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Tyndale’s Doctrine of Antichrist And His Translation of 2 Thessalonians 2

By R. M. Davis

A Brief History Tyndale’s View of the Scriptures Considering 2 Thessalonians 2 about Antichrist Comparing Translations Antichrist: A Very Present Danger What Does Antichrist Withhold? How? Appendix: Original-spelling Versions Endnotes

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the 1549 Matthew Bible. They can be found also in Tyndale's 1534 New Testament, which was largely taken into the MB. (David Daniell has produced a modern-spelling edition of the 1534 New Testament, which makes for easier reading.) Early Modern English quotations, Scriptures or prose, may be minimally edited for clarity’s sake.

Chapter 2 of the Apostle Paul’s second epistle to the Thessalonians is one of the most detailed and ostensibly explicit descriptions of Antichrist contained in Scripture, but is evidently quite mysterious, or at least ambiguous, in the original Greek. Its evolution in the hands of Bible translators reveals a growing trend to render it in accordance with the popular understanding of a certain individual who will rise up in the future: a wonder-working man, and a charming but deceptive politician, whose identity is presently unknown, but who will gain ascendancy on the world stage and eventually be revealed for who he is. In 1534 Tyndale translated verse 7, “For the mystery of that iniquity doth he already work, which only locketh until it be taken out of the way”; that is, the mystery of iniquity that is worked by Antichrist “locks” until it is taken out of the way. Tyndale taught that Antichrist is knowable now by those who understand Paul’s teaching aright. He taught that Antichrist is not a particular individual, but is a spiritual thing opposed to the faith of God’s word. He taught that the revelation of Antichrist means not that someone’s face and name will be known, but that the dark forces of Antichrist are revealed in deeds and doctrine that oppose all that God’s word teaches, and all that may be known about Christ, our pure, spotless, and gentle Lamb, who is the Living Word. In the end the deeds and doctrine of Antichrist, through growing apostasy, become so obviously unbiblical and unchristian, that he is thereby revealed for all to see who he is.

So then. who was then working powerfully. verily. and upon this rock I will build my congregation" or church.1494 – 1536). though Tyndale undertook such work and. where he had Tyndale did not restrict the built up an antichristian kingdom. the Church was actually intent upon keeping them from the people by persecutions and by keeping them in Latin. Lo. such as the coming of antichrist: nay. Antichrist was not a mystery yet to be revealed: he was already revealed in the Roman Church. the babe is known well enough. in supposed succession to the apostle Church is necessarily at risk. Tyndale explained: Then came [the pope] to this text. xvi. Though it professed allegiance to the Scriptures. the carnal beast. in and through the Roman Church. Peter is the rock whereon the church of Christ is built. But Tyndale warned that these were the actions of Antichrist. And these signs could be “spied”. and therefore the head of Christ's church…4 2 . Peter. a hunted man.A Brief History When William Tyndale lived (c. he ultimately paid for his labours with his life. Why? For such things as departing from Roman doctrine or practices.1 To translate the Scriptures into vernacular languages was a capital offence.2 After years in exile. or seen. which the Scripture describeth him by. of Antichrist. (Matt. or signs. Tyndale wrote that these things were anti-Christian and revealed Antichrist: And when [Roman Catholic Sir Thomas More] saith many mysteries are yet to be revealed. in fact. confiscating their property. For the entire the faith. in the deeds of the contemporary Church – such as casting men and women into the Tower for private study of the Scriptures. saith antichrist. or denying the Church’s authority to dictate in certain matters of faith. It also claimed exclusive right to possess and interpret Scripture. gave us the English translation that has formed the basis of our best Bibles ever since. the popes had come to be Roman Church or to the exalted as heads of this kingdom and lords of office of pope.3 We see from this brief statement that Tyndale understood the Scriptures to describe “tokens”. and all the tokens spied in him. By wresting influence of Antichrist to the the Scriptures. and burning them alive. or for the heretical sin of reading the Scriptures in English. and I am his successor. This Church that was suppressing the Bible and killing readers of the Bible called itself Christian. the Roman Catholic Church and its adherents were imprisoning men and women. fiercely.): “Thou art Peter. intent on suppressing God’s word.

