2 Thessalonians 2:3-11 Updated American standard Version (UASV)
The Man of Lawlessness
2 Now we request you, brothers, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a word or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and 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, showing himself as being God. 5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6 And now you know the thing restraining him, so that in his time he will be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; but only until the one who is right now acting as a restraint is out of the way. 8 Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth, and wipe out by the appearance of his coming, 9 namely, the one whose coming is in accordance with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God is sending upon them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie, 12 in order that they all may be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness.
2 Thessalonians 2:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
8 Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth, and wipe out by the appearance of his presence,
When we think of the past year, in the news media, we have witnessed atrocious cases of lawlessness around the world. We have seen hundreds of young ones killed in gang violence here in the United States. We have witnessed videos of the Islamic terrorist group known as ISIS, where hundreds of women and children have been raped and murdered, Christians have been beheaded and burned alive. However, there has been a far more treacherous lawless element that has been at work behind the scenes, truly going unnoticed for many centuries. In the Bible, it is called, “the man of lawlessness.”
It is imperative that we identify this man of lawlessness. Why? His objective is to undermine the righteous standing of every genuine Christian and cost them their hope of everlasting life. How does the man of lawlessness accomplish such a task? He does so by getting Christians to abandon the truth for the lie. Jesus said, “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23) It is the man of lawlessness’ mission to get us away from our pure worship. He is in opposition to God and His purposes and is adamantly opposed to his dedicated worshippers. If any of us is so bold as to believe we are above being misled, we are just the ones he is looking for, as “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18, ESV.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
3 Let no one deceive you in any way, for it [the Lord’s day of destruction of ungodly men] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
Paul prophesied that an apostasy would develop and before that apostasy would be brought to an end the man of lawlessness would come. In fact, in verse 7 Paul stated, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work …” Notice that, just like the antichrist, in the first century, this man of lawlessness was already making himself known.
Origin of the Lawless Man
2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
9 but the one whose coming is in accordance with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.
We see here that is Satan, who originated this lawless man. Satan, the father of the lie, is also the one who has and who will continue to sustain the lawless one. In addition, just as Satan is an enemy of God and his people, so too, this man of lawlessness.
2 Thessalonians 2:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
8 Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth, and wipe out by the appearance of his presence,
This man of lawlessness has but one future, i.e., destruction, along with anyone who goes along with him.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted along with us when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These ones will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, from before the Lord and from the glory of his strength,
Paul gives further information in helping his readers to identify this man of lawlessness.
2 Thessalonians 2:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
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, showing himself as being God.
REASONABLE FAITH: Saving Those Who Doubt by Edward D. Andrews
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Here we see that Satan will raise up this lawless man, making him a false object of reverence, who will even place himself above God. On this Knute Larson writes, “This man will oppose everything connected with the divine–not only Christianity but anything that has to do with theism. This man will wage war against everything that hints at religion, faith, or spirituality. He will try to eradicate worship of any kind: prayers, songs, gatherings, and shrines.”
He goes on saying, “The man of sin will set himself up in God’s temple, or more literally, put himself into God’s seat in the inner sanctuary of the temple, proclaiming himself to be God. This will be more than a taking over of some building. The man of sin will understand the implications and claims that attend taking his seat in the sanctuary of God. He will anoint himself as divine. He will usurp the rightful place of God and declare himself as the one to be worshiped.” (Larson 2000, 106)
This lawless one is a hypocrite, a false teacher claiming to be Christian, who “takes his seat in the temple of God,” namely, what such false teachers claim to be that temple.
Just like the antichrist, we have to ask, are we looking for a single individual? Was Paul speaking of just one person, who would be this man of lawlessness? No, for if he were just one person, he would have to be able to go without dying. Paul had stated that the man of lawlessness was “already at work” in Paul’s day, and would be at work up unto the Lord’s day of the destruction of ungodly men, that is, beyond the day of the penning of this book, which would make the lawless one almost 2,000 years old. Apparently, no ordinary man has lived that long. Therefore, the expression man of lawlessness must be composite, standing for a body or class of people.
REASONS FOR FAITH: The First Apologetic Guide For Christian Women on Matters of The Heart, Soul, and Mind by Judy Salisbury
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Who are these ones that have been “at work” since Paul’s day and are still “at work” in our day? Clearly, they are a body of arrogant, proud, self-important, self-righteous, ambitious leaders within false Christianity, who over the centuries have had great power within Satan’s world, placing themselves above God and his Word. This author has written extensively about the fact that 41,000 different Christian denominations call themselves the truth and the way. Consider the fact that, they all have ministers, clergy, priests, elders, pastors, yet each conflicting with the others in some aspect of doctrine or practice. Many are actually in opposition to God’s law, personality, standards, ways, and will, so, in effect, they are in opposition to God himself. (See Mark 3:24; Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 1:10) Many of these denominations do not keep hold of what the Bible really teaches. They have violated the principle of what Paul spoke of, ‘not going beyond what is written.’ (1 Cor. 4:6, ESV) In principle, the words of Jesus to the Jewish religious leaders of his day, wherein there were many different sects of Judaism, has much to offer us. He said, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matt 15:3, ESV) He went on to say, “in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (15:9) Lastly, Jesus said, “they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” – Matthew 15:14.
