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In 2 Thes. 2:4, it is written,

4 He will oppose and exalt himself above every so-called god or object of worship. So he will seat himself in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Berean Study Bible, 2016

Δʹ 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

How does the man of sin actually “seat/sit” in the Temple of God?

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Temple means the sanctuary consisting of the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place [ναός-naos]. These contained five pieces of furniture:

  • a table for showbread
  • an altar for incense
  • a lampstand for light
  • the Ark of the Covenant
  • the Mercy Seat which was placed on the Ark

The only place to sit is on the Mercy Seat covering the Ark.

There are three ways in which what Paul says can come about.

First, since the Temple in Jerusalem was still standing when Paul wrote, Paul could be saying the man of sin will enter the Sanctuary and be seated on the Mercy Seat. The difficulty here is the Ark of the Covenant and its cover were not in the second Temple. Even if Paul was not aware these pieces were missing, their absence makes this impossible.

A second way is for the man of sin to be seated in the heavenly Sanctuary:

Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. (Revelation 11:19 ESV)

The third way would be for the Ark from the first temple to be found (or claim to be found). This would provide the "seat" on which the man of sin could sit. It is possible this would occur in the third Temple. There are also two other possibilities:

  • the man of sin will attempt to re-establish (or claim to have) the Tabernacle Moses constructed.
  • the man of sin will set up a tent for the ark while the third temple is under construction. This would mirror David's actions in bringing the Ark to Jerusalem before Solomon built the Temple.

The important aspect is the man of sin will be seated on the Mercy Seat, or what is claimed to be Mercy Seat. Obviously option two would be an event no one on the earth could miss. At the time Paul wrote, option three would lack this immediacy, yet the recovery and presentation of the Ark would certainly be a newsworthy event; the news would reach the Thessalonians and likely all people on the earth.

So Paul's reassurance to the Thessalonians is they will know Christ's return is imminent when they see, or learn someone is seated on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant and the events surrounding this will not go unnoticed.

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There was a throne in the temple, but no man could sit upon it. Rather, it was Yahveh who sat upon it. His throne was the Ark of the Covenant, and He sat upon the cherubim, as it is written in Psa. 99:1,1

1 The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! RSV, 1901

The LXX translates the Hebrew יֹשֵׁב כְּרוּבִים (yōšēb kĕrûbîm) into Greek as ὁ καθήμενος ἐπὶ τῶν χερουβιν—“he who sits upon the cherubim.”

Hindson and LaHaye wrote,2

Exploring Bible Prophecy from Genesis to Revelation, p. 256


References

Hindson, Ed; LaHaye, Tim. Exploring Bible Prophecy from Genesis to Revelation. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2011.

Footnotes

1 cp. Psa. 80:1
2 p. 256

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2 Thessalonians 2:4

ὁ ἀντικείμενος καὶ ὑπεραιρόμενος ἐπὶ πάντα λεγόμενον Θεὸν ἢ σέβασμα ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ καθίσαι ἀποδεικνύντα ἑαυτὸν ὅτι ἔστιν Θεός

the one opposing and raising himself up above all that is called God or is worshiped, even seating himself in the temple of God, making himself out to be God.

This would appear to be somone in a religious office. Since Christ alludes to this kind of authority-seat language (Matthew 23:1-3) in the context of the Scribes and Pharisees. And a usurper of such a religious office might turn from a valid servingof God to proclaiming in some way that he is God himself.

This also aligns with what Christ says about the Antichrist, who the man of lawnessness (v. 3) could be referring to, in that he will decieve, if possible, even the elect (the church) (Matthew 24:24). This could only really be possible if the Antichrist is a trusted or valid leader-figure in the context of religious official.

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These are some thoughts to consider on 2 Thessalonians c. 2.

The letter was written around 50 - 51 AD during Paul's second missionary trip after having established the church at Thessalonica. (Source: here)

2 Thess. 2:2,

" That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand." (KJV)

Paul was reassuring the saints at Thessalonica that the day of Christ was still "at hand". In other words, he was telling them it had not happened yet.

