A Study of II Thessalonians 2:1-8


Scripture text for this study: II Thess. 2:1-8

 1Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.

BACKGROUND

Just like the seven churches who first received the book of Revelation in the form of a letter, Paul wrote to a church in Thessalonica that was under persecution (II Thessalonians 1:4-7). This persecution was evidently coming from the Jews, based in part on Acts 17:1-13 and I Thessalonians 2:14-16. The first Imperial (Roman) persecution against Christians under Nero had not yet begun, since this book was written around 52 AD. The Thessalonians would experience relief from their affliction, they were told, when Jesus came in vengeance and to be glorified in and marveled at by His people (II Thess. 1:7-10). That Paul expected his first century readers to experience this relief firsthand is no surprise when we remember that Jesus Himself promised to come bringing recompense with Him while some of His 12 disciples were still alive (Matthew 16:27-28).

VERSES 1-2

In this regard, Paul writes to a church that was concerned that they had missed His coming, for Paul writes: “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to Him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come” (II Thess. 2:1-2). We must consider the nature of their expectation about these things. For if their expectation of the Lord’s coming was that it would be visible, that it would bring an end to the world, or that it would result in the instant removal of all believers from the earth, it’s hard to imagine how they could be led to believe that these things had already occurred. If the Day of the Lord referred to “a rapture,” and they thought it may have already occurred, why would Paul still be around? As David Lowman, a Presbyterian pastor, has written, “Now, if on the other hand, the Thessalonians believed the Day of the Lord to be the coming judgment against apostate Israel, then asking about that event would make sense. And if they had friends or relatives in the Judean area it would easily explain their concern that the Day of the Lord had passed.”

David Lowman points out that the Greek word for the phrase “gathered together,” episunagoge, used in II Thess. 2:1, appears three times in the New Testament: [1] in Matthew 24:31 (“…and He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”; see our study of this passage), [2] here in this passage, [3] and in Hebrews 10:25 (“not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”). In each of these cases the term denotes the fellowship of believers or the gathering of the Church in terms of the spread of the gospel.

Lowman notes that, where this term was used in the Olivet Discourse, it was the fall of the temple and Jerusalem that enabled the gospel to be spread apart from infringement by Jewish authorities and the Judaizers. Also recall that in I Thessalonians 2:14-16 Paul says “the Jews…oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But God’s wrath has come upon them at last!” Paul saw the coming judgment upon apostate Israel, which Jesus had repeatedly prophesied was to come, as a good development for the spread of the gospel among the nations.

VERSES 3-4

Paul states that two events had to occur before the day of the Lord would come: [1] the rebellion, and [2] the revealing of the man of lawlessness.

The Greek word “apostasia” is used here in verse 3 for “the rebellion.” It can mean either [1] rebellion or [2] falling away. Most modern translations now render it as “rebellion.” So this doesn’t have to mean a falling away that is only spiritual in nature, but it can also indicate a social or political rebellion. History tells us that a large-scale Jewish rebellion rose up in 66 AD which led to Nero declaring war on Israel in February 67 AD, precisely 3.5 years before Jerusalem was crushed and the temple fell in late August 70 AD. This rebellion began about 15 years after Paul wrote this letter. It appears that Paul made the argument that the Day of the Lord’s judgment against Israel would not take place before the rebellion led by the Zealots had already occurred, and this is exactly how it played out in history (see this post and this post for more details).

Verse 4 says that the man of lawlessness “opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” Among futurists, i.e. those who believe that this prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, it is popularly held that a third temple must be rebuilt in Jerusalem, and then a future antichrist figure will literally sit in that temple. Among those who do believe this was fulfilled in the first century, some believe (as I do) that Nero was the man of lawlessness referred to here by Paul, while others believe that it was Titus. Some question the idea that Nero was the man of sin because he is not known to have physically entered into the Jerusalem temple, as Titus did in 70 AD. However, is it correct to believe that Paul was even referring to a physical temple, or is this interpretation perhaps off-track from the very beginning?

