Who is the false prophet of Rev 19:20? Who is the man of sin of 2Thes 2:3?
All successive administrations of the various churches of God have taught that the Pope would be the false prophet, but historically God has shown very little interest in pagan prophets – God's main focus in this area has been on warning people about false teachers from within the church.
“…Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves…” [KJV].
“…But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction…” [NKJV].
“…Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world…” [RSV].
Even in the O.T. God warned about these false teachers:
“…If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’ – which you have not known –‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul…” [NKJV].
Accordingly, in searching for the false prophet we must look much closer to home. In 2Thes 2:3-12 God shows us many features by which we can identify the false prophet. Starting with verse 3 we are told that he is also the man of sin and the son of perdition – verse 9 shows he is the false prophet (coming with power, signs and lying wonders). This is the same one who is spoken of in Dan 7:25 where we are told that he will think to “change times and laws”.
“…And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time…” [KJV].
Due to this prophecy many have concluded that the Pope is the false prophet, because he seems to have changed times and laws, especially the law to do with the Sabbath. However, when we realize that Constantine, a sun worshipper, was the first Pope and all he did was combine the major pagan beliefs into one universal religion and simply call that universal religion “Christianity” he changed nothing of the law of God. Although true Christians were persecuted and murdered for observing the seventh day Sabbath, Constantine simply created one universal pagan religion by reworking the various major pagan religions of the time. There was no real deception here. To view the Pope as the false prophet is looking in the wrong place.
Having eliminated the primary suspect we must now look for the actual guilty one.
Signs from 2Thes 2:3-12 [NKJV]
3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,
4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.
8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,
10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,
12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
From 2Thes 2:3 & 9 we have already seen that the false prophet is also the “man of sin” and the “son of perdition” – Judas was only a type of the real “son of perdition” who is to appear in the last days (man of sin to be revealed – verse 3). The main point here is that he was one of the original 12 disciples – he was one who seemed to be a true Christian.
The next aspect that must be addressed is a question: Is the reference to the man of sin to a single man or to a series of individuals of the same general character in a single administration? Other occasions where the latter view is the case is as follows:
1. In Dan 11:36, the word "king" is used which denotes a succession of kings.
2. The same is true of the beast mentioned in Daniel Chapters 7, 8. Rev 13, representing a kingdom or empire through its successive changes.
3. The same is true of the "woman arrayed in purple and scarlet," (Rev 17:4,) which cannot refer to a single woman, but is the emblem of a continued corrupt administration.
In addressing this matter with Timothy, Paul said in verse 7 that the "mystery of lawlessness is already at work” and provided Timothy with the names of five men involved in the apostasy – Hymenaeus and Philetus (2Tim 2:16-19), Alexander (1Tim 1:20), Phygellus and Hermogenes (2Tim 1:15). From Paul’s account we have the answer to our question in point – the reference to the false prophet is actually a reference to a series of individuals of the same general corrupt character in the church administration, lasting from the time of Paul until the end of days, with the last of these men being the "man of sin yet to be revealed".
However, note carefully that all these men were from within the Church of God movement – they were not men belonging to an external pagan religion. All of these men were recognized as members of the Church of God movement – none were what we would consider as "outsiders".
Since the last man of sin (the false prophet) has not yet been revealed his identity is still hidden, but from the examples God has given we can be sure of at least three things:
1. he will arise from within the Church of God movement;
2. he will be in a position to deceive; and
3. he will deceive the majority within the Church of God (those not predestined for the first ascension).
Times and laws have already been changed by the hierarchy of the Church of God and a few examples are given below:
· At the start of this Era all seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread were observed as a single festival, this was changed by the then administration saying that it was okay to do normal work on days 2 to 6 of the festival – these days were changed into common days by the hierarchy;
· It is taught that leaven is to be put out of our homes before the Festival starts, but God says to put leaven away ON the first day of the Feast (Ex 12:15), signifying the start of our lives as Christian with the Holy Spirit – leaven (sin) cannot be put out before baptism, which is typified by the first day of the Feast;
· It is taught that baptism can be performed by ministers only, but this is not Biblical and circumcision, the fore type of baptism was performed by the head of the household, never the priesthood. There are several NT examples of baptism performed by the ordinary membership.
· It is taught that ordination to the ministry can be done only by other ministers, but the founder of this Era was ordained by ordinary members of the Oregon Conference and God says that ordination is by Himself through gifts He has given various men, following which appointment to the fulltime ministry is to be by vote of the people.