THE MAN OF SIN
We have already touched somewhat upon the Man of Sin in previous chapters, but now we come to study him more closely. Before proceeding further, let the student turn and read the following Scriptures: 2 Thess. 2:3-10; Rev. 11:1-7; 13; 16:13-16; 17; 19:17-20; Dan. 7:8-27; 8:8-25. These last two Scripture passages have reference to Antioches Epiphanes, the type of the Man of Sin.
I. THE IDENTITY OF THE MAN OF SIN
As stated before, we interpret any passage of Scripture literally, unless there is something in the passage, or in the context or in some other Scripture that indicates a figurative meaning. We find absolutely no reason for taking the description of the Man of Sin otherwise than literally. No institution or agency could sit in the temple of God. See 2 Thess. 2:4.
2. HE AND THE BEAST OF REVELATION ARE TO BE THE SAME INDIVIDUAL
We hold this conviction for the following reasons:
(1) Both are to run their course during the interim between the two phases of Christ's coming.
Below we show this to be true of the Man of Sin. And in a previous chapter we have shown that the section of the book in which is recorded the career of the Beast belongs to that period.
2 Thess. 2:4-10; Rev. 13:6-8.
(3) Both are to be destroyed at the final coming of Christ to the earth.
2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:11-20.
3. HE IS TO BE A WORLD KING WITH HIS SEAT OF POWER AT ROME
See Rev. 17:1-11. We hold the seven mountains (vs. 9) to be the seven celebrated hills of Rome. The five fallen kings we hold to be Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, and Greece. The one that then was we believe was pagan Rome. The one that was yet to come was "Christian" Rome, or the so-called Holy Roman Empire. The former six kingdoms (the term for kings meaning either kings or kingdoms) culminated in the seventh. The Beast is to be the eighth king and his kingdom will combine all the power and evil of the seven. The deadly wound on one of the heads of the Beast (Rev. 13:3) we take to represent the fall of Rome, A. D. 476. We refer the healing of the wound to the reestablishment of the Roman Empire with its capital at Rome under the reign of the Beast. The sea out of which the Beast is seen to arise (Rev. 13:1; 17:1, 15) we take as representing the seething, turbulent, revolutionary mass of humanity to which the inhabitants of the earth will be reduced by the rapture of the saints.
We find no satisfactory ground for holding that the Man of Sin will be Judas reincarnated. It is certain that God would not actively work such a reincarnation. And the Devil has not the power to work it. He can possess and dominate men, but he cannot actually incarnate himself, nor can he reincarnate his dead followers. The basis of the notion that the Man of Sin will be Judas reincarnated, the fact that he was called "a devil" (John 6:70), and "the son of perdition" (John 17:12), and is said to have gone to "his own place" (Acts 1:25), is insufficient to establish such a radical idea. We regard this and some other notions concerning the Man of Sin as fanciful.
Nor is there scriptural ground for referring to the Man of Sin as the Antichrist in any exclusive sense. John alone, in his epistles, uses the term; and he applied it to the false teachers of his day that denied the humanity of Christ (1 John 2:18,22; 4:3,4; 2 John 7). And he said there were many of them then in the world. The prefix "anti" may signify against or it may signify instead of. There is no evidence that John gave it the latter meaning. He used it exclusively as applying to those who were against Christ; those who denied that Jesus was the Christ.* There is no evidence that the false teachers referred to by John tried to establish any one of their number as the Christ. The Man of Sin will be an antichrist, but identifying him as "the Antichrist," in an exclusive sense, and then taking the prefix to mean instead of and inferring that he will be a Jew that will pose as the Christ is unwarranted. The Man of Sin will sit in the temple and demand worship, but he could do that without posing as the Messiah. As a type of this, Antiochus Epiphanes erected the statue of Jupiter Olyniphus on the altar of burnt-offering. The seven forerunners of the Beast or Man of Sin were not Jews. We hold that the Man of Sin will be a Roman (Italian).
1. HE IS TO BE REVEALED IN THE INTERIM BETWEEN THE TWO PHASES OF CHRIST'S COMING
As we have pointed out previously, no individual that fulfilled the description of the Man of Sin has yet been revealed on the earth. Some think that the papal line is the Man of Sin. But no pope has ever sat in the temple of God. The Vatican is not the temple of God. Apostate Christianity is not the temple of God. Instead it is the habitation of devils (Rev. 18:2). The revelation of the Man of Sin is now being hindered by some individual (2 Thess. 2:6,7). We believe this hinderer is the Holy Spirit indwelling every true believer (1 Cor. 6:19) and every true New Testament church (1 Cor. 3:16). It is the Holy Spirit's restraining influence exercised through believers that now prevents the revelation of the Man of Sin. Thus believers are the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13). The taking out of the way of the hinderer, then, will mean the removal of the Holy Spirit from the earth.** This will require the taking
*"This position was held in two forms, (1) that Jesus Christ was not literal (5:2), and His humanity being denied, the Messiahship was denied, since the former was necessary to the latter; (2) that Jesus and the Logos were only temporarily and, as it were, mechanically connected; and as the Logos and the Messiah were held to be essentially identical, so Jesus could not be the Christ."
