In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul warns of the future Apostasy and connects it to the “Man of Lawlessness.” The “Day of the Lord” will NOT come until the “Apostasy” occurs and that master deceiver is revealed, two events that are inextricably linked and must occur before the final day begins. In doing so, the Apostle reiterates warnings found elsewhere in Scripture about the “falling away” in the “Last Days,” including ones made by Jesus himself.
Paul was responding to false reports claiming that the “Day of the Lord had set in.” However, such rumors could not be true since these two events had not yet occurred.
|[Abandoned Church by Dan Meyers on Unsplash]|
Moreover, this “Man of Lawlessness” will propagate the very deceptions that cause many believers to apostatize, even employing “lying signs and wonders” to achieve his nefarious ends.
- (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4) - “…That you be not quickly shaken from your mind, NOR YET BE TROUBLED… THAT NO ONE MAY DECEIVE YOU IN ANY RESPECT. Because that day will not set in, except the apostasy come first, and there be revealed the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself on high against everyone called God or any object of worship, so that he, within the sanctuary of God, will take his seat, showing himself that he is God.”
Paul’s warning echoes the words of Jesus spoken on the Mount of Olives. Believers in Thessalonica must not be “troubled” or “deceived by anyone” disseminating disinformation. Similarly, when his disciples asked him about his coming, Jesus warned:
- “BEWARE LEST ANYONE DECEIVE YOU, for many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ, and deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; SEE THAT YOU ARE NOT TROUBLED, for these things must come to pass; but the end is not yet” – (Matthew 24:4-6).
Before the end, his followers will be confronted by deception that will cause many of them to “stumble and betray one another.” Moreover, “Many false prophets will arise and deceive many. And because Lawlessness will abound, the love of the many will grow cold… And there will arise false Christs and false prophets, and will show great signs and wonders so as to deceive even the elect” – (Matthew 24:10-12, 24).
The “Man of Lawlessness” will have his own “arrival,” a counterfeit of the ‘Parousia’ of Jesus that will be “according to the energizing of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders.” He will offer “every deceit of unrighteousness to them that perish because they received not the love of the truth” – (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
In Paul’s letter, the Greek term translated as “apostasy” represents the noun apostasia. It means “fall away, apostatize, defect, abandon.” In the Greek Scriptures, it is applied consistently to the abandonment of the true faith by (former) believers - (Matthew 5:31, Acts 21:21, 1 Timothy 4:1, Hebrews 3:12).
The biblical figure behind the “Man of Lawlessness” is the malevolent ruler found in several of Daniel’s visions. He is called variously the “Little Horn,” the “King of fierce countenance,” the “Leader,” and the “Contemptible One.” Paul’s description of the actions of this “Lawless One” alludes to the relevant passage in Daniel:
- “And the king shall do according to his will, and HE SHALL EXALT HIMSELF, AND MAGNIFY HIMSELF ABOVE EVERY GOD, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and he shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished; for that which is determined shall be done” – (Daniel 11:36).
In Daniel, the “indignation” refers to the assault by the “Little Horn” against the “saints.” He “waged war against the saints of the Most-High,” “wore out the saints,” cast down “some of the host of heaven and the stars to the ground,” “destroyed the saints,” had “indignation against the covenant,” and through “flattery, corrupted such as acted wickedly against the covenant” - (Daniel 7:21-25, 8:10, 8:24, 11:30-32).
Likewise, the “Man of Lawlessness” will wage war against the saints with deceit and “lying wonders,” causing many to depart from the faith. They are “lying” wonders, not because they are fake, but because they deceive many of the elect.
Paul also warned Timothy that the time would come when “some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” In the Last Days, “evil men and howling imposters will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” - (1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:13, 4:1-4).
The Apostle Peter also warns of coming “false prophets” and “false teachers” who will propagate false doctrines and otherwise cause havoc in the assemblies of God:
- (2 Peter 2:1-3) – “But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their lascivious doings; by reason of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of. And in covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose sentence now from of old lingers not, and their destruction slumbers not.”
In his epistles, John refers to the coming “Antichrist.” But of far more immediate concern are the “many antichrists” already active IN THE CHURCH. The “Last Days” are underway as the activities of false teachers in the Assembly demonstrate – (1 John 2:18-22, 4:1-3).
Scripture provides a consistent warning. Before the return of Jesus, the Church of Jesus Christ will experience the “Apostasy,” the Great “Falling Away.” We have been forewarned explicitly and repeatedly by the Apostolic teachings that I preserved in the pages of the New Testament. We ignore them at our peril.