By Dr. Lawrence Butler, The Bridge Church, Pembroke.
“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;” (II Thess. 2:3).
Although some had apparently tried to teach doctrine not presented by Paul when he was in Thessalonica, Paul found out about it and determined to correct the situation. Paul judged those teachers or prophets to be deceivers who had hindered the faith of the children of God.
Their doctrine asserted that the Lord had already returned, and the church was now in the tribulation period. Fear greatly abounded, and some were losing their faith. Paul sought to thwart this teaching by sending this letter to the church, insisting that he had not changed his teaching, that the Lord had not yet returned, they were not suffering in the Great Tribulation, and he had not sent a letter to the church stating any of these teachings.
Paul does reiterate his belief that the coming of the Lord had not yet occurred, and now presents his reasoning for his position. In verse 2 he tells the church there are two events that must occur before the return of the Lord. The first is there must be “a falling away first…”
This is an apostasy. Commentators have tried to identify this particular era of apostasy and have applied it to various persons or times. There has been much disagreement, of course, but Paul did refer to a great turning away from Christianity and its principles. Much earlier in our history man became so wicked God actually repented that He made man (Gen. 6:6). If it can happen once, certainly it can happen again. Revelation 9:21 tells of a future time when men will be so very ungodly, and yet feel no sense of repentance or apparently even guilt. Our world certainly has to be headed in that direction during our lives.
The second sign given by Paul that will occur before the coming of Christ is the revealing of the “man of sin.” This can surely be none other than the Antichrist. He is later shown to us as one who tries to replace God, and seeks worship. Revelation 13 shows us that there is something miraculous about him, and that he recovers from some type of deadly wound. His associate is able to perform miracles, and is known as the false prophet. The religious aspect of this sinful man cannot be ignored, for he uses religion to deceive and accomplish his plans. Unfortunately, his plans ultimately lead the world to Armageddon as the Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth to set up His kingdom. Jesus will rule from Jerusalem for 1,000 years, and the saints of God will rule with Him (Rev. 20:4).