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Dr. Benjamin B.Warfield
(On the Man of Sin)
“Whether a single emperor was thought of or the line of emperors, is a more difficult question. The latter hypothesis will best satisfy the conditions of the problem; and we believe that the line of emperors, considered as the embodiment of persecuting power, is the revelation of iniquity hidden under the name of the Man of Sin. With this is connected in the description certain other traits of Roman imperialism—more especially the rage for deification, which, in the person of Caligula, had already given a foretaste of what was to come. It was Nero, then, the first persecutor of the Church—and Vespasian the miracle-worker—and Titus, who introduced his divine-self and his idolatrous insignia into the Holy of Holies, perhaps with a direct anti-Christian intent—and Domitian—and the whole line of human monsters whom the world was worshipping as gods, on which, as a nerve-cord of evil, these hideous ganglia gathered—these and such as these it was that Paul had in mind when he penned this hideous description of the son of perdition, every item of which was fulfilled in the terrible story of the emperors of Rome.
“The restraining power, on this hypothesis, appears to be the Jewish state. For the continued existence of the Jewish state was both graciously and naturally a protection to Christianity, and hence a restraint on the revelation of the persecuting power. Graciously, it was God’s plan to develop Christianity under the protection of Judaism for a short set time, with the double purpose of keeping the door of salvation open to the Jews until all of their elect of that generation should be gathered in and the apostasy of the nation should be rendered doubly and trebly without excuse, and of biding the tender infancy of the Church within the canopy of a protecting sheath until it should grow strong enough to withstand all storms. Naturally, the effect of the continuance of Judaism was to conceal Christianity from notice through a confusion of it with Judaism—to save it thus from being declared an illicit religion—and to enable it to grow strong under the protection accorded Jewish worship. So soon as the Jewish apostasy was complete and Jerusalem given over to the Gentiles—God deserting the temple which was no longer His temple to the fury of the enemies, of those who were now His enemies—the separation of Christianity from Judaism, which had already begun, became evident to every eye; the conflict between the new faith and heathenism culminating in and now alive almost only in the Emperor-worship, became intense; and the persecuting power of the empire was inevitably let loose. Thus the continued existence of Judaism was in the truest sense a restraint on the persecution of Christians, and its destruction gave the signal for the lawless one to be revealed in his time…
“Finally, in this interpretation, the apostasy is obviously the great apostasy of the Jews, gradually filling up all these years and hastening to its completion in their destruction. That the Apostle certainly had this rapidly completing apostasy in his mind in the severe arraignment that he makes of the Jews in 1st Thessalonians 2:14-16, which reached its climax in the declaration that they were continually filling up more and more full the measure of their sins, until already the measure of God’s wrath was prematurely filled up against them and was hanging over them like some laden thunder-cloud ready to burst and overwhelm them—adds an additional reason for supposing his reference to be to this apostasy—above all others, ‘the’ apostasy—in this passage.
“…As a matter of mere fact the growing apostasy of the Jews was completed—the abomination of desolation had been set up in the sanctuary—Jerusalem and the temple, and the whole Jewish state was in ruins—Christianity stood naked before her enemies—and the persecuting sword of Divus Caesar was unsheathed and Paul had himself felt it keenness: all the prophecy had been fulfilled before two decades had passed away” (Biblical and Theological Studies, pp. 472-475).
(Revelation is) "the most difficult book of the Bible: it has always been the most variously understood, the most arbitrarily interpreted, the most exegetically tortured." (B. B. Warfield, "The Book of Revelation" in Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopedia, 3 vols., (NY: Funk and Wagnalls, 1883), 2:80)
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I Need information on another writing of Warfield's: Evolution, Science, and Scritpure; Selected writings. I don't know if you can help me but that would be sweet. Thanks firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 05 Oct 2005
Date: 21 Oct 2007
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