Antichrist, man of lawlessness, and the beast

For those engaged in end-times speculation, provoked by the latest crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been another rash of speculation about the identity of the Antichrist—that end times personal figure who is now somewhere secretly in the world but who will very soon be revealed. (It is worth noting, for the sake of perspective, that every perceived crisis since at least the 1960s has provoked such speculation. For earlier modern end-times expectation, see the example of the followers of William Miller, who predicted that Jesus would return in 1844.)

I am not sure that anything I write here will persuade those committed to end-times schemes, in which the Book of Revelation predicts in detail our age alone (as if we are the most important generation that ever lived), but I think a lot of ordinary readers of the Bible are unsettled by such theories, and are not sure how to respond. Part of the reason for this is that such schemes look so coherent. Here is one, influential, example, part of Dispensational Premillennialism based on the teaching of J N Darby:

The man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12 is the Antichrist who will come on the world scene at the beginning of the Day of the Lord. This Day, sometimes called the “end times,” starts after the rapture of the church in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11). It is good to note that the Day of the Lord is not a twenty-four-hour period of time; rather, it is an extended period of time that includes the seven-year tribulation, the return of Christ to put down all rebellion against Him, the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth, the final defeat of Satan, and the Great White Throne Judgment.

This looks very convincing—until you realise that the coherence of this scheme belongs entirely to the writer, and bears little or no relation to what the Bible actually says! The New Testament nowhere identifies the ‘man of lawlessness’ with the ‘antichrist’; it does not describe a ‘rapture’ of the church (this arises from a poor misreading of 1 Thessalonians 4); nowhere does the NT mention a ‘seven-year tribulation‘; the 1,000-year reign of Christ is a literal reading of a symbolic text in Rev 20; and the ‘Day of the Lord’ which is everywhere in the NT described as a specific moment at the end of history has now been extended, in this scheme, to a period of more than 1,007 years! One of the key proponents of this kind of scheme in a previous generation, Hal Lindsay (who wrote The Late, Great Planet Earth) actually admits that this is a ‘hopscotch’ approach to reading the Bible, taking one bit from one place and another from another in order to put together a picture like assembling the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. But look at the wonderful picture that results, is his defence!

So it is worth noting from the outset the basic assumptions of this kind of approach. First, the Bible doesn’t actually make sense as a narrative as it is written; it needs some mysterious key to open up its meaning. Secondly, the truth about the ‘end times’ and Jesus’ return is a great big puzzle, and the truth of what will happen has been missed by most people in history—indeed, it continues to be missed by most people who simply read the Bible. Thirdly, we therefore need an authority figure who will help us put together the different pieces of the otherwise unintelligible text of the Bible, and we then find what we need to know not in reading the Bible, but in reading the writings and teaching of this important person. All these features make this approach perfect for an age of conspiracy theories—and offer a potential publishing bonanza, since all faithful Christians will need to buy their book!

The best answer to all this is to return to the text, and what it actually says. So let’s look at the text of the Bible, and the passages about each of these three figures, and see what we can learn.

The ‘man of lawlessness’ is only mentioned in one short passage, 2 Thess 2.1–12.

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters,  not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 

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. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendour of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 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 have delighted in wickedness. 

There are some things here worth noting. First, Paul clearly thinks that, whoever this mysterious ‘man of lawlessness’ (ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἀνομίας) is, he is ‘already at work’. This is clear from the fact that he ‘will set himself up in the temple’ which was still standing when Paul was writing (I am convinced by the arguments that 1 and 2 Thessalonians are early, are by Paul and not forgeries, and were written in quick succession to one another); there is no suggestion whatever in the text that ‘the temple’ here is used symbolically to refer to the people of God. Something is currently holding him back—and he is clearly a human figure, and not an angelic or demonic power.

Secondly, Paul is referring rather obliquely and in summary form to something that he has explained in more detail to the Thessalonians, and we will never know the full explanation that he has already given. Like many issues in Paul, we wish that he has said more! But we need to face the reality that we do not know any more details, so have to decide whether it is worth speculating.

But thirdly, and in answer to the dilemma of our ignorance, we can know the purpose of Paul’s teaching in this area—and it is not in order to encourage speculation or the drawing up of end-times calendars! On this, I think John Piper’s exposition is really helpful:

But persecution and suffering are not the only issue at Thessalonica, and Paul, now in chapters 2 and 3, takes his instruction about the second coming to a new level of detail in dealing with this second issue. The issue is that some in the church have ceased to do their ordinary vocational jobs, and started to make a nuisance of themselves as busybodies, mooching off the other Christians, since they’re not earning any money. And evidently, though Paul doesn’t say so explicitly, this delinquency is owing to a kind of hysteria in the community that the day of the Lord is not just near, but is already present.

In other words, Paul is saying to them: don’t panic; you have not been left behind; there is no need to speculate; get on with living your lives, working with your hands, instead of dropping everything for the sake of end-times speculation. You can trust God who will ultimately triumph, no matter how bad things appear to be getting. As Martin Luther is believed to have said, ‘If I knew Jesus was coming tomorrow, I would still collect the rent and plant an apple tree’. Or we might say ‘Jesus is coming; look busy!’

It is also worth noting that this is a very minor point in Paul’s teaching about ‘the end times’. In Romans 8, he talks about the longing of the created order to be redeemed; in 1 Cor 15, he offers a long and detailed discussion about the implications of the resurrection at the end; all through his writings there is a constant sense of expectation, and the hope that confidence in the ultimate victory of God in the return of Jesus. And yet, only in this one passage is the ‘man of lawlessness’ mentioned. So it can hardly be claimed to be central to Paul’s teaching.

The ‘antichrist’ is only mentioned in four verses in the NT, all in the letters of John:

Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 1 John 2:18 

Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Messiah. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 1 John 2:22 

…but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 1 John 4:3 

Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. 2 John 7 

Again, there are several things worth noticing simply by reading the text carefully.

First, although the author does talk about ‘the antichrist’ at several points, he is also clear that there have and continue to be many such people. Many ‘antichrists’ have already come; every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is of the antichrist, and ‘any such person’ who denies Jesus came in the flesh ‘is the antichrist’.

Secondly, the eschatology of these passages is highly ‘realised’—that is, the writer talks as though he and his readers are already in the ‘end times’ when he says several times ‘it is the last hour’. This might look as though there was an expectation that Jesus would return in his lifetime, an expectation that was mistaken. But in fact it matches the language of the Fourth Gospel, which talks about ‘life of the age [to come]’ or ‘eternal life’ as though is starts now, rather than being something we have to wait for. This also agrees with Peter on the day of Pentecost, who quotes Joel 2’s description of the ‘last days’ and says that it is what is happening in the outpouring of the Spirit (‘This is that… Acts 2.16). And it agrees with Paul’s description of those who put their faith in Jesus: ‘If anyone is in Christian there is new creation’ (2 Cor 5.17).

Thirdly, the concern here is (once more) nothing to do with ‘end times’ speculation and timetables, but to do with sound doctrine. The writer is encouraging his readers to stay true to the faith. Overall, the letters of John have two concerns: that his audience hold onto the truth about Jesus, and that they live out that truth in lives of love.

We also need to note that the description of [the, many] antichrist[s] appears to have little or nothing in common with Paul’s description of the ‘man of lawlessness’ other than the theme of ‘deception’ and the concern that the believers should not be deceived by those who do not tell the truth. This is hardly a concern uniquely related to the ‘end times’…!

With mentions in four verses, in two short circular letters, again this is hardly central to the theological concerns of the writers of the NT overall.

Lastly, the beast is a central figure in the drama of the Book of Revelation. Although there are anticipations of the figure earlier in the text, the ‘beast from the sea’ is fully introduced in Rev 13 as one of an ‘evil trinity’ along with the dragon/Satan, and the ‘beast from the earth’ (Rev 13.1) which later in the text is described as ‘the false prophet’.

The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.  The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.  One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast.  People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against it?” (Rev 13.1–4)

The beast from the sea look very much like the dragon which is described in chapter 12—and both together combine the features of the four beasts that emerge from the sea in Daniel 7, which many commentators believe symbolise the four great world empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. And far from making this beast future and mysterious, he appears to go to some lengths to help his readers understand who this beast is, by asking them to ‘calculate’ (the Greek term psephizo) or work out, the number of the beast, which stands for a man’s name.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 08.31.31For some time, there has been a strong scholarly consensus that 666 refers to Nero by means of a numerology known as gematria or isopsephism—adding the value of the letters in a word so that every word has a value, and equating two words with equal value. We know that Nero’s name was sometimes spelled with a final -n; ‘Neron Caesar’ when written in Greek, but transliterated into Hebrew letters adds up to 666 (see the image to the right for the sums).

There are several significant pieces of supporting evidence for this. First, when you write the Greek for ‘beast’, therion, in Hebrew letters, you also arrive at 666, making it clear that 666 is the number of ‘the beast’. Secondly, when you do the same with ‘angel’ in Rev 21, you get the number 144. Third, an early manuscript from Oxyrhynchus in Egypt corrects 666 to 616, which you would do if you understood the gematria, but thought that ‘Nero’ should be spelled without the final n. (There isn’t really any other plausible explanation for why this variant should arise.)

