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Ferdinand Christian Baur.

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christ and of the Parousia being more definite and giving a better
clew to the historical situation. Thus what we have first of all
to examine is the eschatology of the chief passage of this Epistle.
It has hitherto been considered, and I myself formerly held this
view, that what we have in 2 Thess. ii. 1 sg. is the Christian view
of Antichrist as it had arisen from a Jewish basis, chiefly in
accordance with the prophecies of the book of Daniel ; described
in the chief features which it had assumed up to that time. This
however gave too much room to suppose that the apostle Paul
shared in the Jewish views of his contemporaries on the subject ;
and whatever trouble we may take to show his eschatology to be
different from that of this Epistle, we shall always be met by the



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324 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [App. IIL

assertion that the one as well as the other lies inside the Jewish
circle of ideas on the subject. We must therefore ask more defi-
nitely whether in 2 Thess. ii. we do actually find oiuselves entirely
within the sphere of Jewish eschatology, such as the apostle also
may have adopted ; or whether we do not find a view of Anti-
christ which can only have arisen on Christian soil, and which
presupposes events and experiences that belong to a. later age than
that of the apostles.

There can be no doubt, when we consider it, that the key to
the chief passage of the Epistle, and therefore to the aim and char-
acter of the whole writing, is to be found in the Apocalypse.
The Apocalypse is the earliest writing in which we find the con-
crete representation of a personal Antichrist; here the absolute
enemy of Christianity is identified with the person of the Emperor
Nero, and the picture of Antichrist is composed accordingly of
features which are clearly enough borrowed from. Nero's history
and character. The same belief appears in the description of our
Epistle. Antichrist is a definite person, an individual appearing
in history at a certain fixed date ; he is the man of sin, the son of
perdition, the adversary who exalts himself above all that is called
God, and is an object of worship, to such an extent that he places
himself in the temple of God and asserts of himself that he is God.
This description of Antichrist derives several of its expressions
from the prophet Daniel (compare especially xi 36), but it also coin-
cides with the description of the Apocalypse. The Apocalypse does
not make Antichrist declare that he is God, but the actions of the
false prophet who stands beside the beast all serve to represent the
beast or Antichrist, as an object of worship, such as is due to the
supreme God alone. Cf. Apoc. xiii. 12, 14, 16, xix. 20. And
eiriSeiKvvvai iavrov, on ifrrl 0eo9 does not refer, if accurately
rendered, to what Antichrist says of himself in words, but rather
to what he represents himself to be by his acts, in his whole Anti-
christian behaviour. The difference thus comes to be that what
the Apocalypse sets before our eyes in a succession of scenes by
means of narrative and description, the author of our Epistle corn-



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App. IIL] the two epistles to tee THESSALONIANS. 325

presses into a general notion, and expresses concisely by means of
accurate definition. There is nothing to prevent us from taking
the Antichrist of our Epistle to be the same individual who is
described more at large in the Apocalj^se. The expressions dvofila
and apo/jLo<: on the one side, and j;ao9 rov Oeov on the other, may
serve as an indication that we have to seek this individual in the
circle of the heathen world. In what follows we recognise the
views and images of the Apocalypse even more clearly.^ Anti-
christ is the representative and organ of Satan, derives all power
from him, and operates through false signs and wonders, through
works of deceit, by which he plunges into destruction those who
fall away from the truth and believe in him. Compare with
irapovata Kar evepyevav rov trarava iv iraar) Swafiev, Eev. xiii 2,
eBc^Kcv avTw (the beast or Antichrist) o BpaKtov rifv hvvafitv ainov
KOA rov Opopov avTov Koi e^ovalav fieyaXrjp : with <rr)fi€ca koI repa^
ra y^evBov^, what the Eevelation says of the false prophet, xiiL 1 3 sq.,
that he iroiel (rrjfiela p^aka, etc., of. xix. 20 : o iroirja'a^ ra arjp^la
evwiriov avrot) ; with the evepycui irXavrf^, through which men
believe a lie, Eev. xiii 14, TrXai^^ tou9 KaroiKovvrci^ eni 7^9 7^>
and xix. 20, ev oh errTJivfja^ tov<: Xafiovra^ ro )(apayp»a rov Orfp-
iov, etc. The subjection of Antichrist is given dijfferently in the
Apocalypse, where the two organs of Satan, the beast and the false
prophet, are at once hurled into the place of torment of the lower
powers. The author of the Epistle represents Antichrist, whom
he expressly describes as a man, as destroyed by the Lord through
the breath of his moutL This irv€vp4i rov <rrop^ro^, however, is
equivalent to the pop4f>aia o^ela which proceeds in the Bevelation
xix. 15, 21, €K rov aTop4iro^ airrov, and by which all the remnant
are killed. In all these particulars the Epistle to the Thessalonians
and the Apocalypse are substantially agreed ; and there are some
other points in the Epistle which appear inexplicable until the
Apocalypse explains them. The most difficult problem in the

