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Just recently, due to the Malachy Prophecy, many people, even many Catholics have accepted the idea that the Last Pope will be the end time Anti-Christ. While I find it an interesting phenomena, I don’t put much stock in extra-biblical prophecy. What very few of these same people will readily admit is that the Papacy itself is the seat of the Anti-Christ, but it is the next logical step. Perhaps the Reformers were right all along, but I may just agree to agree that the Last Pope is in fact the End-Time Anti-Christ.
Now I have looked at many different ideas as to exactly what or who “the restrainer” is. Search the internet and to the number they all incorporate the pseudo-seventieth week of Daniel or some other form of counter-reformation left behind eschatology. A veritable cornucopia where no answer is wrong, simply choose the one you like the best! I choose to first look to the plain reading of the text…
(2 Thessalonians 2:1-10) Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, (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.
Apparently there arose some speculation that Christ would return at any moment, here Paul puts down the doctrine of an imminent return, at least for that time.
(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;
Here Paul lists: 1. a falling away; 2. that man of sin be revealed. And he reminds them that he told them these things in person, they knew then – there was no debate. The Futurist Scheme puts all of these in the future simply because the object of counter-reformation eschatology was to deflect the evidence that the Papacy was and continues to be the seat of the Anti-Christ.
(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. (5) Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
In verse four he describes the man of sin, we can easily understand how the Reformers discerned that this was the Papacy. But the Futurist wants to put this in an unbuilt future Temple because of the phrase, “sitteth in the temple of God.” Something like this may or may not happen, but what is sure is that the scripture says, “know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost” and that we are the body of Christ, a temple made without hands. living stones, and that many have vicariously put the Papacy in the place of God! Who can deny that this is at least a viable interpretation which cannot be excluded by the scripture alone? Nor can it be excluded by the facts of history.
(6) And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
What withholdeth are the two things listed, that he, that is Christ, might be revealed in his time, completes the answer to the first question and primary subject, “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
After the summary Paul changes focus in verse seven to the mystery of iniquity and the man of sin calling him “that Wicked” whom the Lord will consume at his coming. If the Papacy is indeed the Seat of the Anti-Christ, then that which needed to be taken out of the way would have been the reign of the Ceaser’s to make place for the throne of the Papacy. The Papacy satisfies every description of the man of sin.
(7) For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
The mystery, The Roman Empire, was already at work, to which the scripture explicitly ascribes its power as being from Satan. The Holy Roman Empire and the Papacy steps it up a notch to put the man of sin in the place of the Biblical God by vicariously taking His place. Many of the Caesars claimed they were gods and even demanded worship, but none of them claimed to be the God of the Bible, even vicariously.
(8) And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: (9) Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, (10) And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
Of course the Last Pope, whether the present one or not, as The Last Anti-Christ will suffer the things described here when the true Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ does return. We are still waiting for the facts of history to catch up with the left behind escatalogical view. Until the temple is rebuilt and some dupe goes into the holy place and calls himself God. I’m hoping you’ll agree to agree that what I have presented here is a viable interpretation which cannot be excluded by the scripture or the facts of history.
your servant, Nicklas