17 August 2009

II Thessalonians 2:11-12: Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Tonight, a friend asked me to read these verses and give my impression. This is a hard passage. I don't claim to have the right take on this, but what I have arrived at came from pondering the passage, but also reviewing a few commentaries (particularly John Calvin's) on the subject.

I think it is first important to say that we need to be careful not to analyze the verse by itself, which should be true of all of our Biblical study. We need to consider the context.
  1. In the preceding verses of 2 Thessalonians 2, we read about the coming of the man of lawlessness (i.e., the antichrist), who figures importantly here.
  2. With the antichrist as the backdrop, in verse 3 we read of people who "let themselves be deceived." An even stronger statement appears in verse 10 where it says "because they refused to love the truth and so be saved." In other words, it suggests that these people possess a knowledge of the truth, yet are engaging in willful, volitional rejection of God.
Now, consider verse 11 carefully. It begins with "therefore." In other words, because of or as a consequence of their refusal to love the truth, God deluded them. God takes an active role in responding to their rejection of Him.

This line of thinking intrigues Calvinists and makes Arminians squirm. It provides a key to the doctrine of reprobation, which is an extension of predestination (see Romans 8:29 among others). If God elects some to His kingdom, there are also then non-Elect, or the reprobate (Romans 1:28). An amazing thing about this verse to me is that it allows for both free will and predestination.

So bottom line, God rejects (in fact deludes) those who reject Him.

What do other people think?

No comments: