Paul called the Antichrist, “the man of sin … the son of perdition” (2 Thess. 2:3). It is primarily because of this verse that millions have come to believe that there will be only one super-sinister Mr. Sin who will rise to power after the Rapture. Is it true? Will there be only one man – the Antichrist? Is this what Paul really meant?
First of all, in the little book of 1 John, the Bible plainly says there are “many antichrists” (1 John 2:18) and a “spirit of antichrist” (1 John 4:3). John also wrote that any person who denies the true doctrine of Jesus Christ is “a deceiver and an antichrist” (2 John 7,9). Thus, so far, the idea of there being only “one” antichrist fails the biblical test.
There are other equally inspired statements in the Bible which parallel Paul’s expression, “the man of sin.” Prophecy also refers to this same Antichrist as the “little horn” (Daniel 7:8), the “beast” (Revelation 13:1), “the mystery of iniquity” (2 Thessalonians 2:7), and “that Wicked” (2 Thess. 2:8). Do all of these expressions refer to one evil person who will rise to power after the Rapture? You are about to see that they do not.
Most agree that Daniel’s “little horn,” Revelation’s mysterious “beast,” and Paul‘s “man of sin,” all refer to the same thing. Daniel 7 describes four beasts – a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a dragon-like beast with ten horns (Daniel 7:3-7). Then comes the “little horn” out of the head of the fourth beast (Daniel 7:8). This little horn has “eyes like the eyes of a man,” “a mouth speaking great things,” and “makes war on the saints” (Daniel 7:8, 21). This is exactly what “the beast” has and does in Revelation 13:5,7. Thus the “little horn” is the same as “the beast.” But what many fail to discern is that in Daniel 7, a beast is clearly defined as a kingdom, not a man. The Holy Word says, “…the fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon the earth” (Daniel 7:23).
The Bible doesn’t say the “little horn” is a man, but rather that it would have “eyes like the eyes of a man” (Daniel 7:8). When Paul used the expression, “the man of sin,” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, he was simply referring to the “little horn” with its “eyes like the eyes of a man.” Yet that same horn is called a “beast” in Revelation 13:1, and the Bible clearly tells us that a beast represents a great kingdom (Daniel 7:23).
A careful study of 2 Thessalonians 2 reveals the impossibility of “the man of sin,” also called to “the mystery of iniquity,” and “that Wicked,” as only applying to one man. First, “the mystery of iniquity,” although under restraint, was “already at work” in Paul’s time (verse 7). Second, it would continue all the way until the visible return of Jesus Christ at the end of the world (verse 8). Thus it cannot refer to only one man, for that man would have to be almost 2,000 years old!
Did Paul ever use the expression “the man” in any of his other writings in such a way that it does not refer to only one man? Yes. Paul wrote, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. Here “the man of God” does not refer to only one Holy Man, but rather to a succession of godly men throughout history who follow the Scriptures. Paul also used the phrase, “the minister of God” (Romans 13:4) to refer to all civil officers throughout history who restrain evil. Thus, Paul’s mysterious phrase, “the man of sin,” which is the same as the “little horn,” and the “beast,” may properly refer to an actual “kingdom” with “eyes like the eyes of a man,” that is, to a kingdom centered in a historical succession of supremely exalted men who, according to the Scriptures, are part of “the mystery of iniquity.”
For more information, read the article on this web site entitled, Antichrist and the Protestant Reformation (under Antichrist Appeals), and read the book, End Time Delusions: The Rapture, the Antichrist, Israel, and the End of the World.