What is this?
These Sabbath School lesson outlines aid Sabbath School teachers & members in their weekly study
& preparation for Sabbath School classes.
Join the Discussion
Use the form at the bottom of the page to share with other readers your thoughts about this lesson.
Sabbath School Lessons on 1 & 2 Thessalonians
Read the Quarterly Online
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
What about Ellen White?
to learn why I generally do not cite Ellen G. White in the lessons.
Looking for old Sabbath School lessons?
Sabbath School lesson study outlines from previous quarters are saved in the Sabbath School lesson archive
Got questions or comments?
Go to our contact form
and drop us a note.
SabbathSchoolLessons.com operates like grace: it is free, but not without cost.
We're counting on your ongoing financial support to help us continue providing these
lessons to Sabbath School teachers and members around the world. You may cancel your monthly contribution at any time.
Get these Sabbath School lessons by e-mail! Subscribe to the Bible Study of the Week mailing list:
Subscribe in a reader
Lesson 12: The Antichrist *
Introduction: Last week Paul told us that the end to suffering will
come with the Second Coming of Jesus. Recall that Paul previously
told the Thessalonians that, at the Second Coming, they would see
their loved ones who had passed away. Naturally, they wanted to know
more about the timing of the Second Coming! But, instead of giving
them precise details, Paul told them ( 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2) that he
did not need to tell them because they would be surprised. What kind
of answer is that? Apparently, the Thessalonians had the same kind
of reaction because Paul is back on the subject of the timing of the
Second Coming. They must have told him they wanted to know more.
I'm interested in the timing of the Second Coming! Are you? If you
are, let's dive in together to find out what Paul has to say about
the events surrounding the Second Coming of Jesus!
- Steady Now
- Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2. What problem is Paul
addressing? (The Thessalonians have become alarmed about
the timing of the Second Coming of Jesus.)
- What is the reason for the alarm? (Someone said it
already happened. They missed it!)
- Why would the people think that they missed the
Second Coming? (Apparently, rumors were invented a
long time ago. The rumor the Thessalonians heard was
that they had missed the Second Coming - and the
source of that statement presumably came from Paul.)
- Read 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Why doesn't Paul say, "I never
said any such thing?"
- What does he say instead? (Paul is not satisfied with
a simple denial. Instead, he shared details of the
Second Coming to show that it could not have already
- How can we get a better fix on the timing of the
Second Coming? (A rebellion comes first. A man of
lawlessness (a man of sin) is revealed. This man is
"doomed to destruction.")
- How can a person be "doomed to destruction?" I
thought grace was available to all who were willing?
- Read John 17:12. If you need to read the context to
understand this statement by Jesus, do so. Who is Jesus
calling "the one doomed to destruction?" (Judas. The Adam
Clarke commentary notes that the Hebrew equivalent for
this phrase was used by the Rabbis to refer to Satan or
Adam after his fall. Judas, Satan and Adam all made a
terrible choice. Thus, this man which Paul has identified
has chosen destruction.)
- Read 2 Thessalonians 2:4. We need to note carefully the
characteristics of this man doomed for destruction. What
are they? (He opposes God. He exalts himself over God. He
sets his headquarters in God's temple. He proclaims
himself to be God.)
- We previously compared him to Adam and Judas. What
does this person do that sets him apart from Adam or
Judas? (Proclaimed his superiority to God, proclaimed
himself to be God. Judas might have thought that he
was a superior thinker to Jesus, and thus would force
Jesus' hand to proclaim that He was King. But, Judas
never proclaimed himself to be God.)
- What stands out in this text as a clear historical
marker? (This person "sets himself up in God's
- What is God's temple?
- Paul would believe that only the temple in
Jerusalem was "God's temple," right?
- The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed after
this. Has our historical marker vanished?
(Perhaps the temple in Jerusalem will be
- Read 2 Corinthians 6:16, 1 Corinthians 3:16 and Ephesians
2:21-22. What different possibilities do these texts
create for understanding the phrase "God's temple?" (That
the church members are God's temple.)
- Read Revelation 3:11-12. What does this add to our picture
of God's temple? (Even in the midst of the New Jerusalem
coming down to earth, God still refers to His people as
being part of the "temple of my God.")
