“Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day (the Day of the Lord) shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that Man of Sin be revealed, the Son of Perdition; Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God…”
“And then will be revealed the Lawless One (that is to say, when you see, i.e. perceive with the eyes of your understanding these things fulfilled in someone or something, then will the Antichrist be uncovered or exposed, recognized) 2 Thess. 2:3,4,8
With regards to such an important subject as this, it is strange indeed to find that many Christians are completely ignorant upon such a critical subject, the majority possessing no real clue as to the true identity of this individual and thus in no way prepared to deal with the consequences.
As our Lord said, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed” that is IF you heed the warning. (Matt 24:25)
Not only is this subject important in regards to our withstanding the trials of this evil day (but most importantly those shortly to come), but it is the only insurance we have in gaining the victory over the Beast and his Image, that we bear not the “Mark” or the “Name of the Beast” or the “Number of his Name”.
For those who truly long for the presence of the Lord, who preach the eminent return of the Lord this subject should be of chief concern for as the Apostle so states that day cannot come until first the apostasy, (the deflection), the great falling away takes place and the lawless one be revealed. Not necessarily revealed to the world understand you, nor even to the lukewarm listless Christian, but only to those fully awake and longing for that day (the day of his presence). So then would it not seem wise nay prudent to insure you have a proper understanding of this subject, that your knowledge be based upon the testimony of the scriptures and not simply on the vain imaginings of men?
“The student of prophecy will find that the Man of Sin is distinctly noted throughout the sacred writings, not only by giving a clear description of his character, but also by showing the times and places of his beginning, his prosperity and his decline. To any who would pick up their bible for themselves and take the time to study the issue the facts will become quite clear.
This character is very forcibly delineated even in the names applied to it by the inspired writers. Paul calls it “That Wicked One,” “The Man of Sin,” “The Mystery of Iniquity,” “The Antichrist,” and “The Son of Perdition“; the Prophet Daniel calls it “The Abomination that makes desolate” (Dan. 11:31; 12:11); and our Lord refers to the same character as “The Abomination of Desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet” (Matt. 24:15), and again as a “Beast” (Rev. 13:1-8).
This same character was also prefigured by a little horn or power, out of a terrible beast that Daniel saw in his prophetic vision, which had eyes, and a mouth that spoke great things, and which prospered and made war with the saints, and prevailed against them. (Dan. 7:8, 21) John also saw and warned the Church against this character, saying, “Ye have heard that Antichrist shall come.” He then advises how to escape Antichrist’s influence. (1 John 2:18-27) The book of Revelation, too, is in large part a detailed symbolic prophecy concerning this same Antichrist.
These various appellations and brief descriptions indicate a base, subtle, hypocritical, deceptive, tyrannical and cruel character, developed in the midst of the Christian church; at first creeping in and up very gradually, then rapidly ascending in power and influence until it reaches the very pinnacle of earthly power, wealth and glory—meanwhile exerting its influence against the truth, and against the saints, and for its own aggrandizement, claiming, to the last, peculiar sanctity and authority and power from God.”
“The word “antichrist” has a twofold significance. The first is against (i.e., in opposition to) Christ: the second significance is instead (i.e., a counterfeit) of Christ. In the first sense the expression is a general one, which would apply to any enemy opposing Christ. In this sense all the Pagan emperors and all non-Christian religions have been antichrists—opposers of Christ. However, it is not in this sense that the Scriptures use the name The Antichrist. They pass over all such enemies of the faith, and apply the term Antichrist in the sense of its secondary meaning—misrepresenting, counterfeiting, and taking the place of the true Christ. In other words, usurping the position of Christ. The Apostle John points out this twofold significance in 1 John 2:18, 19: “Ye have heard that The Antichrist shall come. Even now there are many antichrists.” The Greek distinguishes between The special Antichrist and the numerous lesser ones. John’s subsequent remarks show that he does not refer to all opposers of Christ and his Church, as Islam, but to a certain class who, though professing to be of the true Church, had left the foundation principles of the truth, and were therefore not only misrepresenting the truth, but were, in the eyes of the world, taking the place of and name of the true Church. John says of these, “They went out from us, but they were not of us…” They do not represent the sincere followers of Christ who love the truth, even though they may deceive themselves and the world on this subject. See also 2 John 7.
It is important to fix the concept in our minds that this Man of Sin, this Antichrist, is not a single individual. The Man of Sin is more accurately described as a system which began its gradual development in the early Church (as the Apostle Paul wrote the Mystery of Iniquity doth already work) and would be revealed before the Lord’s Second Advent. Just as The Christ consists of the true Lord and the true Church, so The Antichrist is a counterfeit system consisting of a false lord and an apostate church. (1 Cor 12:12-28) This system, which for a time has been permitted to counterfeit the authority and future reign of the true Lord and his Church, has intoxicated the nations with false claims of a God given right to reign. A single individual could never fulfill all the predictions made concerning The Antichrist. Only a corrupt system—an unholy union of church and civil government—could fulfill these predictions.”
