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JST 2 Thes. 2:2 be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled by letter, except ye receive it from us
"...in his second letter Paul taught that the saints should remain firm in what they have already been taught and not allow themselves to be shaken by others in word, spirit, or by letter (2 Thes. 2:2). The Joseph Smith Translation renders this passage 'or be troubled by letter, except ye receive it from us.' Perhaps a forgery was circulating that reinforced the misunderstanding. In any case it is important that teachings or instructions come from those with proper authority." (Robert L. Millet, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 160.)
2 Thes. 2:3 that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first
The importance of this prophecy by Paul cannot be overstated. Though there are many scriptures which prophesy of the Apostasy (see Topical Guide-Apostasy of the Early Christian Church), Paul's prediction to the Thessalonians is the clearest and most useful as a missionary scripture. He is not describing a mild setback or gradual decline in church membership. Rather, he is describing an apostasy so universal that the very powers of Satan would take over the earth.
Carlos E. Asay
"Paul knew that an apostasy would occur before Christ's second coming. He said: 'For that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition' (2 Thes. 2:3).
"That sad day surely did come when grievous wolves entered in among the Christian flock. By the close of the first century after the death of Christ, all of the Apostles had been killed and a long night of spiritual darkness blanketed the earth. Before long, the people had 'transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant', just as Isaiah predicted they would (Isa. 24:5). The early Christian church became splintered, antichrists and false prophets appeared on the scene, and some men claimed to be Apostles but were found to be liars (see 1 Jn. 2:18; Rev. 2:2). Thus, the days came when there was 'a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord' (Amos 8:11).
"Many volumes have been written describing the Great Apostasy wherein pagan practices and other worldly influences diluted the early Christian doctrine. Eventually, the priesthood was lost, the gifts of the Spirit were no longer manifested, and the pure love of God waxed cold. Ultimately, the gospel taught by Christ and his Apostles was perverted almost beyond recognition and the church established by the Master was spiritually razed by men with ulterior motives." (The Seven M's of Missionary Service: Proclaiming the Gospel as a Member or Full-time Missionary [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], prologue)
Theodore M. Burton
"The literal fulfillment of the scriptural predictions of a universal apostasy is made so plain by a reasonable study of ecclesiastical history as to be unmistakable." ("Kingdom of God," Ensign, June 1971, 83)
Hugh B. Brown
"...in Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History we read of the schisms and dissensions by which the Church was rent in the latter part of the first century-the period immediately following that of the apostolic ministry.
"'It will easily be imagined,' Mosheim says, 'that unity and peace could not reign long in the Church since it was composed of Jews and Gentiles who regarded each other with the bitterest aversion. . . . Thus, the seeds of discord and controversy were easily sown and could not fail to spring up soon into animosities and dissensions which accordingly broke out and divided the Church.'
"In the second century many unnecessary rites and ceremonies were added to the Christian worship, the introduction of which was, according to Mosheim, '. . . extremely offensive to wise and good men. Both Jews and heathens were accustomed to a vast variety of pompous and magnificent ceremonies in their religious service, and as they considered these rites as an essential part of religion, it was but natural that they should behold with indifference and even with contempt the simplicity of the Christian worship, which was destitute of those idle ceremonies that rendered their service so spacious and striking.'" (The Abundant Life [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965], 96.)
Ezra Taft Benson
"With the passing of the Apostles and the loss of the priesthood keys, corrupt doctrines were introduced into the Church. In the words of one eminent historian, 'Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it. The Greek mind, dying, came to a transmigrated [new] life in the theology and liturgy of the Church.' (Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, 3:595.) By the second and third centuries, widespread changes had been made in the pure doctrines and ordinances given by the Savior. The Church that Jesus had established and sanctioned was no longer on this earth." (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 86.)
"It is said the Priesthood was taken from the Church, but it is not so, the Church went from the Priesthood." (Journal of Discourses, 12:69).
