Vs. 1, 2. Every believer sets a high value on the return of our Lord, the resurrection of the dead and the day when we shall see Christ and be like him. But the apostle warns this early church against becoming unsettled, alarmed and excited by fanatics and false teachers who declare that the return of Christ is at hand or on a near fixed date! When any event is said to be near at hand and it does not arrive quickly, disappointment gives way to despair. "Do not be disturbed by their claim to spiritual revelations or by their persuasive words or even by epistles addressed to you in my name!"
Vs. 3, 4. "Do not be deceived by any man into thinking that the day of the Lord is near at hand" (remember that this was written 1900 years ago in the very earliest days of the church), "for there must come an apostasy (a falling away from the truth of the gospel, from the grace of God in Christ, and from salvation by grace through faith) of those who profess to know God and to be saved! And the man of sin, the son of perdition, must be revealed (the one who exalts himself above God, dwelling in the house of God, claiming to be God)." Many believe this man of sin (or Antichrist) to be an individual or a single person. Both Calvin and Gill say it is not an individual but a succession of religious leaders, or a spirit of Antichrist. Both Gill and Calvin teach that this apostasy has occurred and that this spirit of Antichrist certainly has possessed religion as a whole. The will of man is exalted above God in the churches, salvation has been reduced to works and deeds, God's sovereignty and reign over all things have been denied, and the spirit of Antichrist reigns in most churches.
Vs. 5-8. These verses seem to bear out the teaching of Calvin and Gill. For Paul says, "You know what is restraining him from being revealed at this time (or taking over completely at this time) that he might be revealed in his appointed time (for that spirit of Antichrist and rebellion against God is already at work in the world)." He is restrained by the Holy Spirit, and when God's appointed day comes, this spirit of Antichrist will totally dominate and the Lord Jesus wilt bring an end to him and his religious kingdom when he comes again!" (I John 2:18; II Tim. 3:1-7.)
Vs. 9-12. This Antichrist spirit (false religion and righteousness of men as opposed to the righteousness of God in Christ) is motivated and masterminded by Satan (II Cor. 11:13-15). It will be attended by great power, success and all sorts of pretended miracles, marvels and lying wonders (Matt. 24:24). Those who renew these teachers of false religion do so not because they have not heard or read the truth of Christ, but because they will not receive the truth. Therefore, because they will not love the truth nor receive it, God sends them strong influence and delusions, which lead them to hold even more strongly to their error. There are none so blind as those who will not see! Those who take pleasure in righteousness, even in their own self-righteousness, will reap the fruit of it.
Vs. 13. Lest these believers should be discouraged and fearful of their security in Christ because of his account of the Antichrist and his followers, Paul encourages them in this verse.
1. "I thank God for you brethren, beloved of the Lord." It is only because of the grace of God that we do not perish with the apostates. Thank God he loved us first (I John 4:10, 19).
2. "God chose you from the beginning to salvation." We were elected to salvation in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-6).
3. "Through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the gospel." Election is not salvation, but unto salvation. Those elected must be regenerated, born again, called by the Holy Spirit to genuine repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the agent and the Word of God is the seed, instrument or foundation of faith. There is a threefold sanctification of the believer: (1) set apart by the Father (Jude 1), (2) made holy and unblameable by Christ (I Cor. 1:2), and (3) regenerated and progressively sanctified by the Spirit and the Word (II Thess. 2:13).
Vs. 14. It is by and through the gospel that men are called to obtain and share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:13-15).
Vs. 15-17. "So, brethren, stand firm in the faith and hold fast to the truth which you have been taught through our messages and epistles. And may God comfort you, encourage your hearts and make you steadfast in every good work and word!"
All church members, preachers and teachers do not have saving faith. They have a profession of faith, a form of godliness and the appearance of righteousness, but it is not the faith of Christ, which is the gift of God, nor the faith of God's elect, which is the operation of the Holy Spirit (I John 2:18; 4:1).