Sermon Illustrations

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia: "Even the names of Antichrist in this passage are of Jewish origin; the "lawless one" (II Thess. ii. 8, R. V.) is none other than Belial—whom Paul mentions in another place as the opponent of the Messiah (II Cor. vi. 15)—a name interpreted by the rabbis as compounded of without, and yoke, so that Belial is the one who will not accept the yoke of the Law (Sifre, Deut. 92; Tanna El. R. iii.; Midrash Sam. vi., ed. Buber, p. 64). It is thus evident that this "little apocalypse" represents not a Christian, but the Jewish view of the Anti-Messiah. The pseudepigraphic literature (see Bousset, "Der Antichrist," pp. 86, 99, 100) informs us that in Jewish circles in the pre-Christian period the expectation was prevalent of the appearance of Belial (one of Satan’s lieutenants) if not of Satan himself; and that his activity was imagined as being almost identical with that expected of the Antichrist in Thessalonians (Jewish Encyclopedia, "Antichrist" article by Louis Ginzberg)."