On the other hand, some have interpreted the phrase “temple of God” to refer to the Church (e.g. Ephesians 2:11-22), rather than to any physical temple. I agree with this interpretation. In other words, the man of lawlessness would attempt to usurp the place of God as the object of supreme worship within the Church. This Nero did. [He had coins minted on which he was called “Savior” and “God.” Those living in Rome were required by law to publicly proclaim their allegiance to Caesar by burning a pinch of incense and declaring, “Caesar is Lord,” after which time they were then given a document called a “libellus,” which was necessary for engaging in commerce in the Roman marketplace. More is written on this here and here.] Regarding the physical temple which stood in Paul’s day, let’s remember that God had already rejected that temple as His own. As Jesus said to the Jewish leaders in His day, “See, YOUR house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:38). Why would the Holy Spirit then, speaking through Paul, refer to the Jerusalem temple as the “temple OF GOD”?

Alan Campbell, a pastor in Belfast, Ireland, has pointed out that when Paul spoke of “the temple of God,” he used the Greek word, “Naos.” According to Young’s Analytical Concordance, this word means “a dwelling place or inner sanctuary.” When Jesus used this word in John 2:19-21, He referred to His own body. When Paul used it in I Corinthians 3:17 and II Cor. 6:16, it was to say that Christ’s followers are “the temple of the living God.” When Paul used it again in Ephesians 2:21, it was to say that the Church “grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” If Paul had wanted to say that the man of sin would sit in a physical temple, says Pastor Campbell, “he would undoubtedly have used the Greek word ‘hieron,’ which is used on some 25 other occasions to describe the Jewish temple at Jerusalem.”

Many futurists today believe that Paul spoke of a physical temple which, in our time, has not yet been rebuilt. Is there any way that the Thessalonian believers would have understood Paul’s words this way? They knew from Jesus’ own prophecies that the Jerusalem temple they were acquainted with would be destroyed in their own generation (Matthew 23:29-24:1, 24:3, 24:34; Luke 19:41-44, Luke 21:5-33, etc.). How strange it would have been for them to consider that this temple would later BE REPLACED in order to grant a momentary seat to a lawless one, a person whom they didn’t even need to be concerned about because he was generations away from appearing. It’s even more impossible to conceive of such a rebuilt temple being regarded as “the temple OF GOD.” Those who are trying to initiate this project in the 21st century hope to resume the Old Covenant sacrifices, which is an outright rejection of Christ and another wave of apostasy. It’s a tragedy that many professing Christians in America today are actually passionate about seeing such a project come to pass in modern Israel, even to the point of collectively donating millions of dollars to see it happen.

Lactantius (260-330 AD), embracing the viewpoint that by “temple of God” Paul was referring to the Church, said that Nero became enraged by the “faithful and steadfast TEMPLE OF THE LORD” built through the evangelism of Peter, Paul, and the early Church. So Nero “sprung forward to raze THE HEAVENLY TEMPLE and destroy the true faith.”

VERSES 5-7

Paul reminded the Thessalonians that he had already discussed these things with them in person (verse 5), and his language indicates that we are not given all the details of their conversation. Apparently, Paul had privately discussed with them the identity of the man of lawlessness and the entity that was restraining him, because he says, “And YOU KNOW what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time” (verse 6). This points to a first-century fulfillment, as does Paul’s next statement: “For the mystery of lawlessness is ALREADY at work. Only he who NOW restrains it will do so until he is out of the way” (verse 7).

James Stuart Russell, whose book, “Parousia,” in 1878 has been cited favorably by Charles Spurgeon and (more recently) R.C. Sproul, wrote the following about the immediate relevance of this subject to the Thessalonians:

“Is it not obvious that whoever the man of sin may be, he must be someone with whom the apostle [Paul] and his readers had to do? Is he not writing to living men about matters in which they are intensely interested? Why should he delineate the features of this mysterious personage to the Thessalonians if he was one with whom the Thessalonians had nothing to do, from whom they had nothing to fear, and who would not be revealed for ages yet to come? It is clear that he speaks of one whose influence was already beginning to be felt, and whose unchecked and lawless fury would [before] long burst forth. But why does not the apostle speak out frankly? Why this reserve and reticence in darkly hinting what he does not name? …Obviously, because it was not safe to be more explicit…