This means that the saints were worried / troubled in mind at the possibility that they may have missed Christ's coming.

If we allow ourselves to realize the full implications of their worry and concern, that as they felt the need to ask Paul if Christ had already returned, then we should understand that they knew the coming of the Lord was not going to be a visible event that would be seen by the entire world!

This directly opposes the modern concept of a coming of the Lord that will be witnessed all over the world by all people of the world.

The words "at hand" meant soon / near to them. It was still out in front of them, yet future for them when Paul wrote the letter to them. He was assuring them that they had not missed it!

2 Thess. 2:3,

"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;" (KJV)

Next Paul told them what to watch for... the revealing of the man of sin. That the man of sin / son of perdition would be revealed to them means that the man of sin was living at the time Paul wrote the letter. The Thessalonians were to watch for that revealing.

This is confirmed in verses 6-7,

"6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way." (KJV)

The people of Thessalonia knew who was withholding that man of sin, so the man of sin existed in their day, their generation. Paul told them that the mystery of his iniquity was already working when he wrote the letter. And the one "who NOW letteth" is present tense action.. at the time the letter was written in the first century A.D.

Going back to 2 Thess. 2:4,

"4 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)

When Paul wrote this letter, those at Thessalonica, and elsewhere in Palestine, were not thinking of some future "third" temple 2,000 or more years into the future. The reference was to the then standing temple in Jerusalem of the first century A.D.

This verse proves that the temple was still standing when Paul wrote the letter to the church at Thessalonica. The man of sin was someone of their day and time who had not yet fully exposed himself for the evil one that would exalt himself above God.

The saints at Thessalonica knew Christ would return, appearing a second time to them (Heb. 9:28). They were expecting His return in their lifetime just as Christ had promised them (Matt. c. 24, Luke c. 21, etc.). They were seeking to better know when to expect it. Why would they even question Paul in this matter if they did not believe it would happen in their lifetimes?

2 Thess. 2:5,

" Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?" (KJV)

That Paul said "remember" means that he had already told them before of this man of sin, and this was a re-telling to soothe their worries.

Verse 7 told them that the mystery of lawlessness was already working as Paul wrote the letter. That is contemporary historical setting of the first century A.D.

So, we must look for the man of sin who caused the people of that day and time to believe a lie with such a strong delusion that many would die because of it (2 Thess. 2:11-12).

Excerpts from "What About Paul's 'Man of Sin'?" by John Noe,

"The best answer-we believe-is that it was both an office (the “what”) and a person (the “one who” or “he”). More specifically, it was the institution of the Jewish priesthood led by Ananus, the high priest. The priesthood opposed the Jewish, Zealot-led rebellion. And Ananus wanted peace with Rome. As long as he and the priesthood stood in the way, the lawlessness of the Jewish Zealots was held back, the “work of Satan” couldn’t reach its full realization, and the “man of sin” couldn’t appear on the scene and cause the final destruction. In A.D. 68, however, Jewish Zealots, with the assistance of the Idumaeans, murdered Ananus and over 12,000 other priests and left their bodies unburied-a violation of the Jewish Law Thus, the priesthood was “taken out of the way” As Josephus wrote in his history of the fall of the city:

'I should not mistake if I said that the death of Ananus was the beginning of the destruction of the city; and that from this very day may be dated the overthrow of her walls, and the ruin of her affairs, whereon they saw their high-priest, and the procurer of their preservation; slain in the midst of their city;. for he was thoroughly sensible that the Romans were not to be conquered. He also foresaw that of necessity a war would follow, and that unless the Jews made up matters with them very dexterously, they would be destroyed: to say all in a word, if Ananus had survived that would have certainly compounded matters… and I cannot but think that it was because God had doomed this city to destruction, as a polluted city, and was resolved to purge his sanctuary by fire, that he cut off these great defenders and wellwishers.'