I Kern took it for granted in his diBoassion on 2 These, ii. 1-12, in the Tubingen
Zeitschrift fUr Theologie 1839, H. 2, p. 200 «g., that the apocalyptical description
of 2 These, is of a piece with the prophecy of the Revelation xiii. 3 9q,, xviL 10 sq,,
in which Nero returns in the character of Antichrist.



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326 LTFE AND WORK OF PAUL, [App. III.

Epistle has hitherto been to find an interpretation for the Karlyov
and the fivar^qpiov rfy: dvofila^ which is already working. De
Wette, for example, thinks that the mystery of iniquity should not
be understood of any individual, but of the still uncollected and
unformed mass of iniquity which was to assume form and person-
ality in Antichrist, and of which the writer may have seen some
manifestations in the opposition of fanatical Jews. But the
expression dvofila prevents us from thinking of Jews ; the re-
proach contained in the word was one for the Jews to bring
against the apostle, not one to which they themselves were liable.
The sense and substance of the passage are clear enough : that
the beginnings and elements are already present of that which will
make its appearance in full concrete reality in the person of Anti-
christ. But why is the word fivarripiov used to express this idea,
and wherein does this fivorrfpiov consist, as Antichrist had not
appeared at all, and what had appeared, the premonitory symptoms
of his approach, was no secret, but manifest and visible ? The
only probable meaning seems to be this : that Antichrist was
present in essence in the still scattered and isolated manifesta-
tions of dvofjiia. This presence of Antichrist in essence is, how-
ever, too abstract a notion ; the statement is vague and shadowy; the
power of evil that is working in the world is not fixed to any
definite point, the person of Antichrist is not yet present at all,
and his personal appearance is conceived merely as the concentra-
tion of all the various manifestations of the power of evil into a
unity. Surely the writer must have meant something more than
this. The difficulty is at once solved if we take the idea of Anti-
christ in this Epistle to be that of the Apocalypse. If it be the
emperor Nero, then Antichrist is present as a person before he is
fully revealed in the character of Antichrist. We have to think
of the period in describing which the Apocalypse says of the beast,
xviL 8, ore ?jv, kclL ovk €<rTt, koI Trapearau Nero, as emperor, has
retired from the scene and is reported to be dead ; but he is still
alive, and will come again as Antichrist. In this interval he is
secretly and mysteriously active, and preparing to appear in the



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App. Ill] THE TWO EPISTLES TO TEE THE8SAL0NIANS 327

full energy of Antichrist, as soon as his hour is come (€^9 to diro-
KaXv^Ofjvai, avrov ev r^ iairrov Kaip^, verse 6). This then is the
meaning of the words : to yap fivarripiov ^S^ euepyecTac t^ dvo/ila^.
Antichrist is already come, but not openly, and is preparing in
his retirement for the period when he is to appear. The word
fivaT7]piov answers this interpretation perfectly. It is used in the
same peculiar sense as in the Eevelation xvii. 6, cf. verse 7. Here
it is said of the woman that she has a name written on her fore-
head as fjLv<rr7)piov, namely Baj3v7</ov rj fieydkr) ; the meaning cJf
which is that the name Babylon is given to her only in a figura-
tive sense, that the reader is to think of something else that is
merely hinted or suggested in this name ; that is, that the name
stands in reality for the city of Eome. In the same way the ex-
pression iivfTTTipLov dvofjkla^, 2 Thess. ii 7, is intended to indicate
that dvofila or the worker of it, the avofio^, stand for something
else not stated, which is to give the notion of Antichrist an actual
body and contents. What the word ^varripiov conveys is the
notion of a vague hint which has to be filled up and supplemented
by being referred to something actually existing in history. If
this be, as we think it is, an adequate solution of the fivarqpiov
•7^9 dvofiia^, then the KaTe^pv, or as the writer says more definitely
o KaT€X(»>v, no longer presents any diflSculty. What can it refer to
but the intermediate government, which the Apocalypse agrees
with our Epistle in placing between the disappearance and the
return of Nero : the Eoman emperor who occupied the throne
when the Epistle was written, not Galba (even the Apocalypse
makes him the sixth, followed by a seventh), but one of the
following emperors.^ The further definition depends on other
considerations which we have still to notice.