So, again, this man of lawlessness is a composite person. The false religious leaders within Christianity, who are being used by Satan whether they are aware of it or not. Of these lawless ones, be it the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, preachers, ministers, elders, or pastors, they will share in the destruction of the man of lawlessness, for their sins. Worse still, those within the churches, who make up the flocks of these false religious leaders of Christendom, will also share in the Lord’s day of the destruction of ungodly men. King David wrote, “I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites.” (Psa. 26:4, ESV) If one of God’s holy ones are in one of these false denominations that call themselves Christian, God will offer them deliverance. The Palmist also wrote, “Hate evil, you who love the Lord, Who preserves the souls of His godly ones; He delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psa. 97:10, NASB) Jesus spoke of those who believed they were on the correct path, but, in fact, they were not. Jesus said,
Matthew 7:21-23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’
The actual way to God was through the Israelite nation for over 1,500 years. When Jesus arrived he began what would become known as Christianity, his followers being called Christian.
Matthew 9:16-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
16 But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear becomes worse. 17 Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins. If they do, then the wineskins burst and the wine spills out and the wineskins are ruined. But they do put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Jesus was making a point to the disciples of John the Baptist that no one should expect the followers of Jesus Christ to try to retain the old practices of Judaism, such as a ritualistic fasting. A Christian can fast if he chooses to do so, but there are no obligations to do so. Jesus did not come to patch up the old ways of worship by way of Judaism, which would be set aside on the day of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. Christianity is not to conform to the old way of worship, to the form Jewish religious system, with the traditions of men.
As Jesus said, Christianity was not going to be a new patch on an old garment or a new wine in an old wineskin. Any Christian or so-called Jewish Christian, who tries to suggest the mixing of the two is nothing more than false prophets. – Matthew 24:11.
We can define antichrist as anyone, any group, any organization, or any government that is against or instead of Christ, or who mistreat his people. Thus, we are not just looking for one person, one group, one organization, or one power. The Bible does not refer to just one antichrist. The greatest misidentification has been the interpretation that the Antichrist and the man of lawlessness is just one particular person.
Our Point Begins with Paul
Paul, who as we know was known as Saul before becoming the apostle Paul. Nevertheless, the objective way of believing certain Bible doctrines as being the truth is as follows. The biblical view of the doctrine __________ is ___________, and it is the truth, unless, enough evidence comes along to say otherwise. If we grow in knowledge and understanding, our conclusions based on previous knowledge may need to be revised. For increased knowledge can require adjustments in one’s thinking. We must remember the Apostle Paul studied under the renowned Pharisee Gamaliel, who was the grandson of Hillel, the Elder (110 B.C.E. – 10 C.E.), the founder of one of the two schools within Judaism. Paul describes himself as “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.” (Phil 3:5-6) He also states, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:7-8) Thus, we know that the Israelites were God’s chosen people and the only way to God for some 1,500 years.
However, Jesus brought a new way, Christianity. Saul/Paul was slow to accept this because he could not see Jesus Christ as the long-awaited Messiah. Nevertheless, after Jesus visited Paul on the road to Damascus and Ananias, a Christian disciple of Damascus, visited Paul, he saw the Old Testament Scriptures pointing to the Messiah accurately, he was able to humble himself and accept a different belief, i.e., Christianity was the truth and the way.
To believe without enough support, to believe in the face of contrary evidence is irrational. Therefore, we must humbly examine the facts behind what we believe, to establish the truth continually. Just as the apostle Paul exhorted the Christians at Corinth to “examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” (2 Cor. 13:5) We could say the very same thing about our beliefs. We could say, ‘examine our beliefs, to see whether they are the truth, test our beliefs.’
Now, this is not to suggest that our beliefs are to be ever changing, but that they should be able to stand up to scrutiny when they are challenged by something we have heard or read. However, this refinement of our beliefs should not be confused with allowing unfounded, damaging doubts to grow in our hearts and minds, doubts that can destroy our confidently established beliefs and our relationship with our heavenly Father. Unfounded doubt is defined as something that is not supported by any evidence or a minuscule amount of evidence, to cause uncertainty of belief or opinion that often interferes with our decision-making skills.