The early church father, Augustine (354-430 AD), held to the same interpretation:

“Some think that these words refer to the Roman empire, and that the apostle Paul did not wish to write more explicitly, lest he should incur a charge of calumny against the Roman empire, in wishing ill to it when men hoped that it was to be everlasting. So in the words, ‘For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work,’ HE REFERRED TO NERO, whose deeds already seemed to be as those of Antichrist” (emphasis added).

Chrysostom (347-407 AD) also agreed, saying:“‘For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work.’ HE SPEAKS HERE OF NERO… But he did not also wish to point him out plainly: and this not from cowardice, but instructing us not to bring upon ourselves unnecessary enmities, when there is nothing to call for it” (emphasis added). Others who taught that Nero was the man of lawlessness include Clement of Alexandria [150-215 AD], Tertullian [160-220 AD], and Jerome [347-420 AD], who, interestingly enough said, “There are MANY of our viewpoint who think that Domitius Nero was the Antichrist because of his outstanding savagery and depravity.” James Stuart Russell continues,

“But how striking are the indications that point to Nero in the year when this epistle was written, say A.D. 52 or 53. At that time Nero was not yet ‘manifested;’ his true character was not discovered; he had not yet succeeded to the Empire. Claudius, his step-father, lived, and stood in the way of the son of Agrippina. But that hindrance was soon removed. In less than a year, probably, after this epistle was received by the Thessalonians, Claudius was ‘taken out of the way,’ a victim to the deadly practice of the infamous Agrippina; her son also, according to Suetonius, being accessory to the deed. But ‘the mystery of lawlessness was already working;’ the influence of Nero must have been powerful in the last days of the wretched Claudius; the very plots were probably being hatched that paved the way for the accession of the son of the murderess. A few months more would witness the advent to the throne of the world of a miscreant whose name is gibbeted in everlasting infamy as the most brutal of tyrants and the vilest of men.”

Victorinus, another church father who was martyred in the year 303 AD, in his commentary on Revelation, wrote:

“[John tells us that the beast] was in the kingdom of the Romans, and that he was among the Caesars. The Apostle Paul also bears witness, for he says to the Thessalonians: ‘Let him who now restraineth restrain, until he be taken out of the way; and then shall appear the Wicked One, even he whose coming is after the working of Satan, with signs and lying wonders.’ And that they might know that he should come WHO THEN WAS THE PRINCE, he adds: ‘He already endeavours after the secret of mischief’ – that is, the mischief which he is about to do he strives to do secretly; but he is not raised up by his own power, nor by that of his father, but by command of God.”

Victorinus here connects “the beast” from the book of Revelation with the Roman empire. He also links “the Wicked One” [a.k.a. the lawless one] with the person who was prince when Paul wrote (Nero), and who would follow his father (Claudius) to the throne just about two years later (in 54 AD).

On a humorous note, Dispensationalists often claim that the restrainer is the Holy Spirit, who will be taken out of the way when the Church is allegedly to be snatched away (in “the Rapture”) before a future 7-year Tribulation. This creates a dilemma, though, because Dispensationalism also says that there will be a revival during the Tribulation led by 144,000 Jewish evangelists. It’s impossible, however, that so many Jews, or anyone at all, could come to faith in Christ without the work of the Holy Spirit.

VERSE 8

The lawless one, Paul said, would be killed by the appearance of Christ’s coming in vengeance (II Thess. 2:8): “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of His mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of His coming” (II Thess. 2:8). Is it significant that Paul used the expression, “the appearance of…”? Concerning this language, James Stuart Russell (in 1878) said:

“In this significant expression we have a note of the time when the man of sin is destined to perish, marked with singular exactitude. It is the coming of the Lord, the Parousia, which is to be the signal of his destruction; yet not the full splendour of that event so much as the first appearance or dawn of it… This evidently implies that the man of sin was destined to perish, not in the full blaze of the Parousia, but at its first dawn or beginning. Now what do we actually find? Remembering how the Parousia is connected with the destruction of Jerusalem, we find that the death of Nero preceded the event. It took place in June A.D. 68, in the very midst of the Jewish war which ended in the capture and destruction of the city and the temple. It might therefore be justly said that ‘the appearance, or dawn, of the Parousia was the signal for the tyrant’s destruction.”

