I believe that Paul is speaking of Christ's second coming and he states that His return will not take place until two things happen:
- A great apostasy will occur. Many who once knew God will fall away from the truth of the gospel they have known.
- The Antichrist, or man of sin, will be revealed.
Is Paul saying here that Jesus will not come back until the Antichrist has been enthroned as a world ruler and we all know his identity? I don't think so. Paul knew that Christ could return at any moment and Jesus Himself said He will come when least expected, in the twinkling of an eye.
We find a key to Paul's meaning in his use of the word “revealed.” The Greek meaning is “uncovered.” I believe Paul is saying, “Jesus will not come until the Antichrist’s full plan and agenda are exposed, and the church is made aware of it.” The Antichrist’s plan has already been exposed in Scripture. Paul declares, “The mystery of iniquity doth already work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). He is saying that a mysterious form of sin, even now at work, will usher in the Antichrist. Apparently, a spirit of iniquity will fall upon lost humanity, gripping people’s hearts so powerfully that the man of sin will ascend to power quickly.
Yet there is another meaning to this phrase, “mystery of iniquity.” It comes from a Greek root meaning “silent initiation.” Paul is talking about a secret initiation into the cult of the Antichrist—a subtle, demonic influence he saw taking place in his own day.
Right now, this same mysterious spirit is at full seductive power, preparing masses of people to receive the man of sin. Thousands daily are being brainwashed, silently and in secret, to be initiated into his fold. And this satanic work is happening so fast and so efficiently, the man of sin could ascend to power in the not-too-distant future.