THE MAN OF SIN
Second Thessalonians chapter two gives us the most detailed and concise description of the Antichrist in all of the Bible. His revelation, his titles, his career, his deception, and his sure demise are clearly set forth by the inspired apostle. The Antichrist will be revealed as the most wicked and blasphemous man the world has ever known. For a period of seven years he will magnify and exalt himself upon the earth. His powers of deception will be so great that a great majority of earth's population will follow and worship him. He will proclaim himself to be the political, religious, and economic messiah that the world has long been looking for.
THE TIME OF HIS REVELATION v. 3; 6-8a
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition...And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way, And then shall that Wicked be revealed..." (II Thess. 2:3; 6-8a).
1. The Thessalonian believers were under the false impression that they were in the time period known as the day of the Lord, which commences with the Tribulation Period. Even though Paul had assured them that all believers would be caught up by Christ and taken to Heaven prior to this period of time in the first epistle (I Thess. 4:13-5:9), the saints had been deceived by false teachers. One of the purposes of the second chapter of Second Thessalonians was to assure the saints of God that they were not in the Tribulation Period. Paul gives three specific events that will precede the day of the Lord, namely a moral and doctrinal apostasy, the revealing of Antichrist, and the removal of God's people along with the restraining power of the Holy Spirit (2:6- 7).
2. The moral and doctrinal apostasy among professing Christianity started in the first century and has gradually progressed and intensified through the centuries. Paul clearly states in verse 7: "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work... ". In our present day, which I believe is the last of the last days, the apostasy seems to have almost reached its climax. In the last twenty years we have witnessed the abandonment of moral and Biblical standards in many churches. There is a growing coldness and apathy that has been fostered by a disregard for God's holy law. We have also witnessed a serious departure from the time honored truths of the Word of God along with an acceptance of false teaching in our day. This moral and doctrinal apostasy is preparing the way for the world's reception of the Antichrist. As people become more and more morally loose and doctrinally unsound they will be more susceptible to the deception of the Antichrist. Thus, the revealing of the Man of Sin will coincide with the apostasy of professing Christianity.
3. The Man of Sin, otherwise known in Scripture as the Antichrist, will be revealed to the unbelieving masses of humanity right after the Rapture of the saints at the beginning of Daniel's seventieth week, which is commonly referred to as the Tribulation Period. The restraining power of the Holy Spirit through the indwelling of His people will be removed from the earth in the Rapture. There will be a time on the earth when there will not be a single Christian. The removal of God's people and God's Spirit from off the earth will provide Satan with a window of opportunity to reveal the Man of Sin to the waiting masses of unbelieving humanity. The time of the revelation of Antichrist is clearly pinpointed in II Thessalonians 2:6-8 which states: "And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let (restrain or hinder, TWR), until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed...". You will notice that Satan's counterfeit and imitation of the Lord Jesus Christ will be revealed in his time just as Jesus Christ was brought into this world in the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4). This means that there is a precise time for the Man of Sin to be revealed according to the Divine purpose.
4. Another way in which to determine the precise timing of the Antichrist's revelation to the world is to understand his relationship with the nation of Israel. Even though Jesus Christ came to the Jews and was rejected by them, the Antichrist will come and they will receive him. This truth was prophesied by Jesus in John 5:43 which states: "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." The Antichrist will come on the world scene posing as the Messiah of the world. This is the big lie which the world will believe. To bolster his claims as a political, religious, and economic Messiah he will sign a peace pact with Israel promising peace in the Middle East, a thing which has never before been achieved. He will deceive Israel and the nations of the world with his peace pact, only to annul it in the middle of the Tribulation Period as Daniel 9:27 declares: "And he (Antichrist, the prince that shall come, the Man of Sin, the son of perdition) shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." Thus the timing of Antichrist's revelation to the world not only follows the apostasy of the last days and the Rapture of the saints, it coincides with the commencement of Daniel's seventieth week, the Tribulation Period, when he will make a peace covenant with Israel.
