The Coming of the AntichristSeptember 5, 2020
GREETINGS IN JESUS’ PRECIOUS AND POWERFUL NAME!
There has been so much distress reported in the news lately that I’ve been thinking a lot about the last days. In Second Thessalonians 2:3, Paul prophesied that a mutinous attitude against God and all things godly will emerge in the very last of the last days as part of this demonic operation to seduce the world into a state of lawlessness. People often ask me, “Rick, when do you think the Antichrist will publicly step onto the world stage?” In today’s letter, I want to give you some scriptural guidance concerning that important question.
Since we are living in the last days — and I truly believe we are — we are seeing an abandoning of godliness in society. Second Thessalonians 2:3 lets us know that the Christians who live at the end of the age will be witnesses to this abandoning of truth as worldwide mutiny arises against God and His Word, and as the assault against morality and godliness intensifies on a broad scale.
In Second Thessalonians 2:3, Paul wrote, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first….”
This verse is so important to understanding the climate of the last days that I want us to delve deeply into it. The words “falling away” are translated from the Greek word apostasia, which depicts a falling away or a widespread revolt. Other Old Testament documents use this word to describe a turning away from the Lord. This word also occurs in the Septuagint version of Joshua 22:22 where it describes a mutinous rebellion against God.
Now in Second Thessalonians 2:3, Paul, a scholar who understood the meaning of this word, used it to forecast a rebellion or mutiny that would occur widespread against God at the very end of the last days. This forecasts a worldwide insurgency, rebellion, riot, and mutiny against God in society as the age comes to a final conclusion.
But Paul continued to say, “Let 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….”
Paul called the Antichrist “that man of sin.” The word “sin” in this case is anomia, which is actually a form of the word nomos, which is the Greek word for law, used to depict the standard of what is legally or morally correct. But when an “a” is attached to the front of this word, it becomes anomia. That “a” has a canceling effect. So rather than depicting law or a correct moral standard, the word anomia holds the opposite meaning — that is, without law, lawless, or no moral standard — and it pictures people who possess no fixed moral standards.
It describes those who live void of standards, without law, and in a state of lawlessness. It is used prophetically to depict a last-days society that will throw out all previously agreed-upon moral standards and that departs from God’s well-established laws at the very end of the age.
As a part of this last-days scheme, the Bible tells us that society will begin to construct a new world order that has few, if any, hard-and-fast rules of what is morally right and wrong. In essence, this will be a lawless world — that is, a world free from the “outdated” voice of the Bible. Society will attempt to disconnect from most moral standards that were once held to be the common rule and view of society. That is what lawlessness means.
But because Paul used the word “sin” — the Greek word anomia — in connection with the Antichrist, it tells us that the Antichrist will be void of standards and without law. He will be an individual who throws out all previously agreed-upon moral standards and will be a proponent of departing from God’s well-established laws. He will not just be a person with a lawless attitude; he will be the Man of Lawlessness — the epitome of one who has shucked God’s well-established laws and will be the perfect leader to lead a mutinous world that has also thrown off the voice of God and Scripture.
The current trend toward lawlessness — that is, the construction of a new world order with morals contrary to those stated in God’s Word — will eventually produce a collective mindset in society that no longer feels the pain or conviction of sin and is numb to its consequences. And according to Paul, that mutinous society will be primed and prepared for the Antichrist to be “revealed” at that time.
The word “revealed” is the Greek word apokalupsis, a compound of apo and kalupsis. The word apo means away and the word kalupsis refers to something that is veiled, covered, concealed, or hidden. But when these words are compounded into apokalupsis it depicts a veil that has been removed, exposing what was behind the veil and concealed or hidden from view. It is clear that Paul used this word to inform us that a day is coming when the Antichrist — who has been concealed and hidden from public view — will suddenly appear and step onto the world stage for all to see.
Paul also called the Antichrist the “son of perdition.” The word “perdition” is a translation of the Greek word apoleia, and it speaks of something doomed, rotten, ruinous, or decaying. Although the Antichrist will claim to lead the world into a more progressive future, what he will bring to the world is doom, destruction, rot, ruin, and decay. There will be absolutely no redeeming value in anything produced by his rule. It is also important to note that the Greek text uses a definite article before his name, signaling that this individual will be in a category like none other before him. This is not simply an evil person; this is the Son of Doom and Destruction.