Bringing Nero “to nothing” was no small thing. Nero began to persecute the Christians throughout the Roman Empire in November 64 AD, after using them as a scapegoat for the large fire which many believe he set himself. The methods he used to put the saints to death were especially vicious, cold-blooded, and inhumane (more details can be seen here). This intense persecution only ended when Nero committed suicide in June 68 AD with the help of his personal secretary. Thus he made war on the saints for a period of exactly 42 months (in fulfillment of Revelation 13:5-7; Daniel 7:21, 25), until he himself came to an end.

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4 thoughts on “A Study of II Thessalonians 2:1-8

  1. THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN THE MAN OF LAWLESSNESS
    AND THE KING OF THE NORTH

    In his discussion of the man of lawlessness, the one “who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God” (2 Thess. 2:4), Paul expounds on the king of the North of Daniel 11:36-45, the one who would “exalt and magnify himself above every god [and] speak blasphemies against the God of gods” (Dan. 11:36). Thus, both the king of the North and the man of lawlessness oppose God and try to exalt themselves above God. Both are vanquished at the time of the Second Advent (2 Thess. 2:8; Dan. 11:45). Although Daniel 11:36-12:13 does not actually depict the parousia, it shows the events that the NT associates with it, that is, the great tribulation (Dan. 12:1; cf. Matt. 24:21), the abomination of desolation (Dan. 12:11; cf. Matt. 24:15), and the resurrection and judgment (Dan. 12:2-3; cf. Matt. 25:31-32). All of these events are shown as happening at this time, at the end of the age attack by the king of the North on Jerusalem.

    Both the man of lawlessness and the king of the North are defeated after laying siege to the Temple in Jerusalem (2 Thess. 2:4; Dan. 11:45). As I mentioned previously, the Antichrist’s defeat at this time is not talking about the death of a man but the destruction of a demonic ruler that worked through a man (cf. Rev. 11:7; 17:8). This was the end of the spiritual ruler that worked through Titus in his destruction of the Jewish nation. This resulted in the casting of this demonic ruler of the Roman people (Dan. 9:26; cf. Dan. 10:13) into the lake of fire (cf. Dan. 7:11; Rev. 19:20).

    The king of the North/man of lawlessness would be a man who would do as he pleased; he would “do according to his own will” (Dan. 11:36). In the words of Paul, he would be a “man of lawlessness” (2 Thess. 2:3 NASB). The king of the North/man of lawlessness would “destroy and annihilate many” (Dan. 11:44); in Paul’s words, he would be “the son of destruction” (2 Thess. 2:3 NASB).12 Both Daniel and Paul are talking about the ultimate day of the Lord in their discussion of the king of the North/man of lawlessness. This is made clear by the fact that the great tribulation and resurrection are shown as occurring at the time of the king of the North’s attack on the Temple (Dan. 11:45-12:2).13 In his discussion of the man of lawlessness, Paul also talks about the time of the resurrection on the day of the Lord. Compare Daniel 12:2 (“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake”) with 1 Thessalonians 4:14 (“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus”).14 Both contexts are speaking about the resurrection that was to happen at the end of the age.
    Added to all this, both Daniel and Paul speak of Michael the archangel (cf. Jude 9) being active at this time (Dan. 12:1; 1 Thess. 4:16), and both writers speak of it as a time of severe tribulation (Dan. 12:1; 1 Thess. 3:3-4). This great tribulation would be completed by the time of the destruction of the Jewish nation in AD 70 (Dan. 12:7; cf. 1 Thess. 5:3). According to Daniel (12:10-11 LXX) this would be a time when lawless ones would commit lawlessness (cf. Matt. 24:11-12). Drawing from this, Paul writes about the ultimate “lawless one” (2 Thess. 2:8). Beale elaborates:

