Summary: Who is the man of sin?
WHO IS THE MAN OF LAWLESSNESS?
There is a lot of difficulty in understanding this passage of Scripture. It is one of the most difficult. If not the most difficult in the entire Bible, it is at least one of the most difficult that Paul ever penned. No one (myself included) can be 100 % sure to have found who or what the man of lawlessness is.
There is just not enough information about. It is evident that we don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle. So, the best that can be done is to get the important things from it and move on. Like every other New Testament epistle, the Second Letter to the Thessalonians is an occasional letter (that means it was written with an occasion in mind) and was written to answer some problem that had risen.
Therefore, I will approach the text by setting forth the background of the Thessalonian Correspondence first, then by discussing who or what the man of lawlessness is.
“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 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. 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 splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that 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.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, NIV).
The Thessalonian church had its beginning during Paul’s second missionary tour. After Paul preached on Philippi of Macedonia for some time, he was thrown into prison there. Luke records in Acts 16:25 that while Paul and Silas were in prison "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them." (Acts 16:25, NIV). They worship God, and their songs and courage becomes a means for the other prisoners to have a contact with the gospel. The Bible does not record neither the content of their prayers or that of their songs. But is does record that they were “singing hymns to God,” and soon after that God caused an earthquake that caused the prison to shake and them be set free. The city officials released Paul and Silas the next day, with their apologies, and they moved on to Thessalonica.
Luke records their time in Thessalonica in Acts 17:1-9. "When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women. But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go." (Acts 17:1-9, NIV). From this text there are several things we can note about the ministry of Paul and Silas in Thessalonica. First, there was a Jewish synagogue in Thessalonica. That means that there were at least 10 Jewish men in the city. Second, Paul according to his custom entered the synagogue there and preached Christ there for “three Sabbath days.” Third, as a result of his ministry “Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women” (v 4). Fourth, those who were not persuaded became jealous and caused a riot in the city. In order to do this, “they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: ‘These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.’” (5-7). Lastly, since the city was a free city and they did want to loose their status, they had “Jason and others post bond.” (9). The NASB says, “received pledge,” and the NET “received a bail.” That means that if Paul and Silas went back Jason and the others would loose this pledge, or bail. So Paul and Silas’ return would cause money to the new believers in Thessalonica. Paul and Silas went on to Berea. The Jews of Thessalonica were so messed up that they exposed the same attitude even there. They took a trip of over 60 Km to continue their opposition toward the missionaries. So we can see that under fierce opposition the new church was started in Thessalonica.