Verses 8-10. a Ad then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming [parousia]. The coming [parousia] of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved!” All this happened in the very Temple that was standing until A.D. 70. As the war between the Jews and Rome developed, a strong leader of the Jewish Zealots emerged who would fulfill Paul’s prophecy. He would soon become the key man in inciting the Jews against Rome, in bringing abominations into the Temple area, and in causing the final destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. After Ananus’ murder and the removal of the priesthood. Josephus records that a man named John, the son of Levi, fled to Jerusalem from the Roman conquered area of Gischala in Galilee and became the treacherous leader of the Jewish Zealots in control of the Temple area. Also Josephus wrote, “Now this was the work of God, who therefore preserved this John, that he might bring on the destruction of Jerusalem.”

Josephus also records that before this John of Gischala, the son of Levi, was established as the Zealot leader in control of the Temple area (there were three Zealot factions), the power of Satan was already doing his deceitful and treacherous work. This John physically entered the Temple, presented himself to the Zealots as a God-sent ambassador; and persuaded them to defy the laws of Rome and go to war to gain independence. He also instigated the calling in the Idumaeans to keep the Jewish sympathizers from submitting to Rome. He ordered the death of Ananus and the removal of the priesthood. After these atrocities, he became the official leader of the Zealot group m control of theTemple area-john held the temple” and began disregarded the laws of Rome, God, and man, and promising deliverance from the Romans. Then he broke off from the Zealots and began “setting up a monarchial power.” He “set on fire these houses that were full of corn, and of all other provision which would have been sufficient for a siege of many years” He deceived the Jews about the power of the Roman armies In possession of the Temple and the adjoining parts, he cut the throats of anyone suspected of going over to the Romans.13 He performed many sacrileges, such as melting down the sacred utensils used in Temple service, and defiled the Temple."

"After the coming of the Lord and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70, John of Gischala was “condemned to perpetual imprisonment” by the Roman authorities. Thus was fulfilled Paul’s prophetic and symbolic language that this man would be destroyed by “the spirit of his Jesus mouth and brightness of his [parousia] coming” (see Isa. 11:4; 30:27-33; Hos. 6:5; also Da. 7:8, 19-28)."

"In dramatic paralleled fashion, Scripture gives this “man of sin” John of Gischala, the son of Levi- the name of” the one doomed to destruction” or “the son of perdition,” the same name given to another infamous betrayer, Judas Iscariot (compare Jn. 17:12 with 2Th. 2:3 KJV). Both appeared in the same “last days” time frame of the Old Covenant age. Judas betrayed Jesus. John of Gischala betrayed the Jews, fulfilling Paul’s “man of sin” prophecy to a tee."

The full article can be ready here.

All bold emphasis is mine.

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"The man of sin" metaphorically "sits" on God's "seat", instead of him, in "the temple of the Holy Spirit", which is our bodies, if we have a warped understanding of what holiness is.

The temple of God consists of 'the Holy Place', and 'the Holiest of Holy'. Thus it symbolises holiness.

1 Cor 6:19 (NIV) "your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit"

To wrongly "sit" in "the temple of the Holy Spirit" is to display a skewed understanding about what holiness means. An Anti-Christ will teach that it is ok to sin, because Jesus suffered in our stead and that we can therefore not be held responsible when sinning.

2 Thess 2:7 (NIV) The secret power of lawlessness is already at work.

While the truth is that Jesus' crucifixion and death on the cross is serving as an example for us to follow, so that we can become holy and partakers of the heavenly bliss that God has instore for us.

