Christian conceptions. On all these theories the letter is a revision of 1 Thessalonians. The writer has worked over and remodelled that writing, using Paul's style as far as he could, to convey later eschatological teaching through the medium of Pauline traditions.
Holtzmann closes his discussion (Einl. pp. 212-216), however, with the significant admission, “The question at the present time is, not whether the second epistle should be thrust down into the post-apostolic age, but whether, on the contrary, it does not reach back to the lifetime of the apostle, and is not therefore authentic and written shortly after 1 Thessalonians, i.e. about 54 A.D.” Upon this position the above-noted lines of interpretation converge. Indeed, despite the inferiority of interest and vigour of which so much has been made, the impression of the letter's genuinely Pauline character has been spreading among critics.3 Even Spitta, who is unwilling to accept its authenticity (Offenbarung Joh. 497-590, Urc. i. pp, 111-153), feels bound to do justice to what are its undoubtedly Pauline elements. The contents, he supposes, with their somewhat formal and official strain, were not dictated to, but rather composed in the name of the others (2 Th 11) by Paul's companion Timothy, whose acquaintance with Jewish fables and scriptures is inferred from the tradition embodied in the “ Pastorals (Ac 161). More thoroughly the Pauline authorship and the 52-54 A.D. date have been frankly accepted by Reuss (pp. 73-75); Grimm (SK (1850), pp. 753-816); Schenkel, Das Christusbild d. Apostel, pp. 68, 69; Renan, Saint Paul, pp. 248–255 ; Mangold (-Bleek, $ 143); Sabatier ; Weiss, INT, i. pp.
1 The dreaded outbreak being of course the return of Nero redivivus, and the restraint the imperial power of Vespasian or Galba.
2 Weizsäcker, AA,ʻi. pp. 295-298 ; cp. von Soden, SK (1885), p. 263 f.; and S. Davidson, INT, i. pp. 250-265. The improbability of such a method after Paul's death is brought out very forcibly by Zahn (Einl. i. p. 177 f.), especially in its connection with Nero redivivus.
3 Especially among those who, like Haupt (Die eschatol. Aussagen Jesu (1895), pp. 136, 137), and Zahn, Einl. i. pp. 159, 160, are able to accept the synoptic eschatology, with its prediction of false prophets and apostasy, as a genuine deliverance of Jesus, c. 29 A.D., to which subsequent Christian teaching-as here and in the Apocalypse-owes its initiative and justification.
232–235, AJT, i. 338–344 ; Gloël, Die jüngste Kritik des Galaterbriefes, pp. 40–42 ; Salmon, INT, pp. 365-369; Godet (INT, i. p. 164 f.); Jowett; Sanday and Headlam, “Romans” (ICC), p. xiv ; G. G. Findlay (“ Thessalonians,” Cambridge Bible, 1891); Jülicher, Einl. pp. 40-41; Clemen, Chron. pp. 240-246 ; McGiffert, A A, pp. 257–253; and Adeney, BI, pp. 357–360. The most wealthy exposition is that of Bornemann (-Meyer); there is a Dutch monograph by Westrik, “De echtheid van den tweeden brief aan de Thessal." (1899), especially useful on the question of style, and a skilful defence of the authenticity by A. Klöpper, Theol. Stud. u. Skizzen aus Ostpreuzzen, Heft 8, 1889. So too Monnet,“ Les épitres aux Thess.” (Thèse aux Montauban, 1889); Schäfer, Einl. pp. 81–84; and Zahn, Einl. i. pp. 160-183; also Dr. Drummond (IH, ii. pp. 6-13), who decides that “the very passages which are relied upon as an evidence of forgery are more surprising from a forger than from Paul.” It is a pity, however, to introduce the alien conception of forgery at all into the discussion of such problems in ancient literature.
Of the three Pauline epistles which cannot be accepted without scrutiny and hesitation, 2 Thessalonians perhaps comes next to Colossians in point of genuine self-attestation. To a less degree than Ephesians it ultimately justifies the doubt raised by a first survey of its contents and allusions ; and this estimate is true, even although the result of investigation is to leave it a problem as well as an authority for the study of early Christianity.1
1 As I rewrite this note, the disorder produced by eschatological superstition in Thessalonika (2 Th 36 f.) is curiously paralleled by a recent instance of similar disorganisation in Tripoli. Letters from that district (quoted in the Westminster Gazette, Nov. 1899) “report an amazing state of affairs consequent upon the report that the end of the world will come on November 13. The Israelites are sending their wives to pray in the synagogues, and most workmen have ceased work. Debtors refuse to pay their debts, so that trade i
1. On Monday last one of the cases before the Tunis native court was that of an Arab who sued a Jew for a small sum of money. The debtor acknowledged the debt, but asked for fifteen days' delay to pay it. The Arab refused to grant the delay on the ground that the world would be destroyed before it expired. The judge sent the debtor to
The whole of the epistle is written under what may be termed "the feeling of persecution” ; that is to say, the sense of resignation, on the one hand, to the present will of God; on the other hand, a sure and certain hope that "times of refreshment” were at hand. Such was the feeling of the apostle himself, and he implies the existence of a similar feeling in the church to which he was writing. Sadness and consolation, hope and fear, the array of glory and of terror, were present with them or passing before them. A life thus divided between this world and another was naturally liable to become a life of excitement and disorder. Times of persecution needed extraordinary religious supports; the withdrawal of those supports, the momentary clouding of the heaven above, would from time to time lead to reaction.- Jowett.
13-217 Thanksgiving and prayer for faith under persecution :
courage in prospect of the Lord's second Arrival.
the time of the second ArrivalPaul's apocalypse—“The man of
șin,” “the mystery of law
renewed thanksgiving 216-17
and prayer for them.
31-16 Personal: prayer asked for himself :
his wish and hope for them.
Warning against the disorderly and the idle