2 Thessalonians - Remember, Stand Firm, and Get Busy


2 Thessalonians is a practical letter to a young and growing church. Here is a brief summary. God sees and remembers your hard work. We should also praise God for the hard work of others. While we should not hold grudges, we know that God will avenge. We will need to persevere and struggle in difficult times in the future. For now pray for our leaders and get busy ourselves.

Date and Location of 2 Thessalonians:
2 Thessalonians as written while Paul was in Corinth with Silas and Timothy. Silas was not with them after that, based on Acts 18:5. This would make 2 Thessalonians around summer of 50 A.D.

Pre-Nicene writers who quote or allude to 2 Thessalonians:
Polycarp (c.150 A.D.) quotes half a verse Hippolytus (222-235/236 A.D.)
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) Origen (225-254 A.D.)
The Muratorian Canon (170-210 A.D.) Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258A.D.)
lement of Alexandria (193-202 A.D.) Adamantius (c.300 A.D.)
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) Victorinus of Petau (martyred 307 A.D.)


Pre-Nicene manuscripts of 1 Thessalonians
p30 1 Thess 4:12-13,16-17; 5:3,8-10,12-18,25-28; 2 Thess 1:1-2; 2:1,9-11 (early 3rd century)
p92 Eph 1:11-13,19-21; 2 Thess 1:4-5,11-12 (ca.300 A.D.)
p65 1 Thess 1:3-2:1; 2:6-13. Middle 3rd century
Vaticanus (B) (325-350 A.D.)
Sinaiticus (Si) 340-350 A.D.)
Alexandrinus (A) c.450 A.D.)


An Outline of 2 Thessalonians

1 We and God remember
1:1-4 Paul praised God for their perseverance and faith
1:5 God remembers their faith and suffering
1:6-9 God also will remember those who trouble you
1:10-12 So live a worthy life, glorifying God
2 We will need to stand firm - Be calm in the storm
2:1-12 Christ will not come until the lawless man and wicked times come first
2:13-16 So stand firm in your life, belief, and hope
3 We now should all get busy
3:1-5 Pray for Paul and those sharing the Gospel
3:6-15 Don't take advantage of others, be idle, and obey Paul's commands.
3:16-16 Finally, enjoy God's peace.

2 Thessalonians 1 - We and God Remember


1. In 2 Thess 1:3 and 1 Thess 1:2, how could Paul always thank God for them?




2. In 2 Thess 1:4 how should we rejoice or glory in others?




3. In 2 Thess 1:5b,11, 1 Thess 2:12, Eph 4:1; Php 1:27; Col 1:10; since we are saved by grace through faith, how are we counted worthy of God's kingdom?




4. In 2 Thess 1:6,8 Dt 32:35,4; 1 Sam 24:12; 2 Ki 9:7; Isa 1:24; 65:6; 66:6; Jer 5:9,29; 9:9; 15:15; 51:6b,35; Rom 12:18; Heb 10:30; and Rev 6:10, how does God avenge and pay back people with trouble?




5. In 2 Thess 1:7, does the fire refer to God's shekinah glory, or to fiery judgment?




6. In 2 Thess 1:8, is Paul referring to one class of people or two?




7. In 2 Thess 1:9, will the ungodly suffer forever, or will they be destroyed?




8. In 2 Thess 1:9, how can the ungodly both suffer forever and be destroyed?




9. In 2 Thess 1:11, what does "this" refer to?




10. In 2 Thess 1:11; 1 Thess 5:17; Heb 13:15; Ps 86:3b; Acts 1:14; 16:25; Rom 1:10; Eph 6:18; Col 1:9; 4:12; 2 Tim 1:3; how should we have constant prayer?

2 Thessalonians 2 - We will need to Stand Firm - Be Calm in the Storm


1. In 2 Thess 2:2, were others writing fraudulent letters in the name of Paul? How do we know that Paul's letters in our Bible are genuine?



