Who is “the man of sin” mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3?


The Bible reveals many astounding details concerning events which will take place at the time of the end!  One such example is a prophecy about the fate of two individuals who are mentioned several times in the Word of God. What is said about them will help us answer exactly who “the man of sin” is:

“Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Revelation 19:20).

First to be identified is “the beast” and then “the false prophet.” This false prophet performs miraculous signs in support of the beast. The relationship finds an antecedent in Pharaoh with his sorcerers and magicians when Moses and Aaron appeared before them (compare Exodus 7:11, 22; 8:7, 18).

The beast is a domineering political leader controlling the military of many nations, while the false prophet serves him through a powerful religious office—all under the influence of Satan. These two men are also mentioned in the prophecies found in Revelation 13.

In the beginning verses of this chapter, a beast is revealed which is representative of the Roman Empire throughout its existence. In addition, specific reference is made to “the beast,” who is also the individual leader when this prophecy is fulfilled. In a similar way in the past, Nebuchadnezzar was identified as the ruler over Babylon (compare Daniel, chapter 2).

Verse 8 of Revelation, chapter 13, says of the beast that, “All who dwell on the earth will worship him…”

WHY is a political/military, secular person the object of such deification?

It is because of the actions of the “false prophet” we read about in Revelation 19:20! Now consider what is said of this man—a person who quite obviously functions in a religious capacity. The following prophecy addresses the religious system as well as the religious leader of that system:

“Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.

“And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:11-17).

Because this next “beast” (verse 11) will be empowered by satanic forces, he will mesmerize the world through his deceptive signs and wonders.

The time setting for the activity of this false prophet is the end of the age and the return of Jesus Christ (Note that Revelation 19:20 shows that both the beast and false prophet will be alive when Jesus Christ returns). Jesus also strictly warned His followers that they must not be deceived by those who appear to have miraculous powers:

“‘For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand’” (Matthew 24:24-25).

Another occurrence spoken of by Jesus—and one which will take place shortly before His return—has to do with the Temple of God in Jerusalem, and it involves the false prophet, the one identified in Revelation 13 and 19. Here is how Jesus begins a series of warnings to His disciples:

“‘Therefore when you see the “abomination of desolation,” spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place’ (whoever reads, let him understand)…” (Matthew 24:15).

While the abomination of desolation refers to the European army attacking and surrounding Jerusalem, it also describes the false prophet in God’s Temple and perhaps a pagan statue dedicated to a false Jesus or the “Virgin Mary.”

In context, this event is also mentioned by the apostle Paul as being fulfilled by “the man of sin”:

“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, 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” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

Again, we must consider, exactly who is “the man of sin”? Is he the beast, the false prophet or even someone else?

The answer lies in examining the actions of this person as foretold in the Bible. Note this additional information from Paul:

“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. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10).

From this description, we can understand that the man of sin, “the lawless one,” will receive great power from Satan to deceive people (compare Revelation 16:13-14). Jesus said of Satan that, “‘…he is a liar and the father of it’” (John 8:44). Likewise, it is said of Satan that he “…deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9).

In addition to the details of chapter 13 of Revelation in which the man of sin is described in relation to his role with the leader of the political/military system, chapters 17, 18 and 19 address the religious organization over which he rules. 

The man of sin and his religion are known by several names in the Word of God: “God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4); “mystery of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:7); “lawless one” (2 Thessalonians 2:8); “the false prophet” (Revelation 19:20); the abomination of desolation (Matthew 24:15); the “prince of Tyre” (Ezekiel 28:1-10); “another beast” (Revelation 13:11); “‘the great harlot’”; (Revelation 17:1); “woman” (Revelation 17:3); “‘MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH’” (Revelation 17:5); “that great city” (Revelation 17:18); “that mighty city” (Revelation 18:10).

The man of sin is the false prophet, the religious leader, whom Jesus Christ will destroy at His return. This man will be possessed by Satan and empowered by demons to perform false signs and lying wonders.

Understanding the identity of the man of sin grows more crucial as the end of this age draws to a conclusion. We have several booklets which will provide greater context and even more detail on this topic:

“The Ten European Revivals of the Ancient Roman Empire”

“Is That In The Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation!”

“The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord”

“The Mysteries of the Bible”

Lead Writer: Dave Harris

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