“Without any desire to treat lightly the opinions of others, we nevertheless feel it necessary to point out a few of the absurdities connected with the common view concerning Antichrist, that thereby the dignity and reasonableness of the truth on this subject may be properly estimated, in contrast with the narrow claim that all which the Scriptures predict concerning this character will be accomplished by some one literal MAN.
This man, it is claimed, will so charm the whole world that in a few short years he will secure to himself the homage and worship of all men, who will be so easily imposed upon as to suppose this man to be God, and, in a rebuilt Jewish temple, to worship him as the Almighty Jehovah. All this is to be done at lightning speed –three and a half years say they, (misinterpreting the symbolic time), even as they misinterpret the symbolic “man.”
Tales of fiction and the most absurd imaginations of childhood furnish no parallel to the extreme views of some of God’s dear children who are stumbling over a literal interpretation of Paul’s language, and thereby blinding themselves and others to many precious truths, which, because of error on this subject, they are unprepared to see in an unprejudiced light.
No matter how much we may sympathize with them, their “blind faith” (credulity at most) forces a smile as they seriously tell over the various symbols of revelation which they do not understand, misapplying them literally to their wonderful man. In this, the most skeptical age the world has ever known, he will, they claim, in the short space of three and a half years, have the whole world at his feet, worshiping him as God, while the Caesars, Alexander, Napoleon, Mahomet and others sailed through bloody seas and spent many times three and a half years, without accomplishing the one thousandth part of what is claimed for this man.
And yet those conquerors had all the advantages of dense ignorance and superstition to aid them, while today we live under conditions most unfavorable to such a development of deceit and fraud: in a day when every hidden thing is being manifested as never before; in a day when fraud of the sort claimed is too preposterous and ridiculous for consideration.
Indeed, the tendency of our day is toward a lack of respect for men, no matter how good, talented and able, or what offices of trust or authority they may occupy. To such an extent is this true, as never before, that it is a thousand times more likely that the whole world will deny that there is any god, than that they will ever worship a fellow human being as the Almighty God.
One great obstacle to many, in considering this subject, is the contracted idea generally entertained of the meaning of the word GOD. They fail to note that the Greek “theos” (god) does not invariably refer to Jehovah. It signifies a mighty one, a ruler, and especially a religious or sacerdotal ruler. In the New Testament, “theos” is seldom used except in referring to Jehovah, because, in their discourses, the apostles spoke rarely and little of the false systems of religion, and hence seldom noticed their sacred rulers or gods; yet in the following texts the word god (theos) is used to refer to others than the one supreme being, Jehovah–viz.: (John 10:34,35; Acts 7:40,43; 17:23; 1 Cor. 8:5).
Recognizing the breadth of the Greek word “theos”, it will be seen at once that the Apostle’s statement concerning Antichrist –that he will seat himself in the temple of God, showing himself to be a god–does not of necessity mean that Antichrist will attempt to exalt himself above Jehovah, nor even that he will attempt to take Jehovah’s place. It simply implies that this one will exhibit himself as a religious ruler, claiming and exercising authority over and above all other religious rulers, even to the extent of exalting himself in the Church, which is the true temple of god, and there claiming and exercising lordly authority as its chief or authorized ruler.
Wherever in the Greek the word “theos” is used in any sentence where its meaning would be ambiguous, it then is preceded by the Greek article, if it refers to Jehovah; as if in English we were to say THE God. In the texts above, which refer to other gods, and in this text (2 Thess. 2:4), which refers to Antichrist, there is no such emphasis.
With this seen clearly, a great stumbling-block is removed, and the mind is prepared to look for the right things as fulfillments of this prediction: not for an Antichrist claiming to be Jehovah and demanding worship as such, but for one claiming to be the chief, supreme religious teacher in the church; who thus attempts the usurpation of the authority of Christ, the divinely appointed Head, Lord and Teacher.
Strangely enough, too, they who take this literal view of the Man of Sin are generally those who are believers in the Lord’s pre-millennial (or imminent) coming, who are looking for and expecting the Lord to come “at any moment now.”
Why cannot all see the Apostle’s meaning, when he positively declares that the Day of the Lord (the Day of his presence) CANNOT COME and should not be expected until AFTER the Man of Sin has been revealed?
It required over forty years to build the former Jewish temple, and it would surely require at least ten to twenty years to build, with more than former magnificence, the new temple at Jerusalem, where they expect a literal Man of Sin to be installed and worshiped as God. Why then should those who believe thus expect the Lord to come at any moment now? Such a view is out of harmony with reason as well as with the Apostle’s prophecy. Consistency demands that they should either give up looking for the Lord at any moment, or else give up their expectation of a future Man of Sin; for the Day of the Lord’s presence cannot come until (1) AFTER the falling away (the apostasy) has taken place, AND (2) until AFTER the Man of Sin has been developed and revealed out of that apostasy.”
So has the great falling away occurred? Has the Antichrist been revealed?
We shall see in our next post.