What does 2 Thessalonians 2:4 mean?
ESV: who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.
NIV: He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
NASB: who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
CSB: He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits in God’s temple, proclaiming that he himself is God.
NLT: He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.
KJV: Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
NKJV: 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.
Verse Commentary:
This passage has begun to reassure Christians in Thessalonica that they have not been left behind, to face the judgment of the day of the Lord. Though Paul has already addressed this with these believers (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 4:13–17; 5:1–11), they seem plagued once again with doubts. Prior verses explained how several events needed to take place before this part of the end of days, including the appearance of a "man of lawlessness."

In this verse Paul tells his readers what the man of lawlessness does when he is revealed. He sets himself against God and the worship of God. He sits in the temple and declares that he is God. This description of the man of lawlessness seems to fit the false prophet, although many Bible teachers believe he is the head of the Revived Roman Empire, who is described as the beast that rises out of the sea (Revelation 13:1). However, the second beast of Revelation 13 performs "great signs" (Revelation 13:13) that deceive multitudes and leads them into idol worship (Revelation 13:14–17). Although many interpreters apply the title, "Antichrist," to the first beast of Revelation 13, the title may justifiably be ascribed as well to the false prophet, the second beast of Revelation 13. The first beast is a political leader, whereas the second beast is a deceptive religious leader; and references to "antichrist" in the New Testament appear in a religious, not political, context (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7).
Verse Context:
Second Thessalonians 2:1–12 discusses the ''day of the Lord'' as an event from which Christians are exempt. Some Thessalonian believers were confused, thinking they had entered this time of hardship and judgment. Paul tells them to put such thinking aside, regardless of the source. He assures them the day of the Lord will not commence until a rebellion or apostasy occurs, followed by the emergence of the man of lawlessness. This figure will try to take on the role of God and deceive those who are lost and had rejected the truth. Empowered by Satan, the man of lawlessness will deceive unbelievers by performing signs and wonders. But at His coming, Jesus Christ will destroy the man of lawlessness.
Chapter Summary:
The Christians of Thessalonica have not missed out on the events described in Paul's prior letter. Despite what some teachers apparently thought, they were not experiencing the ''day of the Lord,'' a time of God's great wrath and judgment. As proof, Paul offers instruction on events which had yet to occur, prior to the coming of the day of the Lord. The first is a rebellion, or a ''falling away.'' The second is the emergence of a ''man of lawlessness'' who will demonstrate satanic power. This will correspond with God removing His restraint, in some way, leaving sin freer rein to enable His judgment.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 1 praised the Christians of Thessalonica for their spiritual growth and acts of love. This chapter seeks to correct a discouraging error present in that same church. Paul encourages these believers by stating that they have not missed out on the events described in his prior letter and have not entered into the judgment of the ''day of the Lord.'' Before that catastrophic time can begin, certain events must occur. These include a widespread spiritual apostasy and the rise of a satanically-empowered figure. Chapter 3 commends the value of a strong work ethic, both in a spiritual and a secular sense.
Book Summary:
Second Thessalonians follows Paul's earlier letter to the same group of Christian believers. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul had praised them for their faithfulness and given them reassurances about the day of the Lord. This included teachings on the rapture and a description of death as ''sleep'' from a Christian viewpoint. In this second letter, Paul corrects possible misunderstandings about those ideas. Among his teachings here are the importance of a good work ethic and God's impending judgment on sin, including judgment on those who persecute the Christian church. Paul also provides the Thessalonians with reassurances that they have not somehow missed out on Christ's return.
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