"Paul in his second epistle to the Thessalonians gives utterance to a prophecy which covers the whole ground of the absolute and universal apostasy of Christendom. A prophecy which, if the apostasy of so-called Christendom has not been complete and universal, proves beyond all question that the great Apostle of the Gentiles is a false prophet; or if fulfilled, then it proves that the Church of Christ, so far as it existed in the earth was to be destroyed; that another and different religion was to be substituted for the Christian religion: that another church, one founded by men, was to take the place of the Church of Christ, a worldly church dominated by the very spirit of Lucifer, who, under its rule, would oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God; and sit in the temple of God showing himself, so far as this world is concerned, that he is God. Moreover Paul declared in this very prophecy I am about to quote that the forces which would ultimately bring to pass this universal apostasy from the Christian religion-'the mystery of iniquity'-was already at work even in his day." (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1:xcii.)
2 Thes. 2:3 that man of sin...the son of perdition
"The 'man of sin,' generally equated with Satan, would exalt himself over all that is divine and assume the place of God in the Church. Of historical and theological significance is the fact that in Paul's prophecy the church structure survives. But God is not at its head, making that church-following the appearance in it of Satan-no longer the church of God." (Kent P. Jackson, "Early Signs of the Apostasy," Ensign, Dec. 1984, 9)
Bruce R. McConkie
"Lucifer is the man of sin, spoken of by Paul...Paul's promise that the man of sin be revealed before our Lord could return for the millennial era has been abundantly fulfilled. Lucifer's wicked plans, purposes, and works have been revealed or manifest from time to time, from the day of Paul to the present." (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., 467-468)
2 Thes. 2:3-4 the son of perdition...exalteth himself above all...shewing himself that he is God
Without any intent to disparage the Roman Catholic Church of today, we must be honest about the horrific history of some of the popes and priests. Their actions, at times, were so abominable as to be inspired by 'that man of sin' himself (see 1 Ne. 13:4-9). The torturous Inquisition and practice of indulgences (the official forgiveness of sins given in exchange for money) were particularly abominable. History also suggests that some popes welcomed the title of "God" in fulfillment of Paul's prophecy.
"It is estimated by some Christians that between three and four hundred thousand persons suffered the rigorous penalties of the inquisition from 1481 to 1808, over thirty thousand of whom were burned at the stake; and during the progress of all this bloodshed for simple disbelief or heresy, the coffers of Rome were receiving the wealth of the world, which was flowing in, in never-ceasing streams, from the sale of their notorious and wicked indulgencies. In the midst of all this carnival of crime, Pope Leo X, in triumphant exultation, is said to have exclaimed, when contemplating the immense revenues of the church. 'Oh, how profitable, indeed, hath the fable of Jesus been to us!'
"The Pope of Rome also assumes many titles that are most blasphemous, such as, 'Most Holy God upon earth,' 'Our Lord God the Pope.' Pope Martin IV, having, in 1621, excommunicated the people of Sicily, would not be persuaded to absolve them until by their embassador prostrate upon the earth, they entreated him, saying, 'Oh, Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world, grant us thy peace.' The fathers of the Council of Lateran said to Leo X: 'We respect your divine majesty; you are the husband of the church, the prince of the apostles, the prince and king of all the universe. Thou art the pastor and the physician; thou art God.' Thus this great power fulfils another important prophecy of St. Paul contained in 2 Thessalonians ii: 3, 4. 'Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come (the coming of Christ), except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.'" (Contributor, vol. 4 [October 1882-September 1883], Vol. Iv. January, 1883. No. 4. 148.)
James E. Talmage
"During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the temporal authority of the pope was superior to that of kings and emperors; and the Roman church became the despotic potentate of nations, and an autocrat above all secular states. Yet this church, reeking with the stench of worldly ambition and lust of dominance, audaciously claimed to be the Church established by Him who affirmed: 'My kingdom is not of this world.' The arrogant assumptions of the Church of Rome were not less extravagant in spiritual than in secular administration. In her loudly asserted control over the spiritual destinies of the souls of men, she blasphemously pretended to forgive or retain individual sins, and to inflict or remit penalties both on earth and beyond the grave. She sold permission to commit sin and bartered for gold charters of indulgent forgiveness for sins already done. Her pope, proclaiming himself the vicar of God, sat in state to judge as God Himself; and by such blasphemy fulfilled the prophecy of Paul." (Jesus the Christ, 693)
"...for the last fourteen hundred years, the world has been developed in darkness, in which wickedness has ruled, and the powers of darkness have prevailed among the children of men, and the nations have been bound down by false traditions, and incorrect principles, but the day has now dawned, the dark clouds have now broken up and soon will pass away, and the sun of righteousness will arise in its glory, and show forth the light of heaven; and for that I am thankful, and rejoice, and so do thousands and tens of thousands in this dispensation, who have been touched with the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ which has been revealed in our day, by the administering of holy angels, in all its fulness, beauty, power, and glory." (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, edited by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 15.)
