The Coming and the Revealing of the Antichrist
The King Who Calls Himself God
36 “‘The king will do as he pleases. He’ll exalt and magnify himself above every god, speaking amazing things against the God of Gods. He’ll succeed until the indignation is completed, because what has been determined must be carried out.
37 He’ll recognize neither the gods of his ancestors nor those desired by women(most likely referring to Tammuz)—he won’t recognize any god, because he’ll exalt himself above everything.
38 He’ll glorify the god of fortresses, a god whom his ancestors never knew, honoring him with gold, silver, valuable jewels, and treasures.
39 He’ll take action against the strongest fortresses. With the help of a foreign god, he’ll recognize those who honor him, making them rule over many, and he’ll parcel out the land for a profit.
40 “‘At the time of the end, the southern king will oppose him, and the northern king will overrun him with chariots, cavalry, and many ships. He’ll invade countries, moving swiftly and sweeping through.
41 He’ll enter the Beautiful Land, and many will fall, even though these will escape his control: Edom, Moab, and certain Ammonite officials.
42 He’ll extend his power over other countries, and even the land of Egypt won’t escape.
43 He’ll capture treasures of gold, silver, and all the treasures of Egypt, with the Libyans and Cushites at his feet.
44 However, reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he’ll march out in great anger, intending to destroy and to desolate many.
45 When he pitches his royal pavilions between the seas facing the mountain of holy Glory, he’ll come to his end, and no one will help him.’” (ISV)
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
The Lawless One
1 Now we ask you, brothers, regarding the coming of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, and our gathering together to him,
2 not to be so quickly upset or alarmed when someone claims that we said, either by some spirit, conversation, or letter that the Day of the Lord has already come.
3 Do not let anyone deceive you in any way, for it will not come unless the rebellion takes place first and the man of sin, who is destined for destruction, is revealed.
4 He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship. As a result, he seats himself in the sanctuary of God and himself declares that he is God.
5 Don’t you remember that I repeatedly told you about these things when I was still with you?
6 You know what it is that is now holding him back, so that he will be revealed when his time comes.
7 For the secret of this lawlessness is already at work, but only until the person now holding it back gets out of the way.
8 Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy with the breath of his mouth, rendering him powerless by the manifestation of his coming.
9 The coming of the lawless one will be accompanied by the power of Satan. He will use every kind of power, including miraculous signs, lying wonders,
10 and every type of evil to deceive those who are dying, those who refused to love the truth that would save them.
11 For this reason, God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.
12 Then all who have not believed the truth but have taken pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned. (ISV)
What are the identifying characteristics of the Lawless One? It would be good at this point for a Bible student to carefully read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Read it several times, perhaps in different translations, to thoroughly familiarize themselves with the passage.
Once a Bible student has thoroughly read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, it is possible for them to isolate certain tell-tale attributes of this diabolical force, and work toward a solution as to the identity of the “man of sin.”
Traits of the Man of Sin
Consider the following factors.
The Man of Sin and The Apostasy
The Man of Sin is the ultimate result of the falling away from the faith (v. 3).
The expression “falling away” translates the Greek term apostasia. Our English word “apostasy” is an anglicized form of this original term.
In the Bible, the word is used of a defection from the religion ordained by God. As a noun, it is employed of departure from the Mosaic system (Acts 21:21), and, in this present passage, of defection from Christianity. The verbal form of the term is similarly used in 1 Timothy 4:1 (Hebrews 3:12).
Note also that the noun is qualified by a definite article (the apostasia). A definite movement is in the apostle’s prophetic vision — not merely just the principle of defection.
The Man of Sin Was Yet to Be Revealed
This sinister force, from a first-century vantage point, was yet to be revealed (verse 3).
This appears to suggest that the movement had not evolved to the point where it could be identified definitely by the first century Church. It awaited future development.
The “Man of Lawlessness” and “Son of Perdition”
This persecuting power was designated as the man of sin (verse 3), because sin was its “predominating quality”. This character, referred to in both neuter and masculine genders (verses 6-7), is the son of perdition (verse 3), because its end is to be perdition, i.e., destruction, by the Lord himself (verse
The Lawless One
This opponent of God is called the lawless one (verse
. This power has no regard for the law of God. One cannot but be reminded of that infamous “little horn” in Daniel’s vision:
“[H]e shall think to change the times and the law” (Daniel 7:25).
