Who is the Man of Lawlessness from 2nd. Thess.?

In my studies of eschatology I have come to my own conclusion of who the man of lawlessness is. But my goal of this is to talk about what Paul and the early church thought of the man of lawlessness. It is evident from the text that this enigmatic figure hasn’t come on the scene yet, so my question is, when has this “man of lawlessness” come about, that is if he is still yet to come. Here is the quote of the text that I am getting at. 2nd Thess. 2:3-9.

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he take his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he is taken out of the way. That the lawless one will be reveled whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders…

Also from the Didache which is an early Christian document from either the late 1st century or early 2nd century says this
Chapter 16. Watchfulness; the Coming of the Lord. Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come. But come together often, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if you are not made perfect in the last time. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; for when lawlessness increases, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, and then shall appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning. Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; but those who endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself. And then shall appear the signs of the truth: first, the sign of an outspreading in heaven, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet. And third, the resurrection of the dead – yet not of all, but as it is said: “The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him.” Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.

So from this text, at least to the context of the original audience, this man of lawlessness/Antichrist like figure was yet to come but the question I have is, did he already show up later in history or is this Satanic parody of the Messiah still yet to come?

We need to look at Paul’s letter in its context. The Christians in Thessalonika were afraid that they had missed the Rapture, meaning that they were not real Christians. Paul’s explanation was to reassure them that they had not missed the Rapture.

The evidence Paul gave them was that the Apostasy of many “Christians” and the revealing of the Man of Lawlessness, the Anti-Christ must come before the Rapture, and He has not come.

This being the case and accepting the fact that the Rapture has not come the I think we can cay that past candidates for the Anti-Christ such as Hitler and Stalin were not. On the other hand some people have claimed that Barak Obama (See the internet.) I don’t think so because President Obama is not a Liar.

On the other hand we have another candidate who shows no respect for law, neither divine moral law nor human constitutional law. Objectively he is the Man of Lawlessness and the apostacy could be all those who support his lawless activities.

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If you are referring to who I think you are referring to a certain orange haired man then I find that surprising but also wouldn’t be surprised at the same time as it’s possible. My view is that the man of lawlessness/Antichrist is still future bound and will be a Jewish high priest in the rebuilt 3rd Jewish Temple but I don’t take the traditional Dispensationalist view of the temple and rapture as I am a Historic Premill. (I see the doctrine of the rapture as the Dispensationalist put it to be wrong as it would force us to think of a third resurrections for those who die during the Great Tribulation. Thus I see Christian going through a short period of persecutions that is called the Great Tribulation.)

I would compare 2 ideas of prophesy.

  1. Vision of the future as if the future is already written. This sort of prophecy cannot logically be prevented though it may very well be self-fulfilling, becoming one of the causes which brings about that which it predicts.
  2. This is a revelation of one of the possibilities for the future, seen by intuition or an understanding of the forces acting in the world (whether by God or someone else). This sort of prophecy can be prevented and may very well be considered self-preventing.

Are prophecies in the Bible of type 1 or type 2? Well in at least one case we know the answer for certain, for the prophecy in Jonah was self-preventing. Type 1 is preferred by those who want the Bible to be magical and supernatural, while type 2 is preferred by those who want the Bible to be practical and meaningful. Type 1 prophesies are good for fiction and story telling, while type 2 prophesies are seen quite frequently in science.

What then of 2 Thess 2:3-9? If this is a type 2 prophesy then the man of lawlessness refers to a type of historical figure of which there can be many examples such as Nero or Hitler and it isn’t really meaningful to ask which person is the real one. But if this is treated as a type 1 prophesy then it all sounds like an inkblot test where what we see is more about us than the Bible itself.

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I fully agree with you on that, we need to understand that while the letters of Paul have a universal message that can be applied to us today, we aren’t the original audience. So, we need to understand who this “man of lawlessness” meant to the original audience and as I have stated with the quote of the Didache, it seems that at least to that audience of that time, the man of lawlessness/Antichrist seemed to be a future figure as it says, “then shall appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning.” I am not one to point fingers at people and say, “there is the Antichrist” as I find it pointless and I feel we will be caught off guard on who he is. But I do think he will in some way, shape or fashion will be or gain to position of High Priest and officiate a rebuilt Jewish temple. Just my little take on it. And you may also be right, maybe we have avoided this Satanic parody of the Messiah already for all we know.

