“Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come the falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” (2Thes. 2:3)

Recently a request was made by one of our readers of TKC to elaborate on 2Thes. 2 regarding this man of sin or as some translations put it, “the man of lawlessness”. This is no small task, since the Bible does not give any specifics as to his or its identity, thus whatever conclusion I or others have pertaining to this subject will be purely conjecture, but Scripture will surely give us an insight to who or what Paul is referring to in his  writings. Even though Paul states in vs 7, that the mystery of iniquity was already at work at the time that he wrote this letter, it is in fact a message for the last days, just prior to the Lord’s return.

As we try to solve this mystery, even though I used the KJV Bible in my introductory verse, I will, in this article quote mostly from the Ferrar Fenton translation unless otherwise noted. “But we implore you, brethren, regarding the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of our gathering together to Him, not to be easily shaken nor terrified from your purpose, neither by spirit, by word, nor by any letter presented as from us, as though the day of the Lord were near.” (vs 1,2 FF). Paul, in these two verses, is warning the Christians in Thessalonica to be steadfast in the faith and not to be lead astray by false teaching. It seems that there were false teachers among them who, in the name of Paul, were teaching that the Day of the Lord, Christ’s return and the translation of the saints was already at hand. “Let no one cheat you by any such means. For the apostasy (falling away) must come first, and the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction, must first be revealed; the one who withstand, and is self-exalted over and above all that is called Divine, or worshipped; so that he seats himself in the sanctuary of God, proclaiming that he himself is God. Do you not remember that wilst we were with you we told you this?” (vs 3,4,5 FF).

Again, Paul says, don’t be fooled, for the Lord’s return will not occur until after the apostasy, the falling away has taken place according to the Lord’s own words, His return will not take place until after the Great Tribulation. (Mat. 24:29,30; Mark 13:4-27; Luke 21 21:29-33). Just prior to that great event, the man of lawlessness, the son of perdition, will be revealed, he will be exposed, or maybe he will expose himself: either way the saints will then learn who is this diabolical liar, this source of corruption. We will come back to this man of sin a little later on. “And you also know the present restraint to this development until His proper time. For the mystery of that lawlessness already operates; only the restrainer intervenes for a time; until he is removed; and then the outlaw will become manifest, whom the Lord will destroy by the Spirit of His mouth, and extinguish by the manifestation of His presence.” (vs. 6,7,8 FF). Here Paul explains that this son of perdition is being held in check to a large extent. This force was already at work in Paul’s time and is at work even now. It is only through the working of the Restrainer, which is the Holy Spirit, but who will be removed from His interventive work, that this lawlessness, this anti-Christ force is being curtailed. It is after the removal of the restraining work of the Holy Spirit, that this evil force attacks the Saints in an unrelenting assault, but the Lord will at that time destroy this being by the Spirit of His mouth when He returns. “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.” (Rev. 19:15 KJV) “This outlaw’s arrival will be accompanied by the energy of Satan with all powers, and signs, and terrors of falsehood; and with all the deceit of justice among the perishing, who accepted not the love of the truth, so that they themselves might be saved. And because of this God will send to them an energy of error, {strong delusion. KJV} for themselves to make the falsehood credible; so that in every way those who do not trust to the truth, but on the contrary, approved falsehood, may be condemned.” (vs 9,10,11,12 FF) Paul here tells us that this lawlessness, this man of sin, receives its power from Satan, thus is not Satan himself. Paul also tells us in these verses that all those who are swayed by this deceit will perish. In their delusion they will believe the lies of this sinful being, to their own detriment and peril!

Let us now return to this man of sin, and see if we can determine who or what it is. Paul does not identify this person, but maybe we can find the answer in the Bible. I personally have attended several Revelation seminars put on by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, in which they identify the Pope as being that man of sin, and their presentation has a lot of merit. According to Halley’s Bible Handbook, the early church fathers looked for a person antichrist who would be manifested after the fall of the Roman Empire. The Protestant Reformers, on the other hand, being directly in touch with the corrupt church of the Middle Ages, believed that the Papacy, an institution headed up in a person, usurping to itself authority that belongs only to Christ, and being responsible for the prevailing corruption, to have been a manifestation of the man of sin. In our own time, after more than two thousand years of Church History there are still wide differences of opinion. But let us also look from a different angle. In Revelation 12 and 13 we read about the Dragon, who is Satan (Rev. 12:9), and the Beasts and the False Prophet, which receive their power from Satan (Rev. 13:4) These three, the Beasts and the False Prophet, are one powerful antichrist being, just like Mystery Babylon. Could this be the manifestation of the man of sin? We guess, God knows.

In closing, there is one more thought to consider. Paul states in verse 7 that that power of lawlessness, the iniquity was already at work in his day, long before the church of Rome came into being. So, we must ask the question, who were Paul’s biggest adversaries? It was those that held to the traditions of the Elders, namely the Idumeans. Since the early Apostolic church until now the most vehement Christ hater has been the Idumeans. Through the centuries there has been strife and animosity between Jacob and Esau right up to this day. Are the Beasts and the False Prophets, Antichrist, the Man of Sin all tied up and combined in Esau-Edom? Only God knows, but what we do know is that the apostasy is deeply entrenched in today’s society and church.

May God have mercy on us, his Remnant and hasten His return.