SHOULD THE KING JAMES’ TERM “CHRIST” REALLY BE “LORD” IN 2 THESSALONIANS 2:2?
by Shawn Brasseaux
King James Bible critics invariably hone in on the term “Christ” in 2 Thessalonians 2:2 and gleefully shout out, “Mistranslation—it should be ‘Lord’ not ‘Christ!’” Is there any merit in this their observation, or is it just idle speculation worth ignoring? Before we come to a conclusion, let us investigate the verse in question, being especially careful to note the context. Maybe… just maybe… we will learn that we have much more to learn from God’s Word than we think we know (1 Corinthians 8:2).
Frankly, there is much arrogance—and much ignorance—in the realm of Bible “scholarship.” Mortal men educated in schools of mortal men sit on self-constructed thrones and make themselves out to be gods. Yes, they sat in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and church tradition and history classes, but those credentials alone do not make them Bible believers and those achievements do not automatically make them sound Bible authorities. There are millions upon millions of people who read and speak Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, but they reject the Bible in all matters of faith and practice—do you actually want them to tell you what the Bible “really” says?
Beloved, I have personally met seminary preachers and priests, I have conversed with them in person and/or email, I have read their works, I have watched their television programs, and I have sat in their church buildings and lectures. I can report in complete sincerity that the vast majority of these alleged Bible “scholars” are so perverted doctrinally it is beyond fathoming. Seminary is a nursery for unbelief and a cemetery for the Bible! They laughed at the Bible, they questioned the Bible, and they ignored the Bible. And, yes, that is applicable to Roman Catholic and Protestant seminary graduates alike. Indeed, we agree with our Lord Jesus Christ who prayed: “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and the prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight” (Matthew 11:25-26). “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God… The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain [empty, worthless]” (1 Corinthians 3:19-20).
In fact, the “scholarly” elite dares not to submit to God’s Book, and they do everything possible to cause you to doubt it and trust them. Israel’s religious leaders did it in Jesus’ day, and religious leaders around the world still do it today. They want the authority; they want the preeminence Almighty God and His Word alone deserve. Man is sinful, and because there are many lost people in the realms of Bible scholarship, they want to be their own god, their own authority. Without so much as a blush, they quickly lunge at the Bible text and butcher it with the scholar’s scalpel, changing the precious words of God so those divine utterances make sense in their fallen minds. They throw out a verse here, they make up a new verse there, they change this word and that word, they toss out two 12-verse passages, they water down innumerable verses, while the average Christian (conditioned) sits and relaxes while he or she lets the “scholars” adjust the Bible text to make it understandable. We would hate to be in their shoes when they stand before a holy, righteous God and explain to Him why they corrupted His Word, why they thought their puny minds were smarter than His!
Okay, now, with that said, we can examine the pompous attitude toward the King James’ rendering of 2 Thessalonians 2:2. (Remember our comments about people who believe they are smarter than God?) The following quote from a bygone commentator summarizes the view that is still prevalent among Bible “scholars” today:
“Verse 2 closes with the words, ‘…As that the day of Christ is at hand.’ Greek authorities assure us that this last statement is faulty insofar as the Greek is concerned. It should read, ‘…Supposing that the Day of the Lord is upon us.’ ‘The Day of Christ’ is definitely not intended here, but ‘the Day of the Lord.’ … It is very unfortunate that this verse in II Thessalonians is mistranslated in our King James Bible. The Word ‘Christ’ should be ‘Lord,’ and in this case the mistranslation changes the entire meaning of the event Paul is describing.”
Our brief answer to the above accusation, and rank vilification of our 1611 translators, is as follows: “If the King James’ term ‘Christ’ in 2 Thessalonians 2:2 ‘changes the entire meaning of the event Paul is describing,’ it is equally true that replacing that term with ‘Lord’ could, hypothetically, also change the entire meaning of the event Paul is describing. There is a major disagreement whether to use ‘Christ’ or ‘Lord.’ Obviously, it is not a trivial issue; it cannot be ignored and it cannot be taken lightly. Questioning the phraseology of God’s Holy Word is, and I say this advisedly, heretical; either the authority is in the Bible, or it is in the Greek scholars. Moreover, if ‘Christ’ is not a mistranslation in our King James in 2 Thessalonians 2:2, then the critics’ changing of the text is literally pointless; in fact, if their change is unnecessary, and we are persuaded it is, to change it to ‘Lord’ is to miss the point of the often-ridiculed King James’ word ‘Christ.’” (Our Bible-believing position receives fuller treatment in our extended answer below.)
