Sermon Notes & References

Combatting the Father of Lies

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

April 15, 2018

A. Introduction

    1. The Anti-Christ 1

    2. The Apostasy

    3. The Man of Sin

    4. The Parallel

B. “Don’t Be Alarmed”                                                2:1-2

    1. Subject of Concern (1)

    2. Cause of Concern (2) 2

C. “Things I Already Told You”                                     2:3-5

    1. Before Christ Returns (3) 3

    2. The Opponent’s Character (4)

    3. Paul’s Reminder (5)

D. His Work Restrained                                                2:6-7

    1. By Something (6)

    2. By Someone (7)

E. His Disclosure                                                        3:8-12

    1. By His End (8)

    2. As a Deceiver (9-10a)

    3. The Self-Willed Deceived (10b-12)

1 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. . . . . . . . . . . . Combatting the Father of Lies


A. Introduction

    1. All Written of the Anti-Christ

        a. you will notice that I have written this term with a hyphen

            (A)    the Greek prefix anti- plus Jesus’ office or title: Messiah or Christ

            (B)    this prefix, not to be confused with the Latin ante, meaning ‘before’

                 (1)    has two meanings in this context

                 (2)    against – the one who is the opponent of Jesus

                 (3)    instead of – the one who puts himself instead of Jesus

            (C)   so this is a person who sets himself up – or is set up by Satan – against Jesus as the Christ and/or instead of Jesus as the Christ

        b. you will hear and read the term thrown about a lot by some preachers and writers – even some good Bible students can be careless in their use of the term, without relating it to their Bible text

        c. let us read every verse where this term is used in Scripture

            (A)    “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18)

            (B)    “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.” (1 John 2:22)

            (C)   “and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit [or., ‘that which is’] of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” (1 John 4:3)

            (D)   “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.” (2 John 1:7)

            (E)    Now, did you notice?

                 (1)    only one of those references, the first, has to do with the future

                 (2)    all the rest show that the character of that end times person is one that was even then working in their midst in people

                 (3)    and, secondly, that it was a term with which they were already familiar and associated with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ

                 (4)    a reason expositors apply it to the man of sin, the lawless one


    2. The Apostasy

        a. there have been all sorts of surmises as to what apostasy is prophesied

        b. some of the surmises are

            (A)    Jewish Christian who under the persecution of their countrymen – the persecution to which Paul refers and compares to that of the Thessalonians – at this time recanted on profession of faith

            (B)    or, the Jews forsaking Judaism at the fall of Jerusalem, 70AD

            (C)   or, those who left Christianity for Islam

            (D)   or, the falling away from Scripture of the Roman church

            (E)    or, the infection of the Church with liberalism, 19th & 20th centuries

            (F)    or, some, as yet future, event

        c. and to each of these there has been identified who is …


    3. The Lawless One

        a. rendered in various versions as the man of sin, man of lawlessness, the the lawless man, and the lawless one – for ease we shall use the last

        b. the evil Emperor Caligula, living at that time, who had sought to have a statue of himself erected in the temple in Jerusalem, and assassinated when he planned to emigrate to Egypt to be worshipped as a god

        c. the emperor Vespasian who ordered his son, later emperor, Titus to destroy Rome – an event recorded by the Jewish historian, Josephus

        d. all the emperors, as a class until Constantine, who adopted Christianity

        e. the reformers believed it to refer to the papacy, a seed already growing in the earliest church, and so at work throughout church history. This interpretation persists, and a notable proponent is Albert E. Barnes, and if you are interested in his arguments, you can find them on the internet at 2

        f.  those who brought modernism and liberalism into what were once sound Christian universities and colleges

        g. or men such as Napoleon, the Kaiser, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini

        h. and by Christians at other Christians who disagreed with them!


    4. Parallel of the Christ & the Anti-Christ

        a. in the both of these, it is not surprising to find that between the real and the imitation there should be parallel events

        b. with Christ, there is the mystery of the church; with the lawless one, the mystery of lawlessness

        c. with both there is an expected coming

        d. with both there is a coming revelation or appearance

        e. both are involved in working or activity – energeia – for good or evil

        f.  Christ showed true powers, signs and wonders; the lawless one, false

        g. Christ is supernatural; the lawless one seems to be so

        h. Christ is the Son of the Highest; the lawless one son of perdition, ruin

        i.  Christ is of the Truth, True; the lawless one is of the Lie, False

        j.  Christ follows the will of His Father God; the lawless one, of Satan


B. Don’t Be Alarmed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2:1-2

    1. The Subject of Concern (v 1)

        a. “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him,”

        b. what was concerning the Thessalonians in such a fashion as to give concern to Paul, was what he wrote in his first letter