^ The ApocalypBe makes the sixth emperor to be followed by a seventh, who is
to be immediately succeeded by the reappearing Nero. This limitation to the
number seven is owing to the writer's view that the seven hills of Rome symbolize
the number of her rulers ; xvii. 9 at iirrci ic6</>aXat cTrra tiprj tlciv, ojrov fj yvvfl
KdBrjTcu cV avT&Vf Koi fiaaikeis ^irrd clcrty. Thus there can only be seven Konian
emperors in all, and the seventh, the immediate predecessor of Antichrist, is the
KaT€x<ov t i*«* the last before him. The notion of the KaT€\<av can only have arisen



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328 LIFE AND WOBK OF PAUL, [App. HL

We must now inquire into the purpose and occasion of the
Epistle. The writer's mind is engrossed and preoccupied with the
Parousia of Christ, the judgment that is then to overtake the un-
believing world, and the glory which the faithful may anticipate
as the reward and compensation of their sufferings. He thinks it
necessary, however, to warn his readers against the assertion that the
day of the Lord is already come. They are not to be shaken out
of their composure, nor to give way to terror, not even — there can
be no doubt that this is the meaning — though some one make the
announcement with prophetical inspiration, or appeal in support of
it to a pretended declaration or letter of the apostle himself. They
are to let no man deceive them by any means, nor delude them in-
to thinking that the day of the Parousia is coming now. This must
evidently refer to some movement that had arisen among the
Christians. The exhortation ei^ to fjurj ra^eoD^ (raKevOfjvai appears
to indicate that something had* been done already betraying a want
of self-control and a readiness to be excited and led away. Let
us seek for the traces of something of this kind in the history of
the time. The Parousia is closely connected with Antichrist, and
Antichrist with Nero, and thus we are naturally led to think of
some of the pseudo-If eronian disturbances. Indeed it is surprising
that none of the interpreters have sought the occasion of the Epistle
in this quarter. A passage in Tacitus, which is often quoted for
other purposes, approaches our Epistle even in its expressions and
might well have been employed in this way. " Sub idem tempus,"
Tacitus says. Hist. iL 8, of the period after the murder of Galba,

from the view of the Apocalypse. The apocalyptical elements of the Epistle
have not been properly attended to. In the first chapter as well as in the second,
we meet with the ideas and the spirit of the Apocalypse. The sufferings of the
Christians are regarded throughout from the point of view of retributive justice.
The result of these snfiferings is to be, for the righteous, that they will be glorified
and judged worthy of the kingdom of God ; while the ungodly will be punished
to avenge them. Compare 2 Thess. i 5, and Eev. vi 6 6g., vii. 14, xi. 18.

The appearing of the Lord when he comes with his mighty angels is described
in the same way as in Bev. xix. 11 9q. Compare the iv irvpX <t>\oy6s 2 Thess. i. 8,
with. the <l)\6$ irvpbs of his eyes, Bev. xix. 12 ; and the oyycXoi dwaficor avrov,
2 Thess. i. 7, with the aTpartvuara ra iv r^ ovpcuf^, Eev. xix. 14.



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App. III.] THE TWO EPISTLES TO THE THESSALONIANS. 329

when Otho and Vitellius, and even Vespasian were taking up arms
for their several interests, " Achaia atque Asia falso exterritae, velut
Nero adventaret ; vario super exitu ejus rumore, eoque pluribus
vivere eum fingentibus credentibusque. Inde late terror, multi
ad celebritatem nominis erecti, rerum novarum cupidine et odio
praesentium. Gliscentem in dies famam fors discussit"^ Achaia,
or Greece and Macedonia, and Asia Minor, were the chief seat of
this disturbance, and Thessalonica was in these provinces. Even
at that early date there were many Christians in these districts ;
and as the reappearance of Nero meant to them simply the coming
of Antichrist, the terror occasioned by the report would affect
them more powerfully than their neighbours, and may have caused
them to behave in such a way as to aggravate the general alarm
and confasion.^ There can be no doubt that prophets arose who
applied the signs of the times in their own manner, and perhaps
appealed to the Johannine Apocalypse, which was already well
known* Pauline Christians did not fail for their part to point to
the utterances of Paul, verbal or epistolary, in which he was held
to have foretold the catastrophe. At the time when our Epistle
w(is written, the excitement was spoken of as Ta;^€Q)9 adXeudfjvak
airo Tov voa^, and set down to some unscrupulous person who had
imposed on the general credulity; the ludibrium falsi Neronis
must thus have disappeared again, and the Epistle must have been
written after the alarm was over. As we read of gliscens in dies
fama, the commotion may have continued for some time, but its
collapse was so sudden and complete (fors discussit) that there

