ABC:2 Thessalonians 2
Verse 11, Should We Tell Lies?
|“||Should We Tell Lies?
Exodus 20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Proverbs 12:22 ¶ Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.
1 Kings 22:23 Now, therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee.
2 Thessalonians 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
Strange as it might seem, God does allow dishonesty for the purpose of defeating wickedness, by using their own tactics against them. As it is written, "With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward." (Psalms 18:26) Job observes that "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." (Job 5:13) Jesus called Christians to be wise as serpents but harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16) God sends punishments on the wicked for their sins. (Lamentations 3:38-41) God used lying spirits throughout the Bible to deceive those engaging in sin and idolatry that they might be punished. (cp. Ezekiel 14:7-10; Judges 9:23; 1 Kings 22:23; 2 Chronicles 18:19-22; Job 12:16-17; Isaiah 19:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:11)
Unfortunately righteous people cannot always be honest with the wicked, lest they be destroyed. Evil people do not play by the rules, and the righteous cannot always be open and honest with evil people, which is why even Jesus simply ignored evil people trying to entrap Him at times. (Matthew 26:63; 27:12; John 8:6) From a government standpoint, always speaking truthfully will result in betrayal by evil people who use espionage, allowing for the downfall of good governments unless they fight back through counter-espionage. Even righteous people in the Bible used lies and deception to avoid danger from those they considered wicked. (cp. Genesis 12:13-20; 20:1-13; 26:6-11; 34:13-26; Judges 4:19-21; 1 Samuel 21:13)
So how then can the two concepts be reconciled? False witness in Exodus 20:16 involved more than just dishonesty but distorting the truth when testifying legally (as in court of law) to harm the innocent and pervert justice. (cp. Deuteronomy 19:16-19; Exodus 23:1-8) The condemnation was not for occasional dishonesty, but using that dishonesty to destroy others without a cause. (Proverbs 3:30) As for Proverbs 12:22, lying lips are those which lie habitually to harm others without a cause, as contrasted with those that deal truthfully. (cp. Psalms 31:18,13; Proverbs 10:18; 17:7; Psalms 120:2-4) However, even righteous, ordinarily truthful people in the Bible had, at times, to use deception to avoid the traps of the wicked, as mentioned previously.
|“||God wants everyone to go to heaven.
1 Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
God wants some to go to hell.
Proverbs 16:4 The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
John 12:40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
Romans 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
2 Thessalonians 2:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
John 12:40 like Romans 9:18 is referring to the Jews, how God has hardened their hearts and blinded their eyes. However, Paul specifically addresses this in Romans 11, stating that it is NOT God's intention that they should fall, but rather that through their hard-heartedness salvation might come to the Gentiles as well, that God might have mercy upon everyone.
|“||Romans 11:8-11 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
Romans 11:30-32 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
This is consistent with the Old Testament. God's righteousness rejected leads to God's wrath and hardening of hearts (or as the Scofield Study Bible III puts it, "Light rejected, rightful obedience refused, inevitably hardens conscience and heart."), but it is still God's intention that the wicked repent like Nineveh did. That is why God pleads with Israel to turn from their wickedness so they will not die.
|“||Ezekiel 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
So what about the other two passages? With 2 Thessalonians 2:12, when reading in context it is plain that God gave the wicked ample opportunity to repent, and they refused to repent and follow the Truth, Jesus. God did not set them up to fail because He did not want them to find eternal life, they deliberately rejected the truth of the Gospel in favor of lies and the deceptive pleasures of evil pleasures. Thus God in His wrath finally damns them by allowing them to pursue the lies that they prefer.
|“||2 Thessalonians 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
To put it bluntly, God does want everyone to become saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. God has given everyone enough knowledge that they are inexcusable. Romans 1:18-32 shows the pattern. God has shown mankind enough that they should recognize His power and authority and glorify Him. Instead, people choose vain imaginations over God. God in His wrath then allows them the consequences of their evil desires, lusts which enslave and destroy them. If God hardens their hearts, He nonetheless provides key opportunities for them to repent and forgives and heals those who do, like Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:34).
|“||Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Proverbs 16:4 requires understanding of the original Hebrew language which the Old Testament was written in before being translated into English. As excellently pointed out by Robert L. Boldt, God has made everyone to give account to Himself, or give an answer to Him, as more clearly seen from reading the other surrounding verses in context. Proverbs 16:1-8 is about how all consider their actions correct but it is God who determines the truth of one's ways. (v. 2) We should submit ourselves to God, abandon evil, and let the Lord direct our steps. (vv. 3-8)
|“||Proverbs 16:1 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.
2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.
3 Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.
4 The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.
6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.
7 When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.
9 A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.
The Hebrew word ma'aneh is usually translated "answer" in the KJV, indeed 7 out of 8 times it is translated that way. Only in Proverbs 16:4 did the KJV translate it differently, instead as "for Himself." Thus if translating the passage consistently with the rest of the Bible, God creates the wicked TO ANSWER to Him, not simply as evil. God is not the author of evil, as mentioned by the Scofield Study Bible III (see also Lamentations 3:38).
Thus, all passages simply represent the reality of God's wrath towards those who abide in evil. God wants them to repent and find salvation, but if they refuse to obey God, He will harden their hearts by allowing them to remain in the enslaving, wicked pleasures which will ultimately prove their destruction.
- Barker, D. (2019). "Bible Contradictions." FFRF.
- Marlow, Andy (2009). Contradictions in the Bible. Project Reason.
- Scofield, C.I. (2006). The Scofield Study Bible III. p. 92. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=tRJ8bG9rpn0C&pg=PA92&lpg=PA92.
- Boldt, Robert L. Did God Make the Wicked for Punishment? GreatBibleStudy.com.
- Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon. Ma'aneh. BibleStudyTools.com.
- Scofield, C.I. (2006). The Scofield Study Bible III. p. 934. Oxford University Press.