This ‘beast’ is identified with neither the ‘man of lawlessness’ in Paul nor the ‘antichrist’ in John, and in fact neither of these terms occur anywhere in Revelation.

So where does this all get us? First, it is clear that the three terms belong to quite different traditions within the NT, and none of these three traditions attempts to make any specific connections with the others in terms of language—despite the fact that the later writers (of the Johannine letters and of the Book of Revelation) almost certainly knew Paul’s writings.

But it is also clear that there is some kind of connection, particularly since the concern of all three writers appears to be to encourage his readers to stand firm in the truth of the apostolic teaching in the face of pressures from outside the Jesus community to renounce faith and pressures from within to distort the truth about Jesus. Here, Piper makes an interesting observation, but I think then reaches the wrong conclusion from it:

Therefore, the man of lawlessness will be unparalleled in his ability to deceive, as 2 Thessalonians 2:10 says, “with all wicked deception for those who are perishing.” It really could be “in all deception of unrighteousness,” because we are going to see in just a moment that the way he deceives is by making unrighteousness seem pleasurable. (Notice how the word adikia is repeated in verses 10 and 12.) Again, I would argue, Paul is unpacking the prophecies made by Jesus. Jesus said,

Then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. . . . For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. . . . So, if they say to you, “Look, he [one person!] is in the wilderness,” do not go out. If they say, “Look, he is in the inner rooms,” do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:21, 24, 26–27)

At the close of this climactic period of lawlessness and a great deception led by a person, Paul is saying, the coming of the Son of Man will be unmistakable. Like lightning flashing from horizon to horizon.

Piper is noting the connections between Paul’s language in 2 Thess and Jesus’ teaching in the first half Matt 24. But what he does not notice is that Jesus’ teaching here is not about the distant (for him) future and a remote ‘end times’ that we might be living in, but what the disciples he is teaching will face in their lifetime. He makes this crystal clear by stating emphatically:

Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. (Matt 24.34).

It is only in the second half of the chapter, from Matt 24.36, that Jesus turns his attention to issues around ‘the end of the age’.

There are connections too between Paul’s discussion of the man of lawlessness,  who will ‘use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie’ (2 Thess 2.9) and the ‘signs and wonders’ performed by the second beast on behalf of the first in Rev 13.13–14, but this is a description of magical tricks and propaganda performed by Roman rulers of which we have documentary evidence. In other words, both Paul and John are writing about things already happening in the world of their readers.

The concern of all these texts is to encourage their readers: don’t be deceived by clever schemes and novel doctrines; don’t get caught up in ‘end-times’ speculation; stay faithful to the truth that God came to us in Jesus, and has made our salvation secure in him; and continue to live lives of industry, generosity and grace as you wait with confidence for his return in a world that is looking very shaky. We need the same encouragement!

To find out more about what the NT says about eschatology, the end of the world, and living in hope, you might be interested in my Grove booklet on Kingdom, Hope and the End of the World.

To find out more about how to read the Book of Revelation, see my Grove booklet or my commentary on Revelation in IVP’s Tyndale series.

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117 thoughts on “Antichrist, man of lawlessness, and the beast”

  1. This is just a thought: 666. Could this be a triple repetition of the single number 6, a representation of the completeness, a fulness if you will, of incompleteness, of a world without God, harking back to Genesis1, a world without God in it, rather than a spread of the Garden with the presence of God?
    This would also place in strong contrast 2 Cor 5.17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” ESV
    This is also redolent of a new birth/creation.
    Christ, in whom there is completeness, Sabbath fulness, rest and glory, new creation.

    • I like that. Six days but no rest. A trinity of endless striving.!
      Last time I gave it some thought I was looking at a creditcard sized bronze abacus made in roman times. It had 4 beads to push up before going to the next column. I was intrigued to see that fractions were calculated in twelfths. I think it is worth contemplating how the average shopper saw numbers. 666 could be an impossible fraction. something like half a half a half recurring.
      ???….I’ll get my coat 🙂

    • The text does not give the three numerals 6, 6, 6 (heks, heks, heks). Instead it is six-hundred, sixty, six. Interpreting the text by the use of numerals would add a layer of interpretive encoding. While it isn’t absolutely impossible, it introduces more complexity.

      • Richard Bauckham suggests that the choking and harsh sounds of chi+xi+numeric-digamma-which-looks-like-a-final-sigma (600+60+6) is very snake-like if one uses the sigma sound which is suggested by the visual representation of the number (kh-ks-ss). The sound of ‘heks’ gives exactly the same effect.

        An interesting question is to what extent (if any) John thought of the number as six-six-six as opposed to 660+60+6. The number is numerically interesting only for this very reason (just like IESOUS = 888, which may have prompted 666 in the first place in preference to the more natural 616): namely, that the hundreds, tens and units are all at the same level, and John knows that. If he’s to select one remarkable number for his entire work, he is going to choose a particularly interesting one.

        I give evidence under psephizo discussion 3.4.14 (Labuschagne) that John – whom I unlike most see as the one and the same author of both Apocalypse and Gospel – sometimes conceptualised one-hundred-and-fifty-three as one-five-three (much as we might say ‘the one-five-three bus’ or ‘door number one-five-three’). The initial days in John 1-2 have their own gematria system (through syllable counts) which produces, in order, the missing titles/headings for the 9 matrices I outlined in 1993 which are the source of John’s content. There are longer breaks at 1.18 (after one ‘day’) and 1.51 (after 5 more), which is perhaps the easiest way of seeing the 1-5-3 structure. So the initial days are divided into one then five then three. In syllable-gematria these produce trinitarian titles MONOGENES for the one, GEORGOS for the five, PANTA for the three.

        From microcosm to macrocosm: The larger sections or new-creation-days of John are also in a 1-5-3 pattern. The initial 1 is separate by virtue of its outlining the aforementioned microcosm (just as 1.1-18 is a summary that lies outside the earthly, historical and sequential 1.19-51). The next 5 large sections take us to 19.42, and the completion of the new creation. With that we pass on to the new age of the Spirit in chs 20-21, which like Jn 2.1-22 is structured according to 3 successive locations in a short space.

        (Also the choice of numerals in John’s Gospel depends on a sort of triangle 9-in-length wherein the three corners are one, ten and a hundred – I outlined that in discussion of the 153 fish. This appreciates the obvious fact that hundreds, tens and units have a shared base-10, as well as exhibiting the same tendency to threefold structure seen above.)

        I certainly think it very likely therefore that just as 153 could be conceptualised as one-five-three, 666 could be conceptualised as six-six-six.

        • I actually never heard anyone suggest that John the Apostle was not the author of the Gospel of John, the Letters of John, and the Apocalypse. Why do you think that “most” do not think this? In 40 years of walking with God, I never heard anyone even suggest this, since it is well known that John wrote the Apocalypse when he was exiled to the Island of Patmos, when it was found that he could not be killed.

    • I agree with your thinking, Geoff. I have thought about the INCOMPLETION of man without God. 666 would be the perfect number of a man who had an eternal, continual expression of existence apart from the Divine. He may even want and try to be God, but would never be able to attain the status. Forever trying, never finding. He could easily be called 666666666…

      • There are 66 book in the Bible, God’s Word. Add one’s own thinking to it makes it 666 (corrupt).

        “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” (Rev13:18)

        “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:” (Rev 22:18)

          • Probably not, but rather John’s readers, since he wrote in Rev that 666 is the number of a man and Paul hadn’t read nor written this.

            Seven is the number of perfection, so adding man’s words to God’s Word (66 books) can only corrupt it as intended by those ‘many antichrists’ of 1John 2:18 and their spiritual leader.

          • But I offer above a coherent, context-based explanation of 666 which would make sense to John and his readers, fit the message of the book, and also explain the rise of the variant reading 616.

            What is unreasonable in that explanation?

  2. I think I agree with you but I’m not a theologeon with a position to defend so it matters not what I think.
    Are you saying that the ‘Man of Lawlessness’ could be Titus who invaded the Temple in AD 70? and that the unpresedented time of suffering, predicted by Jesus, was the destruction of the Temple?

    Even if many of the NT writers only spoke about current affairs they still seem to me to be laying down a pattern that allows for us to see similar scenarios happening in future.

    Leven is used metaphorically to mean different things in the NT. So I suppose it’s dangerous to conflate similar naratives to paint one picture. I’m a bit confused by all this but I’m sure Darby & Schofield have a lot to answer for.

    • I dont think that’s an appropriate way to look at it. Paul is referring to what must happen before Jesus returns, and makes the logical conclusion that because the ‘rebellion’ had not happened, and the ‘man of lawlessness’ had not yet appeared and set himself up as God, therefore Jesus could not have returned yet, as those events must happen first. He is clearly talking about historical events that would happen in due course, whether the near future or in a far off future. Ian Paul seems to be making a case for the near future, although he doesnt actually state what the rebellion was or who the man of lawlessness was, which I find odd if these were historical events. So in my view, it is not for us to say that these were fulfilled in the 1st century but that they represent some sort of repeating pattern, as Paul says no such thing and we shouldnt put words into his mouth.