Gal 5:24 (NIV) Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Rom 6:1,2 (NIV) What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

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In the Greek the word ' anti' means ' in place of' or ' like.' An example is in Matthew where Archelaus, son of Herod the Great, ruled " anti" his father. Therefore Joseph would not take Jesus to. Jerusalem for fear he wanted to kill all legal heirs to the throne, as his father did, to save the kingdom for the descendants of ' ANTIPATER' first Procurator appointed over Judea by the Romans. ' Anti- pater' means ' like-father, his father having the same name. Therefore ' antichrist' means ' like- Christ' or ' in place of Christ.' And there were many who claimed to be Christ ( Messiah) in the first century WHEN this event was to occur. Paul testifies to the ' falling away/apostasy' BEFORE the destruction of Jerusalem, AD. 70. 2 Tim 1:15. " ALL in Asia have abandoned me." The End was NEAR to them. 1 Pet 4:7. All the old elements of the earthly kingdom were. ' Passing away.' HEB 8:13. God finished his work so that mankind could enter his rest. Otherwise rest has not come. We know n experience his rest by believing n receiving the FREE LIVING WATER ( REV 22:17; Is 55:1) in his NEW NAME. IS 62:2; REV 3:12. JESUS.

The problem occurs when we fail to differentiate between the flesh n the spirit; seen vs unseen; temporal vs eternal; external vs internal. This dichotomy is the bedrock of the Bible. Look at ur palms. There are three Hebrew vavs there. Serve the flesh n die; serve the spirit n live. In 6:63; Heb 2:5.

May his FACE shine upon us...

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The answer, I believe, is found when this verse is taken with the preceding one:

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 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.

The Greek word that the KJV translates as "falling away" and your Bible translates as "rebellion" in verse 3 is ἀποστασία - apostasia, from which we recognize the word "apostasy".

The verse is speaking of the coming of the Antichrist. An explanation can be found in John Chrysostom's commentary on this passage (written in the 4th century):

Here he discourses concerning the Antichrist, and reveals great mysteries. What is “the falling away”? He calls him Apostasy, as being about to destroy many, and make them fall away. So that if it were possible, He says, the very Elect should be offended. (From Matt. 24:24.) And he calls him “the man of sin.” For he shall do numberless mischiefs, and shall cause others to do them. But he calls him “the son of perdition,” because he is also to be destroyed. But who is he? Is it then Satan? By no means; but some man, that admits his fully working in him. For he is a man. “And exalteth himself against all that is called God or is worshiped.” For he will not introduce idolatry, but will be a kind of opponent to God; he will abolish all the gods, and will order men to worship him instead of God, and he will be seated in the temple of God, not that in Jerusalem only, but also in every Church. “Setting himself forth,” he says; he does not say, saying it, but endeavoring to show it. For he will perform great works, and will show wonderful signs.

Homily III on the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians

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  • Thanks for the explanation. It may be that I didn't get your explanation. I probably should point you to what I was looking for. Why use 'sit' in one version, and in another 'seat' is used, one verb meaning to cause to be seated whereas another meaning the plain act of sitting, if not allegorical, as in what judges do? – Paul Feb 9 '17 at 16:17
  • The Greek phrase is εις τον ναον ... καθισαι - "in the temple ... to sit down". It does not literally say "to seat himself" as your translation implies. The word for "himself" (ἑαυτοῦ) is used in connection with "setting himself forth that he is God" (αποδεικνυντα εαυτον οτι εστιν θεος). – user33515 Feb 9 '17 at 16:27
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In 2 Thessalonians 2:4, how does the man of sin actually “seat/sit” in the Temple of God?

The Holy Spirit wants to indwell the souls or temple (Naos) of believers to carry the presence and the glory of God on the earth. The adversary or Satan wants to replace the glory of God and pretend to be God.

Our minds are the throne or seat of the Lord and this is where Satan wants to sit. Christians should not give access to the enemy in our thought life: the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. This is the reason 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NKJV) exhorts us to;

Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself (man of sin) against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Naos is the Greek word for us as the temple of God. The word hieron is used for a temple as in the sense of a building.

Notice that the word hieron cannot be found in the book of Revelation. We can only find the word naos G3588 in the whole of the book of Revelation for the word temple or sanctuary.

2 Thessalonians 2:4 - Naos

Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple (Naos) of God, shewing himself that he is God.