2. In 2 Thess 2:2, what do you think about fake letters allegedly from Paul, or fake books of the Bible?



3. In 2 Thess 2:2, who are some who were falsely claimed to be Christ returned?



4. In 2 Thess 2:3, what is "the rebellion" (ho apostasia in Greek)?



5. In 2 Thess 2:3, who is the man of lawlessness (Antichrist)?



6. In 2 Thess 2:3, does this prove that true Christianity was lost from the earth?



7. In 2 Thess 2:7, who is holding back the secret power of lawlessness?



8. In 2 Thess 2:8, how will Jesus overthrow with the breath of His mouth?



9. In 2 Thess 2:11 should it be "a lie" (KJV) or "the lie"?


10. In 2 Thess 2:11-12 and 1 Kings 22:4-24, why does the God of truth send delusions to people? (The Muslim apologist Ahmad Deedat brought this up.)


The New Testament was written down without spaces between words. In Greek it is clear without the spaces, except in a few places, and 2 Thess 2:13 is one of those places. It could read in Greek aparches (first fruits) of ap arches (from the beginning).

11. In 2 Thess 2:13, how does God sanctify us?


12. In 2 Thess 2:15, should we hold to the traditions we have been taught? Didn't the Pharisees do that?


13. In 2 Thess 2:15-17, 1 Thess 3:8, and 1 Cor 16:13, how are we supposed to stand firm (stekete in Greek)?

2 Thessalonians 3 - We Now Should All Get Busy


1. In 2 Thess 3:1, how should we pray for missionaries? What else should we do for them?



2. 2 Thess 3:1 says that we should pray that the gospel message be honored. How do we pray for that, and how should we honor the message of the gospel?



3. In 2 Thess 3:2-4, since God will protect us, then why did Paul pray to be delivered from wicked (perverse) and evil (actively harmful) men?



4. In 2 Thess 3:4 how do we both have confidence and yet need to pray?



5. In 2 Thess 3:5, how does the Lord direct our hearts, and how do we sometimes resist His direction?



6. In 2 Thess 3:6, why is the best approach to idle Christians to keep away from them?



7. In 2 Thess 3:6-10, why are some Christians lazy?



8. In 2 Thess 3:6-10 how do some make a career from living off the generosity of others?



9. In 2 Thess 3:6-10, what should we do when we are tempted to be lazy?



10. In 2 Thess 3:7-9, do you think Paul would have been more effective, and less tired, if he spent more time preaching instead of working?



11. In 2 Thess 3:14-15 and 1 Corinthians 5:11-13, what are two different forms of shunning?



12. In 2 Thess 3:17 what do you think drives people to write false things in the name of God or His apostles?

2 Thessalonians 1 - We and God Remember - some brief answers


1. In 2 Thess 1:3 and 1 Thess 1:2, how could Paul always thank God for them?

A: Paul almost every day thanked God for them in prayer. We should do the same for fellow Christians, and we have a lot to pray about.

2. In 2 Thess 1:4 how should we rejoice or glory in others?

A: The Greek word translated "glory" in the King James can also mean boast, or rejoice in. Yes, we should share in the joys of others. A person might feel happy when the children, parents, or other blood relatives do well. Similarly, we should feel happy if our brothers and sisters, related to us by Christ's blood, do well.

3. In 2 Thess 1:5b,11; 1 Thess 2:12; Mt 10:37-38; Eph 4:1; Php 1:27; Col 1:10 since we are saved by grace through faith, how are we counted worthy of God's kingdom?

A: We are counted worthy in our goal, position, and striving.
Experiential:
1 Thessalonians 2:12 says that our goal is to walk worthy, just as we are to aim for perfection in 2 Corinthians 13:9,11.
Positional:
2 Thessalonians 1:5 explicitly states that their expressions of faith are evidence (tokens in KJV) of God's righteous judgment counting them worthy. It is God's declaration that counts them worthy, and their expressed faith is the evidence, not the cause. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament and More Hard Sayings of the New Testament p.112-114 for more info.
Striving:
Christian life on earth involves striving towards the goal of making our experience in God, match our position in God.

4. In 2 Thess 1:6,8 Dt 32:35,4; 1 Sam 24:12; 2 Ki 9:7; Isa 1:24; 65:6; 66:6; Jer 5:9,29; 9:9; 15:15; 51:6b,35; Rom 12:18; Heb 10:30; and Rev 6:10, how does God avenge and pay back people with trouble?

