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and last judgment, I maintain on two grounds: (a) The uniform meaning of this word [mapovoia], of which see examples, Matt. xxiv. 3; 1 Cor. xv. 23; 1 Thess. ii. 19; iii. 13; iv. 15; v. 23; 2 Thess. ii. 1, etc., etc. The constant usage of this word in these two Epistles to the Thessalonians in the sense of the final coming should suffice to settle this point conclusively. (b) The special coming of Christ which was before the mind of both Paul and his readers was this last one, and no other. No anterior, subordinate coming was thought of. The very point of discussion was the time of Christ's final coming and its immediate antecedents. Of this, therefore, the Thessalonians must have understood Paul to speak; of this, therefore, he did speak. Hence there can be no question that this "man of sin" is located in time immediately before Christ's second coming, to continue down to that great event, and to meet his destruction in the overwhelming terrors which shall befall the wicked, and especially himself, on that day. One somewhat important point respecting "the man of sin" is therefore settled. We know his date - his place in time relatively to Christ's final coming.
Let us now proceed to other points. And, next, this "man of sin" is an individual man, not a corporation, not a society of men, not an indefinite succession of men spanning centuries of time; for, if so, then his being "revealed " (vs. 3) could have no point of time to it; it never could be known when his "coming" (vs. 9) took place, or his "destruction" (vs. 8); and, consequently, these events of history could not help at all to show when the Son of Man shall come; could not fix the point before which he could not come the very purpose for which "the man of sin" is spoken of at all.
Again, this "man of sin" must be some one man; for every descriptive name given him implies it. For example," the man of sin," i.e. the one man of whom sin is the distinctive characteristic-the man of surpassing wickedness, overshadowing and eclipsing all other men in sin. Also, "the son of perdition," one whose destruction should be as signal as his sin had been a man of the stamp of Judas Iscariot,
to whom our Lord applies this very phrase (John xvii. 12). And, again, that "wicked one" [ó avoμos], the impious one, the very incarnation of bold and blasphemous impiety. By all legitimate laws of language, these terms in the singular number describe some one man, not many. They are made yet more specific by the article" the man of sin," "the son of perdition," "the law-breaker, or the lawless one." Further, the singular number is used of him throughout the passage invariably. The argument is still heightened by the things
1 On some of these points the citation of authorities may not be amiss. Olshausen (p. 314) says of the article: “the man of Sin"; "the Son of perdition," that "it admits only of reference to a definite, known individual, to whom sin and destruction belong in a special sense, so that he not merely has sin and falls into destruction, but that sin and destruction proceed from him as their source, and that he drags every one else into sin and destruction after him." Also, "the name 'Anthropos' characterizes him as a real man with body and soul, whom Satan thus makes his dwelling." Ellicott speaks of the final Antichrist as to be "made manifest in a definite and distinct bodily personality" (p. 118). He expands the idea of "the man of sin," thus: "The fearful child of man of whom sin is the special characteristic and attribute, and in whom it is as it were impersonated and incarnate." On the words, "He that opposeth himself," etc., thus: "The adversary, though assimilating one of the distinctive features of Satan, is clearly not to be confounded with him whose agent and emissary he is, but in accordance with the almost universal tradition of the ancient church, is Antichrist ; —no mere set of principles, or succession of opponents, but one single individual, as truly man as he whom he impiously opposes." Under “Antichrist" in "Smith's Dictionary of the Bible," the writer (Rev. F. Myrick) says (p. 104): "The words used by Paul to the Thessalonians could not well have been more emphatic, had he studiously made use of them in order to exclude the idea of a polity. The man of sin,'' the son of perdition,'' the one who opposeth himself to God,' 'the one who exalteth himself above God,' 'the one who represents himself as God,' 'the wicked one who was to come with Satanic power and lying wonders'; if words have a meaning, these words designate an individual." Also, "that Paul describes the adversary as being distinctly a man" (p. 107). He testifies moreover that "the individualist view was held unanimously in the church for upward of a thousand years," as distinct from and opposed to the notion of "a polity like that of Romanism, or a succession of rulers working it, e.g. the Popes." "The only point on which any question arose was, whether he should be a man armed with Satanic powers or Satan himself." They all agree in representing him as a person about to come shortly before the glorious and final appearance of Christ, and to be destroyed by his presence." "Justin Martyr describes him as the man of the apostasy"; "Irenaeus, as summing up the apostasy in himself"; "Origen, as the child of the devil and the counterpart of Christ"; Jerome, as the son
which he is said to do, viz. thrust himself into the temple of God, and claim to be himself God. As God is one, not many; so this incarnation of blasphemy and sin must be some one man, claiming to be the very God and demanding the homage due to God only. And yet further, even these arguments are strengthened (if greater strength is possible) by the tacit comparison of his revelation ["shall be revealed," vs. 3] to that of Christ, of whose personal coming the same word is used (2 Thess. i. 7; also Luke xvii. 30); also by the comparison of his coming [Tapovσía] (vs. 9) to that of Jesus. Christ, to whose coming the same word is applied in this same connection. And yet further, by the assumed analogy between his working and that of Satan, of whom he is represented as a sort of incarnation or embodiment-a second Satan, the special vicegerent of the first. It may at least be said that if the case of this "man of sin," as presented here, does not describe an individual man, then no language, no description, can do it. Therefore it cannot be safe to force any other or modified sense upon these words. To do so upon the demand simply of some foregone hypothesis is for every reason inadmissible; and the more so, because the entire strain of the passage is historic, not poetic; dealing with matters of fact, and not of fancy or imagination, i.e. proposing and aiming to give the last immediate precursor of Christ's second coming the last and chief embodiment of Satan in human flesh, whose awful destruction will be with the same fearful blast that will arouse to life the sleeping dead the same blaze of glory that will usher in the final judgment.
