Saturday, October 1, 2011
The man of sin.
The identification of Paul's "man of sin" is mentioned 2 Thessalonians 2:4-7. First of all, let me say these studies are NOT all about who is right and who is wrong. These studies are all about, what does the Bible really say. Paul told Timothy, Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, (rightly dividing the word of truth). 2 Timothy 2:15
Over the centuries, a variety of people were identified as the "son of perdition or man of sin” Attila the Hun, Napoleon, the Pope, Mohammed, Hilter, Mussolini, Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt, Henry Kissinger; and Mikhail Gorbachev. Virtually every unpopular public figure has qualified. Unfortunately, it's a tradition that has not died.
The truth is as we will see. Paul was talking about something present while he was writing, and which would come out into the open within his generation. Paul wrote during the time when the literal, Temple was still standing. There is no need for us to wish for the building of a third temple when these things have already been fulfilled in the time when the second Temple was standing.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:4 it says, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. The first thing that should be noticed in this verse, that goes against the teaching that the man of sin or son of perdition is the Holy Spirit is that he opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God. How does God oppose and exalts himself above all that is called God?
I propose that Paul's "man of sin" was, a specific person who set himself up in the Temple that was standing when Paul was writing. Paul gave no hint to the Thessalonians that this event would occur centuries later in some other "rebuilt temple.” Why would he be addressing a rebuilt temple when there was already a literal temple standing then? His first readers expected this fulfillment in their lifetime as we will see.
Since we are over 2000 years removed from this historical event, it is not important to us to know exactly who the “son of perdition,” was. So (take your pick.) Nero, a Zealot leader; the corrupt chief high priest. Paul never called the “son of perdition.” the Antichrist, he called him the “son of perdition” or “man of sin.”
Date the fall of 66. Josephus records that John of Gischala, the son of Levi, was established as the Zealot leader in control of the Temple area (there were three Zealot factions). This John physically entered the Temple, presented himself to the Zealots as a God-sent ambassador; and persuaded them to defy the laws of Rome and go to war to gain independence. He also instigated the calling in the Idumaeans to keep the Jewish sympathizers from submitting to Rome. He ordered the death of Ananus and the removal of the priesthood. After these atrocities, he became the official leader of the Zealot group in control of the Temple area. In short, this John established himself in the Temple, the one standing when Paul wrote.
Touching on the corruption of the chief high priest. The people of Jerusalem were in such a state of fear that they allowed the robbers to get away with appointing the high priests themselves. The zealots as they called themselves made the temple their one personal refuge. Casting lots to decide who should be appointed high priest. The lot fell to Phannias the son of Samuel, from the village of Aphtha, a man not only unworthy of the office but so ignorant he didn’t even know what the high priesthood was. (Josephus, 37 B.C A.D. 70)
Nero Caesar declared himself god incarnate (the god Apollo). Nero order an idol (a statue) of himself to be set up in the Temple. While Nero never entered the Temple in Jerusalem in person nevertheless a case could be made that it was his seat in the sense of the Jews having given him their worship for a season.
Point two. Paul wrote this letter (between A.D. 51 - 52). Paul reminded his first readers the Thessalonians, that they already knew what was restraining the "son of perdition." 2 Thessalonians 2:6 And now YOU KNOW what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. Paul did not have to tell them. And he didn't. Nor was it necessary; for they had discussed these matters before in many a private conversation verse 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? They know his identity and what was restraining him, according to the inspired Apostle Paul. This is not Paul’s opinion, this is inspired writ, i.e, God’s opinion.
No hints were necessary to the Thessalonians, for they had a key they know what reminded him. And since THEY KNOW what reminded him he could not possibly have been someone that would exist in our future centuries later. This language plainly indicates that the apostle and his readers were well acquainted with the name "son of perdition’ and knew what was restraining him.