Second Thessalonians 2:1-12 Unlocked breaks new ground as it interprets this important eschatological passage. The insights presented lead to new perspectives on the end-time leader and the timing of “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him” (commonly known as the rapture).
The book uses Paul’s temporal markers and his subject to develop the following structure of the passage:
(a) the subject—“the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him” (v.1),
(b) Paul’s reason for writing about the Coming and Gathering (v. 2),
(c) what comes first/before the Coming and Gathering (vv. 3–5),
(d) what currently restrains the Coming and Gathering (vv. 6–7), and
(e) what follows the Coming and Gathering (vv 8–12).
This structure facilitates recognition of the fact that Paul talks about three different persons in this passage. In verses 3–5 he talks about the man of sin, in verses 6–7 he talks about the Lord Jesus Christ, and in verses 8–12 he talks about the lawless one—a different person than the man of sin. H. A. Ironside saw that Paul talked about different men in verses 3–5 and verses 8–12, and the apostle John confirms this view in Revelation chapter 13, which parallels 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12.
Recognizing that Paul talks about different men in verses 3–5 and verses 8–12 leads to the correction of two eschatological teachings.
First, the man of sin does not work any miracles, signs or wonders. Paul does not attribute this to him in verses 3–5, John does not attribute this to the first beast in Rev 13:1–10, and Daniel does not attribute the working of miracles, signs or wonders to any of the future leaders that he discusses in chapters 7–11. These are the only inspired writers who describe the activities of the end-time leader. If they do not attribute the working of miracles, signs or wonders to him, then modern-day writers, pastors and evangelists have no right to do so.
Second, the interplay between verses 6–7 and 8–12 does not prove that the Antichrist is revealed after the rapture. Paul is saying here that after a restraining force is taken out of the midst (considered by many to indicate the rapture) the lawless one, whom John calls the second beast or false prophet, is revealed—not the Antichrist.
The book concludes with three appendices. They address issues that have clouded the interpretation of this passage: (a) Is the correct reading in verse 2 “the day of the Lord” or “the day of Christ,” and what is the meaning of each term? (b) Is the correct reading in verse 3 “the man of lawlessness” or “the man of sin”? (c) What does Paul mean by temple of God in verse 4?
Second Thessalonians 2:1–12 is an intricate and carefully crafted discourse on the eschatological events surrounding the return of the Lord. When it is unlocked, it restricts the time during which the rapture can occur.