The Destruction Of Antichrist

adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 20 Jan 2012


“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).

We have seen how the theme of 1st Thessalonians centres around the Second Coming of Christ. Paul was trying to encourage the Thessalonian Christians who were undergoing persecution by telling them that Christ would return, and when He returns, He will vindicate his people. The who are dead in Christ will be raised, and caught up together with those who are alive to welcome the Lord in the day of His visitation.

Well, apparently, while many in the church understood the message, some misunderstood it. They thought that Paul was saying that Christ’s return was imminent, and as such, they decided that the best thing to do would be to quit their jobs, sell everything they have and wait for Christ to come for them!

When Paul heard about that, he immediately wrote his second epistle to the church to correct the thinking. Thus, he says in chapter 3:

10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

But now, obviously, Paul did not seek only to correct the outward behaviour. It was necessary that he also correct their thinking. One of the ways in which he did so was to explain that the day of the Lord will not come without a few things happening first. He says in chapter 2, verse 3—

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 is this man of sin? Well, I believe this is none other than the antichrist that John refers to (1 Jn 2:18, 22; 4:3). We must not think that the antichrist is directly opposed to Christ. The Greek word ajntiv (anti) also carry the sense of “in place of.” The antichrist is an imposter, who would seek to exalt himself and take the rightful place of Christ in the church. Paul says in verse 4 of our present text that he:

“…opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Th 2:4).

I believe the Reformers are right that there is none that fits the description so well as the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

It is possible that the apostles understood that there would be many popes down the generations until a particularly, very charismatic and powerful pope towards the last day. I am not sure. What is clear is that the papacy was not yet established when Paul wrote this letter. And it is also clear that the Roman Pope has indeed established himself as the head of the Church since then. Thus our Confession of Faith, chapter 25, paragraph 6 reads—

There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ.1 Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof: but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.2

1 Col. 1:18; Eph 1:22; 2 Mt 23:8–10; 2 Th 2:3–4, 8–9; Rev 13:6.

But in any case, we are in a series of messages on the great and precious promises of God, so our focus cannot be on the antichrist himself. He is not much of a good news is he? However, the promises in the Word of God are often given a backdrop of doom and gloom; and there is indeed a promise associated with the revelation of the antichrist. We read of the promise in verse 8—

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.

The ‘Wicked [One]’, the Lawless One, the Antichrist, the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition, all refer, I believe to the same person. But what is the promise? The promise is that he will be destroyed!

Let’s contemplate on this promise for a moment by asking 3 questions. First, how will he be destroyed? Secondly, why is his destruction important? Thirdly, how should we respond to this promise?

1. How will Antichrist be Destroyed?

The words of the promise itself give us an indication of how he will be destroyed, for we are told of the antichrist that “the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.

What does it mean to destroy with the spirit of His mouth? Well, we must understand this to be a metaphorical statement. Isaiah used the same imagery in Isaiah 11:4 where he speaks of how the Messiah will slay the wicked with the breath of His lips. The apostle John likewise speaks of how a sharp swords will go out of the mouth of the Lord to destroy the beast and his cohorts (Rev 19:15, 21).

This suggests to us, does it not, that the destruction of the antichrist will involve not only the command of the Lord, but the proclamation of the truth.[1] Perhaps this is also what Paul means to say when he speaks of the Lord destroying the Wicked One by the brightness of His coming?

You see, there is a big difference between Christ and the antichrist. This difference can be summarised in one word, namely, truth (see verse 9-13). Why has such a great multitude of people followed Antichrist so passionately through the centuries? The answer is very simple: They have been deceived!

This being the case, the destruction of the Antichrist will involve not just a mighty force to crush his rebellion, but a proclamation of the truth to expose his hypocrisy and deceit, and also the pronouncement of judgement against him. A public figure cannot be destroyed privately. It has to be a public event. This is the end of Antichrist who has led millions astray and blasphemed the name of Christ through the ages.

But what is the significance of Antichrist’s destruction?