A really good article I found in talking not only about the Anti-Christ, but also of the Great Tribulation as well. @mitchellmckain @Relates Gives some good context to what the early Church Father’s thought of. Yes it is biased Historic Premill, but I think the info is good regardless of what view you take. https://www.monergism.com/historic-hope-church-0

The Catholic Church has always applied 2 Thess 2 to the bodily Second Coming of Christ at the end of earth time at Final Judgement:

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c2a7.htm

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If so, the “man of lawlessness” occurs during the assault of "Gog & Magog"

Then my question is, who is Gog and Magog? And don’t say Russia, that has been beaten like a dead horse by the Dispensationalist by this point.

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“Gog & Magog” pick up where “Babylon” and the “Beast” left off

“Babylon” symbolizes 1st century apostate Jerusalem (Rev 11:8), “Armageddon” the catastrophic sacking of the city in 70 AD, 3 1/2 years into the Roman-Jewish war, and 3 1/2 years before the final fall of Masada

“Beast” symbolizes the pagan Roman empire, spiritually overcome in the 4th century AD

“Millennium” prophesied the 1000-year Christian Byzantine empire

“Gog & Magog” seemingly symbolize all those “Beastly” and “Babylonian” oppositions to Christianity in the modern post-Christian era?

Naturalism, secularism, relativism… abortion (justifying taking innocent human life imaging God in heaven despite Genesis 9:5-7), “modernity” shall we say

My sense is there is an obvious progression:

  • Babylon = 1 city (1 nation)
  • Beast = 1 empire (1 continent sized region)
  • Gog & Magog = 1 world (global)

Culminating in Final Judgement which is indeed global

Interesting point of view, I tend to see Babylon as a two sided prophecy, Rome for the 1st century audience and some future world power or a group of nations near the end of time.

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Revelation 11:8, the “Great City” is where the Lord was Crucified

only one city in the history of earth qualifies for that location ?

“Babylon” rides the “Beast”, like a horse & rider, but not as a single “centaur”, two separate entities are symbolized

I think there are dual fulfillments to some prophecies, too. It would be a little surprising that the U.S.A doesn’t appear somewhere in scripture. How about Daniel 2:43?

And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.

And I think the beast is commerce, before whom all bow and whose mark we have in our foreheads and literally on our wrists, if we pay with Apple Watches.


(Related: The Lord’s Day of Rest)

The feet of iron and clay seems to be a mix of nations that come out of Rome, maybe USA one of them since we owe a lot to the Romans for our culture and goverment? The Mark of the Beast, if you study its Jewish connection, is an anti-Shema, which the Shema would have the Mark of God on either their right hands or on their forehands, that why you see some ultra-orthodox Jews have those boxes with prayers in them on either on the right hand or on their forehead. Thus the Man of Lawlessness/Antichrist will be a parody of everything Judo-Christian and be a Satanic parody of the Messiah.

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I know that Rome has been the traditional understanding and our Lord’s first advent the stone. To me, a dual fulfillment sure fits with the U.S.A. being the feet and the Lord’s second advent again the stone.

And regarding phylacteries, there is just a little metaphorical language in prophecy (:slightly_smiling_face:), so I still vote for the god Commerce equating to the beast.

Obviously the mark of the beast will have an economic bit to it as in that no one can buy or sell without the Mark of the Beast.

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I don’t know that we have to take it literally that we cannot buy or sell without it. We all already figuratively have it, and as I more than suggested in my little essay above, we do bow to commerce when we engage in it on the Lord’s Day of Rest.

True too that. But whatever the mark of the beast is, it is obviously a system against God and Jesus Christ.

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The Messianic “rock” (=Church) bowled down the “statue” (=pagan Babylonians/Persians/Greeks/Romans) in the 4th century AD

So the “iron & clay feet” were “crushed” in the 4th century AD

So “iron” --> “iron & clay” represents a transition in the pagan Roman empire

Most obvious candidate would be the transition from Republican Principate to Domitian’s Dominate