      The question remains, did these things happen then or are they still to happen? If they have already happened long ago, but future from Paul’s pov, then my question would be – what happened to Jesus’ return/day of the Lord, as Paul clearly links the rebellion/man of lawlessness with that day?

      Ian hasnt given an answer to that.

      • PC1 – thanks

        I think Ian rightly criticises the sort of detailed schematic that Dispensationalists offer and even the carefully worked out ‘this is that’ of some Pre-mills. But I wonder if Ian in wanting to disassociate from the eccentric eschatologies, and focus us on Jesus, passes over too quickly legitimate areas for reflection and dismisses details sacred Scripture offers us to be aware of the times. in 1Thess4v13, Paul tells us we are not to be ignorant of these things, and then briefly sketches what things (he refers to a present spirit of lawlessness, a future great apostasy, a personified manifestation of the spirit of lawlessness, then the return of Jesus who will personally destroy the man of sin – these he posits in the future. This is normative Christian theology not eccentric. One can subscribe to such without a cranky neurotic pin pointing of the antichrist in our day. A plain reading, paying attention to the text n the tenses, offers some details, if not a full blown schematic – and fills one with courage and hope and focusses on Jesus.

        I think Ian is absolutely right to bring us to the texts and to challenge eschatological eccentricities, but…. the handful of texts do sketch some details, a sense of chronology – and whilst Caesar may have been a type, he aint the end time fulfilment of antichrist or the man of lawlessness, cos that figure is destroyed at the second coming.

        looking forward to Ian’s response

      • Peter

        Warfield is interesting (‘Prophecies of St. Paul’) on 2 Thessalonians, arguing, if I am understanding him aright, that ‘The revelation of the Man of Sin is not, then, necessarily to be sought at the end of time: we know of it, only that it will succeed the removal of the “restraint,” and precede, by how much we are not told, the coming of the Lord’, and that verse 8 refers to the Day of Judgment.

        Phil Almond

      • God’s word is contemporaneous, capable of multiple layer, multiple time fulfillment as well as personal rhema fulfillment. I would like to say that early testament writers and believers knew they had entered the last hour. From then till now we are already tasting the powers of the age in eternity. When he said in Thesalonians the Lawless one will sit in the Temple “as” God this is/must be physically fulfilled. So also the Temple has to be rebuilt in Jerusalem for this to happen. Then covenant of peace followed by destruction..

        • Acts 15:16 No need for Temple, But furthermore we are the temple keeping law Yahshua Elohim Yahweh(Yahvah) Sabbath, etc… Change in the priesthood Temple service, Ceremonials, Sacrificing Hebrews 7:12 backs up the right way Romans 2:26 Past sinsRomans3:25 Grow Hebrews 5;13-6:3 Milk to strong meat

      • If the 2nd Coming of Christ is not taken as literally as Christ’s first Coming, but “spiritualized” instead, then a clear understanding of the End Times is not really possible. It just becomes a confused mess of theories.

        I believe the “man of lawlessness” (sin) is Satan in the flesh who will be revealed for certain after the Rapture, and most certainly mid-trib, when he defiles the Temple. I also believe that today we’re seeing the works of this man of sin already… defunding the Police being just one example of the chaos we’re seeing happening now.

      • I think you are confusing two things. No-one here is suggesting that the return of Jesus will not be ‘literal’ but rather symbolic.

        But that doesn’t imply that the ‘man of lawlessness’ is necessarily a forecast of a figure 2,000 years or more from Paul’s time.

        • I don’t think anyone ‘spiritualizes’ the return of Christ, but they do spiritualize a lot of other things God said prophetically, like the end time’s thousand years, spoken 6 times in Rev 20. Or ‘the land’ which is spiritualized into meaning “heaven” instead.

          If there is one message everyone should take from the Bible, it’s God’s Commandments (His Law/s). They are actually everything, because they separate the righteous from the wicked among us.

          As we know, Satan is the great imitator of Christ. So as the “man” of lawlessness, he’s wanting to delete God’s laws and replace them with his own. For example…. he ignores Christ’s laws against abortion and homosexuality and when those “freedoms” are under threat, Satan tries to rather enforce “anti-racism” laws instead… as if he and his followers are not racist and all Christians are. (Satan is the author of confusion, not God… 1Cor 14:33.

          The man of lawlessness (sin) is prophecied to appear (be revealed) so yes, he’s coming in the flesh just as Jesus did, and will.

          Thanks for your response.

  3. Thanks for this redress to hype about the ‘end times.’

    Just a few points though: In 2 Thess the phrase, ‘ For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work’ seems to refer to general lawlessness or a spirit of lawnessness not a specific man of lawlessness. So it can also be read that the spirit of lawlessness was already at work, but at some point near the 2nd coming a personality who embodies lawlessness will arise with great power.
    The Temple Institute in Jerusalem have advanced plans to rebuild a 3rd temple on the mount, so it’s not inconceivable that it could refer to days ahead.

    The gematria argument is interesting, but it could also be interpreted as an evil trinity that is less than the perfection that satan aspires to. Calculating the meaning could apply to any generation.

    Finally, when Jesus says ‘this generation’ in Matt 24:34, can we tell from the Greek that he is referring to the people listening to Him, or a future generation that would see the apocalyptic signs he was describing? Surely the things He describes in v29 – the moon not giving its light, stars falling, the Son of Man coming etc – are all still future!

    • There are two types of generation themes in the Bible. Good and Evil. Abraham comes to mind. He was a hundred years old when he had Isaac. Therefore his generation = 100. Therefore the Israelites were in Egypt for 4 generations: 400 years. The serpent’s generations were Cain to the flood, Ham to Sodom, to Pharaoh etc to Herod, Pilate & Caiaphas under Caesar. It looks like Jesus, referring to ‘this generation’ was speaking about an evil generation’s demise. He was about to crush the head of the serpent. It seems to me He is speaking about finishing off the evil generator. The sun darkening is his time of passion. The fall of Jerusalem is the blood moon. Stars are the powers who fell at that time. (Herod eaten by worms) In the future the church representing the reflected glory of the sun will suffer like the sun. A blood moon is the church in our dispensation/generation/age. The rebellion was going to be the Judeans rebelling against Rome. Paul could see it coming in his time and so wisely alluded to Titus not knowing is name.

        • Bishbashbosch.
          Ithankyou david.
          I’m just a little disappointed that every great mind descends to unravel how many cups should be used in communion but the wonder of Jesus words here are of no interest and it’s left up to my little mind to make a stab at it.
          I’m more interested in the poetry, in accepting the paradoxes and allowing them space to do whatever it is The Word wants to do. Lock down has given me too much time to dabble in things. I’ve had a very interesting time these past months reading and commenting but it’s time to move on I think.

          • It’s simply time to take a minute to ask God to let you stay in the realm of reason/logic/reality… when trying to interpret the End Times prophecies. I just tell him I’d rather not go off on weird imaginative trails that serve Satan better in wasting my time and getting me and everyone else all confused.

    • Sorry if this question has been already discussed here or elsewhere:

      The Greek of Matthew 24:34 and the Greek of Luke 21:32 is identical except for ‘these things’ before ‘happens’ in Matthew. I seem to remember reading somewhere that there is a view that these Matthew and Luke passages are not about the same thing.
      Is there a unanimous view on whether they are about the same or not?

      Phil Almond

    • The re-building of “the temple” in Jerusalem could be a hood-wink. The temple of satan at pergamon was re-built in Berlin and awaits it´s rightful owner to inhabit it and declare that he is god.

      The 666 could refer to GOLD. Mankind´s love of the “false rock”. I think the mark of the beast will be a golden stamp, ensuring the bearer initiation into the “golden age” of “Lucifer”.

        • I read what you wrote and assume you believe the End Times prophecies concerning the day of Christ (Rapture) and the day of the Lord (Tribulation), the 2nd Coming, and the Millennium have already happened? If I’m not correct, please let me know, and clarify your thinking on this for me.

          As for “the” Antichrist, I believe that’s Satan, the man of lawlessness. And as for the “many antichrists” of 1 John 2:18, they are all unbelievers since that time, those that have rejected Christ. Yes, deceivers (concerning Christ) existed ever since Christ was known.

          I do believe the 666 is a mark that unbelievers will receive during the Tribulation in order to buy and sell, the mark of the beast that will label them as unbelievers, followers of Satan instead of Christ.

          The “many antichrists” are showing themselves more publicly today as never before (defund the police, burn down the legal system, etc). America (I believe) has always represented heaven on earth for the rest of the world, but now is becoming just like the rest of the world (sin-sick, sadly lost). I firmly believe there will be no revival this time, for the Left is full-speed ahead, and the apostasy (believers leaving the faith) predicted in 2Thes 2:3 couldn’t be more stark. Hence, only the Lord can get us out of this mess.

          I’m waiting for the Rapture (day of Christ)… “And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” (1Thes 1:10)

          As for “this generation” in Matt 24.34, that is the generation Jesus is talking about in this passage, the ones living in the climactic era of the End Times, not the contemporaries of Jesus.