A: Yes. Sometimes God disciplines people in this life. He also punishes in the next life. Some may appear to get off easy in this life (Habakkuk 1; Psalm 73; 37:1; Job 21:7), God's punishment is fair, for He is an impartial judge, as 1 Peter 1:17 says.

5. In 2 Thess 1:7, does the fire refer to God's shekinah glory, or to fiery judgment?

A: While scholars might not all agree, given the context it is either God's fiery judgment, or else both.

6. In 2 Thess 1:8, is Paul referring to one class of people or two?

A: The Greek indications two. The first class does not have or retain the knowledge of God. The second are those who have a knowledge of God, such as the Jews, but choose not to obey. This second class is also discussed in Romans 10:3,16 and John 3:36.

7. In 2 Thess 1:9, will the ungodly suffer forever, or will they be destroyed?

A: Both.
1.
Hell is eternal punishment in Matthew 25:41,46. Satan and others will be tormented forever in Revelation 20:10.
2.
It is perishing in Luke 13:3; John 3:15, 16, 10:28 and others. It is everlasting destruction in 2 Thessalonians 1:9, and unbelievers will be destroyed in 1 Corinthians 6:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 11:18; and other verses.
3.
No verse in the Bible says people are annihilated. Rather, the same word for destruction is used in Luke 5:37, where the wineskins are "destroyed" when the burst. Another word to use is "ruined".
How can both 1 and 2 be true? See When Critics Ask p.493-494, When Cultists Ask p.297, and the next question.

8. In 2 Thess 1:9, how can the ungodly both suffer forever and be destroyed?

A: First, see the answer to the previous question. It could be in two possible ways, or it could be both.
1. Ruins:
Since many earthly things can be destroyed and still exist. These provide crude examples of how people can be destroyed and still exist forever. Cars can be destroyed and then sent to the junkyard. A house can be destroyed by fire, and then the charred remains bulldozed and hauled away. Finally, the ungodly still exist, even after their bodies are destroyed.
2. Asymptotes:
Something can be in the process of being made non-existent, and yet the thing can still be eternal because the process takes forever. For example, say that every year the size of a thing decreases by one-half. How many years will there be until the size is exactly zero? The answer is an infinite number of years. I have not seen anything in the Bible that either supports or contradicts this speculation about asymptotes.
Some who teach what is essentially the asymptote view present it as an alternative to the traditional view (ruins). However, these views complement each other, and showing the reasonableness of the asymptote view does nothing to detract from the traditional view.

9. In 2 Thess 1:11, what does "this" refer to?

A: It could be verses 1:5-10, 1:10; 1:3-10, or 1:5.

10. In 2 Thess 1:11; 1 Thess 5:17; Heb 13:15; Ps 86:3b; Acts 1:14; 16:25; Rom 1:10; Eph 6:18; Col 1:9; 4:12; 2 Tim 1:3; how should we have constant prayer?

A: There are two different ways, and we should do both of them.
Devoted prayer:
We should take time away from what we are doing and pray to God. Many Christians have a daily quiet time, where we dedicate time to pray, read God's word, and meditate on it.
Spiritual breathing
is a term Christians have coined for the second way. Every waking minute of every day we should be conscious of Christ dwelling in us, and be talking with Him and drawing near to Him.

2 Thessalonians 2 - We will need to Stand Firm - Be Calm in the Storm - some brief answers


1. In 2 Thess 2:2, were others writing fraudulent letters in the name of Paul? How do we know that Paul's letters in our Bible are genuine?

A: We trust the letters are genuine for two main reasons.
1.
God promised to preserve His word in Isaiah 55:10-11; Isaiah 59:21; Isaiah 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:24-25; Matthew 24:35.
2. Confirmation by the early church writers
, including Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John.

2. In 2 Thess 2:2, what do you think about fake letters allegedly from Paul, or fake books of the Bible?

A: There are over 70 books that claim to be gospels; most of them are Gnostic. While a majority of those were written after 325 A.D., for many we are not sure exactly when they were written. But all of these fake books cause us to conclude that Satan is not lazy; and he has been busy.