- It would have been very tidy to simply look for this
doomed fellow to show up in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.
But, these other texts open up the possibility that this
antichrist sets himself up over God's church.)
- Look again at 2 Thessalonians 2:4. This doomed man, this
antichrist proclaims himself to be God. Have we seen
someone who sets himself up over God's church and
proclaims himself to be God? (Barnes' Notes, a prominent
Christian commentary, says "How can it be doubted that the
reference here is to the papacy?" Barnes was the pastor of
the First Presbyterian Church in Philadephia. Pastor
Barnes died in 1870. It was common for Protestants of his
time to believe that Paul referred to the Pope. However,
even Barnes could not find any proof that the Pope claimed
to be God. He had to find this in the writings of other
- Read 2 Thessalonians 2:5-7. Paul has apparently told the
Thessalonians a secret that he has not shared with us.
What do you think is this "secret power of lawlessness?"
- What do you think is "holding him back?" (Paul does
not tell us. But, whatever theory we construct for
this antichrist, this spirit of thinking we are
superior to God, this spirit is being constrained by
some divine power.)
- Read 2 Thessalonians 2:8. Will there come a time when this
antichrist is revealed? (Yes. At some point the antichrist
is freed to reveal himself.)
- How does the antichrist end? (This is important. This
antichrist comes before Jesus' Second Coming and is
defeated at Jesus' Second Coming. The timing here is
- Read 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10. What is our clearest proof
(other than timing) of the end-time antichrist? (He does
all sorts of miracles, signs and wonders. He cooperates
- Why does he do all sorts of miracles, signs and
wonders? (He does them to deceive Christians.)
- Deceive us about what? (If you review what we
have read, the clear suggestion is that this
end-time antichrist intends to make us think he
is the coming Christ. He is attempting to
imitate the Second Coming.)
- Does that sound like the Pope? (No. As those who read
this lesson know, I'm not dogmatic about the meaning
of prophecy. Instead, I think it is most important
for us to be alert, and test current events against
the Bible. Unless something happens in the future, no
past Pope satisfied either the timing or the displays
described by Paul. No Pope ever said, "I'm the Second
Coming of Jesus.")
- More importantly, it is always problematic to point
fingers at fellow believers in Jesus and call them the
"antichrist." This is especially true when we look at the
religious composition of the world. There are 1.6 billion
Muslims and 2.2 billion Christians. Why would Christians
call each other the antichrist when there is a huge
portion of the population that is undisputedly opposed to
the idea that Jesus is God?
- The Muhammadi Trust, an Islamic group, shares this
statement about the 12th Imam who comes at the end of the
world:"The world will not come to an end," said the
Prophet Muhammad, "until a man from my family (Ahlulbayt)
and of my name shall be master of the world, When you see
a green ensign coming from the direction of Khorasan, then
join them, for the Imam of God will be with the standards
who will be called al-Mahdi."
- If you want to read more about Muslim belief in the
coming Mahdi, read the Wikipedia entry about it. Not
too many Christians understand that the Islamic view
of last day events looks forward to a coming Mahdi
just before what Muslims call the Day of
- Re-read 2 Thessalonians 2:4. If "God's temple" is His
church, how does that fit with the theory the Mahdi is the
end-time antichrist? (It doesn't fit.)
- What should we conclude from this? (This gives us a
very good clue about what we should look for in the
future. If the Mahdi sets himself up in a rebuilt
temple in Jerusalem, then Paul was speaking about an
actual temple. Otherwise, we need to look for an end-time antichrist who claims to be the head of
- Read 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12. Paul starts out warning the
Thessalonians against being decieved. What should we do to
avoid being deceived by the end-time antichrist? (We must
have a converted heart. We must believe the truth. Those
who are deceived are those who "delight in wickedness" and
"refuse to love the truth." Those who are not deceived are
those who love God and His truth.)
- Friend, where do you stand? Do you love the truth of God?
Are you willing to seriously study your Bible and keep
your eyes open for this end-time deception? Pray that the
Holy Spirit will give you discernment and convict you of
God's truth! But, when this antichrist comes, rejoice that
Jesus is coming next!
- Next week: Keeping the Church Faithful.
* Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.