          I’d like to know what you think.

          • ‘I read what you wrote and assume you believe the End Times prophecies concerning the day of Christ (Rapture) and the day of the Lord (Tribulation), the 2nd Coming, and the Millennium have already happened?’

            No, I don’t believe that and I am not sure how you have reached that conclusion!

            The ‘end times’ began with Jesus’ resurrection and the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost; Peter quotes Joel ‘in those last days’ in Acts 2.17. So we have been living in ‘the last days’, in theological terms, since then.

            The millennium is a way of talking about what happens when Jesus returns, not before. See here:

            It is very clear in John that the ‘antichrist’ is *not* Satan, but a human figure.

            We have been in tribulation since Jesus came; see Acts 14.22 ‘through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom’ and Rev 1.9 ‘I, John, your brother and companion in tribulation…’

            The mark of the beast is a reference to worship of the Roman emperor. See here:

            The New Testament does not teach ‘the rapture’; the term does not even occur anywhere in it.

            The word ‘this’ points to something that the person is talking about at the time. If I send you a photo of my phone, and say ‘this is my phone’, you cannot then read the text next to your phone and think that ‘this’ means your phone and not mine. When Jesus is speaking, and when Matthew is writing, ‘this’ must mean the generation at the time of Jesus’ speaking and Matthew’s writing. That is what the word ‘this’ means. If you were right, Jesus would have said ‘that’. It is how language works.

            Is that all clear?

        • There was no “Reply” under your last post to me so I’ll just reply here and hope it works.

          I’ll respond to these points one at a time….

          You said: “We have been in tribulation since Jesus came….

          ”Yes, of course… but not anything like the horrifying one week (7-yr) “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer 30:7/Dan 9:26,27) which final 3.5 yrs God calls great tribulation (Matt 24:21, Rev 2:22, Rev 7:14).

          “….a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation….” (Daniel 12:1)

          God makes sure we don’t confuse our ‘normal’ times of tribulation with the hideous 7-yr Tribulation (“time of Jacob’s trouble”) at the end of time and whose horrific events are described throughout Revelation… “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” (Daniel 12:1)

  4. Ian

    You make a good case for the antichrist, spirit of lawlessness at work and equated with Rome – but you seem to dismiss the long and broad christian tradition that also sees such as being set in the future at the end of time.

    In v3 Paul corrects an error that has unsettled the Thessalonians, that the end has come/Jesus returned. Paul says this wont occur until the manifestation of the man of lawlessness and also the rebellion (apostasia) a great apostasy has occurred.

    In 2Thess2v7-9 Paul appears to be positing a personification of the prevailing lawlessness, a man of lawlessness, coming in the future. Paul is quite clear that lawlessness is already at work as he says ‘now’, present tense (v7a) ; but Paul continues that a man of lawlessness WILL be revealed (v7b) future tense, who will be destroyed personally by Jesus breath when Jesus returns (parousias).

    I am not a theologian and immersed in eschatological texts like you, but a plain reading of this text to me contributes to a schematic for the end times, which are marked by a personification of evil (an antichrist, a man of sin) who is personally destroyed at the point Jesus personally returns.

    I believe in a personal return of Jesus, who (among other things) personally destroys a personal manifestation of evil that arises just before the end. Do you think I read Paul in 2Thess wrong?

    • The chances of the reigning emperor (in 51 AD) Claudius happening by chance to have a name that means closer-off or restrainer are negligible. For proof, go through any list of names and see how many have that meaning.

      So the restraining force is Claudius. In any case he was in this year ailing, and would soon be ‘out of the way’. His successor was in this year unveiled (‘revealed’) in the presence of the army – none other than Nero, a surprise choice from left field as a direct father-son succession could have been proposed but wasn’t. This unexpected choice was seen as a sign, and Nero (age 13) reminded everyone of the former youthful-king Caligula 10 years earlier who had been highly irresponsible (lawlessness), and had nearly placed a statue in the holy of holies – prophecies concerning which had yet to be fulfilled and were beginning to be seen as potentially false; the choice of Nero made it seem as if they could be fulfilled after all. (And indeed Nero fulfilled them pretty well.)

      Remember that ‘restrainer’ is an odd and unique character to appear at all were it not for the pun. Also remember that ‘you know who’ indirect and oblique allusions to figures are generally about the emperor (Rev 13; Mk 13 – unless Eleazar is in view) who is the one who can scarcely be openly slandered.

      If Claudius = restrainer, is there an equivalent pun for Nero? At this time he was much better known as Domitianus. Unruly and indomitable (lawless: anomos) is how he is actually characterised here, so this could be an ironic play on his name. Children are unruly (Titus 1.6 anupotaktoi; 1 Tim 1.9 parallels this term with anomoi). Ataktos from the same word group is exclusive to the Thessalonian letters: 1 Th 5.14, 2 Th 3.6,11.

      The apostasia ought logically to be the rebellion of the Rebel or lawless one. Paul in 1 Th is very interested in the apostasy of the Jews, which is indeed a slightly earlier event if one is making an eschatological calendar where one event portends another as in the Mk 13 intro; but the connection between rebellion and rebel is too close for that here.

      It is natural to explore in depth the 66-70 rebellion as a candidate. That was not when Nero was revealed – far from it. Even if it was envisaged as being when a returning undead Nero was revealed – and one such did appear in 69-70 in Turkey and the Aegean – and was planning to sit on the Jerusalem throne (cf. Suetonius), that makes the direct succession from Claudius awkward and messy. And Claudius = restrainer is the linchpin.

      Nor would the 66-70 ‘rebellion’ be seen or termed as such unless by a Roman or Roman sympathiser. Christians are not that.

      2 Thess is on the contrary highly similar to 1 Thess: in its authors, structure, scale and vocab; in its use of present history as portents; in its obscurity in laying out the nature of those portents; in its being echoed in both Rev and 2 Ptr. It is Pauline throughout, and slightly closer than 1 Th to the central Paulines – exactly as one would expect from an AD 51 document. It does not say ‘Son of Man’ which would put it in the age of Rev and Mark.

      Does the term ‘rebellion’ still jar? Think of it as ‘hubris’ – an extremely central Greek religious concept (humans improperly trying to aspire to divine level as in Isa 14; cf. Mark’s hopou ou dei 13.14, which also carries the sense of impropriety, even ritual or religious impropriety). What Paul emphasises is that the emperor sets himself above divinity (of all kinds). This idea is also found in the way Caligula’s action of 10 years earlier is understood in Philo, Embassy to Gaius.

      • This is very informative and could well be right. However it doesnt explain the clear linkage between the coming of the man of lawlessness and his destruction, and the return of Jesus. I would find it very odd if Paul thought the day of the Lord would be subsequent to Nero, but as it turns out it still hasnt happened thousands of years later. Indeed he explicitly says it is the Lord’s coming that destroys him. Unless of course you believe that Jesus’ coming was during the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, ie a full preterist view. But I find that odd too.

        • PC1 “…..he explicitly says it is the Lord’s coming that destroys him…”

          Exactly – so whilst Nero or Titus or any number of figures through history may occupy this anti-christ role, the text requires an end time manifestation who will be destroyed by Jesus at his return.

          In the previous thread on end times, I suggested this is why a ‘layered’ approach to prophetic fulfilment was appropriate – but the scholars among us weren’t overly supportive.

        • Hi PC1 – That’s exactly right. This is not a different issue from 1 Th 4.17 when Paul expects to be alive at Christ’s coming, nor from 1 Cor 7.29 where ‘time is short’ when it comes to making marriage plans – it’s one and the same.

          So, as has often been noted, and as is clear from the text, Paul was initially thinking in terms of a soonish date for Christ’s return. I say ‘initially’ because this element of his thought then drops out (around the time of the crisis he speaks of in 2 Cor 1?).

          ‘Patience’ (hypomone) becomes the Christian watchword instead (Hebrews, James, 2 Peter. 2 Peter also says that Paul had this emphasis in all his letters – e.g. Romans 8.25?).

          Nero’s end was ignominious. He was virtually hounded out of office in an incipient civil war, and could not even commit suicide without someone helping him. However, the private nature of his death (by sword: Rev 13.14) predictably meant that people were unsure whether he had died at all. The building of his colossal golden house & lake and colossal gold statue (depicting a merger of Nero and Apollo) had suggested quite a different trajectory wherein he had been expected to become more and more powerful (and set himself up as more powerful than the gods). Vespasian had been Nero’s ‘personal’ general and right hand man and representative both in his culminating tour of Greece and in the Jewish Revolt, even before he inherited the same throne. Rev suggests Nero lives on (13.1, 14), even through the statue actually being alive (13.15). A symbiotic relationship between Nero and Vespasian is posited (13.12) not unlike that which had always been held to exist between the god Apollo who can be seen only in statue form (as in Nero’s statue; Apollo references appear throughout Rev) and the Pythia his prophet who is a living breathing human (thus Vespasian is called ‘false prophet’). The second beast (remember that Nero was ‘an eighth’ but also ‘[one] of the seven’) has 2 horns which must mean 2 emperors: probably the 2 are this symbiotic Nero-Vespasian, though there are other possibilities. Although John is not fully consistent in what he says of the beasts (the first beast is at one time the first 7 emperors and at another Nero its quintessence), there is no actual equation between the second beast and the false prophet, as is generally thought. Rather, the second beast is the symbiotic Nero-Vespasian while the false prophet is Vespasian. He was notorious at the time of writing for his miracles, mostly in Alexandria (healing a blind man with spittle, a lame man, and a man with a withered or diseased hand). As John sees Nero as Vespasian’s empowering spirit, the signs and wonders (and the hubris and megalomania they imply) remind us of 2 Thess 2.9.

