Theology Thursday | 2Th 2:3 | The Antichrist

Let’s talk about the Antichrist:

“Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction." - 2Th 2:3

Many attempts have been made throughout history to identify the man of lawlessness (the “antichrist”) with historical figures who had great authority and brought havoc and devastation among people on the earth. The ancient Roman emperors Nero and Domitian, both of whom severely persecuted Christians, were thought by many to be the antichrist. (Many Roman emperors, including these two, claimed deity for themselves and demanded to be worshiped.) In more recent times Adolf Hitler was commonly thought to be the antichrist, as was Joseph Stalin. On the other hand, many Protestants since the Reformation, especially those who were persecuted by the Catholic Church, have thought that one or another of the popes was the antichrist.


But all of these identifications have proved false, and it is likely that a yet worse “man of lawlessness” will arise on the world scene and bring unparalleled suffering and persecution, only to be destroyed by Jesus when he comes again. But the evil perpetrated by many of these other rulers has been so great that, at least while they were in power, it would have been difficult to be certain that the “man of lawlessness” has not yet appeared. If nothing else, those men have gone to justify John's statement in 1Jo 2:18,


"Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come."

Many people tend to associate the “beast” in Revelation with the “man of lawlessness”. And think that he is also mentioned in Dan 7:8, 24-26 as the "little horn”. He is the "desolator" of Dan 9:27; the “abomination that causes desolation” of Mat 24:15. He is earth’s last and most awful tyrant, Satan’s cruel instrument of wrath and hatred against God and the Jewish saints. To him Satan gives the power which he offered to Christ (Mat 4:8-9; Rev 13:4).


One of the most famous aspects about this individual is, we are told, that we can calculate the his number. Which, as everyone knows, is 666.


Or… Is it?


A few manuscripts actually read 616 in Rev 13:18. Irenaeus mentions these manuscripts that have the 616 reading, but he rejects them. And as intriguing as the reading 616 is (since the conversion of Nero Caesar’s name in Latin by way of gematria would come out to 616), biblical scholars mainly say that it must remain suspect because such a reading seems motivated in that it conforms more neatly to Nero’s gematria.


While many people have thought the way to understand this calculation is through a person’s name, there is another option. This approach takes the number "666" as a triad of sixes (6-6-6), and interprets them as Scripture uses certain numbers symbolically elsewhere. The number "seven," for instance, frequently occurs in Scripture. The Israelites understood "seven" to represent a completed work of God (e.g., the seven days of creation, etc.). The number "three" often stands for the fullness of something (e.g., the Trinity, etc.). Consequently, "777" would indicate something authenticated as divine.


However, "666" would appear as representing a deficient (fraudulent) certificate to a believer who knows the significance of these numbers. This is especially true, since the number "six" often connects with human, rather than divine activities in Scripture (e.g., man works "six" days a week, etc.). Rev 13:18 says 666 is the number of "man". The article "a" is absent in the Greek text, and though the reader may supply it legitimately here, it seems best not to do so.


Therefore, the number 666 could indicate that the antichrist is man’s last and greatest attempt to be God.


So, what do you think? Do you think the “man of Lawlessness” is alive today? If so, who do you think it is? If not, why not? Do you think his number is 666 or 616? Did you know about that already? Or was that new? Let us know down below! God bless.

 

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