Equip: Eschatology – The Man of Sin
"Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 ESV
Eschatology can be defined as a belief concerning death, the end of the world, or the ultimate destiny of humankind; specifically any of various Christian doctrines concerning the Second Coming, the resurrection of the dead, or the Last Judgment. Over time and on-going our God by the Holy Spirit teaches us directly and by others from the Scriptures. In the text before us, Paul went as far as to appeal to the church in Thessalonica to “stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter” as to what he said about eschatology. Of course as most would point to, we all should follow the example of those noble brethren in Berea who received the word with all eagerness from Paul but they examined the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul had to say were actually so (Acts 17). Something I like to do along the way in my life is not to try to understand everything but to focus on one idea or teaching. All one has to do is look at the Scriptures, observe life and history while looking to the Holy Spirit our teacher. It’s for sure okay to read books or listen to teachers but always after such endeavors to then be like the noble Bereans. Little by little my Eschatology comes into focus from Him.
So let’s see what the Scriptures say about one particular event. I place this topic under the category of Eschatology because most views teach that it is yet a future event for us today but for sure it was a future event for the Thessalonians Paul was writing to. First I’ll write a question and then let various Scriptures present answers. Then after that I’ll make some observations and a little history.
Is there a man coming who will:
enter the temple at Jerusalem,
go into the holy of holies,
and declare himself to be God?
…the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God… from 2 Thess 2:1-11
…So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), from Matt 24:15-28
…But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), from Mark 13:14-23
…And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate… from Dan 9:24-27
…Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate… from Dan 11:29-35
…and the abomination that makes desolate is set up… from Dan 12:5-13
and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Rev 13:14-16
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. 1 John 2:18
A popular view is that the abomination of desolation already took place in 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed the temple. It’s hard for me to match up what the Scriptures say with what happened there in history. I think what I’d point to is that John wrote his letters and the Book of revelation 10-30 years after 70 A.D. meaning that John was writing about a future event. That’s too much to overcome for me by itself and when I add-in that the historical facts that took place in 70 A.D don’t exactly match the Scriptures then I take a pass on that view. I always keep in mind the prophecies of the first coming of Jesus. Without question all those prophesies were fulfilled exactly in the view of historical facts. Therefore, I live in the principle that in the same way biblical prophecies concerning the second coming of Jesus too will be fulfilled exactly in the view of history future. Also, here’s something interesting as well historically. The Pulpit Commentary discusses that many of the early church fathers spoke of and taught about a coming man of sin yet future.
THE external evidence in favor of the authenticity of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians is even stronger than that in favor of the First Epistle. In consequence of the prediction of the "man of sin," contained in the second chapter, which prediction made a great impression on the early Church, it is more frequently referred to and quoted by the Christian Fathers. The testimonies of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clemens of Alexandria, and Tertullian may all be appealed to. Justin Martyr (A.D. 140) unquestionably alludes to this Epistle when he says, "When also the man of apostasy, who speaketh great things against the Most High, shall dare to commit unlawful deeds against us Christians" ('Dial. cum Tryph.,' c. 110). And the following direct quotations are found in the writings of Irenaeus (A.D. 178): "And again in the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, speaking of antichrist, Paul says, 'And then shall that wicked one be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the spirit of his mouth, and destroy with the presence of his coming' (2 Thess 2:8)" ('Adv. Haeres.,' 3:7, 2). And again: "Concerning whom the apostle in the Epistle which is the Second to the Thessalonians thus speaks: 'Except a falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition: who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped' (2 Thess 2:3,4)" ('Adv. Haeres.,' 5:25, 1). (from The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
Something else I observe, is that Paul taught the Thessalonians when he was there in person and again later in his letters to them about the end of days and a man who would come who “takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” In fact Paul was only with them for weeks in person and he made sure to teach on these matters. I encourage all to include all of the Scriptures into our thinking and theology. But in particular, I give personal attention to any topic that Jesus spoke about, Paul taught about and in this case John the Apostle discussed along with Daniel in the Old Testament. This topic about this man of sin must be important for all believers to know about and learn about. Therefore, my fellow “Bereans” I suggest over time we include all of the topics of Eschatology along with all of the Scriptures into our growing understanding of what we believe the Scriptures speak about and teach us.