The Man of Lawlessness
2 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 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, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
2 Thessalonians 2 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Lawlessness – contrary or without regard for the law; unruly, unrestrained. The word is found in both the Old and New Testament but it’s in the Greek form that speaks specifically when used in the New of rebellion against God.
Pulling no punches, Paul jumps right into the reason he wrote this second letter of clarification. He describes the end of the world and the return of Christ. He speaks of great persecution, trouble prevailing until that return takes place. The build-up will be marked by a man of lawlessness. This is the Antichrist.
When the one of lawlessness is allowed to come center stage he will oppose and exalt himself over everything of God. He will use counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders to deceive and draw people away from the Creator of all.
As Hiebert writes, “Sin has such absolute domination over him that he seems to be the very embodiment of it.”
“…the mystery of lawlessness is already at work.”
We all know that evil is already present in the world. As one commentator weighs in on this statement he says this man of lawlessness does not necessarily introduce a new wickedness but an intensity of it. And although this lawlessness is a mystery when it is revealed fully, which revelation only will bring the understanding, then it is certain the lawless one will be destroyed by Jesus at His coming.
On some levels, all this is terrifying and fascinating. It simply brings more questions we really don’t have answers to. And although Paul lays out some specifics about this man of lawlessness, he brings it back to the reader each must stand firm in God. To me, this is the point. Regardless of what time we live in, what part of human history is even being written today – our mission is to live for Jesus and make Him priority. We are to hold to the teachings of Him, be encouraged by the Holy Spirit and go where He calls and do what He asks. If we are continuing to pursue the truth of Jesus, the deception cannot take root.
“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” -2 Thessalonians 2:16,17
2 Thessalonians 2 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
In case you haven’t grasped by now, the Thessalonians were deeply concerned with future events. It’s confirmed in Paul’s first set of letters that they were mourning death like unbelievers. Paul attempted to encourage them by explaining parts of future events, but again, they must have misconstrued that to mean their present time period. The reason I believe this is because Paul, again, in his second set of letters has begun to unravel more events that are contingent upon certain circumstances occurring. Look at verses 1-4 for instance…
Now we request you, brethren, 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 message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 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, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 NASB
This is why it’s so critical for us to read Paul’s letters in their full context, starting with his first letter and moving on through the rest of them. If you were to read these verses on their own, your mind would jump to all sorts of incorrect conclusions. We know from 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5 that Paul had explained The Day of the Lord. We can assume from this letter that the Thessalonians thought this day was coming in their lifetime because Paul is concerned they are ‘shaken from their composure.’
He’s also concerned they have been deceived by others and are believing that the day has already come!
To fully explain the truth of these events, Paul puts specific precursors to them which immediately tell us they are future events. There must be a man of lawlessness revealed before The Day of the Lord. I believe this is the Antichrist.
The Thessalonians, much like us today, labored over the timeline of events. A quick look on the internet will produce lots of garbage explanations. Isn’t it ironic that probably every generation dating back to the 1st Century Christians thought that this would all unfold in their lifetime? I’m not saying it won’t in ours, but I’m highlighting the point I made several chapters back. Rather than fixating on the timeline and becoming anxious about it, Paul gives us three key applications in this chapter.
- Be ready. There is a certain amount of anticipation and urgency to what Paul is saying. It shouldn’t compel us to ‘figure things out’ but to change! The Thessalonians did a good job of being ready but they didn’t really trust that the circumstances were within God’s control. This leads me to Paul’s second point.
- Stand firm in the faith. Knowing the ending produces two different responses in individuals. You either sit back and relax because you already know what’s going to happen, or, you are motivated to go even harder because of the amazing joy of that ending. Paul is urging us to stand firm because we are vital pieces of His plan which will bring glory to God and God alone. In fact, he writes that, as believers, we have been chosen for Salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth!
- Stick to the Word. Paul writes in verse 15 to stand firm but to also hold to the traditions by word or by letter from him. His letters are now Scripture, and the same applies to us today. How many times have you heard someone make crazy claims about end-time events with no scriptural context? We must stick to the Word in context and allow the Spirit to reveal truth to us each day. He will assist us in discerning truth from error.
The overarching theme here is that we must focus on what God has instructed of us and not let our minds wander to what we cannot (and should not) control. Imagine what the church today would look like if we put our focus and energy into being ready, standing firm, and diving deep into God’s Word? Are you ready for Jesus to come back today? Are you complaining about the state of the world or standing firm and engaging the enemy in prayer?