Our Point Ends with Us
We need to dig deeper into biblical truths, not as a sign of unfounded doubt but to make sure what we believe is so. If we think that we can survive off the basic Bible knowledge that we acquired in the beginning and the simple snacks we receive at each Christian meeting, we are sadly mistaken because our spiritual health will deteriorate. It would be similar to our believing that we could maintain our physical health by only eating here and there.
Acts 17:10-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
Paul and Silas in Berea
10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
Note that they (1) “received the word with all eagerness,” and then went about (2) “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” If the apostle Paul was to be examined to see if what he said was so, surely uninspired commentators must be examined as well.
1 Timothy 1:13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
13 although formerly I [Saul/Paul] was a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and a violent man. But I was shown mercy because I had acted unknowingly with a lack of trust,
Suppose we do not realize that our particular Christian denomination or our Christian leader is a false teacher. Does our failing to reject it necessarily free us from further responsibility in the matter? If God continues to send us holy ones who attempt to share biblical truths be it by book, magazines, the internet, or even in person and we ignore such ones, we are sharing in the sins of others, which is a sin in and of itself. – 2 John 1:9-11.
Romans 10:2-3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
2 For I [Saul/Paul] bear them witness that they [the Jews] have a zeal for God, but not according to accurate knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
What has been demonstrated here thus far? Just because one is very active in their Christian denomination or church, this activity does not guarantee that they are receiving God’s approval or that they are doctrinally correct. See Jesus words below for those who believed that they were in an approved relationship. It takes real heart and character to accept that one may be on the wrong path when it comes to long-held biblical beliefs. It takes an act of humility to accept that we may need to make an adjustment in our view of a certain doctrine. Jesus words from above bear repeating.
Matthew 7:21-23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’
It was Saul/Paul’s zeal and his conscience that was pricked to defend what he thought was the truth, and yet he openly admitted that he was over-zealous, that his zeal was misdirected, because of ignorance. This should cause us to pause and reflect. The presence of false teachers in the Christian congregation from the first century onward means that one cannot just naively accept that they are getting the truth. It would be foolish to assume such.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
The Greek word dokimazete rendered simply as “test” in the English Standard Version or the Holman Christian Standard Bible denotes a careful examination of “everything.” If one is to make a careful examination of everything, it will require that they are not just passively going along, but rather, one should be buying out the time, to have an accurate understanding of God’s Word, by doing an in-depth study of what they believe to be true.
Certainly, if what Paul had to say about the Scriptures was under examination, no one else is above having their beliefs examined. The Jews of Berea did not just accept what Paul was saying about the death and resurrection of Jesus, as being so. Moreover, Paul commended them for their due diligence. (See 17:3) This was no brief or superficial examination of the Scriptures either; they met daily to examine the Scriptures. For the above reasons, it is only through living by faith and accurate knowledge that we can receive God’s favor.
Pride and Haughtiness Is an Identifying Marker
The man of lawlessness throughout history has evidenced such pride, arrogance, and haughtiness that they have controlled world leaders. They have used the pretext of God’s Word and Bible doctrines, they have controlled the masses, as well as an intermediary between the world leaders and God. For centuries, these false Christs have crowned and dethroned kings and emperors. In many ways, their words and deeds have been similar to those of the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ day, “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15, ESV) However, Jesus words were far different, “My kingdom is not of this world.” – John 18:36.
To place themselves above God’s people, these false religious leaders, these men of lawlessness have adopted different clothing, which is usually black, and in some cases a white color around the neck. Keep in mind, others dress in $5,000 suits while their flocks are fleeced. Jesus and his disciples did no such thing. In fact, when Jesus was being arrested, Judas had to kiss him because he could not be distinguished from the others with him. Moreover, they have bestowed upon themselves titles such as “Father,” “Holy Father,” “Reverend,” “Most Reverend,” “His Excellency,” and “His Eminence,” when Jesus said, “call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.” (Matt. 23:9) Remember, these ones are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
In Matthew Chapter 7, Jesus started out by talking about two paths and false teachers. False teachers imply false teachings. Again, what did Jesus say he would say to those who thought they were doing the right thing or thought they were teaching the right thing but were not? ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matt. 7:23)
We have false teachers, who are difficult to recognize, as they appear as innocent as sheep. Recognizing them can only be accomplished by recognizing their fruit (words and deeds), as well as knowing the true will of the Father. Does it not then seem prudent on our behalf that we should apply,
