Who is the man of lawlessness Paul talks about in 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12?

In talking about the end times, 2 Thessalonians 2:3–4 says, "Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God" (verses 3–4).

The man of lawlessness is the Antichrist. Our understanding is that the Antichrist will appear on the world stage after the rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18). "That day" refers to the "Day of the Lord," which includes the seven year tribulation, Jesus' return to battle and conquer the rebellion, the 1,000-year reign of Christ on the earth, the final defeat of the Enemy (Satan), and the Great White Throne Judgement.

The man of lawlessness will stand against God and His law. This man is also written about in Daniel 7 where he is described as a king who will attempt to upturn everything that honors God. His charismatic personality, including what many will call miracles, will draw people to the idea of a world-wide peace (a false peace) through a unification of all nations (politically, financially, and even religiously). The nation of Israel will be involved with some kind of seven-year treaty with him that will last just three and a half years (Daniel 9:27).

This man of lawlessness will declare his own god-ship, enter a temple of the true God, and demand people worship him (2 Thessalonians 2:4). Jesus spoke of this time in Mark 13:14: "But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains."

This man of lawlessness is not Satan, but a ruler under his control. At the end of the tribulation, armies will unite under the leadership of the man of lawlessness to fight against the King of kings and Lord of lords as described in the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16; 19:19). When the man of lawlessness and his false prophet lose the battle, they are cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20). Jesus, the Word of God, will be victorious (Revelation 19:13).

Lawlessness today seems rampant and increasing. Christians shouldn't be surprised by this as 2 Timothy 3:13 forecasts it ("evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived"). Sadly, during his rule, many people will be swept up in the false hope that the man of lawlessness promises. Many will be destroyed. It is imperative that we make sure we have accepted Jesus, the true Prince of Peace, as our Savior and that we are living for Him. Jesus warned in Mark 13:32–33: "But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come."

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