TAKEN FROM "BEYOND END TIMES" BY: JOHN NOE
Paul wrote during the time of a
literal, standing, second Temple.
He gave no hint that this event would occur centuries later in
some other"rebuilt" temple. His first readers apparently expected
this fulfillment in their lifetime. That's why some feared that
that"day of the Lord" had already occurred. Also, let's note how
Paul's prophetic words here match up with Jesus' Olivet Dis-
course (Mt. 24). Both speak of the same set of events, use similar
language, and convey a strong sense of imminence. 2
History records that the Jewish rebellion against Rome and
apostasy from the faith was already underway in the early 60s,
and reached its climax in the Jewish-RomanWar of A.D. 66 - 70.
We propose that Paul's "man of sin" was, most likely, a specific
person who set himself up in theTemple that was standing when
Paul was writing. He could have been (take your pick) Nero,
Titus,a Zealot leader; the corrupt chief high priest, or a Christian
Zealot. All except Nero physically entered the Temple. Mthough
Paul never calls him "antichrist;' the Apostle John tells us that
there were many "anticlirists" at work at that time (1 Jn. 2:18;
4:3). No doubt this "man of sin" was one of them. But he was
also a special person who had to come on the scene prior to the
Lord's return in A.D. 70 and before the Temple was destroyed.
Verses 5-7. "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"
Paul had mentioned this power of lawlessness on other oc-
casions (see 1 Th. 2:14-16; 1 Ti. 4:1). The Jews were revolting
against Rome and rejecting the sacred practice of biblical Juda-
ism. Some followers of Christ who remained zealous for the
Temple system were departing from the new faith and falling
back into the old ways. But behind it all was "the secret power
of lawlessness." It was "already at work," there and then, but
something and/or someone was holding the "man of sin" back
at the time Paul wrote this letter (circa A.D. 51 - 52). Whatever
that was, Paul reminded his first readers that they already knew
its/his identity. So Paul didn't have to tell them. And he didn't.
Since they knew who or what it was, it could not possibly have
been something or someone that would not exist for some nine-
teen or more centuries. But who or what was it?
Throughout Church history endless speculation has revolved
around the identity of this restrainer. However, we do know
that this restraint was in force when Paul wrote,- and was
actively holding back a "man of sin" alive at that time. This
fact is a time indicator and should answer the question of when.
Some have suggested that the "who" was Nero or the Roman govern-
ment, which held back Jewish persecution of the early Jewish
Christians. Futurists say it's the gospel, the Church, the Holy
Spirit, or an angel. But if any of these is what was really meant,
why did the writer use such veiled language? None of these
things is ever portrayed in Scripture as restraining lawlessness
or being removed from the world.
The best answer-we believe-is that it was both an office
(the "what") and a person (the "one who" or "he"). More spe-
cifically, it was the institution of the Jewish priesthood led by
Ananus, the high priest. The priesthood opposed the Jewish,
Zealot-led rebellion. And Ananus wanted peace with Rome. As
long as he and the priesthood stood in the way, the lawlessness
of the Jewish Zealots was held back, the "work of Satan" couldn't
reach its full realization, and the "man of sin" couldn't appear on
the scene and cause the final destruction. In A.D. 68, however,
Jewish Zealots, with the assistance of the Idumaeans, murdered
Ananus and over 12,000 other priests and left their bodies un-
buried-a violation of the Jewish Law Thus, the priesthood was
"taken out of the way" As Josephus wrote in his history of the
fall of the city:
I should not mistake if I said that the death of Ananus was the
beginning of the destruction of the city; and that from this very
day may be dated the overthrow of her walls, and the ruin of her
affairs, whereon they saw their high-priest, and the procurer of
their preservation; slain in the midst of their city;. for he was thor-
oughly sensible that the Romans were not to be conquered. He
also foresaw that of necessity a war would follow, and that unless
the Jews made up matters with them very dexterously, they would
be destroyed: to say all in a word, if Ananus had survived tha~
would have certainly compounded matters... and I cannot but
think that it was because God had doomed this city to destruc-
tion, as a polluted city, and was resolved to purge his sanctuary by
fire, that he cut off these great defenders and wellwishers.
Verses 8-10. a Ad 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 [parousia].
The coming [parousia] of the lawless one will be in accor-
dance 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. They perish be-
cause they refused to love the truth and so be saved!"All this
happened in the very Temple that was standing until A.D. 70. As
the war between the Jews and Rome developed, a strong leader
of the Jewish Zealots emerged who would fullfill Paul's proph-
ecy. He would soon become the key man in inciting the Jews
against Rome, in bringing abominations into the Temple area,
and in causing the final destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
After Ananus' murder and the removal of the priesthood. Josephus
records that a man named John, the son of Levi, fled to Jerusa-
lem from the Roman conquered area of Gischala in Galilee and
became the treacherous leader of the Jewish Zealots in control
of theTemple area. Also Josephus wrote,"Now this was the work
of God, who therefore preserved this John, that he might bring
on the destruction of Jerusalem."
