2 Thess. 2:3

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Mon Mar 25 15:31:10 EST 2002

> The suggested ellipsis, the Day of the Lord is not present, is apparently
> based on the interpretation/translation of ENESTHKEN as "has come,"
> rather than "is at hand."  If ENESTHKEN means they thought the Day of the
> Lord had come, then the suggested ellipsis makes sense.  But, if
> ENESTHKEN means "is at hand," than "shall not come" makes good sense
> (although I do note that modern translations tend to mix the two by
> saying "has come ....will not come."
> The KJ translators differ vastly from modern translators on ENESTHKEN
> ("is at hand" versus "has come").  They apparently saw the absurdity of
> rendering it "has come," since that would imply the Lord had already
> returned and the saints gathered together unto Him.  Not even the
> Thessalonians were that dumb.  No, the KJ translators surely saw this
> passage as a denial of the deceptive teaching on imminency (which says
> the Lord could return at any time, with no necessary preceding prophetic
> events yet to be fulfilled).  Somehow the Thessalonians had been duped by
> such.  Paul corrects it by saying that day will come except certain other
> things come first.
> Paul Dixon

The UBS handbook by Ellingworth and Nida have the following comments about
this which I find helpful:
First on v. 2:
In place of "has come", a few translators (Knox, following the Latin, cf.
KJV) have "is close at hand." The Greek verb can have this meaning in other
tenses and in other contexts. In past tenses, however, it means "has
arrived," and in Romans 8.38 and 1 Corinthians 3.22 the same verb is
contrasted with events still to come. Rigaux (p. 653) describes the
translation "is imminent" as "a commentary," having no linguistic basis.

Then on v. 3:
"For the Day will not come until" makes explicit, as do virtually all
translations from KJV onwards, an idea which is implicit in the Greek, and
which Paul would have expressed if he had not broken off his sentence at the
end of verse 2.

Where KJV got its strange translation from I don't know. Maybe from the
Latin (Vulgate?), but where did they get it from? 95% of commentators agree
on "has come" which is equal to the more obscure "is (now) present" against
"is soon to come", and KJV is almost alone against the vast majority of

The special term "Day of the Lord" normally refers to the return of the
Lord, but may also refer to the final day of judgment which follows that
return. From v. 1 it is clear that the Day of the Lord here is equivalent to
the coming/return of the Lord. One can argue that the "Day" is a series of
divine interventions that start off with the return of the Lord.

Iver Larsen

More information about the B-Greek mailing list