If you take all these original words and their meanings into consideration, Second Thessalonians 2:3 could be interpreted, “You ought to know by now that this day can’t come until first a worldwide insurgency, rebellion, riot, and mutiny against God has come about in society.
Once that occurs, the world will be primed, prepared, and ready to embrace the Man of Lawlessness, the one who hates law and has rebellion running in his blood. This is the long- awaited and predicted Son of Doom and Destruction, the one who brings rot and ruin to everything he touches. When the time is just right, he will finally come out of hiding and go public!”
Then in verse 4, Paul described the Antichrist when He says that he will be one “…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.”
The word “opposeth” is translated from the Greek word antikeimai. It is a compound of anti and keimai. The word anti means against and keimai means to set or to lay in place. As a compounded word, it depicts an entrenched position that is against everything established. The tense paints the picture of a continual, unending, and perpetual resistance and reveals that rebellion is ingrained into this individual. He is antichrist — from the prefix anti and the word Christ. The prefix anti — which means against — by itself already alerts us that this evil person will have a deeply-rooted rebellion ingrained into his disposition that sets him against Christ and against everything that Christ represents.
If you add the name antichrist to the Greek word antikeimai — the Greek word that is translated “opposeth” in Second Thessalonians 2:4 — it categorically tells us that the Antichrist will be brazenly against every previous godly way of thinking and will lead a lawless world in an effort to bulldoze past dogmas and morality in order to construct a new world order that he wishes to create that is free of God’s influence.
Furthermore, he “exalteth” himself. The word “exalteth” is translated from the Greek word huperaino and it means highly exalted. Thus, when the Antichrist finally appears on the world stage, he will quickly begin to exalt himself in the eyes of the world — to such an extent that Second Thessalonians 2:4 says he will even sit “in the temple.” The word “temple” is from the Greek word naos, the word used to depict the innermost part of the temple in Jerusalem and it may refer to the Holy of Holies in a future rebuilt Temple. On the basis of this wording, some scholars assert the Antichrist will enter a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, where he will go into the Holy of Holies to decree himself to be God.
Paul says the Antichrist will “shew” himself as God. The word “shew” is the Greek word apodeiknumi, which means to vividly portray, to point out, to illustrate, to show off, or to make a vivid presentation. In some way, the Antichrist will declare himself to be God and will use all possible means to demonstrate his power — including lying signs and wonders (see 2 Thessalonians 2:9).
If you take all these amazing Greek words into consideration as they are used in Second Thessalonians 2:4, the verse could be interpreted, “Do you understand who I am talking about? I’m describing that person who will be so against God and everything connected with the worship of God that, if you can imagine it, he will even try to put himself on a pedestal above God Himself — sitting in God’s rightful place in the temple and publicly proclaiming himself to be God!”
Paul stated that the only reason Satan has not already brought this end-time evil leader onto the world stage is because there is an active restraining force that has hitherto stopped it. In Second Thessalonians 2:6, Paul said, “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.” So Paul was saying there is a force that “withholdeth” this personification of evil from being manifested.
This word “withholdeth” is a translation of the Greek word katecho, which is a compound of kata and echo. The word kata gives the idea of domination or suppression. The word echo means to hold or to embrace. But when these words are compounded into katecho — which in this verse is translated “withholdeth” — it means to hold down or to suppress something. It depicts a restraining force that puts forth its energy to hold this evil down and to suppress it from rising to a place of prominence.
This means the only reason the Antichrist and his accompanying evil have not already been unleashed into the world is, there is a restraining force that is holding back the manifestation of this evil. Paul says this restraining force has been working to stall, delay, and postpone this end- time evil, but that one day the restrainer will be removed. And in that moment, evil will be unleashed with full force into the world.
There are several speculations as to who or what this “restraining force” is, but the most plausible one in light of the resurrected Christ’s commission to His Church is that we, the Church, are the restraining force that “withholdeth” (see 2 Thessalonians 2:6) and prevents evil from having full sway.
Again, the word “revealed” is from the Greek word apokalupsis and pictures a veil that has been suddenly removed, exposing what was behind the veil and concealed or hidden from view. Thus, a day is coming in the last days — at the very last of the last days — when the restraining force will be taken out of the way. When that removal occurs, this evil leader — and the wickedness that accompanies him — will make his entrance onto the world stage. The Bible says it will happen in his “time,” which is from the Greek word kairos, and it emphatically tells us there is a prophetic, appointed moment when the restraining force will be removed and the manifestation of the Antichrist will quickly occur. The veil that has concealed his identity will be removed and he will step out from behind the curtain to be seen by all.