          • Christopher – as always your depth of classical knowledge amazes.
            So would you say these words of Paul are now fulfilled and if so, what is their purpose and relevance for the church for the past 1900+ years?

            I remain unconvinced cos I still cant see where/when in this is Jesus’ Parousia?

          • To kill 3 birds with one stone: As with 1 Thess and 1 Cor, the return of Christ mentioned in 2 Thess did not happen at the early juncture Paul initially envisaged, and he himself soon afterwards stopped talking about such immediacy. 2 Thess itself counsels against immediacy.

            Otherwise he was correctly describing forces presently at work. And Nero was a pretty full realisation of the perennial antichrist-spirit principle.

          • Just as the greater the aggregate or sample, the clearer the statistical contours appear, so the greater the number of years the clearer the recurring motifs of history become, and the clearer is the nature of the spiritual battle. What we see diachronically can also be analysed synchronically.

          • Christopher – thank you
            So – do you actually think Paul got it wrong – at least the Jesus returning and destroying the lawless man by his breath?

          • He didn’t specify any precise timing, but he was wrong in his expected range of potential timings:
            (1) He speaks in 1 Th as though he himself expects to be among those raptured rather than already dead (though he may be using ‘we’ loosely).
            (2) He speaks in 2 Th as though the Lawless One is soon to come but also his reign will coincide with the Coming.
            (3) He speaks in 1 Cor as though the time is so short there’s no point even getting married.
            (4) He sees contemporary things (expulsion of the Jews, accession of Nero) as signs of the end.

            So it is one single and widely acknowledged error: a timing error, and a large one.

          • Often approaches to this sort of material focus on the nature of apocalyptic language. The merits of such an approach can be seen from the following examples:

            (1) There is not a great difference between the idea of the Lord killing the Lawless One with the breath of his mouth (2 Th 2.8) and the words to the Thyatira church Rev 2.16 ‘Otherwise I will come to you quickly and fight against them with the sword that comes out of my mouth.’, where erchomai ‘come’ is just the same as in 16.15, 22.20. The former has parousia which is something of a technical term. But it can easily be seen that Christ can and does ‘come’ in different ways and at different times.

            (2) Look what language is used to express already-past (Rev 11.14) historical events. ‘The beast that comes up from the bottomless pit will fight against them. He will defeat them and kill them.’ This too can be compared to 2 Th 2.8. It doesn’t sound like the sorts of things we usually see in current events. But it belongs squarely to John’s richer understanding of current/recent events seen in their full context and with their full resonance. Which is precisely how we too should view events: contextualised and comprehensively, not in a thin or limited or partial fashion. What is referred to is Nero’s return from Greece to Rome around Purim 68 (11.10) and the deaths of Peter and Paul. (The passage alternates para by para between Peter+Paul and Ananus+Joshua the high priests, whose respective double deaths were equally cataclysmic, strangely simultaneous, and mutually interpretative. It feels justified in doing so because the whole book operates according to an idea of fourfold identity for the main characters, which John justifies from the fourfold identity of God in Ezekiel and perhaps also the fourfold nature of the world (winds, corners of the earth) and which he uses as a device to allow him to alternate between the martyr John the Apostle and the author John the Elder, each with one earthly and one heavenly aspect, which enables an apocalypse – something that must typically be pseudepigraphic – also to be a true and pressing and autographic account of the past, present and future, as well as a book conferring authority on himself as writer, no easy ask when the most recent authoritative narrative dates to many hundreds of years earlier.)

      • Sorry Christopher – with great respect – I dont accept your reading.

        You want us to believe Paul correctly prophesied Nero’s rising a few years later, but wrongly prophesied Jesus’ return? So much for inspiration???

        2Thess2:1 shows the main thrust of the text is the second coming – the run up to which is a manifest personal blasphemous evil man who will be personally destroyed by Jesus.
        You suggest Nero is that figure, and that Paul got his timings wrong – by at least 1950years and counting. I am willing to accept Nero as a type of antichrist/man of sin, but the full blown final manifestation does not fit this passage for this text is about the second advent, not primarily the antichrist.

        Working backwards – Jesus did not return and destroy Nero, so Nero may be a type but cannot be the man of lawlessness prophesied.

        • There are technically no faults with that possibility if we remain within the text of 2 Thessalonians, and a couple of difficulties once we venture into the context provided by the other early letters.

          (1) One might wonder why he is speaking of it at all if it is so distant – but then again, he has to do so because of the false teaching he is countering.

          (2) The coincidence with the meaning of the name Claudius (together with the intrinsically recondite and unexpected nature of the concept ‘Restrainer’) is certainly remarkable.

          (3) He does not backtrack on the idea in 1 Th that he expects to be among those raptured alive. ‘We’ could perhaps be taken differently though that is the less natural reading. Goulder thinks this part was written by Silas whom Paul rebukes by means of 2 Th (though I disagree).

          (4) 1 Cor 7.29 could not easily make sense unless he has imminent expectation.

          It’s normally thought, on this basis, that Paul started out with an imminent expectation, which one would have thought he would have made more of later had he not modified his view. JWs I have spoken to agree on this, though no doubt this may be for the purpose of softening or diluting the impact of their own movement’s failed expectations.

          I also think the colourful and fiery nature of apocalyptic language even about contemporary events (above: Rev 11.14 and perhaps 2.16) is an important element in the mix.

          • Thanks Christopher
            I appreciate you have thought & studied long n deep on this – more so than I

            The name Claudius/restrainer is indeed very intriguing –

            I am surprised none of the major Evangelical commentators I consulted refer to it (Wannamaker/Green/Morris) unless I missed it in them !?

            I note Augustine in COG resisted identifying personalities to fit the prophecy

            I am aware of what does seem like Paul’s apparent imminent eschaton expectations in 1Cor -and yet 2Thess surely says Jesus isnt coming back yet because xyz has not occurred?

            I think the layered prophetic fulfilment hermeneutic works well in a context like 2Thess with Paul picking on on previous lawless figures/desecrating temple/blasphemers – Antiochus, now Nero, and prophesying an end time ‘manifestation’ & fulfilment prior to Jesus’ return

            I’m not sure the Pergamum prophecy resolves this as that there was not Jesus second advent – rather a decree that destroys?

            As an evangelical I have a big problem at the notion of inspired Scripture & Apostolic prophecy being wrong. This opens the door to the Liberal hermeneutic that expands Paul’s being wrong to his ethics & doctrine – from Sexuality, to the uniqueness of salvation in Christ, etc

          • Yes I know of a superb book on 2 Thessalonians by MacDougall (Paternoster) – very comprehensive on the crucial authorship question. It does not even mention Claudius, even though several have considered it that possibility nor am I even the first to see it as a linchpin – I know of at least one other interpreter who already did that. One gets to the stage of thinking that some (but who knows who?) are omitting things on purpose.

            ‘Paul’s imminent eschaton expectations in 1 Cor, and yet Paul in 2 Thess surely says Jesus isn’t coming back yet because xyz has not occurred’. Yes, exactly. xyz is the accession of Nero. By the time of 1 Cor that has become a very recent event/fulfilment (whereas in 2 Thess it had been only something unfulfilled on the horizon), which confirms Paul’s predictions and his fears.

            Layered prophetic hermeneutic – very difficult to know what the alternative is. Everything that exemplifies the truths of the big picture of history is also found both repeatedly through history and synchronically in an analysis of history.

            The Pergamum case is not clear cut, as you say. Jesus’s coming with sword could still be ch19, and the letters to the churches do have predictions of his Coming as a relatively common element.

            As to your last para, I think it is arguing backwards. One would never come to identify as evangelical in the first place without having first discovered the truth of the scriptural perspective. There are also sometimes sociological and tribal reasons for identifying as evangelical or as anything else, but that is not what the word means. I have also heard it said that once we accept the existence of one discrepancy then the house falls. But if there were (or are, for whatever reason, expected to be?) that many discrepancies, who would ever have chosen that particular house in the first place? I certainly could not see the logic of one unfulfilled assertion having any effect for good or ill on true assertions that are unrelated to it.

        • Ironically, if Paul was wrong on his timings – and out by at least 1950years
          then when he says to the Thessalonians “I dont want you to be ignorant about the coming of the Lord” what you are saying is that Paul was ignorant about the coming of the Lord.