2 Thes. 2:7 the mystery of iniquity doth already work
Charles W. Penrose
"The 'falling away' commenced in the time of the apostles, and hence their numerous warnings and exhortations to the saints, rebuking schisms and divisions, and counseling unity, showing that the Spirit of the Lord promoted union and led people to the knowledge of the truth, while dissension and strife came from the Evil One, and led to darkness and death. That the great apostasy commenced at a very early period is shown by the words of Paul, 'for the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let until he be taken out of the way.' ("2 Thes. 2:7II Thessalonians 2:7.)" (Rays of Living Light from the Doctrines of Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1954], 137 - 138.)
Elder Alma Sonne
"You are aware that there is a struggle going on in the world for the hearts and minds of the people. The enemies of truth and freedom are exerting themselves as never before to destroy moral and spiritual values.
"The battle is being waged with relentless and determined vigor. The adversary is alert and active, and the powers of darkness are pressing forward at home and abroad.
"The Apostle Paul recognized that power when he said, 'For the mystery of iniquity doth already work.' (2 Thes. 2:7.) It is at work in our schools, in the colleges, in the universities, in the newspapers, in the books, in the magazines, on the television, and in the picture halls.
"To counteract these unholy influences the Church is sending into the world thousands of missionaries to proclaim the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the only weapon, my brethren and sisters, that will eventually crush and destroy the evil designs and bring to naught the devious plans of unscrupulous, untrustworthy, and godless leaders of men. Missionary service is the life the vitality, and the obligation of the Church." (Conference Report, April 1962, Afternoon Meeting 35.)
2 Thes. 2:7 he who now letteth will let
This passage has been the source of considerable confusion (see Talmage's The Great Apostasy, pp. 41-42), but the Joseph Smith Translation settles the matter explaining that it is God who allows Satan to perform his work until the time when he is to be destroyed, 'For the mystery of iniquity doth already work, and he it is who now worketh, and Christ suffereth him to work until the time is fulfilled that he shall be taken out of the way.' (JST 2 Thes. 2:7).
2 Thes. 2:8 then shall that Wicked by revealed
B. H. Roberts
"I pray you, pause a moment and think how earnest is this prediction of the great Apostle to the Gentiles, and how heartrending it must have been for him to contemplate it. Behold a people looking for the immediate coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, checked by this Prophet of God, who tells them that glorious day will not come until there be a falling away from the truth, from the Church of Christ; not until the power of Satan shall usurp a seat in the very temple of God, and sit there as if possessed with the authority of God, 'showing himself that he is God;' and he shall continue in this usurped authority and power until he shall be consumed by the brightness of the Lord's coming. And, said Paul, 'the mystery of iniquity doth already work' that shall accomplish this usurpation of divine authority; even while inspired Prophets are yet with the Church-behold the mystery of this iniquity doth already work! 'Now you know what it is that withholdeth'-you know that the watchmen, the holy Apostles, are upon the towers, restraining and hindering the full development of this mysterious power that shall wreck the Church of Christ; but behold, presently they shall be removed, and then shall that 'wicked one be revealed whom the Lord will destroy by the brightness of His coming.' A marvelous prophecy is this! And, mark you, we have the assurance of God that not one jot or tittle of His word shall fail, but all of it shall be fulfilled." (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 5, Jan. 23, 1898)
2 Thes. 2:9 the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders
Satan's powers include powerful manifestations, signs, and lying wonders. For centuries, he has used these to perform his work. John the Revelator tells us that just before Christ's coming, these powers will be manifest again by one of Satan's servants, 'he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast' (Rev. 13:11-14).
