2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 NIV
The Man of Lawlessness
1 Concerning the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2not 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.
3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessnessa is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He 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.
5Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the One Who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8And 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. 9The 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, 10and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
13But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruitsb to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachingsc we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
16May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
Before searching for the meaning of this chapter, we need to know the situation when 2 Thessalonians was written;
This second epistle was written, not from Athens, as the subscription testifies, nor from Rome; but from Corinth, from whence was sent the former (1 Thessalonians), and where the apostle and Timothy, and Silvanus met; and which was sent about half a year after the other.
The design of which is,
(1) to comfort and support the Thessalonians under the afflictions and persecutions they endured for the sake of the Gospel; and
(2) to correct a mistake they had gone into, and which might be occasioned by what the apostle had said in his former epistle, concerning the second coming of Christ, as if it was just at hand; which might lead them to neglect their worldly business, and duties of civil life, and give the enemies of the Gospel an advantage against the whole of it as false.
And he exhorts the church to take notice of disorderly persons such as were idle, and busy bodies, and withdraw from them, and remove them from their communion, as being not only burdensome to them, but a reproach to their profession of faith.
1Concerning the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2not 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.
The idea of Paul is: “In regard to that great event of which I spoke to you in my former epistle - the coming of the Savior and our gathering together to Him in the air - I ask you not to be shaken and troubled, as if it were soon to happen.” As his views had been misunderstood or misrepresented, he now proposes to show them that there was nothing in the true doctrine which should create alarm, as if he were about to appear.
3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He 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.
The Man of Lawlessness (Man of sin, Man of Perdition)
Some say the "man of sin," means the Jewish nation, so characterized on account of its eminent wickedness; someone explains the apostasy by the defection to the Gnostics, by the arts of Simon Magus, whom he supposes to be the man of sin, and by the "Day of the Lord" he also understands the destruction of Jerusalem.
Grotius takes Caius Caesar or Caligula, to be the man of sin, and by the apostasy he understands his abominable wickedness. Someone refers it to the king mentioned in Daniel 11:36. According to him, the reference is to a great apostasy of the Jews from the worship of God, and the "man of sin" is the Jewish people. Others have supposed that the reference is to Muhammed, and that the main characteristics of the prophecy may be found in him. Some more recent expositors have referred it to Napoleon Bonaparte.
Of the Papists, a part affirm that the apostasy is the falling away from Rome in the time of the Reformation, but the greater portion suppose that the allusion is to Antichrist, who, they say, will appear in the world before the great day of judgment, to combat religion and the saints.
Pope of Rome
Most Protestant commentators have referred it to the great apostasy under the papacy, and, by the "man of sin," they suppose there is allusion to the Roman Pontiff, the Pope. It is evident that we are in better circumstances to understand the passage than those were who immediately succeeded the apostles. The following expressions, applied to the Pope of Rome by Catholic writers, without any rebuke from the papacy, will show how entirely applicable this is to the pretended Head of the Church. He has been styled;
"Our Lord God the Pope; another God upon earth; king of kings and lord of lords. The same is the dominion of God and the Pope. To believe that our Lord God the Pope might not decree as he decreed is heresy. The power of the Pope is greater than all created power, and extends itself to things celestial, terrestrial, and infernal. The Pope doeth whatsoever he listeth, even things unlawful, and is more than God." (See the authority for these extraordinary declarations in Dr. Newton book on the Prophecies, Dissertations xxii.)
How can it be doubted that the reference here is to the papacy? Language could not be plainer, and it is not possible to conceive that anything can ever occur which would furnish a more manifest fulfillment of this prophecy. Indeed, interpreted by the claims of the papacy, it stands among the very clearest of all the predictions in the Sacred Scriptures.
If the above statement is true (I think so), I like this view, as a Bible student ( apart from my being a Presbyterian Church member).