          I dont think it is a simple matter of Paul being wrong in an assertion, I think it becomes a problem for one’s doctrine of Biblical infallibility and inspiration if Paul is profoundly wrong on major details pertaining to Jesus’ second advent

          Forget the term evangelical, I think an assertion that Pal was wrong on fundamental doctrine is a challenge to East and Western Christianity, Orthodox and Catholic – though of little concern to Liberalism

          I can accept your view about Claudius and Nero, but only to the extent this serves as a prefigurement of the final manifestation of the Lawless One who will be destroyed personally by Jesus at his return. In this Paul is speaking prophetically and two mountain ranges are in view – his time & the end time, with 2 millennia of valley between.

          Still keen to hear Ian’s reflections on the discussion

          • OK I’ll outline what I think on this. First, any doctrine has to be evidence-based because doctrines that are not evidence-based are ideologies. Secondly they are circular. If one has a presupposition that determines one’s conclusion then that takes away from the value of the conclusion. One can express one’s excitement at a conclusion with others but they are not likely to share that excitement if they know it was predetermined all along. The most important point is the third: one reason people choose Christianity is the welcome relief from the dogma and untruthfulness found outside it (such as is found in secularism and such as is regularly discussed on this forum). E.g. being truthful about what one sees in a text and being released from any groupthink of having to say what one ‘ought’ to say. It is a matter of conscience: to force people to say something is in a text when they see something different is to make them renege on their commitment to truth, and their commitment to truth is very precious and central to who they are, to their identity and integrity. The point at which we are most critical of secularism is its propensity to make people compromise their integrity (like the nuns whom B Obama wanted to purchase contraceptive cover etc.).

            Apart from which, a commitment to truth is something basic to all areas of life, and when it comes to scholarship it is the very feature that enables new light to be shed.

        • Simon and Christopher

          I may be posting this in the wrong place. It is a comment on Christopher’s August 5 post:
          ‘evidence based’ and ‘ideology’
          Some of us have a conviction that the whole Bible is wholly trustworthy. Does Christopher consider this evidence or does he class it as circular/ideology?

          Phil Almond

          • This is not a conviction but millions of separate convictions which is the number of assertions that would have to be separately checked, often inconclusively.

            And even then ‘conviction’ would not have been defined, and is too vague a term. Is it based on emotion, evidence, proof, probability….?

            66 books in many genres from many authors over many years is too large to generalise about, much too large.

            Fourthly the conviction would potentially take zero effort and research to lay claim to. Which makes a nonsense of the effort and research others do put in.

          • But that does not answer the crucial question of whether conviction is emotional, evidence-based, a matter of proof, or a matter of probability. Moreover it is certainly circular, since the assertion you make derives from that which it is supposed to precede.

            Whatever is true when it is written down will have been true both before and independently of its being written down. So its truth has no connection to whether it is written down or not. Whatever is false… (etc.).

            I am sure you have had the same experience as I: having people referring to company policy as though it were infallible. Or to the Koran in the same way. (Or Homer, or the Book of Mormon.) None of that is a proper argument. The argument from authority is flawed because it works only if the authority is correct, so it never works intrinsically. One thing we need to look at is – why do people go all at sea once they abandon the New Testament perspective? I have always thought that this goes to show that the NT perspective is one of those instances of hitting on a correct theory (and much more than a theory), which proves itself to be so by the quantity of other things that then fall into place, and also by the way it hangs together as an interconnected unity, something which cannot just ‘happen’. The assertions about prophetic utterance and about Scripture in the NT refer to the OT. Neither Paul nor any of the gospel writers says they had a special inspired experience when writing. (Paul speaks of other such experiences in other contexts.) But that would have been a remarkable thing, so they could scarcely have failed to mention it. Realities always precede words, and words always defer to realities.

        • Christopher
          The conviction is supernatural.
          “Truly truly I tell thee, except anyone is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God”.

          Phil Almond

          • Phil. It is no use arguing with a “preterist”. Preterism is satanic. Full of sound and fury, signifying deception.

            Obviously, the end has not yet come. Is the wolf lying down with the lamb? why are the wicked still raging and the people imagining vain things? Has the Great White Throne Judgement taken place? The idea that we are post-biblical prophecy is ludicrous.

            There are many signs that we are still going through the birth-pangs. The advent of the “virus” and the coming threshing of the “clean” from the “unclean” by satan´s medical minions prove this.

          • Please don’t simply paint those with whom you disagree with the broad brush of ‘Satanic’. Future comments like this will be deleted. Please read the comment guidelines above and follow them.

  5. Many thanks Ian for shedding further sane, biblical light on these controversial issues. As a blogger I became so frustrated by the dispensationalist treatment of key biblical passages that I decided to research the 2nd Coming anew and write about it for my own sake and that of our little faith community (a house church) and some longstanding friends in different parts of the world. I spent two months wading slowly through G.C. Berkouwer’s voluminous ‘The Return of Christ,’ re-reading N.T. Wright’s ‘The Challenge of Jesus’ and ‘Surprised by HOPE,’ etc. That was helpful.
    Of course, as you have pointed out, there will always be mysteries attached to eschatology, but it helps to have some proven hermeneutical guidelines to help us through the maze. I have been writing recently on ‘universalism,’ and your critique of Richard Rohr’s panentheism was hugely helpful in that regard.
    Greetings from South Africa.

  6. Thank you. It’s clearly not simply a detached theological issue (if there is such a thing) but one with serious pastoral implications. I recall a church member who was afraid to leave his house because he thought that Jesus was coming back that day/week (I can’t recall the exact timetable).

    What a tragedy that the misreading/misteaching behind his view trapped him in fear and didn’t liberate his mind or feed his spirit.

  7. I think both 1 and 2 Thes need to be read together to get the drift of it all, the overall context, without going outside the text. Lawlessness is described and it seems to be linked to the influence activity of Satan (2 Thes 2:9), so it is God who restrains Satan in the present age.
    The Thes have done well, and even done better, and they’ve not missed the boat as it were, not missed the day of the Lord, the return of Christ.
    The New Testament is clear that Jesus is the Temple (destroyed) and believers are living stones, the temple in which God by His Spirit dwells.
    Paul continues to exhort believers to continue not to sin in their lifestyles to not be lawless, which others in the church (temple) will teach and tempt ( in the temple/church taking the place of God (mere human exaltation -centric/idolatry?) along with counterfeit signs and wonders to delude those perishing who refuse to love the truth and believe what is false AND take pleasure in unrighteousness (lawlessness)
    The believers are encouraged to stand firm, beloved of the Lord Because God chose them as firstfruits to be saved through sanctification by the Spirit( akin to consecration of temple?) and belief in the truth.
    When Christ returns with those who have died in Him, the believers alive at that time will be raised to meet Him and they will all descend in train.
    In the meantime they are to continue the every good work and word loved and comforted by Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, in hope through grace
    The Lord is faithful who will establish believers and guard against the Evil One. Their hearts are to be directed the love of God And the steadfastness of Christ.

    Is this too simple?

  8. Ian – what do you think of Christopher Shell’s assertion above that Paul simply got it wrong in regard to his understanding of the timing of Jesus’ return, and the fact that His return did not coincide with the destruction/death of the man of lawlessness, Nero despite Paul’s assertion?

    If true, it would seem Paul was just like many today, seeing signs of Jesus’ imminent return where none exist.

    If you agree, then how do you understand the reliability of Scripture?


  9. Peter

    For a view see

    Volume 28 – Issue 3
    Did Paul Change His Mind?—An Examination of some aspects of Pauline Eschatology

    In ‘Themelios’ – available on the USA ‘The Gospel Coalition’

    Phil Almond

  10. Was St Paul a Preterist? An idealist? A dispensationist?
    What did he really say?
    What did he really mean? Do we know better than St Paul the answer to both questions? With sufficient certainty, chronological snobbery, to assert that he was wrong?
    Does “Babylon” represent the Jewish people in their rebellion against God and Israel is about to fall? Even the covenant people?
    Is Babylon referred to as Israel in ancient Jewish or Christian literature? After AD 70 it is referred to as Rome.
    The book of Revelation, portraying the last battle, refers to pagan nations of the world gathering against God’s faithful people of every race and nationality not Rome attacking faithless first century Israel?
    If so, the book of Revelation is almost irrelevant for anyone a living after AD 70 is it not.
    For an expanded explanation of Thessalonians see a chapter in Beale “The Temple and the Churches Mission. A biblical theology of the dwelling place of God.”
    The last chapter is entitled, “Theological conclusions: the physical temple as a foreshadowing of God’s and Christ’s presence as the true temple.”
    His approach to end times falls into the amillennialist category, I understand.

  11. The generation in Matthew 24:34 is referring to the generation of the Fig Tree which is Israel. Israel became a nation in 1948 and in Psalm 90:10, Moses prays and asks God to number our days and God tells him that a generation is between 70-80 years.

    • The ‘generation’ of the fig tree is not ‘Israel’; it is those in Israel living at the time. If not, Jesus’ sayings about judgment ‘on this generation’ make no sense. He is not pronouncing judgement on the people of God in all times.