The current view, adverse to this, should receive attention, viz. that this "man of sin" is the papacy, or, as some would say, the popes of Rome. I am not aware that, loosely as this general theory is held, there are any who would restrict
of the devil, sitting in the Church as though he were the Son of God"; also, "that we may not suppose him to be a devil or demon (as some have thought), but a man in whom Satan will dwell utterly and bodily." Theophylact, as a man who will carry Satan about with him."
the description to some one pope in particular, e.g. to the first, or the mightiest, or the last in the series. Yet the words of Paul most manifestly demand a restriction to some If Paul means pope at all, he should certainly mean some one pope-most naturally the worst one in the long series, and certainly the last, for who but the last can meet his death as here described? Surely, after this "man of sin" is so destroyed, there can be no other. [This, it will be seen, shuts off Paul's words from being applied to any pope thus far, unless it be to Pius IX.] Now, the series of popes has already run some twelve hundred years, more or less. If this "man of sin" means the popes of Rome in general and in mass from the beginning hitherto, how could it supply any data to relieve the agitation of the Thessalonian brethren, or any other Christian brethren during the next two or ten thousand years, in regard to the near coming of Christ? How could they know whether Paul referred to the first pope of history, or to pope Pius IX. at the distance of some twelve hundred years after him, or to some pope several hundred years further on? Obviously, the main purpose for which Paul wrote this passage is defeated by this utterly indefinite construction. Furthermore, no pope has ever yet claimed to be himself the one true God. Every pope has claimed to derive his power from the one God, which certainly amounts to recognizing the Supreme Being, and is utterly unlike what is here described, viz. setting up one's self to be the one supreme God, and claiming divine homage as such. Some Protestant interpreters may, perhaps, need to be reminded of the ninth commandment. Nothing is gained for truth by "bearing false witness against our neighbor." Still further, "the mystery of iniquity"
1 Thus Olshausen: "To establish the view that Popery is Antichrist would oblige us previously to give up the doctrine, expressly demonstrated as scriptural, of the personality of Antichrist; he could in that case be conceived as a spiritual principle only. As however, the principle of Popery has prevailed during a whole series of centuries, it is not to be perceived how its appearing can constitute a fixed time for the beginning of the kingdom of God, in which sense Paul here (vs. 3) treats of the revealing of Antichrist" (pp. 326-27).
(of the same sort, we must suppose, which ultimately culminated in the "man of sin ") was even then working, when Paul was writing; but is there any evidence that the distinctive, characteristic sin of the popes of Rome had then come to the surface, so as to be visible to the Thessalonian brethren; and could they also see what was "withholding" it,i.e. holding it in check?
Shall we arrest, for the moment, the course of this discussion upon our major points, to refer to the minor and less important points touched in the passage? "The mystery of iniquity" (vs. 7), then already working, should naturally mean some development of bold, heaven-defying, blasphemous sin, which foreshadowed the spirit and work of the archsinner of whom Paul specially speaks. More definitely than this, I see not how any one at our distance of time can outline it. The very man or clique may have been at once suggested to the Thessalonian brethren by this reference of Paul; he may have spoken of it while with them. The "withholding" power [Tò Kaтéxov], twice referred to by the same Greek word, translated, vs. 6, " withholdeth," and vs. 7, "letteth," must be, of course, the power that restrained, kept down, and held back those horrible developments of wickedness. If we ask, Whose powerful hand counteracts the devil and all his wickedness, wicked men and all theirs? but one general answer can be given Christ's. His, ultimately, is the great antagonist, restraining power. If, pushing the question, we still ask, What agent, if any, did he use in the case before us? I am compelled to answer, that, having no revelation on the subject, I do not know. To what secondary agency, if any, Paul had special reference, he has not told us, and I have no knowledge. The field is ample for any amount of speculation; but of what avail? A similar darkness is left by Paul upon the question, How and when is this withholding agency to be "taken out of the way," i.e. withdrawn? So far as this prophecy of Paul is concerned, we are left in absolute ignorance. It should be remembered that on such a question guessing is not