2 Thessalonians 2:3, The Son of Perdition

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.

Who do you suppose is the son of perdition?

Whether you believe this book was written by Paul, or by a later writer under the name of Paul, the point is clear: the son of perdition hadn’t come yet at the time of its writing.

Let’s back up to the book of Daniel, where we first meet this nasty fellow. Daniel calls him the “great beast,” and promises his destruction in a blazing fire. This is probably a reference to Antiochus IV, the man who attacked and defiled the Temple in the era of Daniel’s biographer (165 BCE) by sacrificing a pig on the altar and erecting a statue of Zeus. This “beast” next appears in a very similar role in Revelation 17, where again he “goeth to perdition,” this time unquestionably a reference to Nero Caesar (I think every learned scholar of Revelation recognizes that in some way or on some level, Revelation is referring to Nero Caesar). 2 Thessalonians, unless you assume it was written early in the century by Paul, probably refers back to Revelation when it cautions people not to believe that this beastly fellow has arrived yet.

But now comes a surprising verse: John 17:12 indicates that the son of perdition has already come and identifies him as Judas! The fearsome beast of perdition is revealed as having already made his appearance and suffered his defeat, way back in the time of Jesus.

John, knowing full-well the complementary role Judas played in the unfolding events of the crucifixion, casts Judas in the most horrible role imaginable. Why does he do this? Probably because he must. A major premise of the book of John is that the end times have begun; scholars call John’s perspective realized eschatology: the end of the age has arrived. The beast, the son of perdition, must therefore be accounted for if the time has come, and Judas is the most logical candidate.

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