Martin Luther In this article I capitalize the word ‘Church’ to refer collectively or individually to organizations of people. regarding no man but them only that be disguised as they be?”7 He often referred to how the Church “took captive” or “crept into” the consciences of men.”9 Tyndale’s View of the Scriptures All Tyndale’s ambitions were for the glory of God’s word and for the common people to have it. often brutal. leading in congregational praise and worship. But he was concerned to have people understand the work of a faithful Church. their own decrees and ordinances.5 But Tyndale did not restrict the work or influence of Antichrist to the Roman Church or to the office of pope. due ministration of the sacraments.Here the Pope was described as “antichrist. of course.8 Tyndale wrote that “The [clerics] repent not. and. and public reading of Scripture. which. seeking to have men obey its ordinances as if they were the ordinances of God. to avoid worldly intrigue.6 leading them astray in doctrine and practice and sitting in their consciences where the word of God should have its place instead. wielding wide power unto the destruction of people’s souls and bodies. and burn them. to serve and minister. and in wanting to be the vicar of Christ and to have people believe in him and in his bulls and indulgences. Martin Luther and other Reformers used similar words. to be separate from sin. led. For the entire Church is necessarily at risk. But Tyndale saw what the Roman Church had become after centuries of progressive corruption: an idol in men’s minds. Tyndale's work and writing show that he would have valued a Church that taught. to do charitable works. large or small. among other things. “locked up” its true meaning with false teaching (“glosses”) and traditions: Burning a heretic 3 . He was ‘the Antichrist’ in the sense that he was supreme head of what had become an international. which profess to be Christian. antichristian Church and a leading figure. their own lies and dreams. not persecute in tyranny. The Pope headed a great political and religious empire in which people who read the Scripture in their own language could be burned alive. and despise all laws of God and man. including to promulgate God’s word and promote a right understanding of it. and forbidding the Scriptures. In Tyndale’s time the Roman Church was exceedingly corrupt. He described how the false prophets exalted themselves: “Love they not themselves. and make heretics of them. but from very lust and consent to sin persecute both the Scriptures wherewith they are rebuked and also people who warn them to amend. the carnal beast”. but priests could purchase licenses permitting them to keep mistresses contrary to the Scripture. and fed the people with true preaching. To this end he wished to free the Scriptures from the fast grip of the dominant Church.

and there to lock it up where it should save thy soul.11 Of the way of the anti-Christian Church with the Scriptures. Roman Catholic saint Sir Thomas More. for all their great clergy and high learning (as we say). And it is not possible for them to understand it in the English. who clearly expressed his desire to see Tyndale die.I thought it my duty (most dear reader) to warn thee beforehand. [But] now.12 If the Church had assisted Tyndale to give God’s word to the people he would. in another it will not serve. and to make us shoot at a wrong mark. whose perpetual study is to leaven the Scripture with glosses. wrote that Slaying the brethren: Tyndale 4 . the Devil’s]. who have nailed a veil of false glosses on Moses's face to corrupt the true understanding of his law. of course. and to shew thee the right way in. in Pathway to the Scripture. the blinder thou art and the more contradiction thou findest in it. one of Tyndale's most determined enemies and pursuers. he wrote: And our great pillars of holy church. they slay their brethren for the faith they have in our Saviour and therewith reveal their bloody wolfish tyranny. and what they be within. And in these things to be ignorant is to have all the Scripture locked up. to put our trust in those things that profit their bellies only and slay our souls. even by forbidden private study. And therefore they bark and say the Scripture maketh heretics. could feed their souls upon it. they are reading the Scripture. He wrote to his readers. so that if thou wilt go in and read. have been well pleased. and to give thee the true key to open it withal. because they themselves do not [understand it] in Latin. Antichrist’s. that his desire was that each should: have all the Scripture unlocked and opened before thee. cannot come in.10 Tyndale wished to unlock and set forth God’s word truly so the people. and are understanding and delighting therein. thou canst not but understand. so that the more thou readest it. And therefore because we are never taught the profession of our baptism we remain always unlearned – as much the spiritualty [Church clerics]. as the lay people. But Tyndale worked virtually alone and the Church was murderously opposed. and the more tangled art thou therein and canst nowhere see the way through: for if thou had a gloss in one place. because the lay and unlearned people are taught these first principles of our profession. and whose disciples they are [ie. and to arm thee against false prophets and malicious hypocrites. And of pure malice that they cannot have their will.

