Summary: Who is the "Man of Lawlessness" and when will he appear? What should we as Christians do in response?
In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians he concentrated on the timing of Jesus’ return - and that believers were not lost in some transporter buffer error - but would actually precede those that remain alive.
But no sooner had the postman delivered that letter and it was read - that some folks came in and provided detail that was totally mistaken about what would circumstances would be surround the coming of the Lord - and in fact they tried to say that Jesus had already come! Worse yet, they claimed Paul as the source of the intel!
That same controversy still exists today - among cults and even among academics in our society.
Paul deals with 1) The circumstances that must occur before the Lord returns, and then 2) when happens immediately upon Jesus’ return to the earth. There are also three parts to the expectation: 1. The unveiling of the Anti-Christ, 2. The rebellion, and 3, the removal of He that restrains (we’ll get to that).
This is great stuff - it adds a lot of detail to accounts found in other prophesies - including Daniel, and the Book of Revelation.
1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.
The Day of the Lord was a commonly known Old Testament reference to the time when God would return to vanquish His enemies. An example can be found in Isaiah 13:6-13.
There are two aspects to the Day of the Lord: judgment for sin, reward for the faithful. Apparently these false prophets were saying that Judgment Day had already taken place. They were then waiting for part two - relief from suffering and reward for faith. When it didn’t come they started worrying that they’d missed it - been left out of salvation.
You know - there is a lot of needless alarm surrounding the last days in the church too. One of the main reasons we don’t have to worry about it Paul gets to in verse 13 - so stay tuned.
3 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. 4 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.
Two important events precede the Lord’s return.
Matt 24:10-12 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
1 Tim 4:1-3 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods,