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                         "THE TIME OF THE END"

                   The Antichrist And The Man Of Sin

INTRODUCTION

1. A common element of end time speculation is the rise of a world
   ruler, an individual who...
   a. First comes on the political scene as a hero, but proves to be a
      villain
   b. Is thought to be the Antichrist and the Man of Sin described in
      the Bible

2. The anticipation of such a person is not limited to premillennial
   views...
   a. Some amillennialists look for a single adversary to arise shortly
      before Christ returns
   b. For example:  Edward J. Young, Anthony A. Hokema

3. Connections between the Antichrist and the Man of Sin are often made
   with...
   a. The visions of Daniel concerning the "little horn", and the king
      of the South - Dan 7,8; 11:36-45
   b. The visions of Revelation concerning the beast of the sea - Re 13:
      1-9

[We shall consider the visions of Daniel and Revelation later, but in
this study let's first consider what is actually said about...]

I. THE ANTICHRIST

   A. AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE...
      1. John is the only one who actually uses the expression
         "antichrist"
      2. He used the phrase just five times
         a. "you have heard that antichrist is coming" (ESV) - 1Jn 2:18
         b. "so now many antichrists have come" (ESV) - 1Jn 2:18
         c. "This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the
            Son" (ESV) - 1Jn 2:22
         d. "This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was
            coming and now is in the world already." (ESV) - 1Jn 4:3
         e. "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who
            do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such
            a one is the deceiver and the antichrist." (ESV) - 2Jn 1:7
      3. Some observations:
         a. Note the use of the definite article (the) - 1Jn 2:22;
            4:3; 2Jn 1:7
         b. Note the indefinite and plural use of the term "antichrist"
            - 1Jn 2:18
         c. Note that in at least some sense the antichrist was already
            present - 1Jn 4:3; 2Jn 1:7
         d. John was concerned about a spirit of antichrist producing
            many antichrists in his day
         e. But his words have been taken to suggest an individual
            antichrist was yet to appear
      -- The challenge is to determine whether John had an individual
         antichrist in mind

   B. AS ANTICIPATED BY MAN...
      1. The definite article "the" leads many to anticipate an
         individual antichrist
         a. John Chrysostom held that it was the resurrected Nero
         b. Some Catholic sources held that it would be an apostate
            priest or even pope
         c. Premillennialists and others look for a singular adversary
            to arise
      2. That there were "many antichrists" and was "now in the world
         already" lead others to conclude antichrist is an attitude
         reflected in both individuals and systems
         a. John certainly applied the term that way to the Gnostics of
            his day - 2Jn 1:7
         b. Protestant reformers like Luther and Calvin identified the
            Roman papacy as the antichrist
      -- The evidence for a singular adversary is simply not as strong
         as many suggest

[But what about the man of sin?  Won't he be the Antichrist?  Well,
let's take a look at what is said about...]

II. THE MAN OF SIN

   A. AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE...
      1. His perverse character - 2Th 2:3
         a. A man of "lawlessness" - having no regard for God's law
         b. A son of "perdition" - one begotten for destruction
      2. His God-defying activity - 2Th 2:4
         a. He opposes and exalts himself
            1) Above all that is called God
            2) Above all that is worshiped (including Jesus)
         b. He sits as God in the temple (the church?)
         c. He shows himself that he is God!
      3. His present restraint and future revealing - 2Th 2:5-8
         a. He was being restrained at the time Paul wrote
            1) The Thessalonians knew what was restraining him
            2) For Paul had told them when he was with them
         b. Even so, the "mystery of lawlessness" was already at work
            1) His lawless influence was already spreading
            2) But it was hidden (still a mystery), to be revealed only
               when that which restrains was removed
         c. He would be revealed when the restraining force was removed
      4. The decisive nature of his defeat - 2Th 2:8
         a. He will be consumed and destroyed by the Lord
         b. His end will be similar to that of those who know not God
            and obey not the gospel of Christ - cf. 2 Th 1:7-9
      5. The timing of his defeat - 2Th 2:8
         a. This will happen at the coming of the Lord
         b. The Lord will destroy the man of sin with the brightness of
            His coming!
         c. Just as the Lord will destroy Satan at His coming - cf. Re
            20:10
      6. His relation to Satan - 2Th 2:9-10
         a. His coming will be according to the working of Satan
         b. His coming will be with all power, signs, lying wonders
         c. He will exercise unrighteous deception among those who are
            perishing
      -- Who or what is this "man of sin, the son of perdition"?

   B. AS ANTICIPATED BY MAN...
      1. One view is that the man of sin is one particular individual
         a. Who will arise with great power and deceive many just before
            Christ returns
         b. Who is the "antichrist" spoken of by John in 1Jn 2:18
         c. This view is held by premillennialists, and some
            amillennialists (e.g., Edward J. Young, Anthony Hoekema)
      2. Another view is that the man of sin is a series of individuals
         a. Perhaps a successive line of men with the same general
            character
         b. In this sense many have applied it to the Roman papacy
            1) This was first suggested by a pope himself!
               a) Gregory the Great (550-604 A.D.) said that whoever
                  arrogates to himself the title of "universal priest"
                  is a forerunner of antichrist - cf. Hendriksen
               b) It was not long before patriarchs of Rome began to
                  claim such distinction
            2) Many Protestants view the papacy as the "man of sin"
               (e.g., Luther, Barnes)
               a) Noting the similarity between what is said about the
                  man of sin, and what the Roman papacy became
               b) Suggesting that either the Holy Spirit or the Roman
                  empire was what was "restraining" the lawlessness that
                  was just beginning and would eventually lead to the
                  apostasy and revelation of the man of sin
      -- I am prone to think the latter view may be the correct one

CONCLUSION

1. What I have suggested in our study is this...
   a. Antichrist is applied by John to those in his day who denied Jesus
      coming in the flesh
   b. Whether he also had in mind an individual to appear later is not
      certain
   c. Man of sin is described by Paul as though it was an individual
   d. But his present restraint and future revealing suggests the
      possibility that it refers to a series of individuals

2. As with many prophetic passages, there has been a lot of foolish
   speculation...
   a. In every generation, attempts have been made to identify the man
      of sin, the antichrist
   b. In the 20th century alone, from Kaiser to Hitler to Hussein, etc.
   c. Many have spoken, confident in their identification, only in time
      to be proven wrong

3. What is important, indeed necessary, is that we be ready for whatever
   comes...
   a. Whether the man of sin and antichrist proves to be a specific
      individual
   b. Or whether the man of sin is indeed a series of individuals, such
      as the papacy

4. How shall we be ready for whatever comes...?
   a. Have a strong love for the truth - cf. 2Th 2:9-10
   b. Believe in the truth - cf. 2Th 2:11-12
   c. Obey the gospel of Jesus Christ - cf. 2Th 2:13-14; 1:7-9

Only then can we be confident that we are in a right relationship with
the Lord, unlikely to be deceived by any individual or false system that
might come before the Lord returns...
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