I WANT YOU TO SEE what a writer could do to make a buck tying Bible prophecy to today’s news.
I was working yesterday on paraphrasing 1, 2 Thessalonians for the Casual English Bible. And I have to tell you, I was pushed back in my chair when I realized how I needed to paraphrase something Paul said would happen before Jesus comes back.
I’m in 2 Thessalonians 2, and the paraphrasing is going quite slowly because it’s tough trying to make sense of some of what Paul says.
Here are the first eight verses, which I just finished working on in a draft. See if you think it would be possible to make connections to leaders today.
First comes the Man Above the Law
2:1. Now, dear family, let’s talk about the coming of our leader, Jesus the Messiah, and about our getting together with him.
2:2. Don’t get yourself all worked up and rattled when someone tells you our leader has already come. It doesn’t matter if they’re just talking about it, reporting a prophecy, or reading a letter they said we wrote.
2:4. This guy is so into himself that he thinks he’s more important than any god. He’s opposed to all religions that don’t worship him. One day he will sit in God’s temple and tell everyone this is his temple because he’s God.
2:5. Don’t you remember me telling you about this when I was with you?
2:6. You know what is keeping him in check at the moment, waiting for the right time to make the move and turn him loose.
2:7. Actually, the secret lawbreaking is already going on. But it will stay secret until the one who has put a hold on the action is removed.
2:8. That’s when the Man Above the Law will make his appearance. This is a man Jesus will destroy with nothing more than the splendor of his arrival and words from his lips.
Don’t get me wrong
I’m not saying I think Paul is talking about leaders in our nation or in any other nation today. But I think it would be easy to make a case here, especially given the popularity of Fake News during the past year or so.
Keep an eye out. See if any Christian writers or TV preachers decide to capitalize on the opportunity. Some have certainly done that in the past
As for me, I have no idea who Paul was talking about. I do know that Roman history reports that after the Jews revolted against Rome in AD 66, perhaps about 15 years after Paul wrote this letter, Roman General Titus reconqured the land. He leveled Jerusalem, destroying the one and only Jewish temple, which has never been rebuilt. A 14oo-year-old Muslim shrine sits on the Temple Mount, as Jerusalem’s most famous landmark.
I’m telling you that as a writer educated as a news journalist who also graduated from seminary, I could have fun with this, I could rattle a lot of people, and I could make money doing it.
If only I didn’t have scruples.
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 2:3. Often translated “man of lawlessness.” Some ancient copies of Paul’s letter say “man of sin.” Some Bible experts say this Greek description is similar to the Hebrew phrase “son of Belial” (1 Samuel 25:17, KJV), translated in negative terms such as “worthless man” (NASB), “wicked man” (NIV), and “despicable person” (CEB). Some scholars describe him in Paul’s context as a counterfeit Jesus.
 2:3. “Son of Destruction,” sometimes translated “son of perdition,” is the same phrase one Bible writer used to describe Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus (John 17:12). As a son of destruction, Judas was a destroyer whose actions led to the crucifixion of his mentor, Jesus. But also as a son of destruction, he was also doomed for destruction; he committed suicide (Matthew 27:5). He was a destroyer who was destroyed.
 2:6. Paul had apparently told the Thessalonians about this earlier. Readers today are left guessing what he was talking about. One guess is that God is the one who’s waiting for the right time to set in motion these events that will lead to the return of Jesus.
 2:7. Paul uses a phrase sometimes translated as “mystery of lawlessness” (NASB). Some scholars say this reads like the opposite of what Paul described as God’s secret plan: “the mystery of his will” (Ephesians 1:9 NASB). “These mysteries remained secret to people in earlier generations. It’s only now being revealed by the Spirit to the Messiah’s devoted apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 3:5).
 2:8. “Words from his lips” is often translated “breath of his mouth” (NASB), which in casual English could sound like killer bad breath. It’s nothing of the kind. Bible experts say this is a phrase that links Jesus to a prophecy about the future messiah from the family of King David: “by his words the wicked will be put to death” (Isaiah 11:4 NCV).