Who is the “Son of Perdition”?
2 Thessalonians 2:3,4 – 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
This “son of perdition” can be identified by two of his pursuits. He “opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped.” He is filled with great pride. The word “God” does not need to be capitalized for it could refer to pagan gods. This language is used in Daniel eleven to refer to Antiochus IV Epiphanes. In 168 BC he had defiled the Temple when he sacrificed a pig to Zeus. The Roman emperor Octavian “received the Latin name ‘Augustus’ which is derived from the same root (sebastos) rendered ‘worshiped’ in our passage” (Weaver 480).
The second act of the “man of sin” is noted for is “that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” This is not the literal temple which was destroyed in 70 AD. The term “temple” is used both to refer to the body of the believer and the church (1 Cor. 3:16,17; 6:19; 1 Pet. 2:5; 1 Tim. 3:15; Eph. 2:21). He has enthroned himself in the position of God Himself
In this context the “son of perdition” is called “man of sin” and “lawless one.” He is not Satan, but he does work with him (2:9). One of the most common views is the “son of perdition” is the pope or papacy. “The preface to the original King James Version of the bible names the pope as the ‘Man of Sin’.” (Barton 127). Many of the early reformers, such as, Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli held this view. Many New Testament Christians have agreed with this. However, the Catholic pope did not exist until AD 606 and Paul said the “mystery of lawlessness” was already at work at the time the letter was written to the Thessalonians. The Catholic popes responded by labeling one of the reformers as the “son of perdition.” Gaining in popularity is the belief that Mohammed and the Islamic religion represent the “man of sin.” However, Mohammed was not born until AD 570. Others have suggested one of the Roman Emperors. Nevertheless, these have not continued to exist till the Lord’s coming. Trying to connect this with the destruction of Jerusalem has led some to look at some zealot or Pharisee seizing the Temple just before the Roman’s destroyed it in 70 AD. Yet, how would this relate to the gentile saints at Thessalonica. Over the years many political figures have been identified as the “son of perdition.” Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, etc. have all been popular choices. Notice in the text it is a spiritual rebellion not a political rebellion under consideration. Nonetheless, some still are looking from some world political leader to raise up and take the throne of God. Hal Lindsey has said, “I believe that this very man lives right now somewhere in Europe.” Modern premillienialists have marked the sea beast in Revelation 13 as the “son of perdition.” This is referring to a political entity such as the Roman Empire which has been gone for centuries. One of the most common identifications with the “son of perdition” is to call him “the Antichrist.” The term is only found in the epistles of John. The apostle specifically identified various aspects of an antichrist which would eliminate him from the list of likely suspects. The term “antichrist” is only found five times in the New Testament (1 John 2:18,22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7). The antichrist is not one individual, but many. The antichrist is not yet to come, but many have been at work for centuries. All of them are liars because they deny the truth about Christ being the Messiah, being the Son of God and coming in the flesh. One final ideal about the “son of perdition” is that it is symbolic of the principle of lawlessness. Paul used personification to refer to sin as if it were human. The “man of sin” is defined as “an impersonation of the sinful principle spoken of by the apostle Paul in an emphatic manner” (McClintock and Strong 689).
– Daniel R. Vess
Making Plans Which Include God’s Will
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will[a] go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. (James 4:13-17)
The above text in James has to do with those who make plans for their life without giving due consideration to the will of God.
The expression “engage in business” is translated from a Greek word, from whence we get the English word “emporium”. It means to traffic, carry on trade, to go a trading. God also endorses hard work, providing for one’s family and attending to your own business (Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 5:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:10). Mere mortal man cannot predict or determine the outcome of any event even for tomorrow. Man’s life can be cut short at any moment. “All flesh is grass…” (Is. 40:6). “Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor” (Ps 39:4,5) “As the cloud disappears and vanishes away, So he who goes down to the grave does not come up. …For my days are but a breath” (Job 7:9). “For we were born yesterday, and know nothing, Because our days on earth are a shadow” (Job 8:9).
“If the Lord wills“ which is found in other passages (Acts 18:21; 1 Corinthians 4:19; 1 Corinthians 16:7; Hebrews 6:3). An attitude of the heart not a mere ritualistic saying upon the lips.
These plans for the future is a boast in arrogance. All such boasting is evil. God, not man, is in control of life and time. Thomas a Kempis said, “Man proposes but God disposes.” The type of man under discussion is like the one in William Ernest Henley’s Invictus:
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Many men make plans to serve God but often fail. They say, “I ought to study my Bible more, to attend church services more frequently, to give more, to visit the sick more, to do personal work, and to pray more.” To know these duties and yet fail to do these things is the sin of omission.
What things should a Christian do in order to involve God in their plans? They should know God’s will, deny their own will, do His will, pray according to His will, and meditate on His will.
– Daniel R. Vess