Let us look at 2 Thessalonians chapter 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.  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;  Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
Absolutely, 2 Thessalonians 2:3ff. describes “the day of the LORD;” as a King James Bible believer, I fully understand that. In that passage (which actually continues down to verse 12), we see the appearance of the Antichrist—his career from start to finish (verses 3-8), complete with all of his blasphemous activities and deceptive doctrines (verses 4-12), and his defeat by Jesus Christ at His Second Coming (verse 8). The phrase “day of the LORD” first appeared in Isaiah 2:12, and it is found throughout the Old Testament Scriptures (Isaiah 13:6,9; Isaiah 34:8; Jeremiah 46:10; Lamentations 2:22; Ezekiel 13:5; Ezekiel 30:3; Joel 1:15; Joel 2:1,11,31; Joel 3:14; Amos 5:18,20; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah 1:7-8,14; Zechariah 14:1; Malachi 4:5; Acts 2:20; 2 Peter 3:10). Even in the New Testament (1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10) it refers to the time from the Babylonian captivity about 600 B.C. all the way until the Apostle Paul’s ministry, skipping our dispensation, and encompassing the seven-year Tribulation and the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ.
Here is where we get to the most critical part, so please pay very close attention to these next several paragraphs. The King James translators knew of and understood the “day of the LORD” because they competently handled that term in both its Old and New Testament contexts (references above). The Bible companies and translators handled God’s Word very carefully; each verse of the King James went through a very scrupulous translation and review process, being examined at least a dozen times each. Even though the context of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 is the “day of the LORD,” our 1611 scholars have the word “Christ” in 2 Thessalonians 2:2. Why do they mention the “Day of Christ” when the “Day of the Lord” is described in the context? If we would read all of 2 Thessalonians 2:2, and not just the part that we want to criticize, perhaps we can appreciate why the King James Bible reads like it does. Perhaps our Bible really is smarter than we give it credit!
Before we proceed any further, the King James Bible critic—who usually runs to “the Greek” for counsel—will be disappointed to learn that the majority of the Greek manuscripts read “Christ” and not “Lord” in 2 Thessalonians 2:2. That is to say, most surviving Greek New Testament manuscripts testify that the King James Bible is correct and the modern versions and their “better [minority] Greek texts” are wrong! Rather than getting angry with the King James translators, we pause and wonder who criticizes the Greek copyists who wrote the word Christos in the Greek version of 2 Thessalonians 2:2 long before the 1611 translators rendered it “Christ?!” The King James translators did not mistranslate; their Greek text read christos in 2 Thessalonians 2:2, not kurios (“Lord”). But, we proceed onward.
We return to analyzing the first two verses of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, to learn why our King James reads like it does in verse 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.
Satan has troubled these believers in Thessalonica with false teaching. Not only are false teachers and false prophets (liars, deceitful religious leaders) infiltrating this local assembly, but forged epistles (counterfeit Scriptures) are also disrupting its spiritual growth. See, we should be vigilant regarding counterfeit Bible versions, because they existed 2,000 years ago—how much more are there today?! (Perverted Bible manuscripts and their resultant translations are being praised today as containing the “true” reading of verse 2!)
Again, while verse 2 is often assumed to be a “King James translation error,” the context leads us to conclude that the Apostle Paul is actually quoting the terminology of the aforementioned forged epistle and/or false teachers. As we stated before, verses 3ff. do indeed describe the “Day of the LORD,” the seven-year Tribulation and onward, but the false letter and/or false teacher that Paul is referencing, that individual is wrongly using the Bible term “the Day of Christ,” and causing the believers in Thessalonica to fear it. The “Day of Christ,” or the Judgment Seat of Christ, is a joyous time for the believer, not a fearful time (Philippians 1:10; Philippians 2:16); the counterfeit epistle and false teachers are confusing the “day of Christ” (Judgment Seat of Christ) with the “Day of the LORD” (the Tribulation period). The Thessalonians, enduring great persecution (1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10; 2 Thessalonians 3:5), have been led to believe they are now suffering Daniel’s 70th week, the seven-year Tribulation!
It is not hard to believe that people would use Bible terms and attach non-Bible definitions to them. Even today, people use Bible terms—“repentance,” “stauros” (Greek, “cross”), “Jehovah,” “sin,” “mystery,” “Baptist,” “presbytery,” “tithe,” “baptism,” “Pentecost,” “tongues,” “hell,” “gehenna” (Greek, “hell”), “confession,” “prophet,” “Christ,” “Eucharist” (Greek, “thanks”), “age,” “communion,” “altar,” “Israel,” “Jesus,” “apostle,” “devil,” “Holy Ghost,” “Bible,” “dispensation,” “house of the Lord,” “grace,” “prophet,” and others—but they define those terms according to their church tradition or denomination instead of defining these terms as the Bible defines them. How dangerous!
Beloved, 2 Thessalonians 2:2 is perfect in our King James Bible. “Christ,” not “Lord,” is the only valid reading because Paul is quoting a false teacher or false epistle here (instead of looking at the next few verses for insight, look at the verse itself that contains the term, and the truth is there ever so clearly if we have an ear to hear, an eye to see, and a heart to believe). Our King James Bible is hereby defended and vindicated!
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