Josephus also records that before this John of Gischala, the
son of Levi, was established as the Zealot leader in control of the
Temple area (there were three Zealot factions), the power of
Satan was already doing his deceitful and treacherous work. This
John physically entered the Temple, presented himself to the
Zealots as a God-sent ambassadot; and persuaded them to defy
the laws of Rome and go to war to gain independence. He also
instigated the calling in the Idumaeans to keep the Jewish sym-
pathizers from submitting to Rome. He ordered the death of
Ananus and the removal of the priesthood. After these atroci-
ties, he became the official leader of the Zealot group m control
of theTemple area-john held the temple" and began disre-
garded the laws of Rome, God, and man, and promising
deliverance from the Romans. Then he broke off from the Zeal-
ots and began "setting up a monarchial power." He "set on fire
these houses that were full of corn, and of all other provision
which would have been sufficient for a siege of many years"
He deceived the Jews about the power of the Roman armies
In possession of theTemple and the adjoining parts, he
cut the throats of anyone suspected of going over to the
Romans.13 He performed many sacrileges, such as melting down
the sacred utensils used in Temple service, and defiled the Temple.
In short, this John established himself in the Temple, the one
standing when Paul wrote, and put himself above Rome and
above God, thereby taking the place of God in the Temple.
All this happened, right then and there, and exactly as Paul had
said the "man of sin"would do.
After the coming of the Lord and the destruction ofJerusalem
and theTemple in A.D. 70, John of Gischala was "condemned
to perpetual imprisonment" by the Roman authorities. Thus
was fulfilled Paul's prophetic and symbolic language that this
man would be destroyed by "the spirit of his Jesus mouth and
brightness of his [parousia] coming" (see Isa. 11:4; 30:27-33;
Hos. 6:5; also Da. 7:8, 19-28).
Verses 11-12. "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 delighted
Josephus records that the Roman General Titus had no in-
tention of destroying the Temple. The Romans wanted to
preserve it as a trophy and monument of their conquest. Even
Josephus personally pleaded with John of Gischala to surrender.
But such a "madness" swept through him and his Jewish fol-
lowers that they taunted the powers of Rome and refused to
listen. This man, John, through the power of Satan and the delu-
sion sent by God upon the Jewish people, forced the Roman
armies to act. Instead of accepting Jesus as Messiah, King, and
Deliverer, the unbelieving Jews placed their hopes in this false
messiah a man of deceit and wickedness. They looked to the
"man of sin" to lead them to victory and independence. The
priesthood, which stood in their way, had been removed. And
by August or September of A.D. 70, Paul's entire "man of sin"
prophecy of 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12 was fulfilled. The city and
the Temple were burned and destroyed. The covenant nation of
Israel and biblical Judaism were forever destroyed.
Only within this first century context does the Apostle Paul's
"man of sin prophecy make sense and have its greatest signifi-
cance. No justification exists for separating Paul's words from
either the Temple standing at the time of his writing or the end
of the Jewish age. John of Gischala, the son of Levi, was a con-
temporary of Paul. He was Paul's "man of sin." The eyewitness
account of Josephus, a Jewish-Roman historian, trutliflilly and
impartially documents his treachery and his critical role in
Jerusalem's demise. No one else in history-Gains Caesar, Nero,
Titus, or Domitian-comes as close to fulfilling this prophecy as
this most influential and deceiving Zealot leader John of Gischala
took over the forces of iniquity He stood in the Temple itself
and exalted himself above all that is called God. He put himself
above both God and Caesar He regarded neither the laws of
God nor those of man ~ome). He therefore "set himself up" in
the Temple, taking the place of God.
Judas betrayed Jesus. John of Gischala betrayed the
Jews, fulfilling Paul's "man of sin" prophecy to a tee.
in dramatic parailled fashion, Scripture gives this "man of sin"-
John of Gischala,the son of Levi-the name of" the one doomed
to destruction" or"the son of perdition," the same name given to
another infamous betrayer,Judas Iscariot (comparejn. 17:12 with
2Th. 2:3 KJV). Both appeared in the same "last days" time frame
of the Old Covenant age. Judas betrayed Jesus. Jobn of Gischala
betrayed the Jews, fufilling Paul's "man of sin" prophecy to a tee.
He was that 1st-century man who had to be revealed before the
day of Christ in A.D. 70, and who was destroyed when it came.
No future "man of sin" need come and fulfill this prophecy; it
has already been fulfilled.