Watchman Willie Martin Archive


       [dispatch76] Five Questions Answered‑ man of sin.htm


        Sun, 15 Jul 2001 01:01:32 ‑0400


       "Char|es" <[email protected]>


       [email protected]


        "3‑DISPATCH76" <[email protected]>


    What about Paul's "Man of Sin" Who First Had to be Revealed?

    The Apostle Paul wrote that the coming (parousia) of the Lord

    would not take place until the rebellion occurs and the "man of sin"

    (NJV) or "man of lawlessness" (NIV) was revealed. We suggest you

    read about it in 2 Thessalonians 2:1‑12 before continuing on. This

    revealing was a definite prerequisite!

    The most popular postponement tradition claims that this

    wicked one is some future "Antichrist" figure who has yet to be

    revealed. Over the centuries, he has been variously identified as

    Attila the Hun, Napoleon, the Pope, Martin Luther, Mohammed, Hilter;

    Mussolini, Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt, Henry Kissinger; and Mikhail

    Gorbachev. Virtually every unpopular public figure has qualified.

    Obviously, this tradition has proven totally inept at identifying Paul's

    "man of sin" Unfortunately, it's a tradition that has not died.

    For a number of scriptural and historical reasons, the identity of

    Paul's "man of sin" should not be arbitrarily lifted out of its 1st. cen‑

    tury context. So here's our pick: a contemporary of Paul's who

    fulfilled Paul's prophetic prediction and fit his destructive descripion

    to a tee. The following is a condensed version of an apologetic

    presented in The Man of Sin of 2nd Thessalonians 2, by Evangelist

    John L. Bray .

    The Man of Sin. A study of 2nd Thessalonians 2:1‑12.

    Verses 1‑2. concerning the coming (parousia) of our Lord

    Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, broth‑

    ers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some

    prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, say‑

    ing that the day of the Lord has already come."

    If the understanding of the nature of the coming (return) of

    the Lord by Paul's first readers was in keeping with most

    traditional, modern‑day notions of a rapture‑removing, visible,

    world seeing, or world‑ending coming, they could not have been

    led to believe that it had already come (see again our evidences

    3 and 4 in the last chapter).

    Verses 3‑4. "Don't let anyone deceive you in any way for

    that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man

    lawlessness [man of sin] is revealed, the man doomed to de‑

    struction [son of perdition ‑ KJV]. He opposes and exalts himself

    over everything that is called God or ts worshiped, and even

    sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God."

        Paul wrote during the time of a literal, standing, second Temple.

        He gave no hint that this event would occur centuries later in

        some other"rebuilt" temple. His first readers apparently expected

        this fulfillment in their lifetime. That's why some feared that

       that"day of the Lord" had already occurred. Also, let's note how

        Paul's prophetic words here match up with Jesus' Olivet Dis‑

        course (Mt. 24). Both speak of the same set of events, use similar

       language, and convey a strong sense of imminence. 2

        History records that the Jewish rebellion against Rome and

        apostasy from the faith was already underway in the early 60s,

        and reached its climax in the Jewish‑RomanWar of A.D. 66 ‑ 70.

        We propose that Paul's "man of sin" was, most likely, a specific

        person who set himself up in theTemple that was standing when

        Paul was writing. He could have been (take your pick) Nero,

        Titus,a Zealot leader; the corrupt chief high priest, or a Christian

        Zealot. All except Nero physically entered the Temple. Mthough

        Paul never calls him "antichrist;' the Apostle John tells us that

        there were many "anticlirists" at work at that time (1 Jn. 2:18;

        4:3). No doubt this "man of sin" was one of them. But he was

        also a special person who had to come on the scene prior to the

        Lord's return in A.D. 70 and before the Temple was destroyed.

        Verses 5‑7. "Don't you remember that when I was with

        you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what

        is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper

        time. For 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"

        Paul had mentioned this power of lawlessness on other oc‑

        casions (see 1 Th. 2:14‑16; 1 Ti. 4:1). The Jews were revolting

        against Rome and rejecting the sacred practice of biblical Juda‑

        ism. Some followers of Christ who remained zealous for the

        Temple system were departing from the new faith and falling

        back into the old ways. But behind it all was "the secret power

        of lawlessness." It was "already at work," there and then, but

       something and/or someone was holding the "man of sin" back

        at the time Paul wrote this letter (circa A.D. 51 ‑ 52). Whatever

        that was, Paul reminded his first readers that they already knew

        its/his identity. So Paul didn't have to tell them. And he didn't.

