Missing Events

The men spreading false rumors in Thessalonica about the future were raising false expectations about the imminence of the “Day of the Lord” and the “arrival” or ‘Parousia’ of Jesus. Paul warned the Assembly not to be alarmed by such rumors, especially reports of this kind claiming to be from him or his coworkers.

His summons for the congregation not to be “deceived” parallels the opening exhortation of Jesus in his ‘Olivet Discourse’ - “Let no man deceive you,” and Paul issued this warning in a similar context of overheated prophetic expectations - (Matthew 24:4, Mark 13:5, Luke 21:8).

Stopwatch - Photo by Sonja Langford on Unsplash
[Photo by Sonja Langford on Unsplash]

  • (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4) - “That no one may deceive you in any respect. Because that day will not set in, except the apostasy come first, and there be revealed the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself on high against everyone called God or any object of worship, so that he, within the sanctuary of God, will take his seat, showing himself that he is God.”

That great day will not commence until, “first,” the “Apostasy” occurs, and second, the “Man of Lawlessness” is revealed “in the Sanctuary of God.” The structure of the Greek clause could mean that the “Apostasy” will precede the “Man of Lawlessness” or both events will occur concurrently. In this context, however, it means that both events must transpire before the “Day of the Lord” comes.

The “Apostasy” and the unveiling of the “Man of Lawlessness” are inextricably linked. This figure will propagate the very lies and deceptions that will lead believers to apostatize, and he will be characterized by “lawlessness” and “destruction.”

The term “apostasy” translates the Greek noun apostasia, meaning “falling away, apostasy, defection.” In both the New Testament and the Greek Septuagint, it is used for defection from the true faith - (Matthew 5:31, Acts 21:21, 1 Timothy 4:1, Hebrews 3:12).

The expectation of a final “Apostasy” in the Last Days is common in the New Testament and originated with Jesus, and he linked “lawlessness” to apostasy:

  • (Matthew 24:10-12) – “And, then, will many be caused to stumble and will deliver up one another and will hate one another; and many false prophets will arise and deceive, many; and because of LAWLESSNESS being brought to the full, the love of the many WILL GROW COLD - (Compare 1 Timothy 4:1).


This “lawless” figure is given two designations - “Man of Lawlessness” and “Son of Destruction.” The latter is used only once in the chapter. The same phrase, “son of destruction,” was applied to Judas Iscariot by Jesus. The image of a man who causes “lawlessness” and “destruction” is based on the “Little Horn” of the Book of Daniel - (Daniel 7:24-25, 11:31-36, John 17:12).

In 2 Thessalonians, the phrase, “he opposes and exalts himself on high,” echoes the related passage from Chapter 11 of Daniel, and the interpretation of the vision of the Ram and Goat in the eighth chapter of Daniel - “And through his policy, he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand, and HE SHALL MAGNIFY HIMSELF IN HIS HEART” - (Daniel 11:31-36, 8:25).

The passage in Daniel referred in the first place to Antiochus IV, the ruler of the Seleucid empire who attempted to destroy the religion of Israel and destroyed many of the “saints” of Israel through his deceptions and “flatteries” - (Daniel 8:9-13, 8:21-26, 9:26-27 11:1-4, 11:31-36).

Elsewhere in his letters, Paul applies the term “Sanctuary of God” or ton naon tou theou to the Church, NOT to any building in Jerusalem or elsewhere. The goal of the “Lawless One” is to cause believers to depart from the faith, which is why Paul warned of his future appearance in the “Sanctuary of God.” In other words, he will be active in the Body of Christ. - (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 2:21).

Throughout the discussion, Paul remains focused on the spiritual well-being of the Thessalonian congregation. His goal was to keep its members safe from misinformation about the “arrival” of Jesus and to prepare them for the future onslaught by satanic forces against the Church.

Rather than provide a list of “signs” by which believers could determine the timing or nearness of that day, the Apostle provided two missing events that proved it had NOT yet arrived. Indeed, that day will not occur until both events occur.

  • Disinformation - (Disinformation about the day of the Lord caused alarm in the congregation at Thessalonica – 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2)
  • The Apostasy - (Paul warned the Thessalonians of a future apostasy and linked it to the unveiling of the Man of Lawlessness, the Son of Destruction)
  • Seated in the Sanctuary - (The Man of Lawlessness will be unveiled when he seats himself in the House of God  - 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)