      Generation everywhere means ‘people alive at a certain time’, and in the context of time passing is reckoned to be 30 to 40 years. Check out the genealogy in Matt 1. 70 to 80 years is a lifespan, not a ‘generation’; people don’t generally have their children just before they die.

      The arguments here involve a rather irrational neglect of what words actually mean, in order to shoehorn this text into a scheme that just does not make any sense of Jesus’ teaching.

      • Hi Ian

        Jesus’ comment that the distress will not be equalled again seems to be based on Dan 12

        At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

        Daniel goes on to describe events that seem to describe the end of the age leading into the new age of the kingdom in its consummation. The end of the age does not seem to be AD 70 but Christ’s Second coming. Matt 13 echoes Daniel 12

        (ESV) 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

        If these two texts do describe the time immediately prior to the Second Coming… the end of the age (Matt 28 suggests the end of the age is the Second Coming) then the language of Jesus in Matt 24:29-31 is best understood as articulating with these texts and so describing the Second Coming.

        (ESV) Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

        • Hi John. I think your comment here is crossing over to my other posts on eschatology.

          I answer your question in my article on the meaning of Matt 24.

  12. Just a point of information. JN Darby did not identify the ‘man of lawlessness’ as the antichrist. For him and early Brethren writers the AntiChrist was a religious figure. He was the beast from the earth (the religious power) in Revelation who promotes the beast from the sea (the lawless one).

    It is a healthy hermeneutic to allow Scripture to interpretative Scripture. It is also the case that any eschatological schema has its strengths and weaknesses; some admittedly more than others. I am not a dispensationalist, however, I think, Ian, you are a little harsh in your criticisms. I don’t think the construct is as flimsy as you suggest. Perhaps that is a residual loyalty to the eschatology of my youth.

    I think PC1 raises some issues here that require answering.

      • That comment is wrong and ignorant. ‘Hermeueo’ is a Greek verb meaning ‘to interpret’ or ‘to translate’ and it occurs numerous times in the New Testament.

    • that is really interesting about Darby—thanks.

      On your comment about ‘scripture interpreting scripture’: I was taught that years ago as well. The problem I have with it is the assumption that the register, context, and language of different parts of scripture are the same, so that when different terminology is used, we then assume we have to fit the pieces together like a jigsaw.

      I think we need to attend to the particulars and context of each passage…

  13. Read the Greek, ” man’s number.” Not ” a” man’s number. The magic cube of numbers was engraved on amulets and carried by PRIESTS. On the flip side was the sun God. The Holy of Holies was a cube, a 3 dimensional section of the temple where man brought WORKS for remission of sins. 6 is the number of man; man built the temple in man’s image ( see temple secrets for org) and it is contrasted by FAITH IN JESUS written in believers MINDS ( foreheads.) This dichotomy of FLESH versus SPIRIT is evident.

    • All the numbers of the magic cube totaled 666.
      See temple secrets dot org to see how the temple was designed in the image of a man.

    • Greek has no indefinite article, so ‘man’s number’ means ‘a man’s number’.

      If the point was to referring to (sinful) humanity, then John might have used sarx (flesh) like Paul, or used a collective plural, as we find in Matt 16.23 τὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ‘the [things] of the people’, or ‘merely human concerns’ (TNIV).

  14. Hi Ian

    My previous comment was on October. It is now April and once again I am dipping into Revelation. I continue to refer to your commentary (among others) which I find helpful. Thank you for all your hard work. Although not a dispensationalist I am not quite sure what I am in terms of prophetic labels.

    It seems to me that when John is told ‘the time is near’ it is similar to him saying in his epistles ‘it is the last hour’. As you say (I think) the early church believed that with the arrival of Jesus the End- Time had begun to be fulfilled. They believed they were living in the last days. This led them to believe that the final events of these last days not yet fulfilled would soon be fulfilled. They were living with a sense of imminency. Revelation is written assuming that the remaining events of the End (eschatological judgements, persecutions, Daniel’s AntiChrist, the Second Coming…) may well happen in the lifetime of the believers in the seven churches to whom he writes.

    They didn’t happen though the spirit of them has continued until now and each generation can look on their world thinking these streams may soon become the climactic flood. We remain alert and awake to this possibility.

    I cannot get away from seeing an eschatological historical AntiChrist who precedes the Second Coming and is destroyed in it.

    The beast of Daniel 7 (the Roman Empire) finds its expression in one particular king ‘the little horn’ who speaks boastfully (Dan 7) . He persecutes the saints of the Most High changes, wears them down, and changes the law (Lawless One?). He persecutes the saints for ‘a time, times and half a time’. He seems to be the prince who breaks the covenant half way through the seventieth week… again 31/2 years. Since the first 69 weeks have apparently a literal fulfilment it would presumably hold true for the seventieth.

    As a result it is hard to see this time- frame mentioned in various forms and describing the same events as in Daniel as purely symbolic in Revelation. I recognise numbers are often symbolic however sometimes what is symbolic is also literal (seven churches, seven hills, seven kings etc). I have tried to see the 31/2 years as symbolic for so many do, but so far I remain unconvinced. I am not a scholar just an aging Bible student. I do struggle to get my head round these things.

    • ‘I cannot get away from seeing an eschatological historical AntiChrist who precedes the Second Coming and is destroyed in it.’

      I think the interpretive challenge we have is this: when we read language of imminence and mention of a historical end-times figure, which is therefore believed already to be at work in the world, what do we do?

      The one option we cannot adopt is the idea that the 2,000-year delay is unproblematic or even forecasted, and that these passages can simply be read as an ‘end times’ calendar for our day.

      On the question of soon, see my other post ‘Will the end come soon like a taxi?’

  15. Like all of the symbols in Revelation, 666 is simple Old Testament “meme warfare,” like that used by all of the prophets.
    For instance, Jesus quoted Isaiah 13, an oracle against Babylon, to imply that Jerusalem had become a spiritual Babel. Kings are stars, and when the stars fall, their heavenly clock stops.
    Another example is the “thousand years” in Revelation 20. The number is itself a symbol, and it comes from the fact that Israel had a millennium of tent worship (from Abraham offering Isaac on Moriah until David’s purchase of the site for the Temple) and a millennium of temple worship (from the construction of Solomon’s Temple to the destruction of Herod’s Temple). A “thousand years” is symbolic shorthand for the age of the Church administration until its work is done from the spiritual mountain of God.
    666 is a lot more fun. Combined with “wisdom,” we have a reference to King Solomon, a nasty swipe at the Herods, the self-styled temple-builders who had *unwisely* constructed their house upon sand. Through the apostolic witness, Zion would be transformed into Sinai, and the entire “burning mountain” would be thrown into the (Gentile) Sea.
    Moses gave Israel three laws for kings—concerning girls, gold, and guns—the kinds of things that all kings end up relying upon. Solomon’s downfall began with his amassing of 666 talents of gold. And there it is.
    The Temple of Herod is also referred to as the “image of the beast” because the old “Aaronic” priesthood continued to build it after Jesus ascended to heaven, just as Israel fabricated and worshiped a golden calf after Moses ascended the mountain. Just as Moses returned and judged the idolaters with a cup, so also Jesus would soon return and judge Jerusalem (this is also why the city is pictured as an adulteress with a cup, echoing the rite in Numbers 5).
    The fact that it is also a triangular number refers to Adam’s failure on Day 6. This explains Paul’s references to the Garden of Eden. The man of lawlessness was the reigning Herod, having enthroned himself in the Garden-Sanctuary like an “Adam,” the man of sin. As in Genesis 3, God would come in the “breath” of the day but in this case, atonement would be revoked because the Jewish rulers had trodden Jesus’ blood under foot (Hebrews is all about AD70). Instead of seven sprinklings of blood, there would be seven bowls poured out upon the Land. These bowls came from the seven lamps in Revelation 2-3, the testimony of the saints. As in Daniel 5:5, this (ironically) Gentile lampstand would reveal the writing on the wall against a Jewish Babylon.

    On Herod in 2 Thessalonians 2 and Matthew 25…

    On the Bible’s meme warfare…
    and “Jesus’ Jokes” in Theo Magazine


  16. The 666 number was the AGE of the Revelation 13 Sea Beast, which the believers could “calculate” by counting backward in time from when John was writing Revelation. With the combined features of a leopard, bear, and lion, the Sea Beast’s biography was as old as the first “lion” kingdom mentioned in Daniel – the Babylonian empire. The significant “birthday” of the Sea Beast was when Nebuchadnezzar deported the first Jews from Jerusalem in 607 BC – Daniel and his three friends along with the “good figs” taken from Jerusalem at the beginning of the Jews’ 70-year Babylonian exile. This 666-year-old lifespan of the Sea Beast had lasted until John was writing Revelation somewhere between late AD 59 up to early AD 60; until just before the cataclysmic Laodicean earthquake decimated the city that year.

    666 was called “the number of a MAN” because Daniel’s first lion kingdom “was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as A MAN, and A MAN’S heart was given to it.” (Daniel 7:4). It was also Daniel’s STATUE of a MAN’S figure that incorporated all those same empires which had affected the nation of Israel’s history.

    Gematria is not the way to go to interpret this 666 number.

