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Eschatology Q & A


Eschatology Q & A

A couple of you have asked questions recently about my book on the Antichrist, The Man of Sin.  You can read more about it here, if you are not familiar with it. (Click here: Riddleblog - Man of Sin - Uncovering the Truth About Antichrist). 

In light of my recent review of Hank Hanegraaff's Apocalypse Code (Click here: Riddleblog - The Latest Post - Hanegraaff's "The Apocalypse Code") , I thought this might be a good time to answer them.


Scotty asks (August 20)

Hi Kim,

Having just read your excellent book "The Man of Sin: Uncovering the Truth About the Antichrist", your position is that a final "Man of Sin" is yet to appear in God's Temple (the Church) at the very end and in concurrence with the "falling away" (if I read correctly).

My question regarding your position is this: How do you see this unfolding in such a divided worldwide Church made up of hundreds if not thousands of denominations, affiliations, and beliefs?

In other words, no one entity currently has such mass influence over all Christians worldwide to bring about such apostasy. The only platform I can see any possibility of this occurring in is the Roman Catholic Church (through the Pope). Is this what you're alluding to or is there another scenario you envision?



My Answer: 

Scotty, I do believe that Scripture teaches that immediately before the end of the age and the return of the Lord, there will be a mass apostasy within the church (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 20:7-10).  When I speak of the church here, I am speaking of the visible church around the world.  This would be all those church bodies which formally confess the content of the Apostle's Creed.

As you note, I believe that in the Thessalonian letter Paul is not speaking of the Jerusalem temple, but of the church. That this is not fulfilled by the events preceding the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 A.D. is very clear in verse 8 of 2 Thessalonians 2, where Paul ties the revelation of this "man of lawlessness" specifically to the time of final judgment (I would recommend that you read G. K. Beale's fine commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians for the exegetical specifics of this).

Since the Roman church at the time of the Reformation fit the bill in many ways, I think the Reformers were largely correct to make the identification between the man of lawlessness and his particular blasphemy with the papacy. But in God's providential timing, the restraining power associated with the recovery of the gospel, prevented the Roman church from succeeding in snuffing out the Reformation and subsequent success of the gospel of free justification sola fide

In other words, the papacy of that age manifested many of the signs mentioned by Paul, but was prevented (restrained) from overcoming the gospel through the use of church authority and state-sponsored military power (Spain, France, and Austria, specifically).

I'm with Geerhardus Vos on this one. There is a certain sense in which the only way we will know what is entailed here, is when it actually happens before our eyes. Therefore, we need to be very cautious about speculation in this regard, lest we become Reformed versions of Jack Van Impe and Hal Lindsey.

That being said, if the "composite photograph" I discuss in my book is a faithful summary of biblical teaching, this final apostasy could involve a resurgent Roman Catholic persecution of Protestants (but this is not likely), or some form of apostasy wherein professing believers bow the knee to a political leader (the false prophet, who directs the world to worship the beast, which is the God-hating civil government), bent on wiping out the church, having been empowered by the dragon (Satan) to do that very thing.  This could be a secular state, trying to wipe out all religion.  It could be an Islamic state trying to wipe out Christianity . . . who knows?  I sure don't.  But if I'm alive when it happens, I am sure that I (as well as all other believers) will know what is going on!

I really don't think we can say any more than this. But we certainly don't want to say less, either.


Jeff asks (June 2, 2007)

Dr. Riddlebarger-

Just finished "Man of Sin" and found it very helpful. Thanks for all the work and study.

My question is this...why would the great "Abomination" refer to the desecration of the Jerusalem Temple if (due to Christ's sacrifice) the temple was no longer a place of true religious ceremony? Wouldn't that make the temple's religious significance disappear,and then mean that to "desecrate" it would be no different from mistreating any other place? Maybe it is just semantics.

Thanks, Jeff


My Answer: 

Let me put it this way. When Christ died on the cross, the temple veil is dramatically torn from top to bottom. This dramatic opening of the most holy place to the light of day is filled with important symbolism, not the least of which is that the sacrifices in the temple and the work of the high priest are from that moment on, rendered obsolete in light of Christ's final (once for all) sacrifice for sin. Therefore, whatever sacrifices occur in the temple and whatever role the high priest attempts to play after Christ has died, is no longer an act of worship, but an act of blasphemy.

Once Christ dies for our sins, the temple becomes Ichabod and its activities an "abomination" to the Lord. All of this culminates in the tragic Diaspora of the Jewish people and the eventual destruction of the temple by the armies of Titus in 70 A.D.