2 Thessalonians 2:10 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.
2 Corinthians 13:5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?–unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
Yes, the ones, who are deceived by these false teachers, will perish because refused to be receptive to the truth. Therefore, we need to be in a constant mode of examining ourselves, as well as our beliefs, to see whether we are really in the truth. We would be wise if we heed the insight from Paul to the Corinthians,
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not a great thing if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
Rejection of the Truth Is an Identifying Marker
The apostle Paul said that this man of lawlessness was going to grow with apostasy (rejection of the truth). Actually, the first sign Paul gave as to the identity of this lawless class is that “the day of the Lord [i.e., the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men] … will not come unless the apostasy comes first.” (2 Thess. 2:2-3) What exactly did Paul mean by “apostasy”? He meant to stand off from the truth, i.e., to not only fall away from the faith but to then turn on the faith, rebellion. On this apostasy, Knute Larson writes,
Before that great day comes, Paul declared, the rebellion must occur. The word used here is apostasia, or apostasy. Before the day of the Lord, there will be a great denial, a deliberate turning away by those who profess to belong to Christ. It will be a rebellion. Having once allied themselves with Christ, they will abandon him. Within the recognized church there will come a time when people will forsake their faith. Throughout history there have been defections from the faith. But the apostasy about which he wrote to the Thessalonians would be of greater magnitude and would signal the coming of the end. (Larson 2000, 106)
CHRISTIAN APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM: Reaching Hearts with the Art of Persuasion by Edward D. Andrews
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The Great Apostasy
2 Thessalonians 2:1a, 3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
1 Now we request you, brothers, with regard to the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ … 3 Let no one deceive you in any way, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
On this text, New Testament scholar Jon A. Weatherly writes, “Following the warning about deception, the rest of the verse in the Greek text is an anacoluthon, a subordinate clause with no clause to complete it. Literally, the text reads, ‘Because unless the rebellion comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed.’ Translators must supply the clause introduced with ‘because’ (ὅτι, hoti), which can be clearly inferred from v. 2. Since the question concerns the coming of the day of the Lord, Paul apparently expects the reader to conclude that the day is preceded by the rebellion and revelation of the man of lawlessness.” (Weatherly 1996)
The apostle Paul says to the Ephesian elders; there is but “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Eph. 4:5) Paul penned those words about 60 C.E., and he was informing them that there was but one Christian faith. Yet, today we see more varieties of Christian faith than we care to count, all claiming that they are the truth and the way. Whenever a brave soul dares to be truthful and bring up that there are doctrinal differences, different doctrinal position, and different standards of conduct, he is shouted down as an alarmist. They claim that most of these denominations are the same on the essential doctrines, i.e., the salvation doctrines. Well, this actually is not true and is an attempt at hiding the truth, because even the salvation doctrines have anywhere from three to five different interpretations. Regardless, we must concern ourselves with a crucial question from Jesus Christ, “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lu 18:8) This is a whole other discussion. We concern ourselves with how these divisions came about in the first place.
As has already been stated, but bears repeating, the blame lies with Satan. He attempted to have Jesus killed as a baby; he tempted Jesus in the wilderness after his baptism, and he attempted persecution right from the start. Peter wrote, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8) Initially, the persecution of this young Christian body came from Jewish religious leaders, and then from the Roman Empire itself. With “all authority in heaven” (Matt. 28:20) Jesus watched on, as the Holy Spirit guided and directed them, this infancy Christian congregation endured the best that Satan and his henchman had to offer. (See Rev. 1:9; 2:3, 19) As we know from Scripture, Satan is not one to give up, so he devised a new plan, divide and conquer. Yes, he would cause divisions within the Christian congregation. Satan broke out the ultimate weapon – the apostasy. We need not believe that all of a sudden the apostasy came into the Christian congregation. No, Jesus was watching from heaven, and he made sure that he warned them while he was here on earth of what was to come and he made the young Christian congregation aware of what was coming and when it was getting started. – Colossians 1:18.
REASONING FROM THE SCRIPTURES: Sharing CHRIST as You Help Others to Learn about the Mighty works of God by Edward D. Andrews
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“[Jesus] Be Aware of False Prophets …
[Peter] There Will Be False Teachers Among You”
Matthew 7:15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
Jesus was well aware of what Satan would try to accomplish step-by-step, and that divisions through those from within were on the list. New Testament scholar Stuart K. Weber says, “Jesus had an important reason for inserting the wolf metaphor (Acts 20:27–31)–to alert his listeners to the danger of a false prophet. If the false prophets were thought of as a source of bad fruit, then the disciples might think it was enough simply to recognize and ignore the false prophet, refusing to consume his bad fruit, and awaiting God’s judgment on him. But the wolf metaphor attributes a more active and malicious motive to the false prophet. He is actually an enemy of the sheep, and, if not confronted, will get his way by destroying the sheep.” (Weber 2000, 101)
Weber mentions Acts 20:28-30, where Paul, about 56 C.E., warned the Ephesian elders,
Acts 20:28-30 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the congregation of God, which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
Yes, these, who stand off from the truth and the way, would not be seeking their own disciples, but rather they would be seeking, “to draw away the disciples [Jesus’ disciples] after them.” Jesus was well aware that the easiest way to defeat any group is to divide them, and so was Satan, who had been watching humanity for over 4,000 years, and especially the Israelites (Isaac and Ishmael / Jacob and Esau / Israel and Judah), as “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” – 2 Corinthians 11:14-15.
