I just happened to come across a page on your site after scanning
someone's dissertation on Hippolytus and Irenaeus. The upshot of the
dissertation was, as you summarize on your page, that the man of sin
or AntiChrist will be an actual person at the end of time who comes
into a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem to present himself as the Messiah
and be worshipped as God. The page that I came across was the one
where you answer a question that is posed from an historicist and
asserts that futurism is a later invention (1500's). I have a few
thoughts that I wanted to present on some of these things. Not an
overall argument, per se, but some thoughts that your site prompted
me to put in a brief email.
Basically, my thoughts concern the man of sin entering the temple
as Paul writes to the Thessalonians about.
1. Paul was writing to a Gentile church - not a Jewish church. The
Gentiles were not looking for a Messiah to appear in a physical
temple - nor would they be deceived by one. The temple was something
the Jews would certainly look to, but as Paul was speaking to
Gentiles, one wonders why Gentiles would think any better of someone
who enters a physical temple to be worshipped as God. Paul warns
them not to be deceived, but why would they be deceived by such a
man? Which leads me to my second point.
2. The phrase translated as "the temple of God" is used 4 times by
Paul (1 Corinthians 3:16, I Corinthians 3:17, 2 Corinthians 6:16 and
2 Thessalonians 2:4). In the other 3 cases, there is no doubt that
Paul is speaking about a spiritual temple - i.e. the body of
believers called the church - and not a physical building. That
certainly makes it likely that this usage is no different. In fact,
the alternative word "hieron" (Strongs #2411) is ALWAYS used in
reference to a physical temple (Paul uses it once in 1 Cor 9:13). In
fact, ignoring the gospels and Revelation, ALL the epistles use the
word "naos" (meaning "temple" as well - the same in the phrase
"temple of God") to mean a spiritual temple. Not a physical one. I
omit Revelation because, while I believe it to be a spiritual
temple, they are in visions and physical analogs are used. So I
don't want to dispute that. I'm confining this to Paul's writings
(and noting that all NT epistles use "naos" spiritually). That leads
me to my third point.
3. Look at the phrasing of the passage in 2 Thessalonians 2:
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not
come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be
revealed, the son of perdition;
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or
that is worshipped;
he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is
God. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
By itself, I would agree that this position might seem a bit hard to
accept. But with the above points together with this thought, I
think it is a pretty strong argument that the AntiChrist (or man of
sin) will enter a spiritual temple. That is, at the least, it will
be a man from within the church who presents himself as Christ or to
be worshipped as Christ. What do I mean? This man of sin
Exalts himself above all that is called God or worshipped SO THAT he sits
in the temple of God.
Think about it. If this were a physical temple, his presence in the
temple would demand worship. He would be worshipped because he
enters the temple. However, if his being worshipped makes it SO THAT
he sits in the temple of God, the spiritual meaning of "temple of
God" makes a lot more sense. The fact of his being worshipped puts
him in a place of eminence in the church - it doesn't put him in a
physical temple. Contrarily, the fact of his being in some rebuilt
temple doesn't make him worshipped. The phrasing, if a physical
temple were in view, would more likely be reversed. Something like
"...sits in the temple of God so that he is exalted above all that
is called God or worshipped...".
And with verses like Acts 7:48 where Stephen preaches to the Jews
in the synagogue, it becomes apparent that there is no physical
temple in view. The temple of God, it is clear, is a spiritual
temple here, as well.
Howbeit the most High dwelleth not
in temples made with hands;
So for Paul to speak of "the temple of God" so matter of fact, it
seems clear to me that this is not a man entering a physical temple,
but rather a pretender or replacement of Christ (subtly - thus the
deception implied) who enters the church.
I won't go into identifications because that's another issue. But
suffice it to say that I believe this passage clearly shows the
AntiChrist or man of sin to be a counterfeit in a spiritual sense
and in the midst of that which calls itself Christ's church.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
thanks for the email and your thoughts on this matter. Sorry it has
taken a while for me to reply. You've obviously read some of my
thoughts on this in the article on the website and have seen the quotes
from the early church (and no doubt had debates with others who
believe these passages should be taken literally) so you'll have to
forgive me if I only reply briefly.
But just a couple of things concerning your points -
1. 'Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being
gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to
become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or
letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the
Lord has already come. 3 Donít let anyone deceive you in
any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion
occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed...'
I think you're a little mistaken over what the deception was that
Paul was talking about. The deception that Paul talks about in verse
3 is the letter or prophecy that the Thessalonians had received,
supposedly from Paul (which it wasn't) that stated that the day or
the Lord had already come. He didn't say the deception was that the
Antichrist would put himself in the temple claiming to be God. Paul
only wrote this because he didn't want them to be deceived by the
letter or prophecy going around so he told them what will happen
first before the day of the Lord occurs. When the 'deception' that
Paul talks about is correctly identified, your first point is no
2. Donít you know that you yourselves are Godís temple and
that Godís Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone
destroys Godís temple, God will destroy him; for Godís temple is
sacred, and you are that temple.
It is interesting to look at those other verses you mentioned and
ask yourself what exactly the 'temple' is. I could be wrong but it
seems to be that the the temple is our physical body (for Christians
have received the Holy Spirit and God's Spirit lives in us as Paul
points out). I'm not sure it is completely accurate to use these
passages and say the temple is the Church.
But that aside (as I may be wrong), you will notice that what Paul
does do when he uses 'temple' in a not literal sense such as the
Corinthians passages, is that he defines what he means. That is, he
explains that he is using temple in a spiritual sense so that his
readers will not get confused. Obviously in 2 Thes 2 he doesn't do
this which would suggest that he wants the temple to be defined in
it's normal literal sense without spiritualizing the interpretation.
The Gentiles had and were quite used to temples as the Jews were.
With no extra explanation from Paul, they would have interpreted
this literally - a literal man sitting in a literal temple.
As for the point you made about 'naos' being used in 2 Thes 2... I
actually found that point quite misleading. A simple concordance
will show that the N.T writers used both naos and hieron of a
physical temple. So why use naos when Paul could have used hieron?
Because it is more specific. According to Strongs, Naos is 'used of
the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or
sanctuary) itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of
So Paul wanted to be clear about the Antichrist's mission... It's
not just entering the doors of the temple... He would put himself
right in the Holy of Holies, where God should be, and proclaim
himself God. Makes total sense for a literal temple.
I'm not wanting to be critical but there is a saying that 'if you
torture the data long enough it will confess to anything.' And the
'facts' concerning naos and hieron that you have presented are one
sided and seem to show a bias.
3. You wrote 'By itself, I would agree that this position might seem
a bit hard to accept. But with the above points together with this
thought, I think it is a pretty strong argument that the AntiChrist
(or man of sin) will enter a spiritual temple.'
I'm glad that you agree that a simple reading of the 2 Thes 2
passage makes a spiritual interpretation of the passage hard to
accept. I agree. You then said that when combined with your first
two points it becomes a strong argument. Maybe, just maybe, I have
shown above that the first two points weren't maybe as strong as you
Anyway, enough arguing. Thanks again for your points which I was
interested in reading. It is all worth thought and consideration.
While you said you wouldn't identify the Antichrist, I'm thinking
that you're pointing the finger at the Pope/Catholic Church. Feel
free to comment if you like. I'm no fan of the Roman Catholic Church
but for what it is worth, I would personally see them playing a
leading role in the Mystery Babylon of Rev 17 - the woman (false
religion) that rides (temporarily controls) the beast (Antichrist).
Anyway, thanks again and have a good day!