Man of Sin: Opposes God, Exalts Himself, and Sits in the Temple of God
The Man of Sin opposes God and exalts himself against all that is genuinely sacred (verse 4). He feigns godly devotion, but his true character reveals that he is diabolic. His activity actually is according to the working of Satan (verse 9).
In some sense, the Man of Lawlessness will sit in the temple of God (verse 4). The “temple” is not a reference to the Jewish house of worship. The Greek word is naos, used by Paul eight times. Never does he employ this term of the Jewish temple.
In fact, after the death of Christ, the Jewish temple is never again called the temple of God. Rather it is used of the Christian’s body (1 Corinthians 6:19) or of the church as God’s spiritual house (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; Ephesians 2:21).
The implication of Paul’s warning is this. This unholy being is viewed as being a “church” character.
The expression “sitteth” may hint of unparalleled arrogance. The wording of the text describes the Man of Lawlessness as attempting to exact “divine homage” from people only to be given the Almighty God.
Moreover, this Son of Perdition sets himself forth as God. The present participle (“sets forth continually”) reveals that this presumptive posture is characteristic of the Man of Lawlessness.
This person represents himself as God, either by making claims that belong only to deity; by receiving adoration reserved exclusively for God; or, by usurping prerogatives which only God can accomplish.
Clearly, the Man of Sin is an ecclesiastical character, relating to the Christian Church or its leadership. Recall the description of John’s lamb-like beast in Revelation 13:11?
“Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; he had two horns like a lamb, but he sounded like a dragon”. (HCSB)
The Man of Lawlessness Deceives with Lying Miracles
“He deceives those who love not the truth, by virtue of the lying wonders he effects” (verses 9-10).
These “pretended miracles”. These “wonders” are not real in the category of the miracles that Christ performed.
In identifying the Man of Sin, one must thus look for a post-apostolic movement that claims to prove its authenticity by miracles.
Restraining Force to Be Removed
The restraining force eventually would *be taken out of the way”, or, more correctly, “be gone.” And so, the Man of Sin, in “his own season,” would be revealed openly (verses 6, 7).
One must remember that the “little horn” of Daniel’s fourth beast only rose to prominence after three horns were plucked up to make room for it. (Daniel chapter 7)
Too, the earth-beast of John’s vision came into full power after the sea-beast had received a death-stroke but was healed. And so here, the restraining power will give way to the horrible revelation of the Man of Lawlessness.
Man of Sin Continues Until Second Coming
The Man of Lawlessness, though having roots in the world of ancient Christianity (verse 6), would nevertheless endure, in some form or another, until the end of time, i.e., until the Second Coming of Christ.
At that time, he will be destroyed by the Lord’s word of Judgment (verse 8; see also Revelation 19:15). In view of this, the Man of Lawlessness cannot be some persecuting enemy that faded into oblivion centuries ago.
Some have argued that the Man of Lawlessness is Satan himself. This view cannot be correct. Satan was not a part of “the falling away” (verse 3), and this “lawless one” is said to come “according to the working of Satan” (verse 9), which obviously distinguishes him from Satan personally.
Some allege that no specific power or person(s) are in view. Rather, the apostle merely has personified a principle or idea of evil, which may appear in various forms in different historical periods as an opponent of truth. It may be manifest as Islam, Fascism, Communism, etc.
But this concept does not fit the specific descriptions in this chapter. The text tells of a particular movement, “the falling away” (verse 3). How could this possibly refer to Islam, Communism, etc.? It could not.
Moreover, there are too many personal references within the narrative to dismiss it as mere personification.
Those who contend that all Bible prophecy, including the Second Coming of Christ, was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem argue that the Man of Lawlessness was the “hardened, militant Jewish Zealots.
The concept is totally false. Judaism was no part of “the falling away”.
Moreover, Paul’s prophecy of the Second Coming was not fulfilled in A.D. 70, as evidenced by the fact that Christians were not “gathered together” unto the Lord in connection with Jerusalem’s fall. For this, we still wait in anticipation.
Millennialists (and some others) contend that the Man of Lawlessness “is an individual embodying anti-God power who is still to arise before the future day of the Lord”.
But Paul stated that the “mystery of iniquity,” characteristic of the Man of Lawlessness, was “already at work” (verse 7) in the first century.
The “little horn” mentioned in Daniel Chapter 7 and described in Daniel 12:36-45, Paul’s “Man of Lawlessness” mentioned in 2 Thessalonians, and “the beast” of the book of Revelation chapter 13 have much in common and seem to testify in concert regarding a force comprised of a group that have fallen away from true worship in modern times.
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