NOTE: This post is a continuation of discussion I started in Part I of this series. Because this is a continuation of an on-going discussion, I am going to assume that the reader has already worked through Part I. If this is not the case, I respectfully ask that you stop and go read Part I. After you have worked your way through the first post in this series, you will be better equipped to come back and read this post.
I want to start by saying I am well aware that this can be a touchy subject for many believers. It is not my desire to cause harm to or discord within the Body of Believers. But neither can I accept what I have come to believe is a misunderstanding in the way The Body understands Scripture. So, if you will be patient and open minded, and allow me to explain my reasoning, I hope I will be able to persuade you to take another look at 2 Thessalonians 2, only with new eyes.
As with most everything else I write on my blogs, my ideas and understandings tend to be interconnected. One thought or idea is often built upon or is intertwined with another. And, like most everything else about which I write, my understanding of Scripture tends to be a little different from that of most other believers. Not surprisingly, the issue of ‘The Antichrist‘ is no different. I hold a very different understanding of ‘The Antichrist‘ from most other believers I know. Therefore, if the reader is not already familiar with how I understand ‘The Antichrist,’ you might want to start by taking a few minutes to reading the following post:
For those who do not wish to do so, or who do not have the time, the ‘Cliff Notes’ version of this post is this:
In the whole of Scripture, there are only 5 mentions of the term, ‘Antichrist.’ They occur in just four passages. Every passage that mentions ‘Antichrist‘ was written by the Apostle, John. And, in every single case, the term, ‘Antichrist,’ is referring to either spirits or people who oppose Christ. Not once does John use the term in connection with a single, unique figure who will be possessed by Satan in The End Times.
OK, so, how does this connect to our continuing discussion about ‘The Man of Lawlessness?‘ Well, the answer is simple. Those who oppose Christ are lawless. Therefore, anything that is lawless is also ‘Antichrist.’ It is a simple connection that can be easily supported by sound interpretation of Scripture.
If I may do so without being considered presumptuous, I’d like to remind the reader that Jesus said those who oppose him practice lawlessness:
Matthew 7:23 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
Matthew 13:41 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom [a]all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,
Matthew 23:28 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
28 So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Thus, it is also an easy leap to connect ‘The Man of Lawlessness‘ with anyone who is possessed of the spirit of ‘Antichrist.’ In fact, I would not be surprised to learn that this was similar to the way Paul was thinking when he wrote 2 Thessalonians 2. It may well have even been what he was trying to explain: that anyone who presumes to act as his own god and who does whatever he wishes is not only ‘The Man of Lawlessness,’ but also ‘The Antichrist.’ As I understand 2 Thessalonians 2, there is no contradiction in this understanding. Once we give up the assumption that the passage is talking about a future End Times character, then the connection between the person who says he is his own god to the notions of ‘The Man of Lawlessness‘ and ‘The Antichrist‘ just flows naturally. They are all one in the same.
This leaves us with one last question to address:
Read PART III in this series: Who is ‘The Restrainer?’