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The Antichrist – #1

13/10/2020

The Antichrist (Part 1) 

Text.  2 Thessalonians 2:1-5. 

Paul has been teaching the distraught believers in Thessalonica about the second coming, and the end of the world.  They were really worried.  They were asking questions, like, “What if Christ has already returned, and we have missed him?” “What if we have been ‘left behind?’”  Paul has to write to reassure them.  He reminds them of something that he has previously taught them, that before the Lord returns, two events must happen:

  1. There must a a great ‘falling away’ within the church.  We discussed that in our last study.  We called it the Great Apostasy, and we noted some examples of apostasy in the modern church.   
  2. The ‘man of sin’ must be revealed, an event that seems to follow after the apostasy – it’s an interesting sequence of events, for it is a general decline in true Christianity that allows this monster the opening that he needs to gain his evil influence.  Laxity in doctrine, in worship, in morality, are not just the work of the man of sin, they are the spiritual conditions that preempt his appearance, the dung, off which he feeds.  We call the Man of Sin, ‘The Antichrist’ and Paul gives us a description of him in this passage.

1 Who is the Antichrist?

Trying to establish the identity of the Antichrist has been a fascination with some Christians for quite a long time! 

Who is the ‘Man of Sin?’

But leaving aside the fanatics and sensationalists, are there any sensible suggestions as to who this ‘Man of Sin’ might be?

  • The Devil?
  • The Roman Emperor, Nero?
  • The pope / or the succession of popes? 

Is the Pope the Antichrist?  And if so, which one?

The Savoy Declaration, along with the other reformed confessions would say so: “There is no other Head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ; nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God, whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.

The question then is how can a number of people, like the succession of popes, be ‘the antichrist?’  Does the title refer to an actual person of to an office?  Is ‘The Antichrist’ an office, (like ‘The President of the United States?’) I’m not suggesting that the present incumbent of that office is a man of sin!  (I’ll leave that to yourself to judge!). But the honour with which he is addressed and treated is not because of who he is, but because of what he embodies, what he represents; it is the position not the person, who is held in national esteem.  Could  the Antichrist be something like that?  Certainly the line of Popes in Rome fit the description!  

There is also the reality that there have been many people who have been against Christ, which is what ‘antichrist’ means.  Not just on a personal level, but people who are determined to undo the saving work that Christ has performed for sinners; there are those who would deliberately damn people into hell.  And then there is 1 John 2:17-19  17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. 18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the  Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.  John, affirming that we know it is the last hour because antichrist has come, tells us that there are ‘many antichrists’ people who are apostates, who have left the true church, and gone off on their own spiritual ego-trip – there have been many popes.  

3 Paul’s Description of the Antichrist.

Yet, in Paul’s words in 2nd Thess, there seems to be an indication that this ‘Man of Sin’ this final antichrist, one single, living person, living at the end of time, in whom all of the human, sinful rebellion against God will be embodied.  The final terrible, wilful adversary of God, opposed to his law, his church and his sovereign plan.  

  • His character.  and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.  John calls this person ‘The Antichrist’ but Paul, rather than give him that title, simply describes him in stark language.  But what is ‘perdition?’  Again the Amp. Helps a little, the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction [the Antichrist, the one who is destined to be destroyed], Matthew Henry, He is called the man of sin, to denote his egregious wickedness; not only is he addicted to, and practises, wickedness himself, but he also promotes, countenances, and commands sin and wickedness in others.
  • His ambition.   4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. His driving ambition is to overcome God, to, drive Him off his Holy Throne, to take that throne for himself!  Such audacity will lead to a fierce conflict against the church.  The period of apostasy and tribulation will be, for the church, a very great tribulation indeed.   Amp. 4 who opposes and exalts himself so proudly and so insolently] above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he [actually enters and] takes his seat in the temple of God, publicly proclaiming that he himself is God.  Again I am reminded of the popes of Rome, who take upon themselves the title of ‘Christ’s vicar on earth’ who is bowed to, and worshipped as God.  

So we have begun our look at the subject of ‘the Antichrist.’  Next time, we’ll return to the subject, looking at 2 Thessalonians 2:6-12, trying to discover where the ‘man of sin’ is now, and how he is revealed, and what his ultimate end will be. 

© BobMcEvoy October 2020

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