I have read your interpretations of Revelation and I find them interesting but I have some questions I would like to ask. Who is the man of lawlessness? Has he already come or has he yet to be revealed? Did Christ give any clues about when he would come back and what do we need to look for? Matthew 24:22 mentions that if Christ had not come then no one would be saved, is this talking about no one would survive or no one would be saved spiritually?


First of all, the “man of lawlessness” is not mentioned in Revelation, so I am not sure why you mention that book in reference to the man of lawlessness, who is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12.  But, let us look at the passage in 2 Thessalonians.  Usually, simply looking at the passage itself and not reading it through the eyes of all the dubious end-time material out there is a good policy.  Let me be honest here, I have never studied this passage in detail up to this time, but let me give my best shot.

If we look at 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 we can see that Paul seems to be addressing people who were getting too caught up in questions about the return of Jesus.  Perhaps that was all they spent their time talking about—when Jesus will come, what it will be like, how to interpret various prophecies.  It sounds a LOT like today, with so many people spending so much time concerned about end-time prophecies that they lose focus on what matters, which is living a righteous life, staying close to God, and helping people to be saved.  Paul is telling those who overly focus on such matters to not be unsettled or alarmed regarding these matters.

Then, Paul tells us that God is holding back a time of rebellion when someone or perhaps a group of people will oppose God’s work (v. 3-4).  It is possible that this time of rebellion will correspond to the end of the thousand years when God will hold Satan back.  At the end of the thousand years, “Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations….” (Revelation 20:7-8).  I am not sure, but 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 20 may be talking about the same increase in evil toward the end of time.  Returning to 2 Thessalonians 2:5-6, Paul describes God holding him (Satan, or the Man of Lawlessness) back for now, “so that he can be revealed at the proper time.”  Might this be some future outbreak of rebellion against God near the end of time, when Jesus will come back?  It seems very possible.  We know that Satan will work to deceive mankind and will work through counterfeit miracles and other deceptions.  It seems rather likely that this is a still-future event, but we cannot be absolutely certain.  Either way, our job is to trust in the providence of God.

The bottom line is that we cannot be absolutely sure what Paul is referring to, but it does seem fairly likely that he is discussing a still-future temporary increase in evil before Jesus comes back.  However, we should look at the context of 2 Thessalonians 2 to understand why Paul is telling us these things.  It seems the principle reason is so that we will not be too disturbed, unsettled or alarmed.  Evil will come.  Evil is already here.  What will perhaps happen on an ever larger scale in the future is what is already happening now.  For us, the message is to rely on God, to oppose the evil one, and to continue to teach the truth in order to counteract the deception Satan is spreading around through this “Man of Lawlessness.”  Whether he is an actual, individual person, or whether he is symbolic of a group or movement or something else altogether, we cannot be sure and we should not concern ourselves with this matter too much, as our job is the same in any case, which is to not be unsettled by such matters, and to continue to rely on God for our spiritual sustenance and strength.

Neither Paul nor Jesus gave us a timeline for these things, and I am sure this was on purpose.  God does not want us to focus in on the timing of future events, but to simply rely on him.  When Daniel asked for more details in Daniel 12:8, he was admonished and told, in essence, to mind his own spiritual business.  When John asked Jesus for more details in John 21:20-21 he was similarly told, more or less, to mind his own business and to let God take care of these questions.  Perhaps that is what we should do.  We should let God take care of the man of lawlessness, keep our lamps lit (Matthew 25:1-13), and be ready at any time for Jesus to come back.

John Oakes

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