        Since they knew who or what it was, it could not possibly have

        been something or someone that would not exist for some nine‑

        teen or more centuries. But who or what was it?

       Throughout Church history endless speculation has revolved

        around the identity of this restrainer. However, we do know

        that this restraint was in force when Paul wrote,‑ and was

        actively holding back a "man of sin" alive at that time. This

        fact is a time indicator and should answer the question of when.

        Some have suggested that the "who" was Nero or the Roman govern‑

        ment, which held back Jewish persecution of the early Jewish

       Christians. Futurists say it's the gospel, the Church, the Holy

        Spirit, or an angel. But if any of these is what was really meant,

        why did the writer use such veiled language? None of these

        things is ever portrayed in Scripture as restraining lawlessness

        or being removed from the world.

        The best answer‑we believe‑is that it was both an office

        (the "what") and a person (the "one who" or "he"). More spe‑

       cifically, it was the institution of the Jewish priesthood led by

        Ananus, the high priest. The priesthood opposed the Jewish,

        Zealot‑led rebellion. And Ananus wanted peace with Rome. As

        long as he and the priesthood stood in the way, the lawlessness

        of the Jewish Zealots was held back, the "work of Satan" couldn't

        reach its full realization, and the "man of sin" couldn't appear on

        the scene and cause the final destruction. In A.D. 68, however,

        Jewish Zealots, with the assistance of the Idumaeans, murdered

        Ananus and over 12,000 other priests and left their bodies un‑

        buried‑a violation of the Jewish Law Thus, the priesthood was

       "taken out of the way" As Josephus wrote in his history of the

        fall of the city:

        I should not mistake if I said that the death of Ananus was the

       beginning of the destruction of the city; and that from this very

        day may be dated the overthrow of her walls, and the ruin of her

        affairs, whereon they saw their high‑priest, and the procurer of

        their preservation; slain in the midst of their city;. for he was thor‑

        oughly sensible that the Romans were not to be conquered. He

        also foresaw that of necessity a war would follow, and that unless

        the Jews made up matters with them very dexterously, they would

        be destroyed: to say all in a word, if Ananus had survived tha~

        would have certainly compounded matters... and I cannot but

        think that it was because God had doomed this city to destruc‑

        tion, as a polluted city, and was resolved to purge his sanctuary by

        fire, that he cut off these great defenders and wellwishers.

        Verses 8‑10. a Ad 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 [parousia].

        The coming [parousia] of the lawless one will be in accor‑

        dance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of

       counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of

        evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish be‑

        cause they refused to love the truth and so be saved!"All this

        happened in the very Temple that was standing until A.D. 70. As

        the war between the Jews and Rome developed, a strong leader

        of the Jewish Zealots emerged who would fullfill Paul's proph‑

        ecy. He would soon become the key man in inciting the Jews

        against Rome, in bringing abominations into the Temple area,

        and in causing the final destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

        After Ananus' murder and the removal of the priesthood. Josephus

        records that a man named John, the son of Levi, fled to Jerusa‑

        lem from the Roman conquered area of Gischala in Galilee and

        became the treacherous leader of the Jewish Zealots in control

        of theTemple area. Also Josephus wrote,"Now this was the work

        of God, who therefore preserved this John, that he might bring

        on the destruction of Jerusalem."

        Josephus also records that before this John of Gischala, the

        son of Levi, was established as the Zealot leader in control of the

        Temple area (there were three Zealot factions), the power of

        Satan was already doing his deceitful and treacherous work. This

        John physically entered the Temple, presented himself to the

        Zealots as a God‑sent ambassadot; and persuaded them to defy

        the laws of Rome and go to war to gain independence. He also

       instigated the calling in the Idumaeans to keep the Jewish sym‑

       pathizers from submitting to Rome. He ordered the death of

        Ananus and the removal of the priesthood. After these atroci‑

        ties, he became the official leader of the Zealot group m control

        of theTemple area‑john held the temple" and began disre‑

        garded the laws of Rome, God, and man, and promising

       deliverance from the Romans. Then he broke off from the Zeal‑

        ots and began "setting up a monarchial power." He "set on fire

        these houses that were full of corn, and of all other provision

        which would have been sufficient for a siege of many years"

        He deceived the Jews about the power of the Roman armies

        In possession of theTemple and the adjoining parts, he

        cut the throats of anyone suspected of going over to the

       Romans.13 He performed many sacrileges, such as melting down

        the sacred utensils used in Temple service, and defiled the Temple.

