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MAKING SENSE OF GOD'S ELECTION: a Digest of the Essentials of the Work by Donald R. Shell - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/election/elmss3.sam.htm
MAKING SENSE OF GOD'S ELECTION: a Digest of the Essentials of the Work by Donald R. Shell
Part I: Making Sense Of God's Election
Chapter II: Making Sense Of God's Election Through An Inductive Bible Study
B. Interpreting 2 Thessalonians 2:13
- To "make sense" of God's election in contrast to what we have shown the major election positions do, we now perform an induction on 1 Peter 1:1-2, 2 Thessalonians 2:13 and Ephesians 1:4-5.
- We follow our exposition of 1 Peter 1:1-2 with an exposition of 2 Thessalonians 2:13 (as follows):
- At first glance, 2 Thessalonians 2:13 seems to interrelate all of our key themes as it says: "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." KJV
- A textual problem exists with the "from the beginning" phrase, for some manuscripts replace it with the reading, "a firstfruits," cf. Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Grk. N.T., p. 636-637.
- Theologians often adopt the reading that best fits their own election views, so trying to ascertain the correct reading as a first step in our exposition of the verse fails to resolve any substantive issues relative to election and predestination, cf. Samuel Fisk, Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom, p. 139-141.
- Besides, if "salvation" means justification, any party of a major election view could thus support his respective position, an illogical and hence errant position. Thus, we examine the word, "salvation" to see what meaning besides justification it must have here so we can avoid the errant illogic of the main views:
- The word "salvation," comes from the Greek term, sotaria, and it is used of deliverance from enemies (Luke 1:71; Acts 7:25), the preservation of earthly life (Hebrews 11:7) and for justification (Luke 19:9; 2 Peter 3:15), cf. Moulton & Geden, A Concordance to the Greek Testament, 4th rev. ed., p. 931-932.
- To discern which of these meanings applies in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, we note the verse's context:
- Paul was writing to comfort his Christian readers who feared they might have entered the time of the prophecied Great Tribulation, cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2. His goal was thus to show this time had neither arrived nor that it would come when his readers feared it might do so.
- After describing the activity and then the judgment of the antichrist, Paul wrote the antichrist's appearing would be permitted by God as judgment on those who had rejected Christ, 2:9-10.
- By their rejection, these unbelievers would be condemned to be deceived to heed the man of sin and thus to participate in his destruction by God's judgment, 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12.
- Paul argued his readers who had believed in Christ were not guilty by way of their faith of such a repudiation of the gospel, and thus were to escape God's judgment, 2 Thess. 2:12-14. Since this judgment includes the antichrist's deceiving activity beginning at his appearance as the man of sin in the first half of Daniel's 70th prophetic week (cf. Daniel 7:8, 24; 9:27), the Christian would not experience the antichrist's entire seven year appearance, including the entire Great Tribulation!
- Thus, in contrast to those who rejected Christ, Paul's believing readers were chosen by God unto "salvation" and the obtaining of God's glory, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.
- Now, by "salvation," Paul could not have meant "justification" or he would have taught a major election view that is illogical and hence at odds with the inerrant Bible. Besides, his readers were not concerned about their justification, but about their physical deliverance from the man of sin!
- Also, 1 Thessalonians 5:8-9 is the nearest Scripture passage in Paul's writings that uses the same word, sotaria, and there it is a future event since it is viewed in "hope," Ibid., Moulton & Geden.
- Accordingly, we must claim that by the word, "salvation" in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul would have to speak of a future pretribulation rapture where the believer escapes the antichrist's entire era, including his early deceptive works, and thus obtains the "glory of Christ" in heaven!
- Conclusion on the Interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:13:
- The word, "salvation" in this context must picture God's physical deliverance of Christian believers to be raptured out of the world in a pretribulation rapture before the antichrist appears as such.
- Viewing "salvation" as justification would leave one holding to a major election view that is illogical and at tension with the Bible's inerrancy.
- Thus, where 1 Peter 1:1-2 teaches God chose believers to practical righteous living, 2 Thessalonians 2:13 reveals He chose them to glorification in the pretribulation rapture before the antichrist appears.
- (This conclusion also thus confirms the validity of the pretribulation rapture position!)