The Apostasy

Paul warns of the coming apostasy and connects it to the “man of lawlessness.” To the church in Thessalonica, he explains that the “day of the Lord” will NOT commence until the “apostasy” occurs and that dark figure is revealed - two inextricably linked events. And in doing so, he reiterates warnings found elsewhere about this future apostasy.

Paul is responding to false reports that claim the “day of the Lord had set in.” But that can not be true since these two related events have not yet occurred.

And this future “man of lawlessness” will propagate the very deceptions that will cause many believers to apostatize, along with “lying signs and wonders.”

  • (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4) - “That no one may deceive you in any respect. Because that day will not set in, except the apostasy come first, and there be revealed the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself on high against everyone called God or any object of worship, so that he, within the sanctuary of God, will take his seat, showing himself that he is God.”


Not coincidentally, Paul’s warning echoes the words of Jesus spoken on the Mount of Olives. Followers of Jesus must not be “troubled” or “deceived by anyone.” Likewise, when his disciples asked him about his coming, Jesus warned:

  • Beware lest anyone deceive you, for many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ, and deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not troubled, for these things must come to pass; but the end is not yet” – (Matthew 24:4-6).

Before the end, his followers will experience deception that will cause many to “stumble and betray one another.” Moreover, “many false prophets will arise and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of the many will wax cold… And there will arise false Christs and false prophets and will show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive even the elect” – (Matthew 24:10-12, 24).

So, also, the “man of lawlessness” will have his own “arrival” or ‘parousia’ that will be “according to the energizing of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders.” He will offer “every deceit of unrighteousness to them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth” – (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).


In Paul’s letter, the Greek term rendered “apostasy” translates the noun apostasia, meaning “fall away, apostasy, defection.” And in the Greek scriptures, it is applied consistently to defection from the true faith - (Matthew 5:31, Acts 21:21, 1 Timothy 4:1, Hebrews 3:12).

The biblical figure behind this “man of lawlessness” is the malevolent ruler from several of Daniel’s visions called variously, the “little horn,” the “king of fierce countenance,” the “leader,” and the “contemptible one.”

And the Apostle’s description in 2 Thessalonians of this man’s actions alludes to the relevant passage in the book of Daniel:

  • And the king shall do according to his will, and HE SHALL EXALT HIMSELF, AND MAGNIFY HIMSELF ABOVE EVERY GOD, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods; and he shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished; for that which is determined shall be done” – (Daniel 11:36).

In Daniel, the “indignation” refers to the assault by the “little horn” against the “saints.”

This malevolent ruler “waged war against the saints of the Most-High,” “wore out the saints,” cast down “some of the host of heaven and the stars to the ground,” “destroyed the saints,” had “indignation against the covenant,” and through “flattery, corrupted such as acted wickedly against the covenant” - (Daniel 7:21-25, 8:10, 8:24, 11:30-32).

Likewise, the “man of lawlessness” will wage war against the saints with deceit and “lying wonders,” causing many to depart from the faith.


Paul also warned Timothy about this future apostasy. The time will come when “some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” And in the last days, “evil men and howling imposters will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” - (1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:13, 4:1-4).

The Apostle Peter also warns of coming “false prophets” and “false teachers” who will disseminate false doctrines, and otherwise wreak havoc in the church:

  • (2 Peter 2:1-3) – “But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their lascivious doings; by reason of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of. And in covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose sentence now from of old lingers not, and their destruction slumbers not.

In his epistles, John describes the coming “antichrist,” but of more immediate concern are the “many antichrists” already active IN THE CHURCH.

The “last days” are underway, and as evidence for this, he points to the “spirit of antichrist” that is at work even now through deceivers and “false prophets” in the church – (1 John 2:18-22, 4:1-3).

Scripture provides a consistent warning. Before the return of Jesus, the church will experience the “apostasy,” the great “falling away.” Moreover, closely linked to it will be the malevolent figure known as the “man of lawlessness, the son of destruction.”

All disciples of Jesus have been forewarned explicitly and repeatedly by the “traditions” of the Apostles that have been handed down in the pages of the New Testament. We ignore them at our peril.


Destruction of Babylon

The Little Horn