In fact it makes good sense in the context. Considering 2 Thessalonians 2 about Antichrist Tyndale’s understanding of Antichrist can. which withholds. a force or power. I believe. which may at first seem unusual. Tyndale understood the Greek to indicate that this withholding or restraining is the work of Antichrist. Tyndale translated it ‘withholds’ and ‘locks’. be proven logical. the Church. the translation by ‘lock’. Paul is teaching about (1) Antichrist. in concert with secular authorities. The NKJV refers to that which ‘restrains. and it turns truth on its head. he would warn us that it is Antichrist’s own deceptive doctrine. for only someone who has possession of a thing can withhold it or lock it up. be quite clearly discerned in his unique 1534 translation of 2 Thessalonians 2. who is almost universally understood to represent Antichrist. a worker of iniquity. There is also uncertainty about the identity of the “restrainer”. but his identity is a mystery for now. whether it is the Church. The KJV uses ‘withholds’ and ‘lets’ (restrains). people who believe in the Rapture generally believe the Church to be the restrainer. restrains. Commentators generally agree that in 2 Thessalonians 2. Here the apostle Paul is writing about the ‘man of sin’ or ‘son of perdition’. and (2) something. or a political power. Thus a widely held view in Christendom is that the restraining power referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2 is a power for good which works against Antichrist. But Tyndale would have deplored all this.’ and the NIV to that which ‘holds back’.”13 Though More did not live to see it. set upon Tyndale and ultimately slew him in Vilvoorde. Therefore let us compare Tyndale's translation with that of 5 . I believe. But a key difference in understanding then emerges. which is admittedly ambiguous. Antichrist is an evil power that “locks up”. Indeed. Antichrist is popularly believed to be an individual. But such a view has been imposed upon the KJV rendering.Tyndale was “a hell-hound in the kennel of the devil…discharging a filthy foam of blasphemies out of his brutish beastly mouth” and that his work was as “full of errors as the sea is of water. that is.14 Paul then speaks of something that is holding down or withholding. In other words the “restrainer. the Greek is the verb katĕcho. But most others understand the text in a contrary sense: that the restraining power is a force against Antichrist. a man who will arise in the future to take political power when the restrainer ceases to restrain him. which will cease to act when removed from the earth. or restrains. holds back the evil that Antichrist does. withholds. the Holy Spirit. and it is pivotal. now part of Belgium.” and that he “willfully mistranslated…to deceive blind unlearned people. or ‘locks up’.” whoever or whatever it is. will. He was about 42 years old. Joseph Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon notes a second meaning of katĕcho: to possess or have in possession. He did not understand the Scriptures to teach about a mystery man who will arise in the future. in 1536. If Tyndale had this meaning in mind also.

