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2. The Man of Lawlessness

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3Let 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; 4Who 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. 5Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8And 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: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

13But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. 16Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 17Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

4 An adversary, and that exalteth himself. The two epithets — man of sin, and son of perdition — intimate, in the first place, how dreadful the confusion would be, that the unseemliness of it might not discourage weak minds; and farther, they tend to stir up the pious to a feeling of detestation, lest they should degenerate along with others. Paul, however, now draws, as if in a picture, a striking likeness of Antichrist; for it may be easily gathered from these words what is the nature of his kingdom, and in what things it consists. For, when he calls him an adversary, when he says that he will claim for himself those things which belong to God, so that he is worshipped in the temple as God, he places his kingdom in direct opposition to the kingdom of Christ. Hence, as the kingdom of Christ is spiritual, so this tyranny must be upon souls, that it may rival the kingdom of Christ. We shall also find him afterwards assigning to him the power of deceiving, by means of wicked doctrines and pretended miracles. If, accordingly, you would know Antichrist, you must view him as diametrically opposed to Christ. 642642     “The name of the Man of Sin is not Antitheos, but ἀντίχριστος — not one that directly invadeth the properties of the supreme God, but of God incarnate, or Christ as Mediator. [...] he usurpeth the authority due to Christ.” — Dr. Manton’s Sermons on 2 Thessalonians. — Ed

Where I have rendered — everything that is called God, the reading more generally received among the Greeks is, every one that is called. It may, however, be conjectured, both from the old translation 643643     The rendering of the Vulgate is as follows,— “Supra omne quod dicitur Deus aut quod colitur;” — “Above everything that is called God, or that is worshipped.” Wyclif (1380) renders thus: “Ouer alle thing that is seid God, or that is worschipid.” — Ed. and from some Greek commentaries, that Paul’s words have been corrupted. The mistake, too, of a single letter was readily fallen into, especially when the shape of the letter was much similar; for, where there was written πᾶν τὸ, (everything,) some transcriber, or too daring reader, turned it into πάντα, (every one.) This difference, however, is not of so much importance as to the sense, for Paul undoubtedly means that Antichrist would take to himself those things that belonged to God alone, so that he would exalt himself above every divine claim, that all religion and all worship of God might lie under his feet. This expression then, everything that is reckoned to be God, is equivalent to everything that is reckoned as Divinity, and σέβασμα, that is, in which the veneration due to God consists.

Here, however, the subject treated of is not the name of God himself, but his majesty and worship, and, in general, everything that he claims for himself. “True religion is that by which the true God alone is worshipped; that, the son of perdition will transfer to himself.” Now, every one that has learned from Scripture what are the things that more especially belong to God, and will, on the other hand, observe what the Pope claims for himself — though he were but a boy of ten years of age — will have no great difficulty in recognizing Antichrist. Scripture declares that God is the alone Lawgiver (James 4:12) who is able to save and to destroy; the alone King, whose office it is to govern souls by his word. It represents him as the author of all sacred rites; 644644     “Que c’est a luy seul d’establir seruice diuin, et ceremonies qui en dependent;” — “That it belongs to him alone to establish divine worship, and the rites that are connected with it.” it teaches that righteousness and salvation are to be sought from Christ alone; and it assigns, at the same time, the manner and means. There is not one of these things that the Pope does not affirm to be under his authority. He boasts that it is his to bind consciences with such laws as seem good to him, and subject them to everlasting punishment. As to sacraments, he either institutes new ones, according to his own inclination, 645645     “Selon son plaisir et fantasie;” — “According to his own pleasure and fancy.” or he corrupts and deforms those which had been instituted by Christ — nay, sets them aside altogether, that he may substitute in their place the sacrileges 646646     “Sacrileges abominables;” — “Abominable sacrileges.” which he has invented. He contrives means of attaining salvation that are altogether at variance with the doctrine of the Gospel; and, in fine, he does not hesitate to change the whole of religion at his own pleasure. What is it, I pray you, for one to lift up himself above everything that is reckoned God, if the Pope does not do so? When he thus robs God of his honor, he leaves him nothing remaining but an empty title of Deity, 647647     “Le titre de Dieu par imagination;” — “The title of God by imagination.” while he transfers to himself the whole of his power. And this is what Paul adds shortly afterwards, that the son of perdition would shew himself as God. For, as has been said, he does not insist upon the simple term God, but intimates, that the pride 648648     “L’orgueil et arrogance;” — “The pride and arrogance.” of Antichrist would be such, that, raising himself above the number and rank of servants, and mounting the judgment-seat of God, 649649     “Auec vne fierete intolerable;” — “With an intolerable presumption.” would reign, not with a human, but with a divine authority. For we know that whatever is raised up into the place of God is an idol, though it should not bear the name of God.

In the temple of God. By this one term there is a sufficient refutation of the error, nay more, the stupidity of those who reckon the Pope to be Vicar of Christ, on the ground that he has his seat in the Church, in whatever manner he may conduct himself; for Paul places Antichrist nowhere else than in the very sanctuary of God. For this is not a foreign, but a domestic enemy, who opposes Christ under the very name of Christ. But it is asked, how the Church is represented as the den of so many superstitions, while it was destined to be the pillar of the truth? (1 Timothy 3:15.) I answer, that it is thus represented, not on the ground of its retaining all the qualities of the Church, but because it has something of it remaining. I accordingly acknowledge, that that is the temple of God in which the Pope bears rule, but at the same time profaned by innumerable sacrileges.


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