      • I would ask if all variants are necessarily correct? Scribal or copyist error? I have read Dr. Gentry’s explanations of this 616 variant reading, but all that is just wasted effort if gematria is not even the method which the saints were supposed to use in understanding this particular number of the Sea Beast. I would also ask you if you see gematria even being mentioned in the Revelation 13 text? If not, then we are not required to use it.

        God often foretold just how many years a nation or an entity would endure. He foretold the actual lifespan of mankind as 120 years, then 70-80 years as a rule, then an increased 100 years under the New Heaven and New Earth conditions. Tyre would last for 70 years in one text. Israel and Judah would be revived again after their 70-year death as a people. Ephraim was also foretold that it would be 65 years that it would last as a people until it would be broken. Edom also. These are just off the top of my head, so I’ve not listed references, but I can double check if needed.

        The believers to whom John was writing were told to literally “calculate” this number. That meant they needed to employ a little bit of mathematics to solve the puzzle – in this case by subtracting the 666 amount of years from the time period in which they were presently living back then in order to arrive at the historical year when the Sea Beast had first begun its existence. “The number of its name” was given to it the year the Sea Beast came into existence, just as we name things when they are first identified or born into existence.

        The humiliating defeat of Jerusalem and the nation under its 70-year Babylonian exile must have burned its memory into the history of the people of Israel. It would not have taken much wisdom for the Jewish believers of that day to recognize the agency by which their nation and Temple had met its first death under the Babylonians.

        By considering this interpretation of the 666 number, it not only has the advantage of identifying the Sea Beast and its extensive, ancient history in relation to national Israel, but it also pins down a specific date for Revelation’s composition by a very simple method which does not require a Doctor’s degree or endless debates. God has hidden the meaning of this 666 number in plain sight.

  17. The fact that you have said the day of the Lord is a seven year period to back up your false pre trib False teaching just proves that you got this theory from man. Several times in scripture it refers to the day of the Lord. Or the great and terrible day of the Lord. It uses the word Yom. That word does never refer to years. How sad you can’t understand what is clearly written.

  18. Explain when the Mark of the Beast was taken in the first century through out the Roman Empire, and all commerce was controlled by this mark? Also, show me where this Mark was taken by all? And why you rob people of hope, who was the beast out of the earth who came along side the first century beast from the sea, doing all those miracles? When did he call fire down from heaven? Documented? Everyone knew John was referring to something similar to what Elijah did. Plus show me who were the two witnesses who were slain in Jerusalem? When did all of Rome celebrate their deaths? So, there is a huge gap between Revelation 18 and 19? So, God was/is unable to communicate to His future followers through the first century writers who were inspired by the All-knowing Holy Spirt? I guess you really think the Virgin gave birth to the Son occurred in the time of Ahaz? Also, mission work is really not for present believers because he only told the eleven to go into the World and preach and baptize. When he taught the Lord’s Prayer, his instruction was only for them since he was answering their question? Rapture is not in the Bible neither are several important theological words.

    • I will explain any of these if you will explain why you insist on reading a vivid, metaphorical and poetic text with such wooden literalism. Do you really think Jesus has literal bronze feet and a literal sword coming out of his mouth? When did any of this actually happen?

  19. I’m loving parts of this conversation… Thanks for your patience and hard work putting these posts and your books and booklets together… I am a big Ian Paul fan!

    I read through most of these comments, and carefully read this and many of your other posts concerning eschatology. I come from a corner of evangelicalism that is pretty dispensational, and have discovered several problems with all of the ‘systems’ that somewhat un-moor me from any of them.

    In trying to understand what is happening in 2Thess 2, how would Paul’s audience have understood what exactly Paul was communicating there? Was it some kind of ‘foretelling’ of something that has happened already from our perspective?

    If he wrote 2Thess and it circulated 20ish years before 70AD, that could make sense I guess, and the ‘braggart’ he is talking about that ‘will sit in Gods temple and claim to be God’ has already come and gone? Except that it seems to be that same braggart that is destroyed with the Glorious second coming in v8, right?

    I’d appreciate some help here, Ian! Thanks for everything.

  20. A disgrace is brewing after June 5, 2022, the date on the last day of the platinum party of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, I hope I’m wrong. The old and obsolete gematria dear to the kabbalists announces it. It is a simple mathematics of numbers which, in our case, is calculated on the date after June 5, 2022, that is, June 6, 2022, in this way: instead of June we write 6 and instead of 2022 we write 2 + 0 + 2 + 2 which is 6. So the final result is 6 – 6 – 6 which is the fateful number of the beast of the Apocalypse! Gaetano Barbella

    • And what logic is there in taking the (incorrect) calculation of the years after the birth of Jesus, arbitrarily adding them up, and allocating a number to a month that is not in the Jewish calendar?

      When you come back on June 7th, and are proved wrong, will you renounce these foolish things?

  21. Hey Ian,
    I think you are spot on in lot of your thoughts on Matt. 24 and the use of erchomai in the first half of the Olivet, and the use of parousia after v. 36. I likewise think something significant is going on there. However, I haven’t found anything on your website concerning Paul’s use of Parousia in 2 Thess. 2:1 and 8 (where Jesus will destroy this man of lawlessness, at his Parousia). I agree with you that 2 Thessalonians seems to be discussing a man of lawlessness in the first century, however, what do you do with this use of Parousia here instead of something like erchomai that we would expect (especially since it so closely parallels Matt. 24:31 in the gathering that happened in the first century)?

    • Thanks Johnny. I will need to have a think about this…but my quick reply is that, for Paul, all judgement really happens at the Parousia, since this is the moment when all is revealed and all is set right.

      Until then, we are only living with provisional and partial judgements and justice. Not sure if that helps at all…

      • Yes, that is kind of what I’m thinking as well at the moment. Is it perfectly clear? No, but I think that it is the better option, rather than thinking that Paul calls Jesus’ future coming his Parousia (1 Thess. 4:15), and his coming in 70AD his Parousia (2 Thess. 2:1, 8), without distinguishing between the two… when Paul is trying to clarify things for the Thessalonians, not confuse them.

        Also, I think there might be a connection going on with what he said in 2 Thess. 1:9, that unbelievers will experience everlasting destruction on that Day, presumably the same day he talks about in 1 Thess. 5:2, 2 Thess. 2:2, and 2:8. So, the man of lawlessness will be killed in 70AD, but his end (everlasting destruction) will be at the great white throne judgment. Jesus will put an end to unbelievers at that time (2 Thess. 1:9) and the man of lawlessness at that time (2 Thess. 2:8).

  22. Sorry—but this is ridiculous! Your ‘English gematria’ calculator shows that you make anything add up to anything you want! And you’re aware that John was not writing in English…??

  23. I love some of the wild comments on this article. Thank you for this work, Ian! You have helped to fashion some of my own understanding about the man of lawlessness, Antichrist(s) and Revelation’s beast. Keep fighting the good fight!

  24. There are some comments here that the people back in “that day” were quite ignorant, unable to spell or count, etc. This could not be further from the truth. People were quite intelligent, even if self-schooled or family-schooled apart from a formal education/training. However, it is important to understand that the Book of Revelation was given in a very specific manner and format:
    “The Revelation of Yahushua the Messiah, which יהוה gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: ”
    From the Father to the Son, to ‘his angel’ to his bondslave John…and to us ‘bondslaves’ of Christ. And keep it mind it was “signified” or sign-i-fied. This book was written in symbols that would have been common knowledge to the intended audience of the day –namely believing Jews and gentiles familiar with that symbology. Much of that symbology was present in their society at that time and part of their spiritual vocabulary (the scriptures of the Old Testament) that they conversed in daily/weekly. Looking at the language employed in the New Testament writings preserved by God to us, it is clear that the language used indicates that the vast majority of the events in Revelation were to take place shortly, immediately, after these things (near in time), in this generation, near, etc. Jesus told us this plainly and history happened as He said it would. If you cannot tell, I lean heavily preterist. I also believe that Jesus is currently ruling with a rod of iron, and that rod was used to destroy both Israel (the temple and a majority of the people) and the Romans whose empire was punished horrendously until it eventually became Christianized. We live in that same world with that same Christ still ruling with a rod of iron. As Christians, we should fearlessly advance the kingdom of Christ here on earth, spreading the gospel message without fear to all people and nations. We should not live in a defeatist state of mind (as the author also points out that the scriptures demand that we not live in fear and succumb to hopelessness). Satan does not rule this earth, Jesus Christ does, but people of free will often choose rebellion over obedience and license over liberty. May Christ punish and cause all nations who rebel to yield to His rule, now and for all time.

    • Thanks for this. One quibble: reading this text in its cultural and historical context doesn’t make you ‘preterist’; it just makes you a responsible reader of Scripture!

  25. Is not satin wanting to be God? So won’t he mimicked God? Would he not be revealed as a trinity also? It’s hard not to believe satin as a father of the Antichrist evil spirit roaming the earth presently. He only needs to complete his counterfeit trinity by appearing in the flesh as the antichrist. It is the body of Christ (Church) holding him back. That will soon be removed. Raptured… Amen.


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