5. The timing of Antichrist's revelation is absolutely essential if one is to understand the significance of his ministry in the study of eschatology. If the Man of Sin has yet to be revealed then we may safely assume that the Antichrist is not the revived Roman Empire or a succession of Roman Catholic popes. Though the popes have manifested the spirit of Antichrist, they are not the Antichrist. He is revealed as a specific individual in human history, not a religious or governmental system. It cannot be denied that the Antichrist has had many forerunners who have wrought great wickedness in our world. But they only possessed the spirit of Antichrist, without being the actual person. A comparison of I John 2:18 and 4:3 makes this clear: "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come (future tense, an actual time period in which a literal person shall be revealed, TWR), even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time...And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." These verses make it very clear that the spirit of† Antichrist has been in the world since the first century, but his actual revelation as a person, and as a world leader has not occurred as of yet. If the Scriptures mean anything we can be assured the revelation of the Man of Sin is not far off.
THE CHARACTER OF ANTICHRIST
1. There are several descriptive titles given in the passage before us that reveal the character of the Antichrist. Just as Jesus was called the man of sorrows, the Lamb of God, and the I am to describe His character and greatness, so the Antichrist has many descriptive titles that give us a clear indication of his character.
2. He is called the "man of sin" (II Thess. 2:3). The Antichrist is not merely a sinner among men, he is the full embodiment of sin. He is sin personified, Satan's masterpiece of human depravity. He is the apex of antinomianism as he will totally disregard the holy laws of God. The Man of Sin will push the extent of evil and wickedness to its greatest degree. If you were to combine all of the evil leaders of human history you would have some understanding of the nature of the coming Antichrist. He will be a liar, a murderer, a fraud, and an extortioner. What a contrast Satan's Antichrist is to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was a Lamb without blemish or without spot, a man with no sin or guile, completely holy and impeccable. The Antichrist is blackened and soiled within and without by sin, he is the epitome of human depravity at its worst. The fact that men and women will receive the lies of the Antichrist more readily than the truths of Jesus Christ proves how depraved the human heart and mind really are. By the time the Man of Sin is revealed, the world will have such a disregard for the holy laws of God they will gladly receive the lawless one. The coldness, apathy, and lawlessness that characterizes our present day should serve as a sure indication that the Man of Sin will be revealed very soon.
3. The Antichrist is called the "son of perdition" (II Thess. 2:3). The Antichrist will not only be the epitome of human depravity, he will also be the offspring of the Devil, the literal seed of the serpent. By way of contrast, the Lord Jesus Christ was filled with the Holy Spirit above measure, the Antichrist will be filled with the spirit of the Devil without measure. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Antichrist will be the son of Satan. What a wicked man indeed the Antichrist must be to have the title of the literal son of the Devil. There is not a more malignant being among all of God's creation than the Devil himself and he will be personified in the person of the Antichrist. It is interesting that the only other person who owns the title, the son of perdition, in the Scriptures is Judas Iscariot (John 17:12). He was also referred to as the Devil by the Lord Jesus Christ (John 6:70). It is also interesting to note that Judas Iscariot went to his own place (Acts 1:25), which is not said of any other human being when they die, and that the Antichrist arises out of the bottomless pit (Rev. 11:7). All of these things put together led A. W. Pink to believe that the Antichrist will be Judas Iscariot reincarnated. Whether or not this is true we do know that the Antichrist will be the literal offspring of Satan sent on a mission of malignity, deceit, destruction, and violence.
4. The Antichrist is referred to as the "Wicked" one (II Thess. 2:8). He will be the culmination of satanic and human wickedness and lawlessness. He will ascend to heights of wickedness that no man has ever reached during his brief reign of terror. Psalms ten gives a perfect description of the Antichrist who will reign on the earth during the time of Jacob's trouble. Psalms 10:2-5 declares: "The WICKED in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined. For the WICKED boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth. The WICKED through the pride of his countenance will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them." The pride, depravity, blasphemy, and violence of the Wicked One are plainly set forth in these verses. Think how awful the social conditions on earth are going to be when the Wicked One is in power! We are presently alarmed at the injustice, violence, and depths of depravity in our world, but these conditions will only intensify during the reign of the Antichrist. How thankful I am to know that I will be with the Lord in Heaven when the Antichrist will be practicing his wickedness on the earth!
