How could anyone believe that the Day of the Lord had already come? Well, Christians– 2000 years ago– believed just that! How is this Possible?
Do not let anyone deceive you that the Day of the Lord has Already Come!
Our good friend Jim Hopkins of Alabama has many years of study under his belt and has some great insights into Biblical eschatology. We are sharing with our visitors an email post that he just made to a group about 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2:
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.” (KJV).
Before giving you Jim’s thoughts, I must share with you that this verse was one that I tried desperately to hang onto for some time. My thinking was that there was an “at hand” Day of the Lord” and a “not at hand Day of the Lord” (i.e. 2 Thessalonians 2, in the KJV). Then, however, I made the mistake of looking at the Greek of the text, and feverishly looking at all the other passages using enesteken. That was hugely problematic for me, and I knew, without doubt, that I was in trouble!
So, I published the first edition of my book How Is This Possible? asking the very question that brother Jim does below. If the Day of the Lord is what we have been taught that it is, how in the name of reason could anyone convince anyone that the end of time was yesterday?!
Later, I expanded that first edition to what it is now, and tons of people have told me that seeing the true translation has had the same impact on them that it did on me a long time ago. It really is a stunning and challenging verse! Get your own copy of that book How Is This Possible? for an expanded discussion of even Jim’s material below. It may well change your life too!
Jim Hopkins on the Day of the Lord
Is it “at hand” or “had come” in 2Thes 2:2?
Have you noticed the difference in the reading between the KJV and the NKJV? Or even one of the newer versions? The KJV reads “as that the day of Christ is at hand,” and the others read, “as though the day of Christ had come.” Why the difference in the readings?
Let’s look at the reading from the KJV first. It reads: “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.” With this reading, some in Paul’s day, are saying that the Day of Christ is at hand and which Paul is denying. From Paul’s other writings we know that this is a direct contradiction to what he writes in Rom 13:12, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” And with Jas 5:8, “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” And with 1Pet 4:7, “The end of all things is at hand.”
So, the reading as given in the NKJV, “as though the day of Christ had come,” harmonizes better with the teaching of Paul, James and Peter and as we shall see, with the text itself.
We are dealing with the Greek word, ἐνίστημι, enistēmi, which is “to place on hand, that is, (reflexively) impend, (participle) be instant: – come, be at hand, present.” (Strong’s #1764). As you can see, “to place on hand,” is the meaning of the word, and the KJV translates it as “come, be at hand, present.”
It is used 7 times in the NT, 6 times with the perfect tense (as in 2 Thess. 2) and one time with the future tense, which is found in 2Tim 3:1. I list all the scriptures below to show that the proper rendering was given five of the seven times it is used. Only it is changed when the scripture is dealing with the coming of Christ. (The underlining is mine):
(Rom 8:38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
(1Co 3:22) Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
(1Co 7:26) I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.
(Gal 1:4) Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
(2Th 2:2) That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
(2Ti 3:1) This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
(Heb 9:9) Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
Since all of the uses of the word are perfect tense with the exception of 2 Tim 3:1, one would expect the translations to be all the same. And we do see that in the first four verses above, with the word, “present.” But in the fifth verse shown, if the translators had been consistent, it would have read: “as that the day of Christ is present,” rather than “as that the day of Christ is at hand.”
What was it then that Paul was teaching since some were saying that the Day of the Lord was present? I see him teaching that the Day of Christ was not present because there were yet two events that must happen before the Day of Christ could be present. Those two things were the “falling away,” and the “revealing of the man of sin,” both of which Jesus taught would occur before the fall of Jerusalem in Mt 24. Jesus expressed it as “the love of many will grow cold,” (vs 12), and “For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ.” (vs 5).
How is it that someone could say that the Day of the Lord was present? They couldn’t if they expected the Day of Christ to be understood physically. Evidently, they understood the spiritual nature of the presence, but had left out two of the prophesied events. I see Paul dealing with the same problem in 2Tim 2:17, when Hymenaeus and Philetus erred from the truth in teaching that “the resurrection is past already.” How is it that they could deceive anyone if they were teaching a physical body resurrection? The proper nature of the resurrection was seen but the timing was off. We are not told, but when would you suppose that they understood that the resurrection had taken place? Would it not have been at the resurrection of Jesus?
This to me is very much like those today who teach that the Law and the Prophets were all fulfilled at the Cross and at that time all promises to Israel were fulfilled. You can see Paul addressing this same problem in Rom 11:1, ” I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not!” But if one fulfills the Old Covenant at the Cross, have they not cast away Israel?
I see Paul addressing this same problem in 1Cor 15. Their problem isn’t that they did not believe in a resurrection for themselves, but rather for the “resurrection of the dead,” i.e., the Old Covenant dead. Like the folks in Rom 11, they believed God had rejected Old Covenant Israel. Paul argues that Christ was part of Old Covenant Israel and if there is no resurrection of the dead ones, then neither is Christ raised from the dead ones.
The sixth verse is correctly given, but could have been translated, “in the last days perilous times shall be “present,” to make the translation of this word consistent with the others.
The seventh verse the KJV changed the present tense to a past tense and added the word “then.” making it read: “Which WAS a figure for the time THEN present.” A better translation would be: “which IS a figure for the present time.” By changing the tense, the KJV makes Paul speak of events in the past rather than during Paul’s present time.
What I think we are seeing is translator bias. It was translated “present” four times and then it was changed to “at hand” in 2Thes 2:2 and to a “then present” in Heb 9:9. It would seem they translate according to their belief system rather than what the Greek text clearly reveals!
Hopefully, from this brief examination of the text, you can see that there is a need to look behind the motives of the translators. Since most folks don’t work easily with the original language of the scriptures, perhaps a way around the translation problem is to read from many different translations. In that way the translator bias can more easily be identified. (Note: I have examined now, over 50 translations of 2 Thessalonians 2, and found that there is little, extremely little, to support of the KJV translation, DKP).
Yours in Him,
Be sure to get a copy of How Is This Possible? for even more on this challenging passage.