In 2 Thessalonians 2:4, it is written,

Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (KJV, 1769)

ὁ ἀντικείμενος καὶ ὑπεραιρόμενος ἐπὶ πάντα λεγόμενον θεὸν ἢ σέβασμα ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ ὡς Θεὸν καθίσαι ἀποδεικνύντα ἑαυτὸν ὅτι ἔστιν θεός (TR, 1550)

The KJV translates «πάντα λεγόμενον θεὸν» as "all that is called God"? What does this phrase mean, and what (or who) does it refer to?

3 Answers 3


The phrase 'all that is called God' is difficult to analyze in English because the proper noun 'God' ('God' with a capital G) is known to be reserved to him who possess the divine identity and divine substance (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 4:8).

In Trinitarian theology, this would be construed as the individual who self-identifies (claims) as someone above the Trinity. This shows ultimate power, a power beyond the Godhead which is nothing but a mere show though it may appear real due to its controlling influence ( cf: 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 13:3).

The phrase 'πάντα λεγόμενον θεὸν' may refer to the false gods (1 Corinthians 8:5). The exegetical evidence is the Greek word sebasma that is also used in Acts 17:23 in its plural form. The following English translations show this understanding:

(English Standard Version) who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.

(Holman Christian Standard Bible) He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits in God's sanctuary, publicizing that he himself is God.

(NET Bible) He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God's temple, displaying himself as God.

The Ethiopic version renders εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ as "in the house of God" (recalling 1 Corinthians 3:16) and thus, the subject who deifies himself as the one true God is to be found within the church.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God; not in the temple of Jerusalem, which was to be destroyed and never to be rebuilt more, and was destroyed before this man of sin was revealed; but in the church of God, so called, 1 Corinthians 3:16 the Ethiopic version renders it, "in the house of God"; for antichrist rose up out of, and in the midst of the church; and it was a true church in which he first appeared, and over which he usurped power and authority; though it has been so corrupted by him, as now to be only nominally so; here he sits, and has homage done him by his creatures, as if he was a god, and is not only styled Christ's vicar, but a god on earth, and our Lord God the Pope; so in the triumphal arch at the entry of Pope Sixtus IV, these lines were put, "oraculo vocis, mundi moderaris habenas, et merito in terris crederis esse Dens"; the sense is, that he governed the world by his word, and was deservedly believed to be God on earth; and their canon law (Gratian. Decret. dist. 96. can. "satis".) says,

"it is clearly enough shown, that the Pope cannot be loosed or bound by any secular power; since it is evident that he is called God by that pious prince, Constantine, and it is manifest that God cannot be judged by men:''

and Pope John 22 is expressly called ( Extrarag. "cum inter".) "our Lord God the Pope": the Ethiopic version reads, "he shall say to all, I am the Lord God"; see Ezekiel 28:2, the Alexandrian copy, and some others, and the Vulgate Latin version, leave out the phrase, "as God", but the Syriac retains it: however, the same blasphemy is expressed in the next clause,

This seems probable but one thing is for sure, like Satan, the man of lawlessness will claim Godhood but his destruction is sure (2 Corinthians 2:8).

12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

Isaiah 14:12-14 (KJV)


This is almost certainly referring to the same thing as Daniel 11, or else Paul is alluding deliberately to it in describing something comparable:

Daniel 11:31-39 (DRB)

31 And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall defile the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the continual sacrifice, and they shall place there the abomination unto desolation. 32 And such as deal wickedly against the covenant shall deceitfully dissemble: but the people that know their God shall prevail and succeed. 33 And they that are learned among the people shall teach many: and they shall fall by the sword, and by fire, and by captivity, and by spoil for many days. 34 And when they shall have fallen they shall be relieved with a small help: and many shall be joined to them deceitfully. 35 And some of the learned shall fall, that they may be tried, and may be chosen, and made white even to the appointed time, because yet there shall be another time. 36 And the king shall do according to his will, and he shall be lifted up, and shall magnify himself against every god: and he shall speak great things against the God of gods, and shall prosper, till the wrath be accomplished. For the determination is made. 37 And he shall make no account of the God of his fathers: and he shall follow the lust of women, and he shall not regard any gods: for he shall rise up against all things. 38 But he shall worship the god Maozim in his place: and a god whom his fathers knew not, he shall worship with gold, and silver, and precious stones, and things of great price. 39 And he shall do this to fortify Maozim with a strange god, whom he hath acknowledged, and he shall increase glory and shall give them power over many, and shall divide the land gratis.

Which in turn is also alluded to by St. John:

Revelation 13:1-18 (DRB)

And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten diadems, and upon his heads names of blasphemy. 2 And the beast, which I saw, was like to a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his own strength, and great power. 3 And I saw one of his heads as it were slain to death: and his death's wound was healed. And all the earth was in admiration after the beast. 4 And they adored the dragon, which gave power to the beast: and they adored the beast, saying: Who is like to the beast? and who shall be able to fight with him? 5 And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things, and blasphemies: and power was given to him to do two and forty months. 6 And he opened his mouth unto blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. And power was given him over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation. 8 And all that dwell upon the earth adored him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb, which was slain from the beginning of the world.

"every god" and "all that is considered god or is worshiped" were synonymous in Hebrew thought. 'Other gods' was not a concession of polytheism or heinotheism, but a limit on the number of Gods you may believe in. The gods of the heathens are devils.

Contrary to anti-papacy interpretations, that this 'antichrist' will take away "the continual sacrifice" necessitates a denomination where there is a daily sacrifice (Mal. 1:10-11; 1 Cor. 10:21) in what is the New Testament equivalent of the sanctuary of the Old Testament... In addition, Protestantism (key proponent of this doctrine) has no universally recognized "Temple of God" in which to sit. Sounds like antichrist will certainly be a pope (as Catholic prophecy indicates), but not the papacy. Moreover, awkwardly, if it was a pope, it would only prove Catholicism true, for it would not be "the Temple of God" being blasphemed if it weren't...


"All that is called god" is directly equivalent to "All that is considered a god."


I have identified the background of Paul's teaching and it really throws a LOT of light on this question and many other questions:

[Dan 11:35-37 NLT] 35 And some of the wise will fall victim to persecution. In this way, they will be refined and cleansed and made pure until the time of the end, for the appointed time is still to come. 36 "The king will do as he pleases, exalting himself and claiming to be greater than every god, even blaspheming the God of gods. He will succeed, but only until the time of wrath is completed. For what has been determined will surely take place. 37 He will have no respect for the gods of his ancestors, or for the god loved by women, or for any other god, for he will boast that he is greater than them all.


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