3. In 2 Thess 2:2, who are some who were falsely claimed to be Christ returned?

A: There would be man false Christs according to 1 John 2:18,22 and 2 John 7. The following people have either made the following claims, or else others made the following claims about them.
Christ returned

Grigori Rasputin (at least some others claimed this)
Rev. Jim Jones of Jonestown (died 11/16/1978)
Rev. Moon of the Unification Church
Jacob Katzan (1977-)
Guru Maharah Ji of the Divine Light Mission
many Hindu and New Age gurus
A Jewish Messiah Come the First Time

Sabbatai Sebi/Zvi In Sept. 1666 A.D. he was forced to become Muslim
Rabbi Schneerson of New York (now dead)
probably Theudas in Acts 5:36. He claimed to be someone great
The Mahdi in Shi'ite Religions

First Fatimid caliph 'Obaidallah/'Ubaydullah (909-933/934 A.D.)
Imam al Husayn bin al-Kasim al-'Iyani (1010-1013 A.D.) (Husayniiya Zaydite sect)
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1879 A.D., Ahmadiyya Movement)
Baha'ullah (Baha'is) (1817-1892)
Husayn 'Ali Nuri Baha', half-brother to Baha'ullah of the Baha'is
Sliman Murshad of Syria (1900-1949)
The Mahdist movement in Sudan
many others
Zoroastrian Messiahs, or Saoshyants
Visible God

Mohammed was worshipped as visible God by Muhammidiyya
'Ali is divine according to the 'Ulyaniyya/'Alaya'iyya
'Ali bin Abi Talib and Saliman al-Farisi. They did not claim to be God, but long after their death some 'Alawite sects worshipped them as sort of a Muslim Tritheism.
Lord Hakim (The Druze) (996-1021 A.D.)
God existed in the form of all the prophets according to the Rizamiyya / Muslimiyya Shi'ite sect

4. In 2 Thess 2:3, what is "the rebellion" (ho apostasia in Greek)?

A: This is the same word for rebellion in the Greek Septuagint in Joshua 22:2 and Jeremiah 2:19. In secular Greek writing it was used of a political revolt. This is not from people who never followed God in the first place, but a mass departure of people following God from inside the church. A mass rebellion occurred starting in the nineteenth century with the liberal criticism. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament p.718, the Evangelical Bible Commentary p.1090, and The New International Bible Commentary p.1469 for more info on the Greek.

5. In 2 Thess 2:3, who is the man of lawlessness (Antichrist)?

A: Most Christians see this as the Antichrist. However, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.661-663 has a different view; it says it is unclear; it could have referred to someone at that time, such as the Emperor Caligula, who set up a statue for the worship of himself as a god.
Here are some people who have been accused of being the antichrist.
Emperor Nero or Emperor Nero reincarnated, Judas reincarnated (Judas was also called the one doomed to destruction in John 17:12.), Prince George (American Revolutionary War), Mohammed, Various popes, Martin Luther, the Catholic Church in general, Napoleon, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Josef Stalin, John F. Kennedy, Henry Kissinger. Since there is at most one ultimate Antichrist, these views are all not correct.

6. In 2 Thess 2:3, does this prove that true Christianity was lost from the earth?

A: No, for two reasons. It does not say that all were deceived, and the Antichrist, the man of lawlessness, has not appeared yet.

7. In 2 Thess 2:7, who is holding back the secret power of lawlessness?

A: 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 gives us four clues.
1.
He was currently holding back the power of lawlessness, and will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way.
2.
Eventually he will be taken out of the way.
3.
At that time, the lawless one will appear.
4.
Then Jesus will come and overthrow him.
This is likely an angel that is preventing the Antichrist from coming.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.663-664 for a different answer.

8. In 2 Thess 2:8, how will Jesus overthrow with the breath of His mouth?

A: Since the universe came into existence by God's Word, Jesus merely needs to say the words and it will happen. When Jesus commanded "Lazarus, come forth", it is a good thing He used Lazarus' name. Otherwise, everyone might have come forth.

