Mystery of Lawlessness

The “Mystery of Lawlessness” is active in the world, and especially so in the Body of Christ as it prepares hearts and minds for the “arrival” of the “Man of Lawlessness” and the “Apostasy.” It will continue to do so until the appointed time when this “Lawless One” will “come out of the midst” and be unveiled in the “Sanctuary of God.” Moreover, he then will employ “lying signs and wonders” to cause those who refuse the “love of the truth” to betray the Apostolic faith.

The term “Mystery of Lawlessness” is unique to Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians. The Greek term for “mystery” does not refer to something that is esoteric or mysterious, but to that which is hidden, and hiddenness is the point. This “Mystery” is at work even now, but its activities remain largely unnoticed.

Lighthouse under dark sky - Photo by Darko Pribeg on Unsplash
[Photo by Darko Pribeg on Unsplash]

  • And you know what is possessing, to the end, he may be revealed in his own season. For the mystery of lawlessness is already working, only it is possessing now until it be taken out of the midst. Then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth and bring to nought by the manifestation of his arrival” - (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8).

In the Greek text, the participle translated as “what is possessing [katechon]” is in the neuter gender and paired with the “Mystery of Lawlessness.” Moreover, like the participle, “mystery” is in the neuter gender.

In Greek syntax, the participle takes the gender of its associated noun. In other words, the “Mystery of LawlessnessIS the thing that is now “possessing.” This is problematic in English versions that translate the term as “restraining” since that would mean the “Mystery of Lawlessness” is “restraining” lawlessness in the world.

Paul’s description borrows language applied to the “Little Horn” in the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel. This includes the term katechon or “possessing.” The “Little Horn” appeared “in the midst” of the “Ten Horns” of the “Fourth Beast” and subsequently waged war against the saints “until” the Ancient of Days rendered judgment for them when the “season” for the saints to “possess [katchon] the Kingdom” arrived. In the interim, the “Little Horn” changed “seasons and the law,” but in the end, he lost his “dominion” and was “broken in pieces without hand” - (Daniel 7:8, 7:18-26, 8:23-25).


Likewise, the “Mystery of Lawlessness” is working to produce the “Lawless One.” It will continue to do so “until the proper season” when this malevolent figure will be revealed “out of the midst.” Afterward, he will be “disarmed” and “paralyzed” at the “arrival of Jesus” - (2 Thessalonians 2:5-8).

The “Man of Lawlessness” will be unveiled when he “seats himself in the Sanctuary of God.” The latter is a term Paul consistently applies to the Church, the “Body of Christ.” The “Mystery of Lawlessness” lays the groundwork for this man’s unveiling when he comes “out of the midst” to deceive all those who “refuse the love of the truth.”

Whether this “mystery” is an impersonal force, one of the spiritual “principalities or world rulers,” or Satan himself is not addressed in the passage. But its/his goal is to “possess” the “Kingdom” and deny it to the people of God.

To succeed in this nefarious plan, the “mystery of lawlessness” must deceive the “saints” and thereby derail the purposes of God. That will necessitate their apostasy, assuming it/he succeeds in its/his efforts.

There are striking similarities between Paul’s “Mystery of Lawlessness” and the “Spirit of Antichrist” described in John’s first Letter. Like the “Mystery of Lawlessness,” the “Spirit of Antichrist is in the world already.”

According to John, this reality is evidenced by the rise of the “many antichrists” in the Assembly, namely, false teachers and false prophets. Not only so, but their activities indicate that the “Last Hour” is underway. If anything, these deceivers are forerunners of the final “Antichrist… who is coming” – (1 John 2:18-22, 4:1-3).

The connection of the “Lawless One” and the “Antichrist” by Paul and John with the “Apostasy,” the “Sanctuary of God,” deceiving “signs and wonders,” and false teachers who disrupt the Body of Christ and mislead believers should warn us that this final deceiver will be hellbent on leading the followers of Jesus astray and otherwise waging “war” against the Body of Christ.




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