The great power thus manifest will not surprise the saints but will certainly impress the wicked. Hereby we see how differently Satan uses his miraculous power. Whereas the Lord gives signs to those who already believe, Satan gives signs to make people believe.
"Elder Neal A. Maxwell, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has said that the wicked are prone to 'demand signs as a condition of belief' and that they 'live by sensations,' whereas 'disciples ... walk and overcome by faith (D&C 76:53), accepting gratefully the evidence of things not seen which are true (see Heb. 11:1; Alma 32:21) and using quietly God's spiritual gifts' (Ensign, Nov. 1988, pp. 31-32).
"We have also been warned that Satan has power to counterfeit signs and to tempt us to disbelieve the signs of the Lord (see Ex. 7:10-12; Matt. 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; 2 Thes. 2:8-10; Alma 30:53; Hel. 16:23; 3 Ne. 1:22; 3 Ne. 2:1-3). And we must understand that signs alone do not convert a person to the Lord (see Num. 14:11; Hel. 16:23; 3 Ne. 2:1; 3 Ne. 8:4; D&C 63:9). An active and saving faith in the Lord comes by the power of the Holy Ghost and is the result of one's sincere and diligent obedience to gospel principles." (Jonathan H. Stephenson, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Dec. 1994, 61)
"Like philosophy and mysticism, miracles-real miracles-are found throughout the whole world and are used by practitioners of religion everywhere to bedizen, amaze, and convince the doubters. 'There shall arise false Christs,' says the Lord, 'and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.' In this passage (Matthew 24:24) Christ further explains that a time is coming when many shall claim that Christ is with them, but none, not a single one of them, should be believed, because they would try to convert by signs and wonders. In Mark 13:21 it reads, 'And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.' Here we see plainly enough who it is who employs signs and wonders to convert the unbelieving." (The World and the Prophets, 3rd ed. [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1987], 139 - 140.)
2 Thes. 2:11 a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie
"God does not attempt to delude men, for he is a God of truth and he cannot deceive (D&C 62:6; Deuteronomy 32:4). He does allow men to believe as they please, If they choose to accept untruth, he does not force them to think or do otherwise...So Paul is suggesting that God allows men to be deluded because they 'received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.' (vs. 10.)" (Institute Manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus & his Apostles, 2nd ed., p. 276-277)
Joseph Fielding Smith
"The devil is the author of false religions. He is perfectly willing that men should worship something and in some manner. He makes them think they are worshiping Jesus Christ and his Father but sees to it that many false doctrines contrary to the plan of salvation are introduced among men. He is the author of confusion and laughs at the divided condition existing among the religious denominations. He it was who brought to pass the great apostasy from the religion and Church of Jesus Christ in former days. Satan is exercising great power and has led the great majority of mankind away from the commandments of God, even while he makes them think that they are serving him. In these latter days he is extremely busy and dominates the thinking and the philosophies of the world and has led many people into 'strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.' He knows 'that he hath but a short time.' Nephi saw our day and how Satan, knowing that his days are numbered, would stir the people up to all manner of iniquity." (Man, His Origin and Destiny [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 292 - 293.)
2 Thes. 2:13 God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation
Bruce R. McConkie
"Our friend Paul...speaks of members of the Church as 'the called of Jesus Christ,' as those who are 'called to be saints' (Rom. 1:6-7; 1 Cor. 1:2)...
"Like Peter he teaches that the saints are called to 'eternal life' (1 Tim. 6:12), called to 'the promise of eternal inheritance' (Heb. 9:15), but he explains also that the Lord's calls are the result of foreordination and grow out of faithfulness in pre-existence. (2 Tim. 1:8-9.) 'God hath from the beginning,' that is, from before the foundations of the world, 'chosen you [his saints] to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.' (2 Thess. 2:13-14.) That is, the saints were foreordained in the councils of eternity to believe the truth, to be sanctified, and to save their souls; and then in this life they are called to that gospel whereby these eternal promises can be fulfilled." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 328.)