9. In 2 Thess 2:11 should it be "a lie" (KJV) or "the lie"?

A: In 2 The 2:11, the word in Greek is spelled "Tau omega" which is "the". There are apparently no manuscript variations on this word.
"the lie"
is how it is translated in Green's Literal translation, the NIV, NKJV, Wuest's Expanded Translation. The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.11 p.328 also say "the lie".
"a lie"
is what the KJV has.
"what is false"
(in other words indeterminate whether the or a) NASB, uNASB, Holman Christian Standard Bible, and NRSV.

10. In 2 Thess 2:11-12 and 1 Kings 22:4-24, why does the God of truth send delusions to people? (The Muslim apologist Ahmad Deedat brought this up.)

A: There is an important lesson to learn here.
1.
God does not and cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18; Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29; Titus 1:2).
2.
For those who have already refused to believe the truth, God permits them to believe what they want.
3.
God did not lie to them, but does permit lying spirits to send strong delusions in order that they would believe their chosen lies.
4.
Just as seriously, Romans 1:18-32 shows that those who choose to exchange God's truth for sin are given over to become more depraved.
5.
Even in the midst of delusions, God still sees there is a way they know they have chosen to believe delusions. For example, Ahab was told he was being told a lie in 1 Kings 22:14-24.
Early Christians also mentioned that God sends evildoers delusions. They were Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.), Tertullian (207/208 A.D., Hippolytus (222-235/236 A.D.), Origen (225-254 A.D.), and Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.). God also blinds evildoers, and Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) wrote about.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.410 and When Critics Ask p.495 for more info.

The New Testament was written down without spaces between words. In Greek it is clear without the spaces, except in a few places, and 2 Thess 2:13 is one of those places. It could read in Greek aparches (first fruits) of ap arches (from the beginning).

11. In 2 Thess 2:13, how does God sanctify us?

A: While God will make us spiritually perfect in heaven, that it not the main point here. On earth, right now, God is in the process of making believers more Christ-like. We should be able to look back on our lives and see areas where we used to struggle with a type of sin, and have since mostly conquered that.

12. In 2 Thess 2:15, should we hold to the traditions we have been taught? Didn't the Pharisees do that?

A: Paul is speaking of what they saw the apostles do. He is not speaking of simple traditions of men, which Paul spoke against in Colossians 2:8.

13. In 2 Thess 2:15-17, 1 Thess 3:8, and 1 Cor 16:13, how are we supposed to stand firm (stekete in Greek)?

A: We are to stand firm regardless of circumstances. When things are going well, we should not get slack or complacent. When times seem lonely or fearful, as they sometimes were for David, we should be at rest in God's peace. When times seem chaotic, we should be constant. When things are not going well, or we have suffered great loss, we should draw near to God and His comfort.

2 Thessalonians 3 - We Now Should All Get Busy - some brief answers


Note that the Granville Sharp rule has exceptions: Luke 14:23 and Ephesians 2:20. See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2064 for more info. Following the Granville Sharp rule on Titus 2:13 supports post-tribulationism.

1. In 2 Thess 3:1, how should we pray for missionaries? What else should we do for them?

A: We should pray for the spiritual as well as their physical health. Some missionaries leave the mission field because they get burned out. We should pray that their life itself should be a shining message. We should pray that their words would be a clear message, without compromise or fear. We should pray for their finances, and that they use their time and other resources wisely. We should pray that the message of the Lord be spread quickly. We should pray for their effectiveness, and against the effectiveness of the opposition.
In addition to praying for missionaries, we should support them financially regularly. We can also email them, send cards or simple gifts, or in other ways let them know we care for them and are thinking of them.

2. 2 Thess 3:1 says that we should pray that the gospel message be honored. How do we pray for that, and how should we honor the message of the gospel?

A: In the Lord's Prayer we prayer that "God's will be done, on earth as it is in heaven". Pray that many will hear the gospel and take it seriously. We should share the gospel, but also don't tell jokes that detract from the honor of God's message.

3. In 2 Thess 3:2-4, since God will protect us, then why did Paul pray to be delivered from wicked (perverse) and evil (actively harmful) men?