5. The Antichrist is called by two other titles in the New Testament. He is called the Antichrist in I John 2:22 implying that he is opposed to Christ, and comes in the stead of Christ masquerading as the Messiah.
He is called the beast in Revelation 11:7. In fact this title is assigned to him no less than thirty times in the Book of Revelation. It describes his ferocity, carnality, and violent nature. It is interesting to contrast the Lord Jesus Christ who is called the Lamb of God with the Antichrist who is called the beast. The Lamb reveals Christ as the sinless and harmless One, whereas the beast reveals the Antichrist as the cruel and heartless one. The depravity of human nature is revealed by the fact that multitudes will reject the Gospel only to be drawn to the beastly Antichrist.
There are many more Old Testament references to the coming Antichrist which we have neither time nor space to go into. He is called the bloody and deceitful man (Psa. 5:6); the man of the earth (Psa. 10:18); the mighty man (Psa. 52:1); the enemy (Psa. 55:3); the adversary (Psa. 74:8-10); the head over many countries (Psa. 110:6); the violent man (Psa. 140:1); the spoiler (Isa. 16:4-5); the profane and wicked prince of Israel (Ez. 21:25-27); the little horn (Dan. 7:8); the prince that shall come (Dan. 9:26); the vile person (Dan. 11:21); the willful king (Dan. 11:36); and the idol shepherd (Zech. 11:16-17).
All of the titles given to the Antichrist not only describe his character, they also reveal the fact that he is a literal man in human history. He is not a system, but rather a literal person who will one day be revealed to the unbelieving masses of humanity.
THE DESIRE OF THE ANTICHRIST† v.4
"Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God" (II Thess. 2:4).
1. The innate desire of Satan ever since he was lifted up with pride and presumed to ascend up to the place of God has been to be worshipped as God. His desire will finally be realized for a short time during the Tribulation Period in the person of the Antichrist.
2. The Antichrist is revealed in this verse as one who opposes God and exalts himself above God. His desire is to be the final authority, the one to whom humanity must worship and bow down to. Antichrist shall arrive on the scene under the guise of a man who is concerned for the health and welfare of the masses of humanity, but his real desire and design will be hidden until the mid point of the Tribulation Period. In the beginning he will present himself as the answer to the world's problems. He will be a man of intellectual genius (Ez. 28:3); a man of eloquence (Dan. 7:20; Rev. 13:2); an economic genius (Dan. 8:25); and a political genius (Rev. 13:1-2). His ability to sign a peace pact with Israel at the beginning of Daniel's seventieth week, promising peace to a land where there has been none for thousands of years, will serve to bolster his greatness as a world leader. He will be a such a charismatic leader that "all the world wondered after the beast" (Rev.
3. The true desire and design of the Antichrist will be revealed at the midpoint of the Tribulation Period spoken of by Daniel and Jesus as the "abomination of desolation" (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15). At this point in time the Antichrist will show his true colors by breaking his peace pact with Israel, setting up an idol of himself in the rebuilt Jewish Temple, and commanding the world to worship and pay homage to him as God. The world of depraved humanity will gladly fulfill their insane leader's desire as Revelation 13:4-6 declares: "...And they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven." The Antichrist will make war and persecute all those who refuse to bow to his authority as god of the earth as Revelation 13:7 declares: "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations."
4. The Antichrist will be so insane and blasphemous he will attempt to sit upon a throne that rightfully belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. He will set himself up as God in the Jewish Temple. This act of impiety will be short lived however, because he will be deposed from his throne after three and a half years when Jesus comes to slay His enemies and set up His millennial reign.
5. It is obvious from our text that the Jewish Temple will be rebuilt in order for the Antichrist to set himself up as God in it. Plans are already being made for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and the restoration of Temple worship and sacrifices. Saints in the latter days should be thrilled with such news because it points to the fact that our "redemption draweth nigh" and that "...now is our, salvation nearer than when we believed" (Rom. 13:11).
