When Will the Antichrist Be Revealed?
© 2023 C. O. Bishop
2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12
Several times recently, someone has expressed to me concern about “The Antichrist,” or, as he is called in Revelation 13, “the Beast.” Other questions have also come up. (Has the Tribulation already begun? Will the church go through the Tribulation?
The internet is loaded with such suggestions, and we are tempted to feel alarmed, that somehow we have “missed out!” When the Covid vaccinations were being offered, people were saying it was the “Mark of the Beast.” (It absolutely is not!) Whether you choose to take such medicines is up to you. But the “mark” discussed in Revelation 13 is definitely not something that could be hidden in a vaccination. It also is not something that can be “secretly” administered.
So, in light of all these concerns, it seems entirely appropriate that we are just now coming to a passage that will address many of those fears.
Meet the “New Fear!” (Same as The Old Fear!)
There was a fear among the believers in Thessalonica that they had somehow “missed the Rapture.” Or, perhaps, that the Tribulation had already begun. Remember, this is an account from almost 2000 years ago: They didn’t even have television, let alone the internet! But someone told them that the day of the Lord had come! Do you wonder how it happens that the same fear was triggered in Thessalonica 2000 years ago, as is being triggered in us, today? You would almost think that the same deceiver was responsible! (And he IS!)
Paul assured them that the rumors were not true. Then he gave them the order of events that will begin the tribulation and the final countdown. Let’s read what he said:
1Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Where did the Fear Come From?
Notice, first, that Paul begged them not to be deceived: He recognized that there were enemies involved. “Someone” may have claimed that a spirit had told them these things. Or perhaps someone said that they had been told by some “authoritative person.” Or it seems that someone had even gone so far as to write a letter, and claim that Paul had sent it to them. Paul said it didn’t matter from where the falsehood had arisen: it was simply false!
Notice that the various possible “sources” still add up to one root source. This is increasingly obvious when we consider that these specific fears and deceptions have been dumped on believers nearly continually, ever since the beginning.
Who would gain by Christians always being afraid and trying to “prepare for a coming tribulation and judgment?” (Especially, as it means we concentrate on that, as opposed to joyfully, fearlessly living out the great Commission which we have received from Jesus?)
What is the Day of Christ?
We have discussed the “Day of the LORD” (all uppercase) as it is addressed throughout the Old Testament Prophets. In the New Testament it is also called the Day of the Lord (normal capitalization.) In several places it says the “Day of the Lord” comes “as a thief in the night.”
The Day of the Lord begins with the Rapture of the Church, as seen in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18. That is the only portion of the Day of the Lord about which it can be said, “it will come as a thief in the night.” All the rest of it is fully laid out in scripture.
It is often given in rather obscure terms, though, and that makes sense. The people who initially received the prophecy (including the prophets themselves) did not understand the message. In Daniel 12:8, 9 Daniel commented that he heard it, but he didn’t understand it! And he was told, effectively, “Write it down, close the book, and run along! The message is not for you, but rather, for the people of the end times!”
Paul’s End-Time Teaching (Eschatology)
In 1st Thessalonians chapters 4 and 5, Paul began to lay out the End-time truths, (sometimes called “eschatology.”) The first “act” in the “Day of the Lord” is the Rapture, and it sweeps directly into the Tribulation, which will culminate in the return of Christ, and the immediate “Judgment of the Living Nations.” (But John tells us this same “Day of the Lord” then continues through the Millennial Kingdom, and it will end with the Great White Throne Judgment.)
As far as I can tell, the “Day of Christ” is identical to the previously named and often referenced “Day of the LORD” (All uppercase, in the Old Testament, showing where the tetragrammaton (YHWH) is used in the Old Testament. The New Testament “Day of the Lord,” (with the lowercase “ord”) is the same event, but using Jesus’s title as “the Master:” the Lord. It is mentioned throughout the New Testament. (Especially, see 1st Thessalonians 5:2)
The only difference might be simply that the New Testament believers are specifically looking forward to the return of Christ, whereas the Old Testament prophecies were including everything from His return at the Rapture and His physical return as Judge and King, all the way through the millennial Kingdom.
In Acts 1:7, Jesus said that it is not given to us to know the times or the seasons. And, here in Thessalonians, Paul makes it clear that neither we nor any other human will know the time of His coming. We won’t know until it is too late to change anything based on that knowledge. But he does give us ample reason to not fear that we have been “left behind.”
