One of the Apostle Paul’s great preoccupations in both of his letters to the church at Thessalonica is the second coming of Christ. He was not only concerned with getting the doctrine “right” but also with the great pastoral implications of such teaching. In 1 Thessalonians he writes concerning the second coming of Christ in relation to the resurrection of the dead and the gathering together of saints who are alive at that time. In 2 Thessalonians he reinforces what he had already taught at Thessalonica (2 Thess. 2:5) concerning the dangers of the last days, specifically with regard to the great apostasy in the church induced by the revelation of the Man of Lawlessness.
Depending on your eschatological framework, your identification of the Man of Lawlessness and his activities may differ from what I wish to offer in this post. Coming to terms with the fact that there will indeed be a Man of Lawlessness plays an important role in the life of the believer as he or she eagerly waits for the day of Christ’s coming. In days of relative peace, we must ready ourselves and forthcoming generations–especially our own children–for the days of anarchic deception that will accompany the Man of Lawlessness.
We, in the Calvinistic and Reformed church, have not done justice to the Scripture’s teaching on this matter. We often rightly respond to the “Left Behind” industry with dismay and sarcasm. In so doing, however, we have, perhaps inadvertently failed to sufficiently and soberly grasp Scripture’s teaching on this period of history which will be instrumental in bringing about a catastrophic and irreversible apostasy. Here then, are twelve biblical observations about the Man of Lawlessness (MoL) to help prepare us for that day.
1. The Man of Lawlessness will appear shortly, it seems, before the second coming of Christ. (2 Thess. 2:3).
In fact, Paul writes this is a necessary precondition to the coming of Christ. The MoL must be revealed and do his God-denying work, before Christ comes and deals with him. Paul’s application to Thessalonians “Let no one deceive you in any way…”. The second coming of our Lord will not take place until the MoL has appeared.
2. The Man of Lawlessness will have a “coming” or parousia (2 Thess. 2:9). This Spirit-breathed language sets up one of many parallels with the person, work and coming of our Lord. We should not miss this point. The Spirit, with great intention wants you to understand that there will be many parallels between the MoL and our Lord, because the MoL will set himself up as the Messiah. In other words, I believe the MoL is synonymous with the Anti-Christ, as spoken of in John’s epistles. He is the counterfeit Christ.