By Jay Rogers
Published April 27, 2008
2 Thessalonians 2:3,4 — “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; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
This is supposedly a difficult chapter for postmillennialists and especially preterists who put the great tribulation in the first century.
Admittedly, 2 Thessalonians 2 seems at first glance to be difficult from a postmillennial perspective, but when compared to Revelation 20, it is very consistent with a postmillennial worldview.
I would interpret the Man of Sin as a type of apostate man here, not the antichrist, not a single person, although many interpreters have seen a single antichrist here.
If you doubt that the “Man of Sin … who sits in the Temple of God” can be figurative here, compare the language with Isaiah 14:13,14:
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:4, Paul is alluding to Isaiah where the king of Babylon is compared to Lucifer. But the Man of Sin is neither the king of Babylon nor Lucifer, but those controlled by the original sin of man. The end times apostasy will not be contained nor epitomized in one man, but in men in general who will grow cold.
The whole context of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, depicts the end times not as a time of wars, tumults, pestilence, plagues and famine (which were first century judgments on Judea) but a time of “peace and safety” (1 Thessalonians 5:3) when men will grow cold because they are not expecting the Lord to come.
Gentry, Chilton and others interpret this passage as a first century event, the man of sin being the high priest. However, the Thessalonians epistles are eschatological teachings made to correct the Thessalonians who had been taught that the Second Coming had already occurred and that there is no future resurrection.
According to Revelation 20, there is a great falling away at the end of the millennium, which is before Christ returns according to the postmillennial view. In 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul writes that the Second Coming will not come unless there is a great falling away first — this is the last apostasy also spoken of in Revelation 20. The man of sin of 2 Thessalonians 2 is the apostate man — one who through ease and complacency has fallen away from the true faith — one who has exalted himself to be God. This is the original sin of Adam — to be like God, to exalt oneself above God.
Thus the “man of sin” speaks of the “original sin of man.”
The man of sin is the man — any man — deluded by Satan when he is unleashed at the end of the millennium. The antichrist is a spirit — any spirit — that denies Jesus is the Christ.
There will be an antichrist spirit that will be revealed in the hearts of many people just prior to the Second Coming. This is consistent with Revelation 20; 1 John 2; and 2 Thessalonians 2.
Satan has been bound from deceiving the nations anymore (note that he is bound now) but he will be let loose for a time to deceive the nations once again and then will come the mystery of iniquity revealed in the hearts of men (Thessalonians 2:7).
I do not see anywhere in scripture a future antichrist figure in the person of one man who is a world ruler. The Beast of Revelation is not a future antichrist. Nowhere do Paul or John in their epistles explicitly say that the “antichrist” or the “man of sin” is anything more than a spirit or a man deluded by a spirit.
That sums up my position on 2 Thessalonians 2.
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