Robert D. Pace
The Parousia of Christ
The Appearance of the Antichrist
2 Thessalonians 2:1—12
Introduction: The book of 2 Thessalonians contains three terse chapters from the Apostle Paul. Of this brief epistle, chapter 2 is the bulwark of his writing. In it, he aims at correcting some falsehoods concerning Christ’s Return to Earth and the Antichrist. What’s interesting is, a sinister deceiver had emerged and made Paul the author of this aberrance in at least two of three ways: one was by falsely teaching that Christ had secretly returned and raptured other Christians apart from the Thessalonians; the second was a false prophecy about this matter; and the third was a forged letter with Paul’s name attached that was circulating about this. Thus, Paul’s chief concern was to correct this false belief that a “secret rapture” had snatched away other Christians but overlooked those of Thessaloniki. He makes his case by detailing a chain of events that all Christians should look for thus rendering a “secret rapture” utterly impossible.
1 “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him,” [The Greek word for “coming” is “Parousia,” which describes the glorious, visible, personal appearance of Jesus. It is important to note that Paul always unites the Parousia of Christ with believers “being gathered to Him.” The Parousia and rapture occur in tandem as a one-and-the-same event!]
1—2 “we ask you, brothers and sisters, (2) not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come.” [This is explained in the introduction.]
“The Rebellion” (Apostasia)
3 “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day” [What day? It’s the day Paul mentioned in the opening sentence of this chapter: “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him”] will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness [Antichrist] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.”
What is the rebellion? The word rebellion [NIV] comes from the Greek word apostasia, which describes a departure from the Faith. It depicts people literally abandoning the Faith that they once stood in firmly! This is important to know: this rebellion/apostasy/“falling away” will be identifiable; it will occur suddenly; it will encompass the globe, and; it will bring hostile opposition from the forces of evil against God and Christians! Additionally, verse 3 shows that the rebellion/apostasy/“falling away” coincides with the appearance of the “man of lawlessness” [Antichrist].
Here is how the Amplified Bible renders 2 Thessalonians 2:3, “Let no one in any way deceive or entrap you, for that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first [that is, the great rebellion, the abandonment of the faith by professed Christians], and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction [the Antichrist, the one who is destined to be destroyed].”
This is likely when Isaiah 60:2 finds fulfillment and the world is plunged into “deep darkness.” Additionally, the prophet Daniel speaks of truth being “thrown … to the ground” Here are his words in Daniel 8:12. “Because of rebellion, the LORD’S people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It [the Antichrist] prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.” Millions will abandon the Faith!
It cannot be stated with certainty what precipitates the apostasy. What we do know is this; there is much that converges at this point—deception, the appearance of the Antichrist, the mark of the beast, the worldwide apostasy/rebellion/falling away. The world is plunged into a time of darkness unlike it’s never experienced.
[Paul says the Parousia (which includes the rapture) cannot occur until Christians witness the appearance of the Antichrist.]
4 “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” [This means the Jewish Temple must be rebuilt before the Parousia.]
5 “Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?” [Paul insists that he warned the Thessalonians of these events before Jesus would rapture them!]
6 “And now you know what is holding him back, [a mysterious restrainer] so that he may be revealed at the proper time.” [This is the second usage of the word “revealed.” It shows that the Antichrist cannot emerge until a ‘greater than he’ determines his emergence—that is, God! Even amidst the chaos of the Endtime God never relinquishes his sovereignty over the affairs of Earth!]
7 “For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back [the restrainer] will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.” [Paul does not clearly identify this restrainer. We can only speculate.]
8 “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.” [This verse is nearly parenthetical. Paul pauses to remind us who Jesus Christ is in relation to the Antichrist. For the third time, he indicates God “reveals him.” Then, once the Antichrist serves his purpose, the Lord returns in “splendor,” and simply draws his breath, exhales—and poof!—he’s defeated. Instantly! The Antichrist is no match for the Lord!]
The Appearance of the Antichrist
9 “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie,”
How will the Antichrist appear? He will appear as the greatest deceiver of human history! He will use the most deceptive—yet convincing—displays of power imaginable! Revelation 13:2 shows that the Antichrist will be infested with Satan himself and derive all his supernatural exploits directly from him. John writes, “The dragon [Satan] gave the beast [the Antichrist] his power and his throne and great authority.”
[The Antichrist mimics the pernicious and deceitful ways that Satan has employed throughout the ages. “The lie” likely regards convincing the world to take the “mark of the beast,” which is the infamous delusion of human history! It corresponds with the third angelic messenger of Revelation 14, who warns the world not to take the mark of the beast (14:9–10).]
Let’s continue in verse 10. “and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
When Paul says, ”They refused to love the truth” he is likely corresponds to two apocalyptic passages:
First, the prophet Joel speaks of the world being brought to the momentous “valley of decision” during the Tribulation (Joel 3:14—16).
Second, the apostle John pictures a time when all people must accept or reject the message of the first of three angelic messengers of Revelation 14:6—7. This angel heralds the “eternal gospel” and urges people to worship God. Ultimately, many during the Tribulation reject the truth of God and perish.]
(11) “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe “the lie.” [When sinners willfully despise and reject the truth, God will send delusion through the Antichrist, and they will believe “the lie.”]
(12) “and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”
[What does “the lie” pertain to? “The lie” likely regards deceiving the world into taking the “mark of the beast,”—666—which is the infamous delusion of human history! There are two apocalyptic passages that present a worldwide opportunity to accept or reject truth:]
First, the prophet Joel speaks of the world being brought to a momentous “valley of decision” during the Tribulation where they will be forced to decide between God’s truth and “the lie” from Satan. Here is how Joel 3:14—16 depicts this:
“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. 15 The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. 16 The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the heavens will tremble. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.”
Second, the Apostle John pictures a time when all people are called to accept “the eternal gospel” and worship Christ. Here is what he wrote in Revelation 14:6—7.
“Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. 7 He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
Now notice how the third angelic messenger warns the world not to take the mark of the beast in Revelation 14:9–11.
“A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, (10) they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. (11) And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”