6 . here ‘he’ is not clearly the one working the mystery of iniquity. and that sinful man be revealed.) Comparing Tyndale’s Translation with the KJV The following translations of 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8 are taken from the English Hexapla. but could be construed as a force for good against the mystery of iniquity. 8 And then shall that wicked be revealed. which involves locking up. which only locks until it be taken out of the way. whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth. whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth. that when I was yet with you. that when I was yet with you. I told you these things? 6 And now you know what withholds. 7 For the mystery of iniquity does already work: only he who now lets will let. This locking up is the mystery of iniquity. and shall destroy with the appearance of his coming… 3 The 1611 King James’ version (keeping in mind that ‘let’ means ‘restrain’): Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come. unless there come a falling away first. not because I am attempting to find fault with it here. One is use and placement of the pronoun ‘he’. showing himself that he is God. until he be taken out of the way. and is exalted above all that is called God. Tyndale's 1534 translation:15 Let no man deceive you by any means. 4 Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God. for the Lord comes not. 8And then shall that wicked be revealed. Note. But the KJV translators used ‘he’ differently: For the mystery of iniquity does already work: only he who now lets will let. 5Remember ye not. I told you these things? 6And now you know what withholds. and the Greek is apparently quite challenging. a force for evil that is already at work. the son of perdition 4which is an adversary. 7For the mystery of that iniquity does he already work. that he might be revealed at his time. and that man of sin be revealed. unless there come a departing first. 5 Remember ye not. so that he as God sits in the temple of God. (I refer to the KJV because of its historical importance. and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming… 3 It must be acknowledged that these passages are difficult in both versions. For the mystery of that iniquity does he already work. until he be taken out of the way. minimally modernized for clarity’s sake (see Appendix for the original versions). In referring to the withholding of the prior verse Tyndale translates.the KJV. In Tyndale’s version ‘he’ is clearly the one working the mystery of iniquity. which only locks until it be taken out of the way. Note the differences in verse 7. that he might be revealed in his time. the son of perdition. or that is worshipped. and show himself as God. ‘He’ is still portrayed as a restrainer. or that is worshipped: so that he shall sit as God in the temple of God.

though admittedly working now to some degree. (John v.We can see how the modern Christian understanding of Antichrist can be derived from the KJV rendering. and they are still looking for him to come later. to look for him some time in the future when all along he may be right here in our midst: we miss him because we look for him in the wrong place and time. But this error locks up the truth about Antichrist. so many Christians now are looking for a political Antichrist. and he hath reigned as long. and not in the places where we ought … The Jews would have found Christ verily if they had sought him in the law and the prophets. the Holy Spirit or a political power – is now holding Antichrist back somehow. A random sampling: RSV (1946): For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Tyndale observed that the Jews missed the Messiah when he came. and we are not aware – and that because we both look carnally for him. assists him to conceal himself. secret only for the present until the Restrainer disappears from the scene. And we also have looked for Antichrist. 7 . Instead. But this turns Tyndale’s doctrine of Antichrist upside down.16 I might add that just as the Jews in Jesus’ time were looking for a political Messiah. For if Tyndale is correct. No longer is Antichrist working the mystery of iniquity by holding something back from us here and now. Antichrist has succeeded in turning almost every eye away from himself. and also because they fail to seek in and learn from the Scriptures what the signs of his presence are: The Jews look for Christ. and will arise later. and he came fifteen hundred years ago and they are not aware of it. and sets us up for deception. Which understanding is correct? For believers and for Churches the answer could not be more important. Antichrist: A Very Present Danger So then. whither Christ sendeth them to seek. only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. This doctrine has been aggressively articulated without ambiguity in modern Bible versions. in popular modern Christian doctrine the restrainer – be it the Church. In like manner. Christians fail to spot Antichrist because they are looking for him to come later. New English Bible (1970): For already the secret power of wickedness is at work.) We also would have spied out Antichrist long ago if we had looked in the doctrine of Christ and his apostles. he is being held back.

