Read 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10.
How do we understand these events? What’s especially important in all this about the phrase, “they received not the love of the truth”?
The man of sin was introduced in 2 Thessalonians 2:3–4. Through much of Christian history he has operated to undermine God’s law (particularly the Sabbath) and to usurp powers that belong only to Christ. In passages such as Daniel 7:20-25 (the little horn) and Revelation 13:1-7 (the beast from the sea), this same power operates after the fall of the pagan Roman Empire, combining both religious and secular authority to persecute the saints of God. The only power in history that fits all the specifications of these prophecies is the papacy. Many interpreters from the Middle Ages, and even to this day, have designated this institution as the antichrist. (Only in the past century or two have the vast majority of Christians moved away from this interpretation, an interesting move in itself in light of our understanding of last-day events). This identification of the papacy fits the specifications of 2 Thessalonians 2 that the man of sin would be both masculine (a person) and neuter (a world power or institution).
In verse 7, “mystery of lawlessness” (NKJV), is an appropriate designation for his activity. But at the close of history, just before the Second Coming, there will be an even more world wide, open defiance of God and His laws. The continuity of powers, both in this passage and elsewhere (Daniel 7 and Revelation 13), indicates that the papacy will play a major role at the end of time, as well.
Today’s passage draws back the curtain to reveal an even greater antichrist behind the one that has operated among the nations in the course of history. Satan himself is the author and finisher of the deceptions of the end time. As the return of Jesus approaches, events will force him into a final act of desperation. He will throw caution to the winds and appear in person to mimic the earthly ministry of Jesus (see Friday’s lesson). Through counterfeit miracles he attempts to draw people’s attention away from the gospel (the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus) and even the Second Coming itself.
Dwell on this idea of “the love of the truth.” How do we “receive” it? Why is having this love so crucial for anyone who doesn’t want to get caught up in any spiritual deception, especially in the last days? How can we learn, even now, to “receive the love of the truth?”