It is written:
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 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. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12)
We have learned that the “temple” here referenced is the church; and that the “man of sin” was an apostate (one who fell from grace, turning against God and His Word). Furthermore, the “man of sin” was connected somehow with the nation of Rome.
Those who champion the pretribulation viewpoint claim that this man of sin will e the last Antichrist who will stand up in a rebuilt Jewish third temple before the end of time.
But is this “man” really “a man?”
One of the reasons that this “man of sin” cannot logically be referring to one person is the fact that Paul said he was already starting to come to power in his own day (i.e., in the first century); yet would be around to be destroyed at the time of the Second Coming!
2 Thessalonians 2:7-For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.
2 Thessalonians 2:8-And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
However, Paul seems to be saying that this “man of sin” was already around in his day and age! In light of this, how could this “man of sin” be a reference to one individual?
As Wohlberg has pointed out:
“Let’s go back to Paul’s prophecy. A careful study of 2 Thessalonians 2 actually reveals the utter impossibility of “the man of sin” applying to only one Mr. Diabolical. First of all, Paul said that in his own day this very same “mystery of lawlessness [was] already at work” (vs. 7). Thus this predicted antichrist was already becoming active in the first century. Paul was also very emphatic that this “mystery” would continue all the way down to the second coming of Jesus Christ (vs. 8). Put the pieces together. How could this refer to only one human being? He would have to be 2,000 years old!” (Steve Wohlberg, End Time Delusions: The Rapture, The Antichrist, Israel, and The End Of The World, 72 (Kindle Edition); Shippensburg, PA; Treasure House)
Second, Paul is clearly elaborating on a theme to the Thessalonians, drawing from Old and New Testament themes. There were times when the image of “a man” actually had reference to an entire group or nation of men (for example, the image of “the man” in Daniel 2, where reference was to the four world empires). With that in mind, consider these words from Carver:
“Our next consideration involves the problem of whether Paul is referring to a certain individual, a human being, or to a composite personality as would be the case of those who hold a certain office, or of an organization which has a certain continuity, although in different periods it is composed of different persons….Paul refers to the Church as a man (Greek anthropos) (Eph. 2:15). After writing of how Jesus had broken down the middle wall of partition between the Jews and Gentiles, he indicates the purpose he had in mind was “for to make in himself of twain one new man, [anthropos] so making peace.” Although he uses the term anthropos only of the Church, there is no escaping the fact that he also thought of the Jews as one man and the Gentiles as another man. These two are combined in Christ to make one man where two had formerly existed. Scofield’s note on this verse admits as much. It reads in part, “Here the ‘new man’ is not the individual believer but the Church, considered as the body of Christ.” I am in agreement with this opinion. Of course, it will be contended that this is a figure of speech. That has merit, but can it be proved that Paul was not also using a figure of speech in II Thessalonians 2:3 when he spoke of the man of sin or lawlessness? It may just as well be a figure of speech as Ephesians 2:15.” (Everett Carver, When Jesus Comes Again, 6296-6319 (Kindle Edition); Prestonsburg KY; Reformation Publishers)
It seems clear that the “man of sin” in 2 Thessalonians 2 is not one specific person; but rather an entire power structure which would arise within the church.
Our investigation is narrowing down, and we are much closer to identifying the “man of sin.” So far, we see:
1. The man of sin would arise within the church (suggesting that this would be some kind of religious power);
2. The man of sin would be characterized by an apostasy from God and His Word;
3. The man of sin would be somehow connected to Rome;
4. The man of sin was already starting to work in the first century, and would continue till the Second Coming of Christ;
5. The man of sin would be an entire power structure within the church, and not necessarily one individual.
Yet there are more clues for us to investigate!
Paul said there was some kind of “restraining power” that was keeping the man of sin at bay; and when it would be removed, the man of sin would arise to full power.
What was this restraining power?
Furthermore, Paul says that he had told the early Christians about this restraining power, and the man of sin.
Did they write anything about these topics?
The answer is a resounding: YES.