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2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 (NIV):

9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

What is meant here by signs and wonders? And who will perform them? Satan or the lawless one?


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Let me quote 2 Thess 2:8-10 (NASB) -

8 Then that lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will eliminate with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not accept the love of the truth so as to be saved.

Observe several features of this text:

  • the lawless one is distinct from Satan but works with Satan to achieve wicked ends
  • the coming the lawless one is achieved with the help of Satan's lying wonders - miracles, etc, that are intended to deceive.
  • the only people who are deceived are those who, "did not accept the love of the truth so as to be saved".

Thus, it is Satan who produces the lying wonders who aids the coming of the lawless one. That is, Just as the disciples could not work any miracles except by the power of God, so the lawless one cannot work any miracles except by the power of Satan.

APPENDIX - Signs and Wonders

The frequent Scriptural references to “signs and wonders” naturally fall into two obvious categories of the genuine and false. It is clear from Matt 12:38 & 39, 16:1-4, Luke 11:16, John 4:48, 6:26, 30, that the scribes and Pharisees had trouble distinguishing the two. See also 1 Cor 1:22, 14:22.

Genuine

The genuine signs and wonders attest their divine origin and serve to strengthen faith.

  • John 2:11, 3:2, 4:54, 6:2, 10:41, 20:30 are all references to Jesus’ miracles.
  • Acts 2:22, Mark 16:20 also refer to Jesus’ miracles.
  • Matt 10:8, Mark 16:17, 20, Acts 2:22, 43, 4:30, 5:12, 6:8, 8:6, 13, 14:3, 15:12, 19:11, Rom 15:18, 19, 2 Cor 12:12, Heb 2:4 speak of the signs and wonders accompanying the apostles’ ministry.
  • Ex 7:3, Num 14:11, Deut 6:22, 7:19, 10:21, 26:8, 29:3, 34:11, Neh 9:10, Job 5:8-11, Ps 105:27, 135:9, Isa 8:18, Jer 32:20, 21, Dan 6:27 recall the miracles done for ancient Israel, eg, to free them from Egypt.
  • Dan 4:2, 34 records Nebuchadnezzar’s hymn of praise for God’s signs and wonders.
  • In Luke 7:18-23, Jesus’ only answer to John the Baptist about Jesus’ identity (as Messiah) is to list His miracles: “the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are given the good tidings…”

False or Lying Signs and Wonders

Pseudo (false) signs and wonders are invariably produced in order to deceive the wicked.

  • Matt 24:24, Mark 13:22 predict false signs and wonders performed by false Christs and false prophets
  • 2 Thess 2:9 predicts the rise of the lawless one accompanied by false signs and wonders
  • Rev 16:14 predicts that demons will perform false signs and wonders
  • Rev 13:13, 14 19:20 predict that the great false prophet (third beast of the Beast Trinity) will perform false signs and wonders

It should be remembered that Deut 13:1-5 contains a stern warning about the veracity of signs and wonders to see if they are genuine. Similarly, Matt 24:24 contains Jesus’ warning not to base one’s faith purely on Signs and Wonders.

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  • Excellent answer. I have to give it to you. Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 1:28
  • If you will look in Exodus, the magicians of Pharoh could not mimic the plague of lice. How does it align with your theory about genuine miracles?
    – Kapandaria
    Commented Oct 29, 2022 at 21:24
  • I will tell you what I know about witchcrafting from jewish sources. They cannot control thing that are smaller than the grain of wheat, this is the reason they could not control the lice, see Rashi. They cannot control the sky- bring rain etc, see the the story of prophet Eliyahu. This is the reason the jews asked Jesus for a miracle that will appear in the sky. About healing people, I think what they do is that they cast a spell to bring illness on a person, and then by removing the spell, they pretend to heal that person.
    – Kapandaria
    Commented Oct 29, 2022 at 21:49

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