The appearance of the man of lawlessness
He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. 2 Thessalonians 2:4-12
Although the “rebellion” and the appearance of the “lawless one” have not yet happened, Paul from the text warns that it could occur at any time. These events will precede the Day of the Lord. He has taught them these things before, and they know what is keeping this rebellion in check (2 Thessalonians 2:5, 6). Paul seems to imply that Christians in Thessalonica know quite a bit about this issue. “You know,” he writes, “what is holding him back” (2 Thessalonians 2:6). Also, he says that “the secret power of lawlessness is already at work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
The phrase man of lawlessness is not common enough to be of any help. Obviously, he is someone who is seen as the rival of God. Second, he is also called “the man doomed to destruction” (2 Thessalonians 2:3), a description that merely reveals his ultimate end. Third, “he will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). He does this when “he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). Until these events happen, Jesus will not return. The point of Paul’s argument here is to prove that the coming of Jesus has not occurred; there are events that have not yet happened that must precede that coming. The consequence of this appearance of evil before the return of Christ is that many will be deceived and will meet their destruction because of the activities of this man of lawlessness. “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing” (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10). They do not perish not because they have no choice in the matter, instead Paul makes it clear that the responsibility is theirs: “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). If they do not want to believe and place their trust in Christ, then they will find themselves deceived by counterfeit truth (2 Thessalonians 2:11). Why be sidetracked or deceived when we have the Word of truth?