Well, now that summer has finally hit Brussels, we appear to have today a fête in my street and those adjoining it (complete with unicyclist, band and trampolines with elastic suspense bungy things) and, as we've had all week, full-on sun with an excellent breeze. I am for once glad that my room doesn't get the sun as it's cool enough to sit reading once I've the window and door open. Although my French notes on 2 ways 2 live have just blown off the desk and across the room in an aerial race with someone's prayer letter (probable finish line: the kitchen sink). Tomorrow after church I head to Barcelona for IFES Teams Debriefing conference - in a hotel by the sea. It's hard, this missionary life.
However, meanwhile, I've a Bible study to prepare for after the conference, and if anyone can help me with 2 Thess 2.3-8 I'd be grateful... I'm commentary-less (apart from IVP NBC on CD which wasn't excedingly helpful) and struggling. We're only getting half the conversation as Paul refers to what he's already told them. If he is drawing on Apocalyptic references (Ezekiel 28, Daniel), is what he says here to be interpreted more as apocalyptic in genre and therefore not a literalistic specific reference? But if so, why would Paul offer it as a sign (Don't be deceived: that day will not come unless this evil parody of Christ person comes first) if it doesn't refer to one specific figure who will be recognisable as this character? And as for the restraining one, it seems that it's got more to do with the 'law' (contrast v7, mystery of lawlessness, and 8, the lawless one) than God - as the restraining one will be 'out of the way' when the lawless one is revealed. I suppose then that the question is, is the reference (a) to something already historically fulfilled in one person (say, in the passing of the Roman Empire's rule of law and order), (b) as one of the events of these last days, a specific and unique person to come, or (c) a more general reference to the rule of Christ-parodying, God-defying rule of lawlessness of these last days [see Isa 11.4 for similar Messianic judgement]? I would say that for the purposes of this passage it doesn't matter very much whether it's a unique or more general reference, but it's a puzzling interpretative question - how is Paul, recognising that the coming of the Christ has taken 'us' into the 'last days', interpreting and applying OT apocalyptic? How then should we? Answers on a postcard - or the comment box will do, ta!
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