Thessalonians 2.3-12

 

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But speaking of Satan and the last days, both are present in the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, which is allegedly a letter by Timothy (along with fellow-authors Paul and Silvanus).

The triumphant return of Jesus will not take place until the falling away (apostasia) occurs and the Man of Lawlessness, the Son of Destruction, is revealed.  This Man of Lawlessness, or MOL for short, is also called “the Adversary” (ho Antikeimenos) (2 Thess. 2.3-4), which is sometimes a title of Satan’s.  But this figure is definitely a man (anthropos), not Satan.  However, Satan has something to do with his coming:

His [MOL’s] arrival is according to the working (energeia) of Satan, with all power, signs, and wonders of a falsehood, and with every kind of wicked deception for those who are on the way to

 

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destruction, because they refused to love the truth and be saved.  For this reason, God sends them a working (energeia) of error, to believe the falsehood, so that all who have not believed the truth but have taken pleasure in injustice may be judged.  (2 Thes 2.9-12)

It seems very much as if Satan and God are working hand in glove with each other for the same purpose, to “energize” disbelief among the disbelievers, thereby guaranteeing their condemnation.  We have seen that Paul claimed such a function (misleading misbelievers) for himself, and for God in the Old Testament, and that Isaiah was ordered to do the same thing, and Jesus imitated Isaiah in following suit (see above, chap. 3.3 and 4.1).

In short, Satan has been enlisted to coordinate the “operation” which God has ordered.  We have been told that the Mystery of Lawlessness is already “at work” (energeitai).  But there is “one,” someone or other, holding it back for the time being (2 Thess. 2.7).  Who can this be?  God?  Satan?  Who knows?  But whatever lies behind the mysteries of 2 Thessalonians, it seems clear that Satan has retained his old position as God’s retainer.  The same is true of Satan in 1-2 Timothy—and also true of Devil.  Whether or not Devil is the same person as Satan, he seems to have free rein.