There were even some divisions beginning as early as 49 C.E., when the elders wrote a letter to the Gentile believers, saying,
Acts 15:24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
24 Since we have heard that some went out from among us and troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, although we gave them no instructions,
Here we see that some within [those who were Christians but had left the faith], were being very vocal about their opposition to the direction the faith was heading. Here, it was over whether the Gentiles needed to be circumcised, suggesting that they needed to be obedient to the Mosaic Law. – Acts 15:1, 5.
“[Paul says it] Is Already at Work.”
About 51 C.E., some 18-years after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, division was already starting to creep into the faith, “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work.” (2 Thess. 2:7) Yes, the power of the man of lawlessness was already present, which is the power of Satan, the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:3-4), and his tens of millions of demons, are hard at work behind the scenes.
The apostle Peter also spoke of these things about 64 C.E., “there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies … in their greed they will exploit you with false words..” (2 Pet. 2:1, 3) These abandoned the faithful words, became false teachers, rising within the Christian congregation, sharing their corrupting influence, intending to hide, disguise, or mislead.
These dire warnings by Jesus and the New Testament Authors had their beginnings in the first century C.E. Yes, they began small, but burst forth on the scene in the second century.
As the years progressed throughout the first-century, this divisive “talk [would] spread like gangrene.” (2 Tim. 2:17, c. 65 C.E.) About 51 C.E., They had some in Thessalonica, at worst, going ahead of, or at best, misunderstanding Paul, and wrongly stating by word and a bogus letter “that the day of the Lord has come.” (2 Thess. 2:1-2) In Corinth, about 55 C.E., “some of [were saying] that there is no resurrection of the dead. (1 Cor. 15:12) About 65 C.E., some were “saying that the resurrection has already happened. They [were] upsetting the faith of some.” – 2 Timothy 2:16-18.
Throughout the next three decades, no inspired books were written. However, by the time of the apostle John’s letter writing days of 96-98 C.E., he tells us “Now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18) These are ones, “who denies that Jesus is the Christ” and ones who not confess “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” – 1 John 2:22; 4:2-3.
From 33 C.E. to 100 C.E., the apostles served Christ as a restraint against “the apostasy” that was coming. Paul stated at 2 Thessalonians 2:7, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; but only until the one who is right now acting as a restraint [Jesus’ apostles] is out of the way.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3 said, “Let no one deceive you in any way [misinterpretation or false teachers of Paul’s first letter], for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness [composite person, or maybe an organization/movement, empowered by Satan] is revealed, the son of destruction.”
So, again, how did this apostasy, this rebellion, grow out of the first-century Christian congregation? Repeating Paul’s words to Thessalonica about “the thing that acts as a restraint” on the lawless one. We have already said that it was the apostles, who acted as this restraining force. It was the presence of the apostles, with the powerful gift of the Holy Spirit, which held off the apostasy in its full force. (Acts 2:1-4; 1 Cor. 12:28) Nevertheless, when the last apostle John died in about 100 C.E., this restraint was removed. Again, we look at an example, from the words of New Testament textual scholar, Philip W. Comfort,
Once the final, authorized publication was released and distributed to the churches, I think it unlikely that any substantive changes would have occurred during the lifetime of the apostles or second-generation coworkers. By “substantive,” I mean a change that would alter Christian doctrine or falsify an apostolic account. The primary reason is that the writers (or their immediate successors) were alive at the time and therefore could challenge any significant, unauthorized alterations. As long as eyewitnesses such as John or Peter were alive, who would dare change any of the Gospel accounts in any significant manner? Anyone among the Twelve could have testified against any falsification. And there was also a group of 72 other disciples (Luke 10:1) who could do the same. Furthermore, according to 1 Corinthians 15:6, Jesus had at least five hundred followers by the time he had finished his ministry, and these people witnessed Jesus in resurrection. Most of these people were still alive (Paul said) in AD 57/58 (the date of composition for 1 Corinthians); it stands to reason that several lived for the next few decades—until the turn of the century and even beyond.
