Well out of order person (to come?)

I am currently seeking to slowly (and I mean way slow) put together material on eschatology, a) insisting that a) no one agrees with me, b) stating that I am agnostic on certain aspects, c) holding to a considerable amount is past (both in terms of the first Easter Events and also the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD), and d) that all eschatology is deeply practical asking us to respond to the question ‘in the light of this how am I to live?’.

An area where I am agnostic is over a future ‘one-world-leader’ known as ‘the antichrist’. I observed something quite amusing the other day while perusing what is on YouTube that might interest me – videos on a certain former president of the USA as being ordained and anointed from on high (God looking down in 1946 and seeing this child as the one of destiny to save the nation) and videos presenting evidence why he is the antichrist that has been prophesied!! To save time I will give you my discernment – neither of the above. The fascination with the antichrist is of course something that has been around for a long period of time, with so many people put forward as ‘definitely the one – we need not look for another’.

To get to a fixed view on the antichrist one has to fit together Scriptures that are then claimed to speak of the same person although they use different language. In this post I am simply going to pick up on Paul’s language in 2 Thessalonians concerning the ‘man of lawlessness’. I cover this with some extra detail in an extended pdf article: Second Horizon.pdf.

I will simply pick up on what I consider is a translation error in this post, the part related to the text that I have emboldened below – see what you think.

Let no one deceive you in any way, for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction.  He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you? And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned (2 Thess. 2:3-12).

First the reference is future – future for the readers, but now past for us. Future for the readers – into the ‘second horizon’ of the fall of Jerusalem and what Jesus termed the ‘abomination that causes desolation’, something that the ‘pagan’ Romans effected with their pollution of the Temple.

As for the translation bit – virtually every version has two ‘comings’ (parousia – often referring to the ‘second coming’ of Jesus, the word meaning presence or arrival and in the Roman context of the arrival of the emperor or imperial presence). By making it two ‘parousias’ it pushes the event to the future – our future.

A little bit of Greek in vv. 8,9, jump over and refer back:

ὃν ὁ κύριος Ἰησοῦς ἀνελεῖ τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ καὶ καταργήσει τῇ ἐπιφανείᾳ τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ, οὗ ἐστιν ἡ παρουσία κατ᾽ ἐνέργειαν τοῦ Σατανᾶ ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει καὶ σημείοις καὶ τέρασιν ψεύδους

Parousia occurs twice (παρουσία), the first one is often translated as being the parousia of Jesus who destroys ‘antichrist’ with the manifestation of his (Jesus’) coming, and the second one translated concerning the ‘coming’ (παρουσία) of antichrist who comes with the work of Satan….

However, and there is a HUGE however, the second parousia if translated ‘normally’ qualifies and describes the first parousia (supposedly the coming of Jesus…!!!!) so we would read the manifestation of his coming (τῇ ἐπιφανείᾳ τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ), which is the coming according to the works of Satan (οὗ ἐστιν ἡ παρουσία κατ᾽ ἐνέργειαν τοῦ Σατανᾶ)!! Hardly a reference to the coming of Jesus. No, no and no! The manifestation of the ‘man of lawlessness’ is that which comes according to the working of Satan

What we have is one coming – the coming of ‘the man of lawlessness’ who Jesus will destroy in the time or context of the manifestation of his parousia in the temple, that parousia that was in accordance to the working of Satan.

All the above a little technical, but I am pretty convinced about this being the only valid way to translate this section, and the change being only made because of a prevailing concept that this is future for us. Another example of assuming Scripture is somehow written to us. It was written in early 50s and fulfilled in their lifetime.

Whatever we make of a future one-world-ruler I do not believe at any level this passage can be pulled in to defend that view. Paul lived in the time of ‘the one world ruler’, Caesar in Rome who claimed to be ‘king of kings’… that rule manifested in 70AD with the desolation brought to the Temple. All indicating Caesar’s conquest according to what was visible, indeed a decade after the conquest an arch is erected in Rome to mark the deification of Titus (who conquered Jerusalem) and to mark the conquest over the Temple. The end of an era… and for those with eyes to see the breath of Jesus marked the end of that era and the continuance of another era, the one who is the ‘king of kings’.

I find so much eschatology twists Scripture to fit a system, but that is not my main objection (for I could be guilty of the same) but that it leaves us with speculation always looking to the immediate future with it always remaining future. I think – even if I am wrong with this passage – better that we seek to align with the breath of Jesus in a way that my breath also seeks to annul everything that opposes God and exalts itself. Otherwise I too might be deluded – even if I can prove I know the truth!