In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 Paul writes:

Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. (NET)

For those who believe in the imminence of Christ's return, that is, he could return suddenly at any moment, how do they understand this verse to have already been fulfilled, and who do they understand to be the revealed man of lawlessness? It seems clear that this verse must be fulfilled before Christ's return could be imminent.

  • I suggest you states clearly to be specific that your looking for Christian views and Catholicism "who believe in the imminence of Christ's return", otherwise the Moderator will come again and the rest will be history. Jun 27, 2019 at 0:36

3 Answers 3


Another option could be that those who believe in the imminent return of Christ do not believe that the man of lawlessness has been revealed but that one event could happen directly after the other.


The way I view this is complex.

Let's look at the Greek - what word is used for "man"?

Anthropos. generally in the New Testament, (besides two places because of presuppositions) Anthropos is a term for all of mankind, or specific people of mankind.

Paul uses the term for a singular man in this context, that is "tis".

The same is true in Revelation 13, the term used for "number of man (a is not in the Greek) is anthropos - 666 is the number of mankind

Who are those that are the men of lawlessness?

Those that reject Holiness. They are under the Jude 4 gospel, living a life of licentiousness under what they call "Grace".

With that build up let's answer the question with scripture: Yes, that verse must be fulfilled before the return of the Lord, and as Jesus clearly says in Matt 24:29-31:

Matthew 24:29-31 NKJV - "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. "And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

The Dispensationalist, especially the hyper dispensationalist will tell us the words of Jesus don't apply to us today.

That's not what Paul believed.

1 Thessalonians 4:2 NKJV - for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

1 Timothy 6:3 NKJV - If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, [even] the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness,

So when could Christ return?

After the tribulation and after the men (plural) of lawlessness that are making vain sacrifices in Jesus' name are revealed.

Romans 12:1 NKJV - I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, [which is] your reasonable service.

We are the temple of God, and when someone in SIN not living a holy and sanctified life claims to be a follower of Jesus, they are making the profane and lawless sacrifice. They have taken the mark of Cain, the mark of the Beast.

There is going to be a point (I have no idea when) - when who you are, is what you will be.

Revelation 22:11 NKJV - "He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still."

Hebrews 12:15-17 NKJV - looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there [be] any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

We need to make sure we're living a justified life in Christ - FREE of sin.

Galatians 2:17 NKJV - "But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, [is] Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not!

The Dispensationalists (from talking to them) believe this is a literal man who will rule the world, and everyone will bow to Him.

We already have people with the mark on their forehead, when they don't serve God they serve Satan. (Romans 6:16)

As God told the Jews, when we obey Him, we have the law on our mind (metapon) on our heart and manifest on our hands


How is 2 Thessalonians 2:3 understood by those who believe in the imminence of Christ's return?

The Catholic Church interpret this following verse in the Catechism of the Catholic Church;

The Church's ultimate trial

675 Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth575 will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.576

676 The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,577 especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.578

677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.579 The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.580 God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.581

CCC668-674 are also a good reference to that verse to fully understand the Catholic Church point of view on that verse.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

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