of this, Manoah supplicated Jehovah, asking him to send the messenger again in order to instruct them on raising the child. Jehovah answered the prayer and sent the angel a second time. When Manoah offered to set a meal before the messenger, he was told to render up a burnt offering to Jehovah instead, which he did. It was after this messenger ascended in the flame rising from the altar that Manoah recognized him as being Jehovah’s angel. Because of having had this experience, Manoah feared that he and his wife would die. But she allayed his fear, saying: “If Jehovah had been delighted only to put us to death, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hand, and he would not have shown us all these things, and he would not as now have let us hear anything like this.”—Judg. 13:2-23.
Years later, Manoah and his wife, ‘not knowing that it was from Jehovah,’ objected to Samson’s desire to marry a Philistine woman of Timnah. (Judg. 14:1-4; compare Deuteronomy 7:3, 4.) Subsequently Manoah and his wife accompanied Samson to Timnah, although not going with him as far as the home of the Philistine woman. Therefore they did not witness Samson’s killing a young lion with his bare hands. On another occasion Samson, intending to take the Philistine woman to his home, again went with his parents to Timnah. He turned aside to inspect the corpse of the lion that he had slain earlier and found a swarm of bees and honey inside. Upon rejoining his parents, he offered them some of the honey that he had scraped out of the lion’s corpse and they ate it. Thereafter the family apparently continued on their way, and doubtless both parents were present at the banquet arranged by Samson at Timnah.—Judg. 14:5-10.
Manoah preceded his son in death, for Samson was buried in the burial place of Manoah between Zorah and Eshtaol.—Judg. 16:31.
MAN OF LAWLESSNESS
An expression used by the apostle Paul at 2 Thessalonians 2:3, in warning of the great anti-Christian apostasy that would develop before the “day of Jehovah.” The Greek word for “apostasy” here used, a·po·sta·siʹa, denotes more than a mere falling away, an indifferent sliding back. It means a defection, a revolt, a planned, deliberate rebellion. In ancient papyrus documents a·po·sta·siʹa was used politically of rebels.
A RELIGIOUS REVOLT
This rebellion, however, is not a political one. It is a religious one, a revolt against Jehovah God and Jesus Christ and therefore against the Christian congregation.
Other expressions foretelling this apostasy were given by the apostles Paul and Peter both verbally and in writing, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself warned of its coming. In his illustration of the wheat and the weeds (Matt. chap. 13) Jesus said that the Devil would sow “weeds,” imitation Christians, “sons of the wicked one,” among the “wheat,” the “sons of the kingdom.” These would exist until the conclusion of the system of things, when they would be identified and ‘burned up.’
Paul warned the Christian overseers of Ephesus that after his going away “oppressive wolves” would enter in among true Christians and would not treat the flock with tenderness, but would try to draw away “the disciples” after themselves (not just making disciples for themselves, but trying to draw away the disciples, Christ’s disciples). (Acts 20:29, 30) He wrote, at 1 Timothy 4:1-3: “However, the inspired utterance says definitely that in later periods of time some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons, by the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, marked in their conscience as with a branding iron [feelingless, seared, so that they do not feel any twinges of conscience because of hypocritically speaking lies]; forbidding to marry, commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be partaken of with thanksgiving.”
Paul later wrote to Timothy that “there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; and they will turn their ears away from the truth.”—2 Tim. 4:3, 4.
The apostle Peter drew a parallel between the apostasy from Christianity and that which occurred in the natural house of Israel. He said: “However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among you. These very ones will quietly bring in destructive sects and will disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves. Furthermore, many will follow their acts of loose conduct, and on account of these the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively.” Peter goes on to point out that these would exploit the congregation, but that “the destruction of them is not slumbering.”—2 Pet. 2:1-3.
A composite “man”
This “man” of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 is, therefore, not an individual, but a composite “man,” a collective group, as the foregoing scriptures show, and this “man” was to continue after the apostles’ death and exist down until the time of the Lord’s second presence.
Treason against God
The “lawlessness” that this composite apostate “man” commits is lawlessness against Jehovah God the Universal Sovereign. He is guilty of treason. He is called the “son of destruction,” as was Judas Isariot, the traitor who betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ and was instrumental in bringing about his death. He, like Judas, is to be annihilated, sent into extinction forever. This “man” is not “Babylon the Great,” who also fights against God, for she is a woman, a harlot. However, since he carries on a religious rebellion against God, he is evidently a part of mystic Babylon.—John 17:12; Rev. 17:3, 5.
The “man of lawlessness” sets himself in opposition to God and is therefore an opposer or a “satan,” which word means opposer. And, indeed, his “presence is according to the operation of Satan.” (2 Thess. 2:9) The character of this apostasy is a “mystery” or sacred secret, not to God, but to the Devil, who would like to hold it under cover; it is a religious mystery. (2 Thess. 2:7) By his lying teachings contrary to, or superseding, as it were, the law of God, the “man of lawlessness” sets himself up over Jehovah God and other ‘gods,’ mighty ones of the earth, and also against God’s holy ones, true spiritual brothers of Jesus Christ. (Compare 2 Peter 2:10-13.) Since he is a hypocrite, a false teacher claiming to be Christian, he “sits down in the temple of The God,” as if being of the spiritual temple.—2 Thess. 2:4.
Paul speaks of “the thing that acts as a restraint.” He had told the Ephesian overseers that “after my going away” wolflike men would enter in. (Acts 20:29) So it appears to be the apostles, working with their associates such as Timothy and Titus and others who cooperated with them, who constituted this restraint. Paul repeatedly wrote admonitions about such apostasy, not only here in Second Thessalonians, but in many exhortations to Timothy. And he counseled Timothy to commit the things he had heard from Paul to faithful men who would be qualified to teach others. He spoke of the congregation of the living God as being “a pillar and support of the truth.” He wanted it built up as strongly as possible before the great apostasy blossomed out.—2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Tim. 3:15.