1 Corinthians 3:16 - (KJV) - Naos

Know ye not that ye are the temple (Naos) of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

1 Corinthians 3:17 - (KJV) - Naos

If any man defiles the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

EXALTS AS IN THE THOUGHTS: Thayer Definition: G5229 - Huperairomai

To lift or raise up over something, to lift one’s self up, be exalted, be haughty, to carry one’s self haughtily to, behave insolently towards one

SITS AS ON A THRONE: Thayer Definition: G2523 - Kathizō

To make to sit down, to set, appoint, to confer a kingdom on one, intransitively, to sit down, to have fixed one’s abode, to sojourn, to settle, settle down

TEMPLE BUILDING: Thayer Definition: G2411 - Hieron

A sacred place, temple, used of the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, used of the temple at Jerusalem

TEMPLE THE SOUL: Thayer Definition: G3485 - Naos Used of the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice, any heathen temple or shrine, metaphorically the spiritual temple consisting of the saints of all ages joined together by and in Christ

Conclusion

We should not allow the way Satan thinks to invade our minds. We must arrest any thought contrary to the Kingdom of Heaven and of the mind of Christ, thus, the man of sin cannot sit in the temple (Naos) of God.

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When considering 2 Thess 2:4, I think we have to bare in mind that we are talking after the apostasy has come and the Man of Lawlessness is revealed and in an apocalyptic setting and with a view to the Second Coming of Christ. I also think we are talking symbolism here with regard to the word temple (naos), or at most, a heathen temple of sorts [the building of a 3rd (holy) temple in (literal) Jerusalem, in the End Times, is highly unlikely] to be occupied by an heathen personality, with a great leadership role, who is to delude many people in the End Times, while at the same time proclaiming himself to be at least Godlike and therefore worthy of servitude, without much questioning. A demagogue of sorts, much like that of a Donald Trump in other words, who has taken up his seat in the White House, as the so called leader of the free world but with no true religiosity.

Now let's think about this White House for a minute. It's big, shining white, has majestic columns and grounds. People flock to it, almost WORSHIP it. I believe it even has an ALTAR inside, and the buck stops here as far as the LAW is concerned. It is usually occupied by a leading, almost PRIESTLY, influence and watched over by a monument to the FATHER of the USA. It could therefore be construed as America's TEMPLE. Also, if one looks at this WH image on the back of a $20.00 bill, one will find the words " IN GOD WE TRUST " highlighted above. At this point, one should regard Mt 24:15 and Mar 13:14 which not only refer to the first Abomination of Desolation, i.e. the Romans and in particular the Roman General Titus but also look forward (in typical dual fulfillment of prophecy) to the End Time A of D. These two verses talk about the A of D not only standing in a holy place but also in a place that he should not be...and then we are told to use our discernment, in both verses no less, thus highlighting these two verses for whoever is reading them. in other words they are really IMPORTANT!...The Jerusalem that was destroyed in Titus' day, was literal. The New Jerusalem in our day, could be more symbolic and refer to the USA, according to many (one only has to google the possibility).

In summary therefore, I am asking people to at least consider the possibility that Donald Trump (whose name means Leader by the way) may have been allowed to be placed in the WH by God but not necessarily to save the nation (as the now presumably Apostate majority of Evangelicals would have you believe), but in order to become that Deluding Influence and fulfill END-TIME bible prophecy, more like....

Incidentally, I wrote a thesis recently that hypothesized that the 70th Week of Daniel's 70 Weeks prophecy is not yet future but was in deed past and encompassed the destruction of the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD, the 70th Week therefore being 66 AD thru 73 AD. In other words that was the time of the GREAT TRIBULATION and we should therefore not still be waiting for that. What we are experiencing now, with this Pandemic, our President's response to which has been truly ABOMINABLE and therefore tantamount to more DESOLATIONS as a result and which is thwart with TRIBULATIONS, and smacks of the APOCALYPTIC should have everyone's attention....

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