            (A)    the parousia of the Lord Jesus Christ – His coming again

            (B)    the rapture of the church of God – gathering together with Him

            (C)   and as with the first letter, where chapters 4 & 5 should be read together, here these two aspects of Christ’s return are joined

        c. it is in respect of these that Paul has a heart-felt plea


    2. The Cause of Concern (v 2)

        a. “that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.”

        b. Their Instability

            (A)    they had been disturbed by this subject

            (B)    we shall see later in this letter at least one way in which their disturbance surfaced in their actions

            (C)   it describes them as shaken – tossed on the waves of uncertainty

            (D)   and lacking the peace found by trusting in the Lord

            (E)    and the frightening thought that caused this was that the Lord had already come again – a danger which Jesus had anticipated when he said, "Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There [He is,’] do not believe [him.]” (Matthew 24:23 NAS)

            (F)    the disturbance came not from Paul’s letter, but from another:

        c. The Source

            (A)    is false: the message is to be regarded as the same

            (B)    if it were someone speaking as it were prophetically in the spirit – we are admonished elsewhere always to test such spirits – then it is not to be believed

            (C)   nor if it is in some message, pretending to authority, to be heeded

            (D)   nor in some letter, claiming to be written by Paul, can it even then be considered true (Galatians’ closing seems to indicate that Paul made sure this did not reoccur by his own personal signature)

        d. if Satan can deceive God’s people in this, or any other way, then it is part of his goal to put obstacles in the road of the gospel


C. “Things I Already Told You!”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2:3-5

    1. Before Christ Returns (v 3)

        a. “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,”

        b. there is an order in God’s plan for the consummation of the ages

        c. we do not always dwell on this, because we are so thrilled to know that He may return at any instant when the Father commands

        d. but nevertheless there are some conditions in Scripture first to be met

        e. for example: “And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.” (Mark 13:10 NAS)

        f.  and this one

        g. nevertheless, these should not dim our expectations because there is no indication given as to the time to elapse between one and the other


    2. The Opponent’s Character (v 4)

        a. “who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”

            (A)    there is no doubt that this description of the lawless one, is what so quickly associates him with the term Anti-Christ

            (B)    we find in this verse both aspects of the prefix anti-

                 (1)    the lawless one is opposed to God

                 (2)    the lawless one puts himself in the place of God

            (C)   it is this verse in which the reformers – and Bible students after them – find a description of the Roman Papacy


    3. Paul’s Reminder (v 5)

        a. “Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?”

        b. “Principles of Church Planting” – lay the foundation of truth!

        c. it seems unfortunate that we didn’t attend Paul’s sermon that day, but the Holy Spirit has in His wisdom designed otherwise

        d. but the fact that we do not find this message repeated elsewhere to other churches indicates Paul made sure the lesson was learned at each

        e. let us open our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit to hear the first time


D. His Work Restrained . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2:6-7

    1. By Something (v 6)

        a. “And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed.”

        b. in seeking to understand this verse we labour, since we do not know what Paul had taught the Thessalonians in his time with them

            (A)    and it is even uncertain whether that little word, “now” applies to what they know now, or to this man’s work being restrained now.

            (B)    the latter seems the better application, since it because they do not know as he writes this letter; that is why he is writing.

        c. what it is that restrains the lawless one in his work we are not told

            (A)    some have thought civil authority; others the work of the church; others, the power of God (which ultimately is the case)

            (B)    but it is there, nevertheless

            (C)   and in due time – God’s time – the revelation of the lawless one will take place; he who is now hidden will be shown for what he is

            (D)   the next verse expresses the same principle in another way


    2. By Somebody (7)

        a. “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.”

        b. though he, and it, have at Paul’s time of writing, not yet been revealed

            (A)    the secret working of this lawless one, is already taking place

            (B)    whoever this lawless one should prove, the work of sin – lawlessness – of which he is the representative, is taking place throughout the entire church age

            (C)   but is still being restrained, and will continue to do so

        c. until the one exercising this restraint “is taken out of the way

            (A)    literally, “becomes out of the midst” or “departs from the midst

            (B)    then all restraint is removed

            (C)   many suggestions as to whom this is have been put forward

                 (1)    either the Jewish or the Christian church: but of these are spoken of as “she”, not “it” or “he” as in these verses

                 (2)    the Roman or other civil authorities, restraining either the ambitions of an emperor, or of church leaders for primacy

