SATAN’S IMPERSONATION OF CHRIST
The end-time antichrist, who plays such an important role during the time of trouble, is identified in 2 Thessalonians 2 as “the man of sin,” “the son of perdition,” and “the lawless one.” “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ….let no one deceive you by any means; for that day will not come unless the falling away comes first and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition 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” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). Here we see that before the Second Coming of Christ the “man of sin,” also called “the son of perdition,” will appear. The Greek word for “perdition” is apoleias, which means destruction, and we will see that this word is one of the keys to his identity. The “man of sin... exalts himself above all that is called God,” just like Satan, who wanted to “exalt [his] throne above the stars of God” and “be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13,14).
“And now you know what is restraining that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8). Here we see that there is some restraining power that will hold “the lawless one” in check until the restraint is removed.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The setting is the very end of time, because this lawless one will be destroyed “with the brightness of His coming.” In fact, the context of this entire passage is “concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:9,10). In these verses we see that Satan will be intimately involved, producing false miracles to deceive the people of the world who have not accepted “the love of the truth”.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
To summarize, these verses in 2 Thessalonians 2 show that just before the Second Coming of Christ God will remove some restraining influence, which will allow Satan to manifest himself as a personality, the “man of sin.” He will use miracles to deceive the people of the world who have not accepted the love of the truth. But the man of sin will be destroyed at the Second Coming by “the breath of His [Jesus’] mouth and the brightness of His coming.”
Such a crucial personality and important activity, appearing at around the time of the Second Coming, would certainly be included in the Book of Revelation. Revelation 19 is the chapter that presents the Second Coming. Jesus appears as a rider on a white horse who “judges and makes war,” having a sharp sword coming out of His mouth with which He strikes the nations and kills those who oppose Him (Revelation 19:11-15, 21).<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Furthermore, there is an individual in Revelation 19 who opposes Jesus. He is called “the beast” and he is the leader of “the kings of the earth and their armies” and together they “make war against Him who sat on the horse” (v. 19). He uses miracles by which “he deceived those who received the mark of the beast,” but he is destroyed by Jesus at His coming—“the beast was captured” and “cast alive into the lake of fire” (v. 20).
Both “the Beast” of Revelation 19 and the “man of sin” of 2 Thessalonians 2 are present at the Second Coming. Both are warring against Christ. Both use miracles to deceive the unbelievers, and both are destroyed at Christ’s coming. From these comparisons it is obvious that “the Beast” and “the man of sin” are the same individual—the last day antichrist.
In Revelation 19 the beast is shown leading “the kings of the earth” in the last great battle against Jesus. In chapter 16 the same beast is shown organizing the battle, sending out evil spirits to the same “kings of the earth to gather them to the battle of that great day of God almighty” (Revelation 16:13,14). In chapter 17 an angel comes to explain more about the beast. John sees a vision of a seven-headed scarlet beast ridden by a harlot. This will be explained in more detail in chapter 17, but briefly, the scarlet beast is a global political entity, which is controlled by an apostate religious entity (the harlot). But as the explanation proceeds, the angel who is explaining the vision focuses attention on the seven heads of the scarlet beast. These heads are a series of seven kings, followed by an eighth king who is also called “the beast.” This beast “will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition” (v. 8). Here we see that “the beast” is both a political entity (the scarlet beast) and an individual (the eighth king), the same individual who organizes and then leads the final b
The Greek words for “perdition” and “the bottomless pit” are also key links showing that “the beast” is the same individual as “the angel of the bottomless pit” of Revelation 9. That chapter described a locust army that “had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon” (v. 11).<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The name “Apollyon” is from the same Greek root that means “perdition.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> This suggests that the “angel of the bottomless pit”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> whose name means “perdition” is the same as “the beast…who will ascend from the bottomless pit and go to perdition” (Revelation 17:8), the same beast who will organize the Battle of Armageddon in chapter 16 and who will be thrown into the lake of fire in chapter 19.
Continue to next section: WHEN WILL THE BEAST APPEAR?
<![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]><![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]> Those who believe in the “rapture” theory claim that it is the church that restrains the antichrist with its holy presence and prayers, and that with the rapture the church will be taken “out of the way,” allowing the antichrist to appear and act. But the Greek word for “He who now restrains” (o katexon arti) is masculine, while “the church” (h ekklisia) is feminine. This shows that Paul is not referring to the church.
<![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]><![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]> A “love of the truth” is simply a love of Jesus and His teachings (He is “the way, the truth and the life” John 14:16).
<![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]><![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]> Ephesians 6 mentions “the sword of the Spirit,” with the Greek word “pnevma” which means both spirit and breath. Thus there is a link between the sword from the mouth of the horseman [Jesus] which kills His enemies in Revelation 19 and the “breath of [Jesus’] mouth” which kills the antichrist in 2 Thessalonians 2.
<![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]><![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]> These names mean “destroyer” and refer to Satan, the fallen angel whose great work is “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). Isaiah 14, describing the fall of Satan, refers to him as a destroyer. “Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world as a wilderness and destroyed its cities, who did not open the house of the prisoners…you have destroyed your land and slain your people” (Isaiah 14:16-20).
<![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]><![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]> John makes an interesting play on words. “Apollyon,” the destroyer, will go to perdition, which is from the same Greek root and means to be totally destroyed. This is his final fate—“The beast was…cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Revelation 19:20). The destroyer will be totally destroyed!
<![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]><![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]> The fact that he is an angel is even more suggestive that he is actually a manifestation of Satan, the leader of the fallen angels.