THE POWER AND DECEPTION OF THE ANTICHRIST† v.9-12
"Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders. And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish: because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (II Thess. 2:9-12).
1. The Antichrist will receive his power from Satan. His works will be energized and in accordance with the wicked will of Satan. Next to God, Satan is one of the most powerful beings in all the universe. He always uses his power with a wicked design in mind. Thus, the Antichrist, who will be energized and led by the wicked plans of Satan will be the most powerful and formidable man on the earth during the Tribulation Period. Revelation 13:2 declares: "...And the dragon (Satan) gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority." His power will be so great that he will demand worship from his subjects and they will give it to him. People will have to take his mark if they want to buy or sell material goods (Rev. 13:16-17). His authority will extend to all the nations of the earth as Revelation 13:7b-8 declares: "...And power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
2. Not only will the Antichrist have political and social power, he will also have a great measure of religious power. One of the chief ways in which he will deceive the masses of unbelieving humanity will be through his works of lying signs and wonders. He will be permitted by God to perform miraculous feats which will be used to deceive multitudes of people into thinking that he is the Messiah. The Antichrist will be aided in the religious realm by the false prophet who will also perform miracles as Revelation 13:13-15 declares: "And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as may as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed." This false prophet will be the head of the one world religious system. I believe he will be the pope of Rome who will bring all religions under the umbrella of the Roman Catholic Church elsewhere referred to as "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH" (Rev. 17:5). Even now the world is being prepared for the reception of the Antichrist. Protestants and Charismatics are getting along quite well with the Roman Catholic Church. Multitudes are trapped in the falsehoods of the Charismatic Movement which bases much of its belief system on signs, wonders, and miracles. Because of the influence of this movement, multitudes of religious people will be duped into believing the lies of the Antichrist. One of the greatest signs and wonders of the Antichrist will be his resurrection from the dead as recorded in Revelation 13:3 which states: "And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast." The credibility of the Antichrist will be enhanced in the eyes of unbelievers, which will cause them to exalt and worship him as Revelation 13 :4 declares: "And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?" Because of his miracle working power the unbelieving masses will also have faith in his military prowess, which will be evidenced by the fact that multitudes will follow him to the Battle of Armageddon. The Antichrist and his blind followers will actually think they can defeat Jesus Christ and prevent Him from setting up His millennial kingdom!
3. Antichrist will deceive the multitudes through his craftiness and unrighteousness. Even when he exalts himself as God and blasphemes the God of Heaven, multitudes will follow after him and believe his lies. The lies and unrighteousness of the Antichrist will be more popular than the truth and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Because the multitudes despised the truth of God, God will send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie. Since they wanted to follow the father of all lies and reject the Truth as it is in Jesus, God will grant them their depraved desires and cause them to believe the lies and blasphemies of the Antichrist. Those who refused the truth are revealed as reprobates who deserve the righteous judgment of God for their unrighteousness. Because they received not the love of the truth, but rather heaped to themselves teachers having itching ears, they will be condemned for their wicked choice.
4. Those who rejected the truth, but took pleasure in sin and lawlessness will be damned. Those who willingly follow the program and wickedness of Antichrist will be condemned by God. What an awful picture the Scriptures paint of sinful man who willingly follows the unrighteousness of Antichrist and rejects the truth of God in Jesus Christ! Sinful man will despise the Righteous One who is Altogether Lovely, and yet follow the leadership of the Man of Sin, the son of perdition. This shows just how spiritually corrupt the understanding of the natural man really is! He would rather follow the dictates of the Devil, than submit to the One who is called "The Way, The Truth, and The Life" (John 14:6).
THE DEMISE OF ANTICHRIST† v.8
"And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming" (II Thess. 2:8).
