Paul explains in these verses that two events must take place before the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The first being ‘The Falling Away’, the second, ‘The Revelation of the Man of Sin’.
1. The Falling Away
This statement shows that there will be a great end time apostasy or departure from the faith. In 1 Timothy 4 and 2 Timothy 4 Paul indicates that this will be because some will “depart from the faith” by adopting doctrines that have their origin in Hell.
The falling away may not simply mean that fewer people will attend church, but that godlessness and perverted gospels will overcome the hearts and minds of those who “have itching ears” and will not adhere to God’s written word (2 Timothy 4:3).
Apostasy contains the idea of rebellion against God. Therefore it probably has a twofold application with regards to the falling away: (a) Theological Apostasy – a rejection of the “faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude :3) which demands loyalty, separation, and obedience. Instead there will be a compromising gospel taught from our pulpits (liberal theology) which allows man to believe and do as he pleases. (b) Moral Apostasy – this is an abandoning of all moral standards and absolutes within the church. This is becoming more evident each day. It seems that church members will find it easier to follow the Man of Sin than the Son of Man.
Paul is speaking of the fact that there will be (and is now) a remnant of faithful believers in the last days who will not compromise their faith in Christ but will stand firm and endure to the end. The rest will follow popular theology that will damn their souls. Jesus Christ will return to a world where must of so-called Christianity will be powerless, “when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8), but those who do overcome will enter into His Kingdom.
2. The Revelation of the Man of Sin:
The Man of Sin is another name for the Antichrist who will arise in the last days of world history. Scripture reveals that this person will be announced as the ruler of the one world government centralised in Rome. His power will be both political and religious (because of this he may well arise out of the Vatican). The Lord Jesus Christ will not set up His Millennial Kingdom until the seven year reign of the Antichrist is through.
This world ruler will come onto the scene by confirming a seven year peace treaty with Israel, “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week” (Daniel 9:27), which he will break after 3½ years and declare himself as God in the rebuilt temple of Jerusalem, “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, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). He will persecute those who remain loyal to the Lord, “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things … And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High … And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them ” (Daniel 7:8,25, Revelation 13:7). He will be worshipped by all who do not know the true God of the Bible.
The Man of Sin is empowered by Satan to work all kinds of deceiving signs and wonders which the inhabitants of earth will believe to be of God, “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved … For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (2 Thessalonians 2:9, Matthew 24:24). He will be defeated when Jesus come again, “And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Revelation 19:15-20).
Note: Some commentators suggest that there is nothing that needs to happen before Christ returns in the Rapture. Others say that point two will happen several moths or years after the Rapture has taken place. Either of these senarios are a possibility, therefore it is important for us to stay watchful.