We must keep in mind that the meaning of any given text is what the author meant by the words that he used, as should have been understood by his audience, and had some relevance/meaning for his audience. The rebellion [apostasy] began slowly in the first century and would break forth after the death of the last apostle, i.e., John. As the historian, Ariel Durant informed us earlier, by 187 C.E., there were 20 varieties of Christianity, and by 384 C.E., there were 80 varieties of Christianity. Christianity would become one again, a universal religion, i.e., Catholicism.
Marcion (85-c.160) was a semi-Gnostic, who believed that the teachings of Jesus were irreconcilable with the actions of the God of the Old Testament. He viewed the God of the Old Testament, Jehovah, to be vicious, violent and cruel, an oppressor who gave out material rewards to those worshiping him. In contrast, Marcion described the New Testament God, Jesus Christ, as a perfect God, the God of unadulterated love and compassion, of kindness and quick to forgive.
Montanus (late second century) was a “prophet” from Asia Minor, who believed that their revelation came directly from the Holy Spirit, which superseded the authority of Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, James, anyone really. They believed in the imminent return of Christ and the setting up of the New Jerusalem in Pepuza. He was more concerned about Christian conduct than he was Christian doctrine, wanting to get back to the Christian values of the first century. However, he took this to the extreme, just as John Calvin would some 1,300 years later in the 16th century. Montanism was a movement focused on prophecy, especially the founder’s views, being seen as the light for their time. They believed that the apostle and prophets had the power to forgive sin.
Valentinus (c.100-c.160) was a Greek poet, who founded his school in Rome and most prominent early Christian gnostic theologian. He claimed that though Jesus’ heavenly (spiritual) body was of Mary, he was not actually born from her. This belief came about because Gnostics viewed all matter as evil. Therefore, if Jesus had really been a real human person with a physical body, he would have been evil. Another form of Gnosticism was Docetism, which claimed that Jesus Christ was not a real person, i.e., it was mere appearance and illusion, which would have included his death and resurrection.
Manes (c. 216-274) was the prophet and the founder of Manichaeism, a gnostic religion. He sought to combine elements of Christianity, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism, based on a rigid dualism of good and evil, locked in an eternal struggle. He believed that salvation is possible through education, self-denial, fasting, and chastity. He also believed that he was an “apostle of Jesus Christ,” (Ramsey 2006, 272) although, strictly speaking, his religion was not a movement of Christian Gnosticism in the earlier approach.
Beginning with the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E., Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in an attempt at reunited the empire. He thoroughly understood that religious division was a threat to the continuation of the Roman Empire. However, it was Emperor Theodosius I (347 – 395 C.E.), who banned paganism and imposed Christianity as the State religion of the Roman Empire. The Roman Catholic Church can trace its existence back to the council of Nicaea in 325 C.E. at best. Protestantism had its beginnings in the Reformation of the 16th century. However, there were dissensions in within Catholicism for a thousand years. Another identifying marker was the unscriptural clergy class that would develop over the coming centuries after the Council of Nicaea. This relegated the Christians to a second-class status. This is the way, the apostate; the man of lawlessness slowly took the reins of power. It was Constantine the Great, who legalized Christianity but it was Theodosius I (d. 395 C.E.), who made Christianity a state religion. For centuries there was the Holy Roman Empire (5th to the 15th century C.E.), which was anything but holy. As schisms and rifts took place, Christianity fragmented into tens of thousands of denominations. An example of such glorification by the man of lawlessness, setting oneself up over God is that of the papacy of Rome.
Lucio Ferraris in his Ecclesiastical Dictionary, which was used as a standard for Roman Catholic divinity, offers its readers the following on papal power, “The pope is of such dignity and highness, that he is not simply man, but, as it were, God, and the vicar of God. Ferraris goes on, “The pope is father of fathers; since he possesses the primacy over all, is truly greater than all, and the greatest of all. He is called most holy because he is presumed to be such … Hence the pope is crowned with the triple crown as king of heaven, of earth and of hell … he is also above angels and is their superior … He is of such great dignity and power that he occupies one and the same tribunal with Christ; so that whatever the pope does, seems to proceed from the mouth of God.” Ferraris in his Ecclesiastical Dictionary goes on saying, “God on earth, the only prince of the faithful of Christ, the greatest king of all kings, possessing the plentitude of power, to whom the government of the earthly and heavenly kingdom is [entrusted]. (Elliott 1941, 157)
Let us consider the humble words of Peter, who said to the Roman army officer Cornelius, who “fell down at his feet and worshiped him,” “Stand up, . . . I am only a man after all”! (Acts 10:25-26, the Catholic Jerusalem Bible) Then there is the humility of an angel when the apostle John bowed down in a worshipful attitude before him. The angel said, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” – Revelation 22:8-9, ESV.
