The Apostasy of the Church vs. the Falling Away After the Millennium

I do not believe that II Thes 2:3ff and I Tim 4:1ff are speaking of the same
event. I believe that I Tim 4:1ff has to do with the apostasy of the church, and
that has clearly already occurred. I Tim 4:3 is very descriptive of the RCC
apostasy with its forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats.
II Thes 2:3ff deal with what is often called “the Antichrist”, but as Paul styles
him in II Thes 2, he is “the Man of Sin”. The Man of Sin is the same as the beast
of Rev 13:1-10 and Rev 19:20. He is a historic individual. I believe he is
Nero come to life again because of the prophecies in the Sibylline Oracles
and because it harmonizes with hints in Rev 19:20 where the beast and false
prophet are judged without having died first. The scriptures require that
every man die BEFORE the Judgment (Heb 9:27). Since both the beast and
false prophet are judged without being killed (Rev 19:20), then they must
have risen from the dead prior to the Judgment. That is what the Sibyls say
will happen.

When we deal with “the Antichrist” we usually point out that John said that
many antichrists had already come into the world in the First Century (I Jn
2:18). While that is obviously true, it does nothing to affect the
prophecies of a particular man at the end of the world who will be evil
incarnate (Rev 13:15-18, 9:18, II Thes 2:4), who will rule the whole world
for 3 1/2 years (Rev 13:5), perform miracles (Rev 13:4, 12, 16:13), consorts
with demons (Rev 16:14), and who will be captured, judged and thrown alive
into the Lake of Fire (Rev 19:20).

When Paul wrote II Thes in AD 54, Nero was already emperor, and Paul’s
statement that the mystery of iniquity (v7) was already at work in Paul’s
day has special significance in view of the fact that Nero is to rise from
the dead at the end of the world (cp Zech 11:17’s future “idol shepherd”,
the epitome of a ruler/shepherd at some future date who promotes idolatry).
The Antichrist has two comings, just like Christ did. His first coming was
as king of Roman Empire. His second coming will be king of the entire earth
(Rev 13:7). The Antichrist (Man of Sin) rises from the dead, just like
Christ did. When the Man of Sin arises from the dead, he establishes His
kingdom by conquest just like Christ does when He comes again. He will be
head of the revived empire (the Persians) that was one of the seven heads
(the seven successive world empires) that was wounded unto death (Rev 13:3).
He is head of the revived Perisan empire that will be the eighth world
empire that follows the seventh world empire (probably the New World Order),
but the eighth empire will be one of the previous seven (Rev 17:11), Persia.

In the text of II Thes 2:3-9 below, note that Paul speaks of a man, not an
idea or organization. He is a “son of perdition” (v3) in that he is cast
alive into perdition, the Lake of Fire (Rev 19:20). He sets himself up as
God (v4), exactly as Rev 13:12-15 describes it. If the Jews rebuild their
temple he will probably literally fulfill the sitting in the temple of God
(v4), for he is to take Jerusalem (Zech 14:1-2). He is to be revealed in
his time (v6), as a man wounded unto death (Rev 13:3) who revives to life
again at his second coming (cp Rev 19:20, Sib Orc V:39-49). The Man of Sin
is to be destroyed with the brightness of Christ’s coming (v8), exactly and
precisely as Rev 19:11-21 describes it. The beast-man of Rev 13:1 operates
by the power of the dragon, the Devil (Rev 13:4, 12:9) as we read below in
v9. Every detail of II Thes 2 fits the description of the beast in Rev.

Here is the text of II Thes 2:3-9.

2 Thessalonians 2:3 ┬ÂLet no man deceive you by any means: for that day
shall not come, except there come a falling away first, 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.
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
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
will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8 And then 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,

This view outlined above does the best of reconciling all the requirements
regarding the Antichrist. I arrived at the above conclusions only after a great
deal of thought and study. I tried my best to be as honest with the data as I
could be, no matter where it led. Though it is far from the current thinking, it
actually fits with what the text says, and with the non-canonical writings,
and with the writings of the church fathers. It also avoids having to
regard the whole thing as some highly symbolic figure of something, we know
not what. The literal meaning of the various texts are harmonious with one
another and result in a highly meaningful picture of the end of the world.
All of the Bible prophecies regarding the Man of Sin fit with the view I
have outlined (cp Dan 7’s little horn). The Man of Sin is a specific
individual who will rule the world for 3 1/2 years, which is exactly the
same time as the ministry of Jesus. As Jesus went to Hades and ruled there
for 3 1/2 days (Lk 11:22, Mt 12:40), the Man of Sin will rule Jerusalem for
3 1/2 days at the end of the world (Rev 11:11, Zech 14:1-3). The Man of Sin
conquers the earth with his armies (Rev 9:15-16) even as Christ conquers the
world with His armies (Rev 19:21). In every sense the Man of Sin is “the”
Antichrist.

When we deal with the end of the world, we are dealing with powers and
events that are out of the ordinary and sound strange to us in our world of
pure technology. There are many references to miracles at the end of the
world (Rev 13:13-14, 16:14, 19:20). These Rev miracles agree with the
miracles prophesied by II Thes 2:9 and Mt 24:24 that are to occur at the end
of the world. We should therefore not be as the German Rationalists and try
to explain away every supernatural event in Revelation, for they clearly
occur. Here is an example:

Revelation 16:13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the
mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth
of the false prophet.
14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth
unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the
battle of that great day of God Almighty.
16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue
Armageddon.

Since there are miracles assoicated Armageddon, we should not be highly
skeptical of literal descriptions of creatures that have no present
counterpart. Genetic engineering or demonic manipulation could produce
literal creatures such as the fire-breathing serpent horses of Rev 9:16.
Since the vision is of the future and demonic power or genetic engineering
could conceivably produce such creatures, there is no reason that we should
doubt that the account in Rev 9:13-21 is anything else other than a sober
account of the last battle at the end of the world.

If you take God exactly at His word, a whole new meaning emerges from the
book of Revelation. It truly is a revelation of what is to come. It is
literally true, and it harmonizes with all other biblical prophecy and with
credible non-biblical prophecy. It avoids having to take the book as a
figure of speech and having to make up explanations for the supposed
figures.

BTW, Justin Martyr (1st century AD) believed in a future literal 1000 year
reign of Christ. He was a disciple of the apostles and prophets. His view was based on the the epistle of Barnabas, a first century work that the church fathers attributed to Barnabas, the prophet and companion of Paul. Barnabas said, “When His Son
shall come, and shall abolish the time of the Lawless One, and shall
judge the ungodly, and shall change the sun and the moon and the
stars, then shall he truly rest on the seventh day” (Barnabas 15:5).
Barnabas also said, “In six thousand years the Lord shall bring all
things to an end; for the day with Him signifyeth a thousand years;
and this He himself beareth me witness, saying; Behold, the day of
the Lord shall be as a thousand years. Therefore, children, in six
days, that is in six thousand years, everything shall come to an end” (Barnabas 15:4).

Barnabas makes the dispensationalist view of the millennium impossible because Barnabas says that the “Lawless One” will be destroyed by Jesus when He returns. The millenialists say that happens at the end of the millennium. My view harmonizes with what he believed, that there will be a future literal 1000
year reign of Christ. It happened from AD 345-1345. Justin was right about
the millennium, though it did not occur exactly as he envisioned it, for he
linked it with passages like Isa 11:6 that describe the new earth.

About James Johnson

Bible student for 60 years. Preacher of the gospel for over 40 years. Author of commentary on Revelation, All Power to the Lamb. Married with children. Worked in aerospace and computer engineering for over 40 years.
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