Let’s talk about the power of the Words of Christ:
“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.” - 2Th 2:8
The second chapter of Second Thessalonians is all about reassuring the church that they have not missed the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Please remember that Paul doesn’t tell the Thessalonians that Christ couldn’t come at any time. He doesn’t tell them that they should fail to be ready or fail to expect Christ’s return. He simply tells them that Christ’s return has not already occurred, which is something far different. And the reason he gives is not only the fact that the man of lawlessness must first appear, but also that when Christ returns He will overthrow (1) this man of lawlessness and destroy him.
How does Jesus overthrow him?
By “the breath of His mouth”. And, no. This isn’t a reference to the Lord having bad breath. There is a couple ways to understand this passage and I think it makes for a theologically rich mosaic.
First, we can understand “breath” in the verse to be referring to His powerful word. The words that Jesus speaks. Just as when God spoke the universe into existence in Genesis one, Jesus has the same power. To merely speak and that which He spoke comes to pass. This, of course, is not the first time that the power of Christ is demonstrated through His spoken word. The Gospels are filled to the brim with examples. Such as Jesus cursing the fig tree (Mar 11:12-25), Jesus’ numerous commands to the evil spirits (Mar 9:14-29), when He raised Lazarus (Joh 11:38-44), calms the storm (Mar 4:35-41), and my personal favorite, when He heals the Centurion’s servant (Mat 8:5-13). There are many more examples but I think you get the point. Jesus speaks and it happens.
Second, the greek word used here for “breath” is pneuma. Which is a word often translated as “spirit”. And, as a matter of fact, is often used to refer to the Holy Spirit Himself. So, these are not mere words that Jesus speaks. But words that carry the power of the Spirit of God.
Lastly, when we see the word “breath” being used, it should remind us of a term used in the Old Testament. That term is “the breath of life” (Gen 2:7, 7:22). Let’s not forget that God is the God of the living and not the God of the dead (Mar 12:27). However, the man of lawlessness is the representative of Sin and Death. Life drives out Death just as Death drives out Life. However, Life is more powerful than Death and this will become apparent in the end. Jesus will return bearing the Breath of Life and this will cause Death to be driven out of His creation once and for all (see Rev 20:14).
“For the law of the Spirit [pneuma] of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” - Rom 8:2
What do you think about the power of Word of God (Rev 19:13)? Do you look forward to the day of His return? Have you seen evidence of the man of lawlessness? We’d love to hear what you think! God bless!
The word translated as “overthrow” in the NIV is the greek word anaireō. This word can also be translated as “slay” (see NASB) or “destroy” (see NET) or “kill” (see ESV). After the Rapture, "the lawless one" will have greater freedom to enact his lawless policies. He will do things that will result in his being identified as the Antichrist. However, the mere "breath" of the Lord Jesus' "mouth ... will slay (overthrow)" him when Christ comes to the earth at the Second Coming (cf. Rev. 19:15). Take a look at Isa 11:4 for an interesting comparison to today’s verse.
Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction To Biblical Doctrine (Pg. 1104). Zondervan
Thiessen, Henry. Lectures in Systematic Theology (Pg. 185). Eerdmans Publishing Company 1951.
Constable, Thomas. Dr Constable’s Notes On 2 Thessalonians (2021 Edition) (Pg. 30). https://planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/pdf/2thessalonians.pdf