2.  Significance of Antichrist’s Destruction

Our Reformed fathers believe that the Antichrist is none other than the Pope of Rome. However, let us understand that the Pope is not just a religious leader. The Pope, the Antichrist, is the embodiment and epitome of all that oppose Christ in the name of Christianity!

What is the significance of his destruction? Can you see how in an instant, the Lord will erase all doubts, and all errors? Can you see how He will set the record straight, and make it known unambiguously who are His people? Can you see how God will in an instant put an end to all the struggles of God’s people that has to do with falsehood and lies, deceit and hypocrisy? 

Why did God ordain that there should be the Antichrist? Isn’t it sufficient that Satan should oppose the Kingdom of Christ? We don’t have all the answers. But one thing is clear: The Antichrist is part of the strategy of Satan. And the Antichrist exists so that God’s people may know how easily they can be led astray. Those who walk in the narrow way do so only by the mercies of the Lord. Were it not for the mercies of the Lord, you could be in a mosque attending Friday prayer or in a Roman Catholic Church attending Mass!

The existence of the Antichrist reminds us of how it is entirely by God’s grace we are kept in the way of the righteousness in Christ.

It also reminds us of the urgency of teaching and preaching the truth. Were it not for the existence of Antichrist and all the heretics in this world whom he represents, we will become complacent in regard to the truth. Were it not for the Antichrist, we would not have such clarity concerning the doctrine of justification that we enjoy today.

The destruction of Antichrist at the day when our hearts and minds are at the same time made perfect, would no doubt, remind us of these things. No, no; we will not be grateful to the Antichrist. Only a twisted mind will be grateful to the Antichrist. But our gratitude and appreciation of the Lord and His truth will be multiplied as we are brought to see the wisdom and power of God as He led us through all the spiritual pitfalls of this present pilgrim journey.

But now, …

3. How Should we Respond?

Very few of us have dealings with the Antichrist or with his predecessors. How then is this promise of his destruction relevant or comforting to us? How should we respond to it? Let me suggest five responses:

First, if we are correct that the Apostle Paul has in mind a final Antichrist, then the revelation of this Antichrist will indicate the soon return of Christ. If this is the case, then the beginning of great persecution on account of the Antichrist, will mark the count down to the Second Coming of Christ to destroy him and to rescue the church.

If what we are saying is correct, then we should really not be ignorant and totally unconcerned about the developments in the Roman Catholic Church and in the world of theological apostasy.

Secondly, the promised destruction of the Antichrist gives us the confidence that we are not playing games when we insist on right theology in the furtherance, defence and confirmation of the Gospel of Christ. Indeed, we should find encouragement and impetus to defend the truth against all errors in the name of Christianity.

Thirdly, the promised destruction of the Antichrist keeps us from being enticed into the Roman Catholic fold. Many have been enticed. We think of Frederick Faber (1814-1863) who wrote ‘Faith of our Fathers’ after he returned to Catholicism. We think of Scott Hahn a former PCUSA minister and seminarian who led an exodus back to Rome in 1986. We think of Francis Beckwith, the President of the Evangelical Theological Society who resigned from office in 2007 to return back to the Roman fold.

How many more have gone the same way. Oh may the Lord grant us that with a right understanding concerning the Antichrist and the promise of his destruction, we may be kept in the way of truth.

Fourthly, the promised destruction of the Antichrist should keep us from wanting any ecumenical partnership with Rome. “For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor 6:14).

Fifthly, the promised destruction of the Antichrist should also encourage us to pray as we are taught in our Shorter Catechism, question 102 “That Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed.” As we pray, “Maranatha! Come quickly, Lord” so let us also pray, “Lord halt the progress of the Antichrist. Tear down his strongholds! Allow not antichristian error take a stranglehold of the Church of Christ.”


And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.

Oh may the Lord encourage us in the right direction and attitude with these words. May we labour on in the truth as we await the day of our vindication. Amen. W


[1] With his word, for the true ministers of the word are as a mouth, by which the Lord breathes out that mighty and everlasting word, which will break his enemies apart, as though the word were an iron rod” (The Geneva Bible, comm. in loc).