    The expression man of lawlessness (anthrōpos tēs anomies) echoes Daniel 12:10-11 which . . . refers to the end-time trial as a period when “the lawless ones [anomoi] will do lawlessness [anomeō], and the lawless ones [anomoi] will not understand” (i.e., they will mislead, be misled or both).15 (brackets and emphasis in original)

    THE MAN OF LAWLESSNESS AND THE COMING WRATH ON ISRAEL
    Daniel 11:36 talks of the Antichrist bringing God’s wrath on Israel. The king of the North would “prosper till the wrath has been accomplished . . .” (cf. Dan. 9:26-27). Paul, referring to this wrath, tells the Thessalonians that it would be directed at unbelievers (the Jews in particular, cf. Luke 21:20-23) not God’s people: “When they say ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them . . . [but] God did not appoint us to wrath but salvation . . .” (1 Thess. 5:3, 9; cf. Jer. 6:10-30). In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 Paul tells his first-century audience “to wait for His [God’s] Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” Approximately two decades earlier, John the Baptist warned the Jewish leaders of this coming wrath:

    But when he [John the Baptist] saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly cleanout His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
    Matthew 3:5-10; cf. 22:1-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:1
    (underlined emphasis mine)

    Indeed, the Jews who were troubling the Thessalonian believers (either directly or by proxy; cf. 1 Thess. 2:14-16; Acts 17:1-15) would be repaid “with tribulation” on the day of the Lord (2 Thess. 1:6). This tribulation—the great tribulation mentioned in Daniel 12:1—was the coming judgment of God on the Jews (cf. Matt. 21:33-45; Rev. 15:1; 16:19):

    Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.” Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your father’s guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
    Matthew 23:29-36 (underlined emphasis mine)

    This coming wrath is clearly described by Luke in the context of the AD 70 judgment and dispersal of the Jewish nation.

    But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
    Luke 21:20-24 (underlined emphasis mine)

    When Saul was persecuting believers he did so under the authority of the high priest (Acts 9:1-2, cf. 22:4-5). With the fall of Jerusalem, the institutions of the priesthood and the Temple were destroyed. In fact, when Titus captured the Temple he had all the surviving priests put to death. After AD 70, the Jews throughout the empire would not trouble believers as they had before; they (the Jews) would have to worry about their own safety. The end result was that Jesus’ parousia gave his followers rest from Jewish persecution: “it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels” (2 Thess. 1:6-7). It may be hard to fathom that this coming of Jesus with his angels happened at AD 70, but it is what Jesus taught:

    For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. 16
    Matthew 16:27-28

    If, as futurists claim, the Second Advent is still future, then Paul’s first-century audience at Thessalonica never lived to see the rest that Paul had promised them at the soon-coming parousia.

    THE TWO INDICATORS GIVEN FOR THE DAY OF THE LORD
    IN DANIEL 12 AND 2 THESSALONIANS 2
    Finally, seeing as how Paul is elaborating on the end of the age spoken of in Daniel 11:36-12:13, it seems quite likely that the two indicators he gives to identify the timing of the day of the Lord are related to the two indicators given in Daniel 12 for the countdown to the end of the age. The two markers given in Daniel 12:11 are (1) the taking away of the daily sacrifice and (2) the abomination of desolation (i.e., the coming of the one who would make Israel desolate, cf. Dan. 9:27). The two markers that Paul gives in 2 Thessalonians are (1) “the rebellion” (Gr. apostasia) and (2) the revelation of “the lawless one” (2 Thess. 2:3 NRSV).
    The Jewish rebellion (which was referred to as an apostasia)17 began in AD 66 with the taking away of the daily sacrifice for the emperor (or any foreigner). The Roman response to this resulted in the coming of the one who would make the Jewish nation desolate. This was the abomination of desolation, the coming of the Antichrist (Dan. 9:27, 12:11); it equates with the second of Paul’s markers, the revelation of the man of lawlessness.