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first,…
The Greek word translated “falling away,” here, is “apostasis.” It is where we get our English word, “apostasy.” And it means a “falling away,” just as it is translated, here. It is only used a few times in scripture, and it always is used in a negative sense. While some would like to view it as the catching away of the church at the Rapture, it simply is not used in that way. It is never used in the sense of a “rescue,” or any other “positive” thing.
However! The organized church “falling away from Christ,” and denying Him the honor due Him would be a true apostasy. In Luke 18:8, Jesus posed the question, “When the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith?” (It was a rhetorical question, the implied answer being “NO!”) But, for the complete apostasy of the organized church to occur, the remnant of true believers would have to be entirely removed from the mix, first. And that is what we saw happening, back there, in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18…the removal of the believers.
When Will the Antichrist be Revealed?
With the genuine believers gone, the tribulation can begin, and the “Man of Sin” can be revealed. Paul goes on to describe that person and the events surrounding his entrance on the “World Stage.” (verse three continued.)
3 …and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
This is the one we see in Revelation 13 and in Daniel 9:27. He is the one we call “the Antichrist.” (He is also called the “Son of Perdition:” Ony he and Judas Iscariot are called this name…,and both end up possessed by Satan, personally. There is no other such example.)
Avoid Foolish Speculation
When I was a new Christian, many people speculated that a certain politician was “the Antichrist.” A few years later, they were pointing to a different politician. Obviously, the fifty years of history since then have repeatedly proved them wrong! People repeat this folly every time there is a politician they don’t like. But it is foolish to keep speculating! Right here, in verses three through eight, we read that the Man of Sin will not be revealed until certain things happen. One of those is the apostasy of the church at large. Another, necessarily, is the Rapture which will leave the apostasy of the church complete.
We already read in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18, that the believing church would suddenly be removed. And then, in chapter five, immediately following the departure of the believers, we saw that the Tribulation will begin.
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
So, this is the second letter Paul has written to the believers at Thessalonica. And he reminds them that he taught them this when he was still there with them in Thessalonica. (Paul and Silas evidently told them these things before they left town, in Acts 17! We are getting told today!)
What’s the Holdup?
6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth (restrains) will let (restrain), until he be taken out of the way.
So long as the Person, the Holy Spirit, is present, indwelling all the believers, the person of the Antichrist will not be revealed. In 1st John 4:3, we see that the spirit of Antichrist is already in the world and working. But the man called the Antichrist will not be revealed until the Holy Spirit is removed. In John 14:16 we see that the Holy Spirit will be with us forever. Therefore, when He is taken out of the way, we will be going with Him!
When Does all this Take Place?
8 And then (and not before!) shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
In Revelation chapter 13, we see what kind of “wonders” are in question. Notice that, right here in verse nine, Paul labels those supposed “miracles” as “lying wonders.” They are not “miracles,” but rather, they are false, and specifically intended to deceive.
Most “magicians” today are entertainers. Some are very honest, publicly pointing out that what they are doing is not magic, but rather, a trick that looks like magic. The problem is that, as humans, we are “easily deceived,” and we can be led astray by tricksters who are not honest enough to say, “ This is not magic! It is a trick!” So, we have been warned in advance that such a deceiver is coming and that he will deceive the majority of the world.
Who will be Deceived? (Notice the Tenses, Here:)
The people who (future tense) will be deceived all made choices in the past (before The Rapture unveiled the truth.) And God will (in the future) send them a strong delusion, so that (in the future) they will stick with their earlier (past tense) choice, and so face eternal judgment.
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not (past tense) the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall (future tense) send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might (future tense) be damned who (past tense) believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
This is similar to what happened in Egypt: Pharaoh originally hardened his own heart against God. But in the end, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he persisted in his bad decision, past the point of insanity. Everyone else knew God had destroyed Egypt, but Pharaoh was blind to that truth. Those unbelievers who rejected Christ before the Rapture will not “change their minds” when it occurs.
Unbelievers who simply never heard of Him (or who had only heard “bits and pieces,” (never enough to make any sort of decision) will hear the Gospel (through the witnesses God provides during the Tribulation) and millions of them will believe…and many will die for their faith.
But You are NOT to be Deceived!
1st Thessalonians 5:4-11 “4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
So, we are to believe God, and trust Him for the future, and not be deceived by the clamoring voices in the world around us. Then we will be free to serve Him rather than constantly worrying. In doing so, we can comfort one another and build one another up in the Lord. (That is what “edify” means.) That is part of what Jesus calls us to do.
Lord Jesus, we ask that you teach our hearts to trust in you and not to be discouraged by the deceivers in the World. Draw us along to follow you faithfully and fearlessly.