        In short, this John established himself in the Temple, the one

        standing when Paul wrote, and put himself above Rome and

        above God, thereby taking the place of God in the Temple.

        All this happened, right then and there, and exactly as Paul had

        said the "man of sin"would do.

        After the coming of the Lord and the destruction ofJerusalem

        and theTemple in A.D. 70, John of Gischala was "condemned

        to perpetual imprisonment" by the Roman authorities. Thus

        was fulfilled Paul's prophetic and symbolic language that this

        man would be destroyed by "the spirit of his Jesus mouth and

       brightness of his [parousia] coming" (see Isa. 11:4; 30:27‑33;

        Hos. 6:5; also Da. 7:8, 19‑28).

        Verses 11‑12. "For this reason God sends them a powerful

        delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be

       condemned who have not believed the truth but delighted

        In wickedness."

        Josephus records that the Roman General Titus had no in‑

        tention of destroying the Temple. The Romans wanted to

        preserve it as a trophy and monument of their conquest. Even

        Josephus personally pleaded with John of Gischala to surrender.

        But such a "madness" swept through him and his Jewish fol‑

        lowers that they taunted the powers of Rome and refused to

        listen. This man, John, through the power of Satan and the delu‑

        sion sent by God upon the Jewish people, forced the Roman

        armies to act. Instead of accepting Jesus as Messiah, King, and

       Deliverer, the unbelieving Jews placed their hopes in this false

        messiah a man of deceit and wickedness. They looked to the

       "man of sin" to lead them to victory and independence. The

       priesthood, which stood in their way, had been removed. And

        by August or September of A.D. 70, Paul's entire "man of sin"

        prophecy of  2nd Thessalonians 2:1‑12 was fulfilled. The city and

        the Temple were burned and destroyed. The covenant nation of

        Israel and biblical Judaism were forever destroyed.

        Only within this first century context does the Apostle Paul's

       "man of sin prophecy make sense and have its greatest signifi‑

        cance. No justification exists for separating Paul's words from

        either the Temple standing at the time of his writing or the end

        of the Jewish age. John of Gischala, the son of Levi, was a con‑

       temporary of Paul. He was Paul's "man of sin." The eyewitness

        account of Josephus, a Jewish‑Roman historian, trutliflilly and

       impartially documents his treachery and his critical role in

       Jerusalem's demise. No one else in history‑Gains Caesar, Nero,

        Titus, or Domitian‑comes as close to fulfilling this prophecy as

        this most influential and deceiving Zealot leader John of Gischala

        took over the forces of iniquity He stood in the Temple itself

        and exalted himself above all that is called God. He put himself

        above both God and Caesar He regarded neither the laws of

        God nor those of man ~ome). He therefore "set himself up" in

        the Temple, taking the place of God.


        Judas betrayed Jesus. John of Gischala betrayed the

        Jews, fulfilling Paul's "man of sin" prophecy to a tee.


        in dramatic parailled fashion, Scripture gives this "man of sin"‑

        John of Gischala,the son of Levi‑the name of" the one doomed

        to destruction" or"the son of perdition," the same name given to

        another infamous betrayer,Judas Iscariot (comparejn. 17:12 with

        2Th. 2:3 KJV). Both appeared in the same "last days" time frame

        of the Old Covenant age. Judas betrayed Jesus. Jobn of Gischala

        betrayed the Jews, fufilling Paul's "man of sin" prophecy to a tee.

        He was that 1st‑century man who had to be revealed before the

        day of Christ in A.D. 70, and who was destroyed when it came.

        No future "man of sin" need come and fulfill this prophecy; it

        has already been fulfilled.


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