1. Even though the Antichrist will come on the scene as the answer to the world's problems with promises of peace and prosperity, his reign upon the earth will be short lived. He will deceive the multitudes living upon planet earth, he will break his peace pact with Israel, and will be so confident of his deceptive hold over the masses that he will require earth dwellers to worship him. The Antichrist will literally be drunken with the power and authority that God allows him to have during the Tribulation Period. He will become so insane and prideful that he will actually believe, and lead multitudes of people to believe, that he can defeat the true God of Heaven. The Antichrist will actually think that he is invincible. However the demise and doom of the Antichrist is plainly revealed in our text. He will be slain and his power and authority will be demolished by the power of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. The darkest chapter of earth's history will be during the reign of the Man of Sin. Wickedness, cruelty, violence, immorality, and depravity will be at its peak. The multitudes will crave sin and lawlessness. They will follow their leader with desires of overthrowing God and His righteous government. During this period of time God will systematically pour out his judgments upon the earth, but the multitudes will be so wicked and void of spiritual understanding they will not repent as Revelation 9:20-21 declares: ďAnd the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts." The entire sin maddened world will be under the deceptive power of the Antichrist. However, all of this will be according to the plan of God. God will allow Antichrist to prosper and defy Him only to put a dramatic end to the Antichrist's reign of terror with the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. I like what A. W. Pink wrote concerning the demise of Antichrist:
"It is because men received not the love of God's truth He shall send them strong delusion that they should believe the Devil's lie. It is because men had pleasure in unrighteousness they shall be deceived by the Lawless One. It is because Israel refused that blessed One who came in His Father's name that they shall receive the one who comes in his own name. This is why the Antichrist will, for a season, be suffered to prosper, and apparently to defy God with impunity. But when God has used him to perform His own pleasure, then shall he empty upon his kingdom and upon his subjects the vials of His wrath. Just as God has set the bounds of the sea, saying thus far shalt thou go and no further, so has He fixed the limits to which He will allow the Antichrist to go. And when that limit is reached the son of perdition will find himself as helpless to pass beyond what God has decreed as a worm would be beneath the foot of an elephant." (1)
3. The Antichrist will gather his military forces for the final showdown against the Lord Jesus Christ in the Battle of Armageddon. He and his followers will be so intoxicated with success they will actually think they can withstand the power of God and defeat His counsel. Psalms 2:2-3 describes their deluded attitude thusly: "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us." Just at the point when Antichrist and his followers think they can actually defeat the counsel and power of God the heavens will open, the King of Kings will descend followed by the armies of Heaven to destroy the kingdom of the Wicked One. Antichrist will be consumed by the brightness of the personal coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, who with the breath of His mouth will destroy the Antichrist. The power of Christ will literally overwhelm the Antichrist. The final showdown between the Christ of God and the Antichrist of Satan will not be a long drawn out affair of hand to hand combat. Rather the glory of Christ will overtake the under-matched Antichrist and all of His followers. The brief reign of Antichrist will be decisively terminated at the Second Advent of Jesus Christ. Christ will literally defeat the Man of Sin with the breath of His mouth as Isaiah 11:4 declares: "But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked." Several other Scriptures besides our text describe the sudden destruction of Antichrist and his followers. "Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire: And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err ...And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, and scattering, and tempest, and hailstones. For through the voice of the LORD shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod" (Isa. 30:27-28; 30-31).
"And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet shall he come to his end, and none shall help him" (Dan. 11 :45).
"And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God...And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh" (Rev. 19:15; 19-21).
4. What a glorious day it will be when the Lord Jesus Christ unleashes His sovereign power against the Man of Sin and terminates his wicked reign upon the earth. The Antichrist and his depraved followers will not be permitted to work wickedness ever again among the inhabitants of the earth. Hallelujahs and shouts of rejoicing will no doubt be heard from the saints of God as they witness the doom of Antichrist. His demise will mark the beginning of the most peaceful and illustrious reign the earth has ever known. King Jesus will take His rightful place upon the throne of David and will rule the nations of the world in absolute righteousness. The influence of Satan will not be known or felt for one thousand years as the energizer of Antichrist will be bound in a bottomless pit. All who are saved by the grace of God should long for the day of the Antichrist's demise and doom because it will mark the commencement of our reign with Christ upon the earth.