**We refer here only to the removal of his special presence as abiding in believers and the church, which began at Pentecost. This will mark the end of the special dispensation of the Spirit. His ministry will then revert back to what it was before Pentecost.
out of the earth of every true believer. Since this will occur at the first phase of Christ's coming (1 Thess. 4:15-17), the revelation of the Man of Sin cannot come about until after the first phase of Christ's coming. And since he is to be consumed and destroyed at the second phase of Christ's coming (2 Thess. 2:8), he must be revealed and run his course during the interim between the two phases of Christ's coming.
2. THE LENGTH OF HIS CAREER WILL BE FORTY-TWO MONTHS
Rev. 13:5. He is to be revealed about the middle of the great tribulation period and to continue through the latter half of it. We interpret the forty-two months literally because that seems most suitable in view of all other indications of time. Three years and a half answers well to "a time, times, and a half," during which he (evidently the man of sin, typified in Daniel) shall "scatter the power of the holy people (the Jews)" (Dan. 7:25; 12:7), and during which the woman (whom we take to represent the Jewish nation) is to abide in the wilderness (Rev. 12:14).
III. HIS ACTIVITIES
1. HE WILL SIT IN THE TEMPLE, PRETENDING TO BE GOD
See 2 Thess. 2:4. The temple that the Man of Sin will sit in is doubtless the restored Jewish temple, which will be the center of worship during the millennium.
Every New Testament church is a temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16). But this could not be what is meant in 2 Thess. 2:4. To be seated in a local church would not be sufficient to satisfy the ambition of this monster of iniquity. And surely the Scripture indicates a more daring and far-reaching exaltation than this. The reference in 2 Thess. 2:4 could not be to apostate Christianity, for, as we have remarked already, apostate Christianity is not the temple of God; but instead is the habitation of devils (Rev. 18:2). The reference is certainly to the Jewish temple that is to be restored by the Jews at Jerusalem some time during the great tribulation period. This, it seems clear, is the temple that comes into view in Rom. 11:1, 2.
We do not believe that the Man of Sin will sit personally in the temple, but will be represented there by his image (Rev. 13:14-17). It is thus that he will pretend to be God, and not by posing as the Messiah. If he desired to be recognized as the Messiah, common sense would forbid the allowance of demanding worship of his image.
Dan. 8:25. He will give the world the newest of all "new deals"; will be a great industrial leader.
4. HE WILL SUPPORT AND RECEIVE THE PATRONAGE OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Rev. 17:2-6. We take the great whore to represent the Roman Catholic Church (Rev. 17:1-7). Her clothing and ornaments picture the wealth of the Roman Catholic Church. The abominations are her unscriptural doctrines and practices. Fornication represents her spiritual adultery in being espoused to the Pope instead of to Christ. The harlots of which she is the mother are Protestant denominations. Her being "drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" pictures her persecution against true believers (particularly Baptists) through the dark and middle ages.
From Rev. 18:4 we find that even at the very hour of her destruction she will have some of God's people in her, as she doubtless has at this time. And God's command now is the same that it will be at the end: "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not her plagues." We say that the Beast will support the Roman Catholic Church because we first see the whore riding on the Beast (Rev. 17:1-12). We say the Beast will receive the patronage of the Roman Catholic Church because we regard the second Beast (Rev. 14:11-17) as the Pope. Note that this second Beast has the appearance of a lamb. This represents the professed sanctity of the Pope. Note also that, in contrast to the first Beast, the second Beast will arise out of the earth (Rev. 13:11). The first Beast will arise out of (the sea) turmoil and revolution. The second one will have a solid, compact, orderly source- the Roman Catholic system.
5. BUT FINALLY HE AND HIS TEN KINGS WILL TURN AGAINST THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND DESTROY HER
Rev. 17:16, 17.
6. HE WILL PERSECUTE THE JEWS
7. FINALLY HE WILL LEAD THE KINGS OF THE EARTH AND THEIR ARMIES AGAINST JERUSALEM FOR THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON
Rev. 16:13-16; 19:17-21. We regard the false prophet mentioned in these passages as being identical with the second Beast- the pope, who, after the destruction of the Roman Catholic Church, will remain in league with the Beast. The battle of Armageddon will engage our attention in the next chapter.