1 We know of three pseado-Neros. The first is that spoken of above ; a second
is mentioned by Zonaras (p. 578 c. of. Reimams on Bio Cassius, c. 64, 9). He
appeared in a.u.c. 832 nnder Titos, gained a considerable following in Asia
Minor and the regions of the Euphrates, and sought refuge at last with the
Parthian king. The third is he, of whom Tacitus says, Hist. i. 2, that through
him, mota prope Parthorum anna. According to Suetoi^ius, vita Ner., c. 57, this
was twenty years after Nero's death. The situation of our Epistle shuts us up
to the first of these /oM Nerones,

' If the terror was so great and general as Tacitus describes, we are obliged to
attribute it to the Christians more than others, for this among other reasons, that
many of the Gentiles desired the return of Nero, and must have hailed the report
of it. Cf. Theologische Jahrbttcher, 1852, p. 332 sq.



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330 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL, [App. III.

could be no doubt of the utter groundlessness of the whole story,
and it would naturally be spoken of as a thing of the past, just as
we find in our Epistle. Yet we must not go too far beyond the
date of the Neronian catastrophe ; in spite of the experience gained
from the appearance of the false Nero, our writer does not by any
means relinquish the belief that Nero is to reappear ; he knows
that the fivarripiov rfj^ avofila^ ffi^ epefyyelrat, and that it is nothing
but the existence of the /carexcov, the Emperor presently in posses-
sion of the throne, that causes his appearance to be delayed.^

It was important, therefore, to leam from the error that heA been
committed, and to deduce from it the principle on which the ex-
pectations of the future are to be formed. The newly made experi-
ence is vividly present to the writer's mind, and he derives from it
the new criteria on which his new theory of the Parousia is based.
The Parousia cannot take place until Antichrist has come, and
Antichrist cannot come till after the falling away, and neither the
falling away nor Antichrist can come until the KaT€)(a>v is taken
out of the way. When, therefore, the ruling emperor has fallen,
the catastrophe of the Parousia will begin. Now Gralba had fallen
already, so had* also Otho and Vitellius, and notwithstanding this,
the Nero of report had turned out to be a fictitious one. The
several criteria here mentioned must therefore follow hard one on
the other. With the fall of the present emperor comes Antichrist,
with him must come the dirooTaala, and this can be nothing but
what the Apocalypse describes, xiii 4, 8, 12, the idolatrous irpoc-

^ As the reigns of Otho and ViteUius were extremely short, the KaT€x<ov is
probably Vespasian, and the Epistle will then have been composed in the early
years of his reign. It might be inferred from the KaOicai els rov vaov rov ecoO,
2 Thess. ii. 4, that the date is prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. Our only
reason for doubting this is, that the Epistle shows the Apocalypse to have been
already well known. The expression might be taken as a figurative one, formed
after the prophet Daniel ; or vahs Beov may be equivalent to r<$fror rov voov»
Even though the temple was not standing, the place where it had stood was
considered equally sacred, as we see from the setting up of the idol under
Hadrian. Gf. the krit. unters. Uber die kan. ev., p. 606 «g. The feeling of
sanctity attached not so much to the temple as to the site on which the temple
stood, as the temple itself is called Syios tAttos ; Acts vi. 13 sq,, zxi 28.



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App. Ill] THE TWO EPISTLES TO THE THESSALONIANS. 331

Kweiv, namely, which is rendered to Antichrist at his appearance,
when the whole unbelieving world hails him and espouses his
cause. But this criterion is not enough ; it is not easy to be certain
whether the following that a reputed Nero gets is sufficient in
number and of such a character as to be a sure token of Anti-
christ. Antichrist must therefore reveal and declare himself to
be what he is, the avOpayiro^ rrj^ dfiapna^, the vio^ uTrosiKeia^, the
avTiKelfievo^ kclI vTrepatpdfievo^ eirl iravra Xeyofi€ifov Oeov Pj tre-
fia<T/JLa, co<7T€ avrov €t9 rov vaov tov Seov KaOiaat, airoBet/cvvvra
eavTov ore earl 06O9. The main point, in a word, is the airoKaXv^^
Brjvai avrov ev r^ iai/rov Kacp^, Kow what does all this amount
to ? It is precisely the instruction and the warning that would be
suggested by the experience just gained in the matter of the false
Nero. That Christians were not to let themselves be imposed upon
by any such ludibrium, nor led to think that the Parousia of Christ
was to take place immediately ; that this belief would not be war-
ranted until Antichrist had revealed himself so unmistakably
with all his proper tokens, as to leave no doubt whatever of his
actual presence. This is all intended, it is clear, to prevent the
recurrence in the future of such commotions, as ye see from the
historical data that the affair of the false Nero had excited. The
Christian is to consider it his duty to exercise caution and presence
of mind, and to avoid all precipitation. With regard to the Par-
ousia, he is to regulate his behaviour and his views strictly in
accordance with the tangible evidence of facts.

