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2 Thessalonians 2:12

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

That they all might be damned - The word “damned” we commonly apply now exclusively to future punishment, and it has a harsher signification than the original word; compare the notes, 1 Corinthians 11:29. The Greek word - κρίνω krinō- means to judge, determine, decide; and then to condemn; Romans 2:27; Romans 14:22; James 4:11; John 7:51; Luke 19:22; Acts 13:27. It may be applied to the judgment of the last day John 5:22; John 8:50; Acts 17:31; Romans 3:6; 2 Timothy 4:1, but not necessarily. The word “judged” or “condemned,” would, in this place, express all that the Greek word necessarily conveys. Yet there can be no doubt that the judgment or condemnation which is referred to, is that which will occur when the Saviour will appear. It does not seem to me to be a necessary interpretation of this to suppose that it teaches that God would send a strong delusion that they should believe a lie, in order that all might be damned who did not believe the truth; or that he desired that they should be damned, and sent this as the means of securing it; but the sense is, that this course of events would be allowed to occur, “so that” ἵνα hina- not εἰς τὸ all who do not love the truth would be condemned.

The particle here used, and rendered “that” ( ἵνα hina), in connection with the phrase “all might be damned” is employed in two general senses, either as marking the end, purpose, or cause for, or on account of, which anything is done; to the end that, or in order that it may be so and so; or as marking simply the result, event, or upshot of an action, so that, so as that. Robinson, Lexicon. In the latter case it denotes merely that something will really take place, without indicating that such was the design of the agent, or that what brought it about was in order that it might take place. It is also used, in the later Greek, so as neither to mark the purpose, nor to indicate that the event would occur, but merely to point out that to which the preceding words refer. It is not proper, therefore, to infer that this passage teaches that all these things would be brought about in the arrangements of Providence, in order that they might be damned who came under their influence. The passage teaches that such would be the result; that the connection between these delusions and the condemnation of those who were deluded, would be certain. It cannot be proved from the Scriptures that God sends on men strong delusions, in order that they may be damned. No such construction should be put on a passage of Scripture if it can be avoided, and it cannot be shown that it is necessary here.

Who believed not the truth The grounds or reasons why they would be damned are now stated. One would be that they did not believe the truth - not that God sent upon them delusion in order that they might be damned. That people will be condemned for not believing the truth, and that it will be right thus to condemn them, is everywhere the doctrine of the Scriptures, and is equally the doctrine of common sense; see the notes on Mark 16:16.

But had pleasure in unrighteousness - This is the second ground or reason of their condemnation. If men have pleasure in sin, it is proper that they should be punished. There can be no more just ground of condemnation than that a man loves to do wrong.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Something hindered or withheld the man of sin. It is supposed to be the power of the Roman empire, which the apostle did not mention more plainly at that time. Corruption of doctrine and worship came in by degrees, and the usurping of power was gradual; thus the mystery of iniquity prevailed. Superstition and idolatry were advanced by pretended devotion, and bigotry and persecution were promoted by pretended zeal for God and his glory. This mystery of iniquity was even then begun; while the apostles were yet living, persons pretended zeal for Christ, but really opposed him. The fall or ruin of the antichristian state is declared. The pure word of God, with the Spirit of God, will discover this mystery of iniquity, and in due time it shall be destroyed by the brightness of Christ's coming. Signs and wonders, visions and miracles, are pretended; but they are false signs to support false doctrines; and lying wonders, or only pretended miracles, to cheat the people; and the diabolical deceits with which the antichristian state has been supported, are notorious. The persons are described, who are his willing subjects. Their sin is this; They did not love the truth, and therefore did not believe it; and they were pleased with false notions. God leaves them to themselves, then sin will follow of course, and spiritual judgments here, and eternal punishments hereafter. These prophecies have, in a great measure, come to pass, and confirm the truth of the Scriptures. This passage exactly agrees with the system of popery, as it prevails in the Romish church, and under the Romish popes. But though the son of perdition has been revealed, though he has opposed and exalted himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; and has spoken and acted as if he were a god upon earth, and has proclaimed his insolent pride, and supported his delusions, by lying miracles and all kinds of frauds; still the Lord has not yet fully destroyed him with the brightness of his coming; that and other prophecies remain to be fulfilled before the end shall come.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

That they all might be damned - Ἱνα κριθωσι· So that they may all be condemned who believed not the truth when it was proclaimed to them; but took pleasure in unrighteousness, preferring that to the way of holiness. Their condemnation was the effect of their refusal to believe the truth; and they refused to believe it because they loved their sins. For a farther and more pointed illustration of the preceding verses, see the conclusion of this chapter (note).

Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 221.2

In our work for God we shall meet with much opposition. By falsehood and deception the Jews strove to keep the people from believing on Christ. Today false teachers will resort to any means to keep people from obtaining a knowledge of the truth. There are those who love error more than they love truth, because truth is opposed to their inclinations and their course of action. They refuse to repent and be converted, even though the evidence for truth is clear and convincing. They do not want to search the Scriptures, to see if these things are so. There lies the cross to be lifted, but they are unwilling to deny self. God asks them to keep holy His Sabbath, but they refuse to give up their own way.... TDG 221.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 470

I have mentioned these cases to illustrate the power of this soul-and-body-destroying vice. The entire mind is given up to low passion. The moral and intellectual faculties are over-borne by the baser powers. The body is enervated, the brain weakened. The material deposited there to nourish the system is squandered. The drain upon the system is great. The fine nerves of the brain, being excited to unnatural action, become benumbed and in a measure paralyzed. The moral and intellectual powers are weakening, while the animal passions are strengthening and being more largely developed by exercise. The appetite for unhealthful food clamors for indulgence. When persons are addicted to the habit of self-abuse, it is impossible to arouse their moral sensibilities to appreciate eternal things or to delight in spiritual exercises. Impure thoughts seize and control the imagination and fascinate the mind, and next follows an almost uncontrollable desire for the performance of impure actions. If the mind were educated to contemplate elevating subjects, the imagination trained to reflect upon pure and holy things, it would be fortified against this terrible, debasing, soul-and-body-destroying indulgence. It would, by training, become accustomed to linger upon the high, the heavenly, the pure, and the sacred, and could not be attracted to this base, corrupt, and vile indulgence. 2T 470.1

What can we say of those who are living right in the blazing light of truth, yet daily practicing and following in a course of sin and crime? Forbidden, exciting pleasures have a charm for them and hold and control their entire being. Such take pleasure in unrighteousness and iniquity, and must perish outside of the city of God, with every abominable thing. 2T 470.2

I have sought to arouse parents to their duty, yet they sleep on. Your children are practicing secret vice, and they deceive you. You have such implicit confidence in them that you think them too good and innocent to be capable of secretly practicing iniquity. Parents fondle and pet their children, and indulge them in pride, but do not restrain them with firmness and decision. They are so much afraid of their willful, stubborn spirits that they fear to come in contact with them; the sin of negligence, which was marked against Eli, will be their sin. The exhortation of Peter is of the highest value to all who are striving for immortality. He addresses those of like precious faith: 2T 471.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 455

I have long been designing to speak to my sisters and tell them that, from what the Lord has been pleased to show me from time to time, there is a great fault among them. They are not careful to abstain from all appearance of evil. They are not all circumspect in their deportment, as becometh women professing godliness. Their words are not as select and well chosen as those of women who have received the grace of God should be. They are too familiar with their brethren. They linger around them, incline toward them, and seem to choose their society. They are highly gratified with their attention. 2T 455.1

From the light which the Lord has given me, our sisters should pursue a very different course. They should be more reserved, manifest less boldness, and encourage in themselves “shamefacedness and sobriety.” Both brethren and sisters indulge in too much jovial talk when in each other's society. Women professing godliness indulge in much jesting, joking, and laughing. This is unbecoming and grieves the Spirit of God. These exhibitions reveal a lack of true Christian refinement. They do not strengthen the soul in God, but bring great darkness; they drive away the pure, refined, heavenly angels and bring those who engage in these wrongs down to a low level. 2T 455.2

Our sisters should encourage true meekness; they should not be forward, talkative, and bold, but modest and unassuming, slow to speak. They may cherish courteousness. To be kind, tender, pitiful, forgiving, and humble, would be becoming and well pleasing to God. If they occupy this position they will not be burdened with undue attention from gentlemen in the church or out. All will feel that there is a sacred circle of purity around these God-fearing women, which shields them from any unwarrantable liberties. 2T 456.1

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 390

Notwithstanding the spiritual darkness and alienation from God that exist in the churches which constitute Babylon, the great body of Christ's true followers are still to be found in their communion. There are many of these who have never seen the special truths for this time. Not a few are dissatisfied with their present condition and are longing for clearer light. They look in vain for the image of Christ in the churches with which they are connected. As these bodies depart further and further from the truth, and ally themselves more closely with the world, the difference between the two classes will widen, and it will finally result in separation. The time will come when those who love God supremely can no longer remain in connection with such as are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” GC 390.1

Revelation 18 points to the time when, as the result of rejecting the threefold warning of Revelation 14:6-12, the church will have fully reached the condition foretold by the second angel, and the people of God still in Babylon will be called upon to separate from her communion. This message is the last that will ever be given to the world; and it will accomplish its work. When those that “believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12), shall be left to receive strong delusion and to believe a lie, then the light of truth will shine upon all whose hearts are open to receive it, and all the children of the Lord that remain in Babylon will heed the call: “Come out of her, My people” (Revelation 18:4). GC 390.2

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