A: One can expand this question and ask, since God knows all things, and nothing happens except what God allows, why request anything in prayer at all? But our prayers for requests can be part of the means God choose to use to accomplish His ends. In addition to Paul's example, God commands us to ask of Him, and we should obey what God commands. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament p.722 for more info.

4. In 2 Thess 3:4 how do we both have confidence and yet need to pray?

A: We can have confidence that God will fulfill his mission. It might be by having someone like Peter rescued from prison, someone like John living to old age, or someone like James, John's brother, who was rapidly martyred for the faith.

5. In 2 Thess 3:5, how does the Lord direct our hearts, and how do we sometimes resist His direction?

A: God directs His children in at least four ways.
God speaks to us through His scripture.
God can speak to us through dreams, visions, and His still, small voice.
God can speak to us through others, including other believers, our parents, and even non-believers.
God can use circumstances to direct us.
But regardless of how God directs us, we are supposed to obey. James 4:17 says "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (NIV)

6. In 2 Thess 3:6, why is the best approach to idle Christians to keep away from them?

A: They are believers who need to make a changing their life. Don't be gruff or unfriendly towards them, but you are not to associate with them or encourage them in their idleness. You are rooting for their victory over this sin, but sometimes you can help more by your absence than your presence.

7. In 2 Thess 3:6-10, why are some Christians lazy?

A: The Greek word Paul uses here, ataktos, literally means disorderly. Everyone has thing they need to do that they might not particularly like to do. We need to be self-disciplined to do what we know is right, as James 4:17 says, and not procrastinate. But how much better to enjoy what you are doing! Sometimes even when the action itself is not enjoyable in itself, it becomes enjoyable because you are looking forward to the result. Besides having hope in heaven, what else do you hope for? Do you have hope that some people get saved, and that people grow in their faith? Do you have high hopes for those who are discipling? Will you be pleased to see God's will done on earth?
One time somebody asked three bricklayers what they were doing. The first said, "just laying bricks". The second said, 'building a wall". The third said, "constructing a cathedral". All three of them were doing exactly the same thing. But they had three very different attitudes.
See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1095-1096 for more info.

8. In 2 Thess 3:6-10 how do some make a career from living off the generosity of others?

A: This is a strange picture here. Some people were not doing anything, wanting the church to support them, while Paul was working night and day to support himself to be able to preach.

9. In 2 Thess 3:6-10, what should we do when we are tempted to be lazy?

A: Pray to God for His love and motivation to fill you, and then get up and move. Try to discern what is the most important thing God wants you to do right this instant, and start doing it.

10. In 2 Thess 3:7-9, do you think Paul would have been more effective, and less tired, if he spent more time preaching instead of working?

A: One might naturally think so. But Paul was not only speaking his words, but also sharing his life, being a model to others as he said in 2 Thessalonians 3:9. So people can see by his example as well as hearing him. Likewise our words can be more (or less) effective when people also see our example.

11. In 2 Thess 3:14-15 and 1 Corinthians 5:11-13, what are two different forms of shunning?

A: One form is to warn the person and stay from them because of their laziness. A second form is to excommunicate them from the church and completely stay away from them because of their gross, persistent, and unrepentant sin. In 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 there were to shun social contact but not necessarily all contact; they were to warn him. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament p.724 for more info.

12. In 2 Thess 3:17 what do you think drives people to write false things in the name of God or His apostles?

A: Of course the answer is Satan is using their own sinful nature, but beyond that answer there might some common avenues of attack that Satan uses.
1) For some the lure of making money or providing a means of support could persuade someone to make something up, and also persuade other people to publish it to the world.
2) But for others financial gain might not be the primary motivating factor. Rather, it might be a quest for significance in the eyes of their peers or people around them.
3) But a third group might be so deceived that they really think they are changing human society for the better, or that some deity really wants them to do this.
4) For others it would be a desire to "help God out". They unconsciously feel that God did not communicate everything essential, so they think the world will be better if they lie and claim god said something they fell God should have said.
Regardless, the primary motivation of the person making this up, and the motivation of the book publishing or media company that is eager to publicize this, might be different.

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