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The Man of Lawlessness

Eschatology is a perennially thorny issue in church history. Its difficulty arises from the enormity of its task, and from various complex issues with which it deals. Let us consider one of the very difficult eschatological passages of Scripture, one rivaling Daniel 9 in the intensity of interpretive controversy: 2 Thessalonians 2. This famous eschatological reference contains Paul's reference to the "Man of Lawlessness" (Nestle's Text) or "Man of Sin" (Majority Text). The passage is noted for its exceptional difficulty. The noted church father Augustine writes of a certain portion of the passage: "I confess that I am entirely ignorant of what he means to say." New Testament Greek scholar Vincent omits interpreting the passage in his four volume lexical commentary: "I attempt no interpretation of this passage as a whole, which I do not understand." Renowned Greek linguist Robertson despairs of the task of interpreting this passage because it is "in such vague form that we can hardly clear it up." Morris urges "care" in handling this "notoriously difficult passage." Bruce notes that "there are few New Testament passages which can boast such a variety of interpretations as this." There are even some dispensationalists who admit that it is an "extremely puzzling passage of Scripture that has been a thorn in the flesh of many an expositor."