The Last days—Apostasy, Pt2: A necessary evil 2Thess 2:1-12
We have seen that the Spirit of God speaks to His people about the apostasy of the last days, 1Tim 4:1ff.
We have also seen some general characteristics of that Apostasy from 2Tim 3:1ff.
In this passage we have an overview of the process of apostasy that every Christian should know.
I APOSTASY IS A VITAL PRECURSOR TO CHRIST’S RETURN.
- The day that is in view. Cp v1, 3. It is the day of Christ’s return and the glorification of His people.
- The danger of being deceived as to the timing of that day, v3. Some were propagating a theory that the return of Christ was imminent. The means that were used to advance this idea are see here. It is strange to see how the validation of Scripture, the Apostle and even the Spirit is claimed for these errors. God’s people should know what Scripture has to say about the timing of Christ’s return. As we shall see, the timing of that event is revealed in relation to the apostasy of the last days.
- The effect of being deceived about this apostasy, v2. What harm is introduced into the believer’s life in this way! By implication these things are prevented by a clear understanding of what the Bible teaches on these matters. Such is the Apostle’s concern that he pleads with them on this matter.
II APOSTASY IS A PROCESS REGULATED BY DIVINE CONTROL.
- The mystery of iniquity, v7. This expression gives us an insight into the process at work. It is a religion of rebellion, a spiritual system of defiance of God. Remember the description—a form of godliness, 2Tim 3:5. This is nominally the worship of God but it is in essence, rebellion against God. There can be no true religion or worship of God without regard to His law!
- Divine restraint, v6-7. Apostasy is always ready to break out. It develops rapidly. It is often pictured as the working of leaven, Matt 13:33. See Zech 5:5-11. God works directly to control and regulate its development. Notice that this regulation is negative in nature—He hinders it. Cp Luke 4:42. God is not the author of sin and can never be charged with encouraging sin even when He permits its development. An example is seen in Gen 11:6-8.
- A definite purpose, v6-7. Notice that… and until… There is a definite time in view in the purpose of God. The development of apostasy is carefully regulated by God to match His timeline.
III APOSTASY CULMINATES IN THE EMERGENCE OF THE ANTICHRIST AND HIS DESTRUCTION AT THE COMING OF CHRIST.
- The emergence of the Antichrist is evidence that God has lifted His hand, v10-12. The Divine restraint is removed and men in their sin are given free rein.
- The identity of the Antichrist, v3-4, 8-10. He is identified in various ways here—descriptions of his person and work.
the man of sin. He is sin personified.
The son of perdition. He is born to damnation and destruction.
He sits as God in the Temple. Paul specifically references this point as one which he has dealt with before. References to this man and his claims are found everywhere in Scripture. Cp Ezek 38:17 (14-23), Is 11:12-16, Ezek 28:2. Paul was not the first to speak these things!
That wicked (one). The ‘lawless one’ – same Gk as iniquity v7. He is the personification of defiance of God and of all apostasy.
The personification of the working of Satan, v9-10.
These descriptions apply to a man. Apostasy is a process involving many religious systems, but it climaxes in an individual. Cp 1Jn 2:18.
- Once emerged he continues in visible prominence till Jesus comes. Antichrist and his work continues unbroken from his rise to his fall.
- His end is to be consumed by the word of Christ, v8. Cp Is 11:4, Is 30:27ff.