The Lawless Man’s Origin
4. Who is the originator and backer of the man of lawlessness?
4 Who originated and supports this man of lawlessness? Paul answers: “The lawless one’s presence is according to the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and portents and with every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing, as a retribution because they did not accept the love of the truth that they might be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10) So Satan is the father and sustainer of the man of lawlessness. And just as Satan is opposed to Jehovah, His purposes, and His people, so is the man of lawlessness, whether he realizes it or not.
5. What fate awaits the lawless one and those who follow him?
5 Those who go along with the man of lawlessness will suffer the same fate as he does—destruction: “The lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with . . . and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence.” (2 Thessalonians 2:8) That time for the destruction of the man of lawlessness and his supporters (“those who are perishing”) will come shortly “at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. These very ones will undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction.”—2 Thessalonians 1:6-9.
Identifying the Lawless One
7. Why do we conclude that Paul was not talking about one individual, and what does the man of lawlessness stand for?
7 Was Paul speaking of a single individual? No, for he states that this “man” was evident in Paul’s day and would continue in existence until Jehovah destroyed him at this system’s end. Thus, he has existed for many centuries. Obviously, no literal man has lived that long. So the expression “man of lawlessness” must stand for a body, or class, of people.
8. Who is the man of lawlessness, and what are some identifying features?
8 Who are they? The evidence shows that they are the body of proud, ambitious clergymen of Christendom, who over the centuries have set themselves up as a law unto themselves. This can be seen by the fact that there are thousands of different religions and sects in Christendom, each with its clergy, yet each conflicting with the others in some aspect of doctrine or practice. This divided state is a clear evidence that they do not follow God’s law. They cannot be from God. (Compare Micah 2:12; Mark 3:24; Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 1:10.) What all these religions have in common is that they do not hold fast to the Bible’s teachings, having violated the rule: “Do not go beyond the things that are written.”—1 Corinthians 4:6; see also Matthew 15:3, 9, 14.
9. What unscriptural beliefs has the lawless one substituted for Bible truths?
9 Thus, this lawless one is a composite person: the religious clergy of Christendom. All of them, whether popes, priests, patriarchs, or Protestant preachers, share responsibility for the religious sins of Christendom. They have exchanged the truths of God for pagan lies, teaching such unscriptural doctrines as immortality of the human soul, hellfire, purgatory, and Trinity. They are like the religious leaders to whom Jesus said: “You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. . . . He is a liar and the father of the lie.” (John 8:44) Their practices also expose them as lawless, for they participate in activities that violate God’s laws. To such ones Jesus says: “Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.”—Matthew 7:21-23.