To put it another way, Christ's sacrifice does away with the temple's role in redemptive history, making way for that horrible complex of events in which Gaius (Caligula) sets up an image of himself in A.D. 40, and when the temple becomes the place where those zealots resisting the armies of Titus in the inner and outer court are mercilessly slaughtered as described by Josephus. 

The point is not so much when the "Abomination" occurs (the exact moment), but that it does occur, as seen in the culmination all of these events.  The temple of YHWH is rendered desolate and an abomination to God.

Hope that helps!

Reader Comments (4)

Yes, Paul mentions Christ’s second coming with the revealing of the lawless one simply to comfort the Thessalonians (or any Christian reading the letter) of the final destiny of the lawless one. Yet, LIKEWISE Peter refers to the swift destruction that will come upon false teachers (II Peter 2:1 “there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies… and bring on themselves swift destruction”), even though there were to be centuries between the false teachers in the early church and Christ’s return. The swift destruction clearly refers to Christ’s second coming (II Thessalonians 1:6-10).

My point is that I do not agree with Vos, Beale or the beloved KR on this one, however much I agree with them on other matters. The scripture never refers to the gospel as the restrainer, but portrays the Roman empire as the restrainer by passages such as “these [disciples] are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar” (Acts 17:7). So I stand with Westminster and Baptist Confessions of Faith; and men like Wesley, Whitfield, Jonathan Edwards, Spurgeon, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The Antichrist (the papacy) was revealed after the fall of Rome in the fifth century when the Roman empire was “taken out of the way” (II Thessalonians 2:7). Paul may have purposely not mentioned the identity of the restrainer in his letter to the Thessalonians to protect the Christians in the early church in case the letter fell into the hands of Roman officials. For Paul to say that the Roman empire would be taken out of the way would be in defiance of the Roman Caesar which could have caused greater persecution of believers. If the restrainer was the gospel, then Paul would have said just that. Is the gospel ever referred to as anything other than what it is, "the word of truth", the good news", "the message of salvation", etc...?
August 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
Hi Kim,

Thanks for your response to my previous question. One more question and I'll leave you alone:)

You wrote...>> Scotty, I do believe that Scripture teaches that immediately before the end of the age and the return of the Lord, there will be a mass apostasy within the church (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 20:7-10). When I speak of the church here, I am speaking of the visible church around the world. This would be all those church bodies which formally confess the content of the Apostle's Creed.

My follow up question is:

How can a secular entity (person or state) or even a Islamic Caliphate take their seat in the temple of God, proclaiming to be God, and not be quickly discerned/identified by the worldwide church since obviously they're not "pillars" from within (the Temple of God) but deceivers from without?

Additionally, how does verse 11 fit into this:

11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.


August 24, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterScotty

A couple of things.

First, the image of "sitting" in the temple of God (the church) more than likely refers to taking authority over the church, as when the saints sit on thrones to rule. The image here is one of someone taking unlawful authority over the church, thereby usurping Christ's authority.

Second, the notion of proclaiming oneself to be God is typical of the Roman emperor cult, something with which Paul's readers were certainly familiar. The composite image given us in the New Testament, seems to convey some sort of state sponsored heresy--i.e. the worship of the state's leader. At the time of the Reformation, this was apparent in the papacy's ability to manipulate the armies of the empire to persecute Protestants. Something like that may be in view again in the future.

Furthermore, since Paul speaks of God sending a delusion (in verses 11-12) this may point in the direction of an individual (the arch-heretic) arising within the church, but who does the beast's (the state) bidding. This could easily fit with the worship of the state's leader, especially in a context where the economic and military power of the state is used to force Christians to worship Caesar, or else pay the price.

Let me say it again. Vos's advice should be followed here. We may want specific details, but there is indeed a sense in which eschatological fulfillment is the final arbiter as to what these things mean. In other words, you'll know it when you see it.
August 24, 2007 | Registered CommenterKim Riddlebarger
Hi Kim,

Thanks for your writings the change from dispensationalism to historic pre to amil is almost complete!

But I have a question. Dispensationalists refer to the ceasing of sacrifice as the act of the antichrist while you see it as the act of Christ(?). It seems to me that all the other references to ceasing of sacrifices or changing laws and times have to do with Antiochus or anti-God figures. So isnt it inconsistent to see Daniel 9 as a positive ceasing of sacrifice whereas other references of ceasing sacrifice are negative rebel actions?

I would really appreciate help with this. Are there any amil internet forums?

December 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Olive

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