While we have covered Catholicism and the pope, the question that many might have is, ‘have the Protestant denominations faired any better?’ The answer is actually a mixed review in that “yes” in a small way and “no” in a major way. One of the major contributions of the Protestant Reformation was that these men gave us the Bible in our common languages, be it French, German, English, etc. Another benefit was the abandonment of many of the false doctrines of the Catholic Church, such as transubstantiation, Mary as the mother of God, apostolic succession, among so many others. The third greatest contribution was the search for biblical truths. However, we must note that many of the excellent reasons for rebelling against the Catholic Church were short-lived, as the fragmentation of denominations grew even faster after the Reformation. Most Protestant denominations have no reliable way of interpreting the Scriptures. Most use historical-critical methods of interpretation, which is subject and allows the reader to determine the meaning while few denominations use the historical-grammatical method, which is objective and the meaning is drawn from what the author meant. Several books have been written on this issue alone.
Much of Protestantism has failed to affirm Scripture as inspired, fully inerrant and authoritative. In addition, many denominations have abandoned the Word of God by leaving the literal translation philosophy for an interpretive translation known as the dynamic or functional equivalent. These ones would argue that the Bible is full of errors, contradiction, myths, and legends. Many would argue that Moses is not the author of the first five book but rather several authors penned the book from the 10th and 5th centuries B.C.E. Many would argue that there are three authors, who penned the book, which we know as Isaiah, and none is the Isiah of the 8th-century B.C.E. They claim that Daniel did not write the book bearing his name, as it was written centuries later. Many more similar points could be made. As has been stated, the Protestant denominations cannot preserve any unity in their doctrinal views. Protestantism has failed to have any cohesion or to carry out the one commission that Jesus Christ gave: to proclaim the Gospel, teach Bible doctrines and to make disciples. They have failed to evangelize in their own communities. They have failed to teach the Bible to their own flock, as over ninety percent of churchgoers are biblically illiterate.
New Testament textual scholar Daniel B. Wallace writes, “In Protestantism, one really doesn’t know what he or she will experience from church to church. Even churches of the same denomination are widely divergent. Some have a rock-solid proclamation of the Word, while others play games and woo sinners to join their ranks without even the slightest suggestion that they should repent of anything. Too many Protestant churches look like social clubs where the offense of the gospel has been diluted to feel-good psycho-theology. And the problem is only getting worse with mega-churches with their mini-theology. This ought not to be.”
Is this evaluation or appraisal of Catholicism and Protestantism too strong? Before we answer that, let it be said, Catholicism is a part of the composite body of the man of lawlessness, so there is no help that Titanic of a religious organization from going down but we can help those within, to find their way to the correct path, which leads to life. Besides, the vast majority of Protestantism is also a part of that body or composite of the man of lawlessness. Again, we cannot save the huge organization from going under, but we can pull members off their ship before it goes down in destruction with the ungodly men. However, I do believe God is using Protestantism in the sense that the true church will be identifiable before the end comes and those loving the truth will be able to make the choice to follow God or follow traditions.
If we are to identify whether our church or our denomination is a part of the man of lawlessness, we must apply the rule that Jesus gave for identifying false prophets. He said,
Matthew 7:15-16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. They do not gather grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles, do they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
We have spoken of the fruitage in the above. In the next Blog article, we will look more at these fruitages. We will talk more about the fate of the man of lawlessness and for those sharing in his sins. Moreover, we will consider what the responsibilities of true Christians are as to this lawless one.
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The information herein is based on the disciples coming to Jesus privately, saying, “Tell us, (1) when will these things be, and (2) what will be the sign of your coming, and (3) of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) What will end? When will the end come? What comes after the end? Who …
What Really Is Hell? What Kind of Place is Hell? What Really Happens at Death? What Did Jesus Teach About Hell? How Does Learning the Truth About Hell Affect You? Who Goes to Hell? What Is Hell? Is It a Place of Eternal Torment? Does God Punish People in Hellfire? Do the Wicked Suffer in …
Miracles were certainly a part of certain periods in Bible times. What about today? Are miracles still taking place. There are some very important subjects that surround this area of discussion that are often misunderstood. Andrews will answer such questions as does God step in and solve …
Today there are many questions about homosexuality as it relates to the Bible and Christians. What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Does genetics, environment, or traumatic life experiences justify homosexuality? What is God’s will for people with same-sex attractions? Does the …
Young ones and teens, you are exposed to complex problems that your parents may not understand. Young Christians, you are bombarded with multiple options for solving everyday problems through social media. Where do you turn to find answers? Where can you look to find guidance from Scripture? In order to provide a Christian perspective to problem-solving, the author of this devotional book decided to take a different approach.
