Re: 2 Thess. 6-7

Date: Thu Sep 05 1996 - 19:00:33 EDT

I've been following this dialogue on 2 Thess 2:6-7 with great interest. I
have an explanation for the GAR IN 2:7 from the standpoint of the positive
restrainer view. The GAR is explaining v. 6 from the standpoint of the
context of 2:1-6. In other words, since Paul's overall argument is why the
Thessalonians are not in the day of the Lord, and if something is restraining
(possibly implied HO ANOMOS) un tile the man of lawlessness is revealed, the
natural question for the Thessalonians is, "Why is this persecution going on?
Why do things look as if we are in the Day of the Lord?" Paul's explanation
is "the mystery of lawlessness is already at work." There may be a subtle
contrast between TO KATEXON and TO MUSTHRION. There are other factors that
need to be considered that favor the positive restrainer view. First, 2 Thess
2:1 really orients the topic that is Paul's concern: the PAROUSIA of Christ
and the SYNAGWGHN of believers (note the Granville Sharp impersonal
construction). This suggests that his main concern about the Thessalonians'
deception concerning the Day of the Lord is directly related to his teaching
on this area. Second, the passage is in the literary construction of a chiasm
(as are 2 Thess 1 and 3). Note the arrangement.

A. verses 1-3a Warning
     B. verse 3b The apostasy, and
         C. verses 3c-5 The revelation of the Man of Lawlessness
             D. verses 5-7 The katexon/ -wn
         C'. verses 8-9 The revelation and annihilation of the Lawless One
    B'. verses 10-12 The leading astray of unbelievers
A'. verses 13-15 Thanksgiving and exhortation

Note the negative exhortations and warning of vv. 1-3a parallel to the
thanksgiving and strong message of assurance of salvation (as opposed the
Thessalonians' distress) and the positive exhortation to hold fast to Paul's
teachings (both here and previously). The apostasy in v. 3b is parallel to
the leading astray of unbelievers in vv. 10-12. The revelation of the man of
lawlessness in vv. 3c-5 is paralled in vv. 8-9. Finally, the discussion of TO
KATXON/ HO KATEXWN is the center of the chiasm (and perhaps the center of the
chiasm of the letter). As the center of this chiastic structure, it would
make sense that the discussion of the TO KATXON/ HO KATEXWN has a direct
relationship of the overall topic mentioned in v. 1. Finally, the PAROUSIA of
Christ is discussed entirely in terms of its relationship to the man of
lawlessness. We would expect that the SUNAGWGHN of believers would also be
discussed in terms of its relationship to the man of lawlessness. As the
center of the chiasm, TO KATXON/ HO KATEXWN may involve the SUNAGWGHN of
believers as it relates to the man of lawlessness. Paul, who may be
anticipating another deceptive message in response to the letter, tries to
prevent such a message by resorting to apocalyptic imagery that he has used
with the Thessalonians, but which would be unknown to his enemies.

Charles Powell
Dallas Theological Seminary

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