The exhortations given in a later part of the Epistle are very
appropriate to the historical situation we have traced. The belief
in the Parousia could easily operate in a very demoralizing way.
What was the use of caring for the future, or making orderly
arrangements, if the Parousia might come at any moment and be
the end of all ? This state of feeling could be more mischievous
still. There were men to whom this state of things gave a welcome
opportunity to indulge in their natural love of disorder. There
were such men among the Christians : faith, i,e, the right Christian
faith, was not a thing possessed by all, as is said, iii 2 ; there



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332 LIFE AND WORK OF PAUL. [App. IIL

were not wanting otottol k(u irovrfpol avOponroi, who became a
burden upon other people. The main part of the writei^s exhortations
is thus directed very naturally against disorderly life, against idle-
ness and refusal to labour. The last was the chief evil ; it arose
from the view that all things were on the verge of dissolution. It
was thought imnecessary to continue to work, men lounged about
in idleness, and thought no shame to live at the expense of others,
since those who had means would no longer be able, when the Par-
ousia came, to make any use of them. It is those people who are
spoken of in iii 11 : d/covofiev ydp riva^ ireptvaTovma^ ev vfuv
draKToyf;, fjuqhev efyya^ofievoi^, aXXa Trepifefyya^ofievoi^. Hence the
earnest admonition, not to go idle, but to work (jiera ijen^^/a?
epyd^ea-OaCy iii. 12), and the insistence upon the principle, that he
who will not work, should get nothing to eat, iii. 10 ; which, how-
ever, is not to prejudice the exercise of the Christian duty of
beneficence towards those who are in want, iii 13. In this con-
nexion, where the writer is recommending work for the purpose of
self-support, and that Christians should beware of being burden-
some to others, nothing could be happier than his appeal to the
apostle's own e^mple, and to the principles enunciated by him in
his own Epistles. Airrdi yap olBare, 7r®9 Bel fUfiecaOcu 'qfia^, etc.,
verse 7 sq. The writer is obviously thinking of the passage 1 Cor.
ix. 4 8q. ; he very appropriately generalizes what the apostle says,
1 Cor. ix. 1 2, that he did for a special purpose, and imputes to him a
wider motive : iva eavrov<; roirov h&fiev v/uv €t9 to fitfieUrdac rj/na^,
V. 9. In the sentences, p^ a-vvavafilyvvo'ffe, tva evrpair^ — o tcvpuy;
Tfj^ elpTfPfjf;, iii 14, 16, we find further points of resemblance to the
Corinthian Epistles. Cf. 1 Cor. v. 9, 11 ; 2 Cor. xiii 2.

If this interpretation of the occasion and scope of the Epistle be
accepted, it certainly cannot be charged with any want of colour or
point, or historical character. The situation from which it is written
is such that we fully appreciate the necessity that existed for issuing
such a piece of Christian exhortation, and the desirability of invest*
ing it with the name of that apostle whom the Churches of those
regions for whom it was mainly intended revered as their founder.



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App. IIL] the two epistles to the THESSALONIANS. 333

One very obvious result of the foregoing investigation, however, is
that the apostle Paul cannot possibly have written this Epistle him-
self. He could know nothing of an Antichrist appearing in the
person of the Emperor Nero; nor of a /caTe^o)!/, by whom the
portentous catastrophe was in the meantime delayed, nor of the cir-
cumstances which called so urgently for exhortations like those to be
addressed to the members of his Churches. Whom could the apostle
possibly have meant with the tcarexfov ? It is said to be more than
probable — ^De Wette shares this view — ^that he meant the Roman
empire or the Eoman emperor. There can be no doubt, it is said,
that he had the book of Daniel before his mind, that the four mon-
archies of that book represented to him the whole course of the
world's history down to the appearance of the Messianic kingdom,
and that he unquestionably held the fourth to be the Eoman
empire, as did Josephus and the early fathers, so that this empire
which still existed was the only obstacle in the way of the last
catastropha He had before his eyes the condition of the world as
it then was, and his vision carried him no further. He expected



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