Humans must breathe in the air of our atmosphere to survive. Many cities because of pollution face a dangerous level of contamination in their air. However, an even more deadly air affects both Christians and nonChristians. Ordinary methods or devices cannot detect this poisonous air.
Paul counseled, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Col. 3:2) It is, for this reason, Marshall has penned the DAILY DEVOTIONAL: Daily Musings From the New Testament, which can help us be protected against Satan’s efforts at controlling our mind and heart. For each day of the year, DAILY DEVOTIONAL provides a Daily Bible Reading and comments for consideration.
BREAD OF HEAVEN helps the reader to have a greater understanding of the timeless truths of Scripture and a deeper appreciation of the grandeur of God. It offers meditations on selected Scriptures which will draw the reader’s attention upwards to the Savior.
…desert but none of such significance as a handful of scrolls retrieved from a buried Roman satchel (presumed stolen) at this site. The discovery has since come to be known as ‘The Diary of Judas Iscariot.’ In The Diary of JudasIscariot Owen Batstone relates the observations and feelings …
Rachael Garrison knows all the shrewd ways to successfully close multi-million-dollar real estate deals with her father’s famous New York real estate enterprise. But beyond her savvy to rake in huge deals is her premonition that an impending global takeover of the world’s financial wealth is on the horizon by evil leaders of The Great Ten Nations. From New York City to the Irish Hills of Michigan, and into the streets of Detroit her life takes on enormous purpose as
Kevin Trill struggles with the notion that he may have missed the Rapture. With nothing but the clothes on his back and a solid gold pocket watch, he sets off towards Garbor, a safe haven for those who haven’t yet taken the mark of thebeast. While on his way to Garbor, he meets up …
There grew an element in the valley that did not want to be ruled by the Light of the Word. Over time, they convinced the people to reject it. As they started to reject this Light, the valley grew dim and the fog rolled in. The people craved the darkness rather than the Light because they were evil. They did not want to …
When an ancestor saddles them with the responsibility to purge Australia of a demon threatening to wipe our humanity with black flames, fraternal siblings Amber and Michael Hauksby lay their lives on the line. As the world crumbles around them into chaos, and ancient marsupials wreak havoc in their hometown, they must journey into …
“Write Place, Right Time” follows the pre-apocalyptic misadventures of freelance journalist Don Lamplighter. While on what he expects to be a routine Monday night trip to a village board meeting, Lamplighter’s good nature compels him to help a stranded vehicle. Little does he know that by saving one of the car’s occupants, he sets forth a chain of what to him seem to be unrelated events where he must use his physical and social skills to save himself and others from precarious situations.
 Or seduce
 Namely, to stand off from the truth, i.e., to not only fall away from the faith, but to then turn on the faith, rebellion.
 Lit seduction
 Lit from before the face of the Lord
 B.C.E. years ran down toward zero, although the Romans had no zero, and C.E. years ran up from zero. (100, 10, 3, 2, 1 ◄B.C.E. | C.E.► 1, 2, 3, 10, and 100)
 Epignosis is a strengthened or intensified form of gnosis (epi, meaning “additional”), meaning, “true,” “real,” “full,” “complete” or “accurate,” depending upon the context. Paul and Peter alone use epignosis.
 10:3 ignorant of God’s righteousness. Ignorant both of God’s inherent righteousness revealed in the law and the rest of the OT (which should have shown the Jews their own unrighteousness) and of the righteousness which comes from Him on the basis of faith (see note on 1:17 ). their own righteousness. Based on their conformity to God’s law and often to the less demanding standards of their own traditions (Mark 7:1–13). MacArthur, John (2005-05-09). The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 52230-52233). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
 Or seduce
 Jon A. Weatherly, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, The College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 1996), 2 Th 2:3.
 In the Greek New Testament, the noun “apostasy” (Gr., apostasia) has the sense of “desertion, abandonment or rebellion.” (Acts 21:21, ftn.) There it predominantly is alluding to abandonment; a drawing away from or abandoning of pure worship.
 This means that some, who left the Christian faith and were not trying to subvert (undermine) the faith of others.
 Philip Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2005), 255–256.
 The precise term “Holy Roman Empire” was not used until the 13th century.
 Do We Still Need a Literal Bible?: Discover the Truth about Literal Bibles Authored by Don Wilkins
 The Problem With Protestant Ecclesiology — Fr. John Peck, http://frjohnpeck.com/the-problem-with-protestant-ecclesiology/ (accessed January 03, 2016).