These remarkable Greek words in Second Thessalonians 2:6 could cause the verse to be interpreted, “Now in light of everything I’ve told you before, you ought to be well aware by now that
there is a supernatural force at work that is preventing the materialization of this person and the disclosure of his identity. This restraining force I’m referring to is so strong that it is currently putting on the brakes and holding back the unveiling of this wicked person, stalling and postponing his manifestation. But when the right moment comes, this evil one will no longer be withheld, and he will emerge on the world scene! The screen that has been hiding his true identity and guarding him from world view will suddenly be pulled back and evaporate — and he will step out on center stage to let everyone know who he is.”
Then Paul added, “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
The word “already” in this verse affirms this is a plan that has been working for a long time.
The word “work” is translated from the Greek word energeo — and as used here, it describes a secret plan that has been supernaturally energized to keep it moving forward over the ages, like a force propelling something toward its conclusion.
Certainly it’s true that believers of every generation have had to deal with issues of moral degradation and societal ills in the world around them. But in the last of the last days, it will seem as if all restraints have been thrown off as society gallops on a collision course with disaster. And the closer we get to the end, the deeper this lost world will sink into deception and depravity.
Rather than fear or run for a place to hide, we must press into Christ and into the power of the Holy Spirit so that we can make a mark for eternity in as many lives as possible before the age ends. The opportunity before us is remarkable and unprecedented.
Because we live in the last of the last days, we must be alert to the fact that we are living in the last minutes of the age when the devil is attempting to groom and modify the world so that it will receive the Man of Lawlessness. A massive undertaking is being executed to lead the world into a state of epic lawlessness so that it will more readily embrace this Satan-inspired individual. The world is unaware of it, but it is being primed and prepared at this very moment for that time.
As this worldwide modification continues, we will witness things changing around us more and more. In the midst of this profound process of a worldwide shift, we will witness evil spiritual forces setting an entire spectrum of destructive fires designed to consume as many lives as possible. But Paul says until it is time for the Antichrist to be revealed, a restraining force will be present in the earth to stall the manifestation of this evil one.
The word “let” is used in Second Thessalonians 2:7 to describe this restraining force. This old English word is translated from the word katecho — the same word used earlier in verse 6 (for “withholdeth”) to picture the restraining force that is stalling and postponing this end-time evil leader and the evil that will accompany him. Paul adds that not only has the restrainer been restraining in the past, but “will let” — will continue to be a restraining force — in the future until it is time for this round of the end-time game to be done. In fact, Paul says the restrainer will keep restraining until the moment comes when he will be “taken out of the way.”
At that split moment in time, the restrainer will be suddenly removed — and in that moment, evil forces that have long been suppressed will erupt. They will no longer be suppressed, but will be freed, and the devil’s wicked plans, purposes, and desires will be abruptly energized.
These original Greek words in Second Thessalonians 2:7 and 8 could be interpreted, “These events have been covertly in the making for a long time, but the world doesn’t realize that a secret plan is being executed right under their own noses. The only thing that has kept this plan from already being consummated is the supernatural force that has been holding it all back until now. But one day this force will be removed from the picture — and when that happens, these events will quickly transpire. The removal of this restraining force will signal the moment when the Lawless One will finally make his grand appearance to the world….”
Whew. This is a lot to digest, but it helps to have a guide that forewarns us about the events surrounding the time when the Antichrist will make his grand appearance. Because we are living in the last of the last days, it’s important that we know what the Bible teaches about this!
I realize this is a little different from my normal teaching letter, but I wanted to answer this often-asked question in my letter this month. I hope my answer has helped you to keep your thinking clear about this end-time development that will soon be seen by a lost and wandering world.
I think that’s a lot for one letter, so I’ll wrap it up for this month. But if there is a way we can be praying for you or your loved ones, please let us know. Denise and I — and our entire team — fervently pray for you. If you have a specific need, please let us know so we’ll be able to pray specifically and more effectively!
We love you and thank God for you!
We are your brother and sister, friends, and partners in Jesus,
Rick and Denise Renner
along with Paul, Philip, and Joel and their families