    Notice that Paul, in his teachings in 1-2 Thessalonians, is not only drawing from Daniel 11:36-37 in his discussion of the man of lawlessness and the day of the Lord, he is drawing from the whole final section of Daniel (Dan. 11:36-12:13). This should not be a surprise, as both Daniel and Paul are speaking of the same subject, the attack of the king of the North/man of lawlessness against God’s holy mountain and his capture of the Temple (Dan. 11:36-37, 45; 2 Thess. 2:4). This would happen on the ultimate day of the Lord; it would be the time of the great tribulation and the beginning of the resurrection (Dan. 12:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:16; 2 Thess. 1:6-7).

    Endnotes:
    12. This probably has the dual connotation that he would be one who destroys (Dan. 11:44) and be one who would be destroyed (Dan. 11:45; cf. Rev. 17:11).
    13. It should be noted that the partial preterist distinction between the great tribulation (which they say happened at AD 70) and the resurrection (which they say occurs at a future final advent) does not hold up to scrutiny. Daniel 12:1-2 depicts the two events as occurring sequentially; the resurrection happened at AD 70 right after the great tribulation. The resurrection, of course, continues from that time for those who are in Christ. It is therefore more correct to say that the resurrection began at AD 70.
    14. In his teaching on Daniel 11:36-12:13, Paul is not reinterpreting a second-century BC event to describe what he was expecting in the first century (unless one wants to say the resurrection happened in the second century BC; Dan. 12:2). In 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul was elaborating on the soon-coming fulfillment of Daniel 11:36-12:13.
    15. Beale, 1-2 Thessalonians, 206.
    16. Some try to connect this with the transfiguration. To say only some would be alive for the coming that Jesus was talking about does not fit the transfiguration, however; it would happen a mere six days later. Moreover, the transfiguration was not the time when Jesus came with the angels and rewarded each man according to their works. That is a reference to the judgment at the end of the old covenant age (cf. Dan. 12:1-3; cf. James 5:7-9), not the transfiguration. Jesus was saying that this judgment would happen in the lifetime of some of his hearers (cf. Rev. 22:10-12).
    17. The Greek word that Paul uses for the “falling away” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is apostasia; it is the same word that Josephus uses for the Great Revolt of the Jews in AD 66. I discuss this in greater detail later in the chapter.

    Duncan McKenzie, The Antichrist and the Second Coming, 338-342

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  2. I think it is interesting to note that the 1st Century Roman rulers had indoor plumbing and often that plumbing used lead. Beyond that, they had a favorite drink that was brewed in lead containers and the lead added a taste they found pleasing. It was a grape syrup that was added to their wine. I believe it was called SAPA? Roman leaders were afflicted with gout and sterility and also showed signs of madness from lead poisoning. It is called Saturnine Gout. So Claudius and Nero and others were not simply evil they were also often drunk and almost certainly in the process of going stark raving mad. Some of the antics of Nero described by historians reflect a complete madman.

    A reference? Jerome O. Nriagu. “Saturnine Gout among Roman Aristocrats” New England Journal of Medicine. March (1985). Some scholars object, saying that copper was a more common pot to make the syrup (which also was called defrutum and carenum). However, lately archaelogists have found evidence that the ruling class preferred lead pots because they believed it tasted sweeter when cooked in leaden pots. Wikipedia objects, naturally, but I did watch a History Channel episode that showed the evidence for lead pot usage and it made sense to me. Agrippina and the ruling families of Rome were by that time a den of vipers anyway, apparently sociopathic with or without lead as an aid. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/wine/leadpoisoning.html

    Paul, a very smart man, would have heard various palace rumors and concluded that Nero was not only going to be Caesar but he would be a handful and of course was inspired by God to write those words from both knowledge and inspiration. I completely agree that Nero fits the description of the “man of sin” and that numerologically six hundred three score and six can be symbolic of Nero Caesar. Both Paul and John would have good reason to write cryptically because they would not want their letters to be confiscated as treasonous and thereby not get the message out.

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