                 (3)    or, what seems most suitable to the language and activity, the Holy Spirit, who departs with the Church – since He resides in every individual in the church He can depart no earlier than that – leaving the now revealed lawless one, servant of Satan, along with lost mankind, to their final hour


E. His Disclosure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3:8-12

    1. In the Way He Ends (8)

        a. “And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;”

        b. in Revelation, the one who is Faithful and True, in righteousness judges and out of His mouth comes a sharp sword that smites the nations

            (A)    here it is the breath – or spirit – of His mouth

            (B)    in Hebrews, it His word that is sharper than a sword

            (C)   to the Lord who spoke the universe into existence by the Son, the termination of this opposition is a small but certain thing

        c. then there will be no doubt as to this evil being, no questions to be asked, for all the evidence will be set before mankind

        d. it is in the very destruction of this enemy of God that he is then fully revealed for what he is: let us look further at him …


    2. As a Deceiver (9-10a)

        a. “9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10a and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, …”

        b. now, for us, the lawless one is unmasked

            (A)    he is, as has already been stated, the tool of Satan

            (B)    his activity is, and will be, that which support Satan in the spiritual battle that has been taking place sin came into existence

            (C)   and the mark of the lawless one’s working and activity is that like his master, Satan – the Father of Lies – it is based on deception

            (D)   as Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, so the lawless one in the wandering, the falsehood and the ruin or perdition

        c. and those who are deceived by him likewise are sons of perdition

        d. nor is this unjust, for those deceived make that choice themselves


    3. The Self-Willed Deceived (10b-12)

        a. “10b … because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.”

            (A)    those who are deceived by this lawless one, which are the same as those who are condemned to a lost eternity

            (B)    are those whose self-fulfilling motives cause them to reject truth

        b. the key is in the phrase of this last verse – these are they who take pleasure in wickedness, the things man loves but which leave God out

            (A)    and these things should never be named among God’s family

            (B)    but, nevertheless the deceiver will seek to push us to do so


F. Conclusion

    1. These things have been written – and said – not to tickle our ears nor to pique our curiosity, but to warn us

        a. that the father of lies is out to deceive us

        b. our part in the battle against him is to take on that armour of God of which we read in Ephesians 6, and having done all, to stand




© 2018 by Garth Hutchinson, Faith Fellowship Baptist Church of Aurora (Ontario): may be distributed or quoted freely, only let this be done to the glory “of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus ii.13). Except as noted otherwise, quotations are from the New American Standard version, used by permission. Various other English versions of the Holy Bible may be used in this sermon. Explanatory additions to the Bible text are shown in [braces]. Version identifiers are:


              AV          Authorized (King James) Version of 1769

              NAS        New American Standard version © 1960, 1995 The Lockman Foundation (usually the 1995 edition)

              IGNT              Interlinear Greek New Testament, Zondervan Publishing, 1956; as well as other Greek Texts as W&H, Nestle, etc.

              NIV         New International Version © 1984 by the International Bible Society

              NKJV              New King James Version © 1979 Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers

              Philips     The New Testament in Modern Englis, J. B. Phillips, Geoffrey Bles Ltd

              RSV        Revised Standard Version © 1946, 1952 National Council of Churches of Christ; Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd

              WEY               The New Testament in Modern Speech © 1902, 1912 R. F. Weymouth

Some of the commentaries and resources used in the preparation of this message are identified as follow:

              BM       Biblical Museum, Editor James Comper Gray, ca 1870

              CP   -      Decision, July & August 1962, Open Your Bible, by Dr Sherwiood E. Wirt

              EBC             The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, © 1986 Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 49530, MI:

                             1, 2 Thessalonians: Robert L. Thomas

              EGT             The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Hodder & Stoughton; 1903

                             1 & II Thessalonians, by James Moffatt

              JFB  -      Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Jamieson, Fausset & Brown; S. S. Scranton & Co. 1872

              Gill       Exposition of the Old Testament, Exposition of the New Testament, by John Gill, D.D.

              Kerux –   The sermon & illustration data base compiled by Rev. David Holwick at the web-site,

              NCBC –    The New Century Bible Commentary – 1 and 2 Thessalonians – I. Howard Marshall – Wm B. Erdmans

              RWP             Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, by Dr. A. T. Robertson

              TTB      Thinking Through the Bible, Rev’d John McNicol, D.D., © 1944 by the author; The Upper Canada Tract & Book Society.


For this chapter at Barnes was a Presbyterian pastor and theologian.