The ‘Man of Sin’


Let no man deceive you

In the Bible, in the second epistle of Thessalonians we come across a fascinating prophecy. The apostle Paul compelled by God’s spirit in this letter is caused to predict the future and warn true believers of the gospel about a coming evil.

Now Paul was caused to write this in or around the first century AD – and although the message was very relevant for the readers at that date the prophecy stretches far into the future to our day and even beyond.

In verse 3 we read:

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [The return of Jesus] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

Here is a remarkable thing. In the early stage of the spread of the gospel and the message of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, we have this warning. That there would be a falling away. An apostasy. That part of this apostasy would include a figurehead. A “man of sin”. A “son of destruction” or “perdition”. This man would be prominent and would position himself “above all that is called God”. He would put himself above that which is and should be worshipped. The prophecy says that this one would as if he were God Himself sit in the temple of God in the position of God.

Clues to identifying the ‘man of sin’

Who is this person? Who in the world positions themselves in such an audacious way?

The prophecy goes on in verse 7:

“…the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” 2 Thessalonians 2:7-10

From this then we obtain some clues as to who this “Man of Sin” is:

  1. The Man of Sin system starts within the first century – The system to which he belongs was already “at work” in the first century. Something was blocking him being revealed though and when this blocking force was removed he would be clearly seen.
  2. The Man of Sin deceives – We read that the man of sin appears to have power and uses “signs” and “lying wonders”. He deceives in unrighteousness. He leads people to perish because they believe in him and not the truth.
  3. Jesus will destroy The Man of Sin – This happens when Jesus returns to the earth. This would also indicate that the “man of sin system” although beginning in the apostle Pauls time in the first century continues somehow down through time right up until our day and beyond to the time when Jesus Christ returns to the earth.

A warning

The prophecy ends with this warning to followers of the true gospel:

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2: 11-12

The clear message then is not to have pleasure in the unrighteous things the man of sin system teaches. To stick to the truth and stay away from His teachings for he is part of a delusion. An apostasy which leads to destruction.

Who is the ‘man of sin’?

But who or what is this man of sin? Which figurehead, who leads a religious system can be shown to of begun in the first contrary and has also continued down to our time? There is only one such system and it is that of the papacy. No other religion has such a figurehead system of successors which began back in the first century and has continued up to today.

The Catholic Church itself claims it has an “unbroken line” of papal succession. It traces this from the current Pope, Francis, right back to the first century.

This system was obscured in the first century because the dominant religion was paganism. However, with the rise to power of the Roman emperor Constantine and the ascendancy of Christianity into the political arena the Pagan system was removed paving the way for the Bishop of Rome to place himself in a position of such authority the world had not seen before.

The Papacy has indeed claimed that it is God on earth. Consider these statements from Popes of the past:

“Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam (Rome: 1302).

“We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty…” Pope Leo XIII, Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae—The Reunion of Christendom (Rome: 1894).

“But the supreme teacher in the Church is the Roman Pontiff. Union of minds, therefore, requires, together with a perfect accord in the one faith, complete submission and obedience of will to the Church and to the Roman Pontiff, as to God Himself” Pope Leo XIII, Sapientiae Christianae: On Christians as Citizens (January 10, 1890).

“if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which We have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.” Munificentissimus Deus, Pope Pius XII (1950)

In 1870 the First Vatican Council declared the dogma of Papal infallibility in the following words:

“We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable. So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema. “ — Vatican Council, Sess. IV, Const. de Ecclesiâ Christi, Chapter iv, 1870

Does the Catholic system deceive? Has it deceived? Has it used its large following and power to speak truth or error? This question can only be answered if one understands the true gospel message declared in the scriptures of truth. When this is compared, we see the Papal system is very much at odds with the truth – not only of the faith which the gospel demands but also in matters of practice.

Note: For an excellent summary of the gospel revealed in the scriptures please see the Christadelphian statement of faith.

According to the prophecy of Thessalonians when the Lord returns the system of error which has fallen away from the truth as revealed in the Bible will be destroyed by the Lord Jesus Christ.

A sobering thought.