Lawless One Destroyed

Jesus will deal with the “Lawless One” at his “arrival” or Parousia. In describing this, Paul employs language from Daniel’s vision of the “little horn speaking great things,” originally, an image representing the Seleucid ruler who attempted to destroy the Jewish faith and nation through deceit and persecution.

The Apostle applies the same term to the “arrival of the Lawless One” AND the return of Jesus, namely, ‘parousia’ or “arrival” (“whose arrival shall be according to an energizing of Satan”).

Smoke Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash
[Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash]

We may infer from Paul’s language that, on some level, the “
arrival” of the “Man of Lawlessness” when he “seats himself in God’s sanctuary,” counterfeits the glorious appearance of Jesus Christ.

  • (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12) - “And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus will slay with the Spirit of his mouth, and paralyze with the appearance of his arrival, WHOSE ARRIVAL SHALL BE ACCORDING TO AN ENERGIZING OF SATAN, with all manner of mighty work and sign and wonders of falsehood, and with all manner of the deceit of unrighteousness in them who are destroying themselves, because the love of the truth they did not welcome that they might be saved. And for this cause, God is sending them an energizing of error, to the end, they should believe in the lie; in order that they should be judged who would not believe in the truth but were well-pleased with the unrighteousness.”

When Jesus does appear, he will “slay him with his mouth.” This alludes to Daniel’s vision of the “little horn” and a messianic prophecy found in the book of Isaiah:

  • (Daniel 7:11, 26) – “I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spoke: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame… But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, TO CONSUME AND TO DESTROY IT UNTO THE END.”
  • (Isaiah 11:4) – “And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit… And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth; and WITH THE SPIRIT OF HIS LIPS SHALL HE SLAY THE WICKED ONE.”

The “little horn” was destroyed, and the “saints possessed” the kingdom. The schemes of that evil ruler were undone when the “Ancient of Days” rendered judgment on behalf of the “Son of Man” and his “saints.” So, also, when Jesus “arrives,” he will destroy the “Lawless One” and his works.


The Greek term rendered “energizing” or energeia is used only by Paul in the New Testament. And he uses it to denote either the effectual working or “energizing” of God and Satan. Thus, something beyond the “Man of Lawlessness” will energize him and his “lying signs and wonders,” namely, the Devil.

The same word, energeia, is applied to the deception God sends to men who refuse to receive the truth (“For this cause, God is sending them an ENERGIZING of error” - Ephesians 1:19, 3:7, 4:16, Philippians 3:21, Colossians 1:29, 2:12).

Jesus will “SLAY him with the Spirit of his mouth and PARALYZE him with the appearance of his arrival.” The word rendered “slay” or analiskĊ means “to consume, to use up.” “Paralyze” or katargeo signifies rendering something “inactive” - to deactivate it.

Here, these two verbs describe the opposite effect of this man’s “energizing” by Satan. The Lord will “deactivate” the Devil’s “energizing” power at work in the “Lawless One.” The immediate point is not his personal destruction, but the voiding of Satan’s efforts. Jesus will not simply destroy this satanic agent, but he will also demonstrate his superiority by undoing the works of the Devil performed by this man.

The term “appearance” or epiphaneia applied here to the “arrival” of Jesus occurs only in Paul’s letters. In them, he consistently applies it to the “appearance” of Jesus at the end of the age - (1 Timothy 6:14, 2 Timothy 1:10, 4:1, 4:8, Titus 2:13).

The “Lawless One” will employ “all manner of mighty works and signs and wonders of falsehood.” The language echoes the saying of Jesus - “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” - (Matthew 24:24).

Jesus does not deny the genuineness of the “signs and wonders” performed by false prophets, but their purpose is to deceive “the elect.”

Likewise in Paul’s letter. The term “wonders of falsehood” does not mean phony miracles, but ones designed to deceive men. This understanding is confirmed by the next clause, “and with all manner of the deceit of unrighteousness in them who are destroying themselves.”


Men who refuse the truth are “destroying themselves.” The Greek verb is either in the middle voice (“destroying themselves”) or the passive (“them who are being destroyed”). The point is not that some men are predestined for destruction, but many will be destroyed because they reject the word of God.

Behind the image is the warning from Moses about false prophets. Regardless of how impressive any miracle is, if the man performing it steers God’s people to follow other gods, his words must be rejected - (Deuteronomy 13:1-3).

Paul has been discussing two events that must precede the “day of the Lord,” the unveiling of the “Lawless One” and the “Apostasy.” Men who do “not welcome the love of the truth” consciously reject it. This refers to the men who will apostatize from the true faith. It is for “this cause” - Not welcoming the truth - that they will be destroyed.

Paul is not discussing sinners in general, but the future destruction of the “Man of Lawlessness” and those who apostatize due to his efforts. Thus, he links the arrival of the “Lawless One” with the coming “Apostasy.”