The early believers in Thessalonica were warned against believing that the day of Christ was at hand. Instead the Apostle Paul wrote to them, saying, Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
In identifying this man of sin, three major clues emerge from these verses.
There was to be a falling away (Greek apostasis) from the truth. (i.e. the apostasy)
The man of sin opposes and makes himself superior to all contemporary religions.
He sits as God in the temple of God showing that he is a god.
(‘a god’ is in the Gk. text)
To sit AS God, he must be an imitator of God. The temple of God need not be a literal building either, but people in whom God is alleged to dwell. Did not God say, "Ye are the temple of the living God" (2 Corinthians 6:16) So we should look for a counterfeit kingdom of God ruled by a despot who is seen by his subjects as being God.
THE MAN OF SIN IDENTIFIED
History supplies such a person. In 315 A. D. Constantine liberated the ‘Christian’ church from persecution by pagan Rome. He saw political advantages for himself and made the politically ambitious Bishop of Rome, head of the church. It was then alleged that the kingdom of God had been established on earth, and so began the history of what we now know as Christendom. In reality it is a counterfeit ‘Kingdom of Christ’, the beginning of the great apostasy. (See No. 1)
All non-political Christians who objected to this deceit, were banished from the empire. The Bishop of Rome had substituted this pretentious claim for the true Bible doctrine of a future Kingdom of God on earth. He gradually increased in power so that by 606 A. D. he became recognised as the head of the whole Christian church. Although there had been an earlier decree, the Eastern Emperor Phocas, enforced this claim. The position of the Roman Pontiff thus became law, uniting the east and west under one religious head. There was now no part of the empire where the long arm of the apostate church could not reach. So he ‘opposed and exalted himself above all that was called God, or that was worshipped’.
(See No. 2)
A GOD UPON EARTH
By the 8th century A. D. the man of sin became consolidated in his political and religious realm as God on earth. Pope Gregory the second wrote to the Emperor in Constantinople saying, "All the lands of the west have their eyes directed towards our humility; by them we are considered as a god upon earth." (History of the Popes by Ranke Vol. 1 page 13) (see No. 3)
The imagined power of this "god" is so great that his ministers are alleged to be able to make a god out of a piece of bread. They call over it a form of words that they claim mystically changes it into the body of Christ, the second person of their ‘triune god’. The pieces of the cross they have allegedly inherited and distributed would make many such mystical crosses. The myth of the inheritance of the guilt of Adam’s original sin, placed a strangle-hold on his subjects, for unless it was remitted by their form of ‘baptism’, they
were doomed forever.
They performed many signs and deceitful wonders to keep their ignorant laity suppressed, or else they were oppressed and persecuted - just as paganism had hitherto oppressed and persecuted the Christian community of the empire. Thus the coming of the Man of Sin was according to the workings of the satan that had put to death many of the professing Christians of the empire, prior to his manifestation. (verse 9)
(the Greek for ‘of satan’ is ‘tou satana’ meaning ‘of the satan’ that is ‘of the adversary’).
THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE
During the Dark ages its grip on the political systems was enormous, brandishing the threat of excommunication to its sovereigns who denied its assumed authority. Clovis was the first of the Franks to acknowledge his supremacy. Then came Pippin, and after him Charlemagne of the Franks, who in 800 A. D. was crowned by Pope Leo 3rd saying, "God grant life and victory to Charles, the Augustus, crowned by God, great and pacific emperor of the Romans. This empire continued for 1000 years with the Pope as supreme pontiff, acting on the 'authority of God' in making the emperor subject to himself.
Pope Boniface 8th in the early 14th century, made the subjection of every human being to the see of Rome, an article of faith, and declared "I am Caesar, I am Emperor." This empire lasted until 1870, when the Pope was imprisoned in Rome. Currently, the Jesuits are currently hopeful of restoring the supremacy of their church, using the Ecumenical movement to that end. But this strong delusion is sent by God "That they all might be damned who believed not the truth), but had pleasure in unrighteousness". (verses 10-12)
THE MYSTERY OF INIQUITY
Verses 7 and 8 of the same chapter say, "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now
letteth* will let,* until he be taken out of the way"
Note that mystery is a key word for the identification of this man of sin. The Roman Catholic catechism abounds with this key word mystery, more so than any other ‘Christian’ organisation. In 325 A. D. the Nicene Creed even changed the credible Biblical doctrine of the One God, the Father of Jesus, into an unintelligible doctrine of their trinity. (See Mark 12:28-32, John 17:3, 20:17, Revelation 1:1 with 3:12) This mystery of iniquity was already at work in the time of the Apostles, for some were already denying that Jesus had shared the same flesh as that of all mankind. (Compare 1st John 4:3 with Hebrews 2:14-18 & 4:15-16)
Instead of believing in a Jesus whose flesh was as capable of producing temptation from within Him, as was that of the rest of mankind; they invented an 'immaculate' Christ. This doctrine became enshrined first, in the Roman church, together with an immaculate mother called the ‘Mother of God’. Thus the mystery of iniquity became consolidated.
Protestants beware! Deny these unscriptural mysteries, lest you be a partaker of her sins. Verse 8 continues,
"And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming."
When viewed with verse 7 (above) this iniquitous system was to have small beginnings in Paul’s day, then later reveal itself when its suppressor (paganism) was taken out of the way. It would continue right up to the return of Jesus, to be destroyed. What better candidate could we have than the current Roman religious and political system. For it boasts its origins in New Testament times, and yet perverts basic essential New Testament doctrines.
# The Greek word katecho means to suppress. When the Authorised Version appeared, ‘let’ meant to hinder or hold back.