It is many centuries old. No. “Mark this. and are otherwise disguised. but the thing is all one. as our fathers talked of him. and of Paul to the Corinthians and Galatians. a senior [elder] and so forth. Pharisees. and so forth. can Antichrist rise to power and be identified. are that Antichrist is a spiritual thing. (which were very Antichrists.).” Tyndale wrote. And what fear this causes in some circles. “above all things”: Mark this also above all things – that Antichrist is not an outward thing. this doctrine of a future Antichrist is not a modern teaching. Antichrist is now. and other garments. Antichrist was in the Old Testament. Furthermore. and turn himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. for ye rob widow’s houses. and to disguise himself. Any reader of these modern versions must think the Bible teaches that only when the restrainer is removed. ye pray long prayers under a colour. a Pharisee. but in fact teaching so as to undermine the faith. and suffer them not that would enter in. one that preacheth false doctrine. And is as much to say as against Christ. and fought with the prophets. There is a difference in the names between a pope. for Antichrist is a spiritual thing. His warnings.) saying. and by the 16th century it was apparently as pervasive among Roman Catholics as it is now among Protestants. and other Epistles. xi. he was also in the time of Christ and the apostles. that is to say. with people searching out who this evil man is going to be! But in fact. It is a doctrine that arose early in the Church. as thou readest in the Epistles of John. but have yet gotten them new names. ye have taken away the key of knowledge. a man that should suddenly appear with wonders. contrary to Christ. and always a very present danger.New Jerusalem Bible (1985): The mystery of wickedness is already at work.17 8 . ye make men break God’s commandments with your traditions. though it appears more and more aggressively in modern Bibles. As thou seest how Christ rebuketh the Scribes and the Pharisees in the gospel. or “disappears from the scene (NEB)”. he will change himself once more. a bishop. 8and the wicked One will appear openly. when we have exposed him. a cardinal. and also Mormons and other groups. but let him who is restraining it once be removed. But his nature is (when he is revealed and overcome with the word of God) to go out of play for a season. and long predated Tyndale. ye shut up the kingdom of heaven. Which things all our prelates do. and then to come in again with new raiment. we must watch out for his coming as a Christian imposter. that is. Woe be to you. ye beguile the people with hypocrisy and such like. Even so now. (I doubt not) endure till the world’s end. professing faith and assuming appearances of faith. In Christian Churches he will seek authority. which have been forgotten or suppressed. verily. and will. and to say a scribe. But William Tyndale departed from the common view.

and fashion themselves like the apostles of Christ. He had looked in all the Scriptures and seen that in the past the work of Antichrist had been accomplished through the religious leaders and false prophets of the Old Testament who locked up God’s word. priests. His translation again: Let no man deceive you by any means. for there could only be one thing worthy of Antichrist’s virulent attention: the word of God. And no marvel. or elders. or elders are of Antichrist. and 9 . showing the restrainer as presently working the mystery of iniquity. Therefore as to Antichrist’s “new raiment”. He sends his emissaries to lodge in the branches of Christendom wherever and as high up as they can climb.We can now see how Tyndale’s understanding would have led him to translate 2 Thessalonians 2 as he did. What Does Antichrist Withhold? How? The questions that arise in response to Tyndale’s translation are now evidently answered. Little children. and then later through the scribes and Pharisees (“very antichrists”) of Jesus’ time. thanks be to God. unless there come a departing first. for the Lord comes not. 3 (1) What is withheld or locked up? There can only be one answer. The apostle Paul said that that which ‘holds back’ was at already work when he wrote. and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come. These false apostles are deceitful workers. for Satan himself is changed into the fashion of an angel of light. But we must be alert for signs of Antichrist now. our pastors. which only locks until it be taken out of the way. Of course I am not suggesting that all pastors. that he might be revealed at his time. it is all one and the same thing. Whereby we know that it is the last time (1John 2:18). prophets. in modern parlance. For it is only by the true word that men are saved. cardinals. priests. and monks. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers fashion themselves as though they were the ministers of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). even now are there many antichrists come already. And in his own time it was being accomplished through popes. and that sinful man be revealed…6And now you know what withholds. They are not. no matter by what names they call themselves or how they are clothed? For as Tyndale said. rescued from captivity to Satan. should we not take care in our own Churches and professing Christian congregations concerning our own religious leaders and prophets. The Scriptures confirm that antichrist was at work in the 1st century and warn of false apostles: For there are certain craftily crept in (Jude 1:4). 7 For the mystery of that iniquity does he already work. bishops. priests. “the thing is all one” – or. it is the last time.

Thus Holy Communion. God’s ordained means of grace whereby we receive of and commune with the Living Word himself. was murderously opposed to reformation.There could only be one thing worthy of Antichrist’s virulent attention: God’s word. that he which readeth or heareth it cannot understand it: as Christ testifieth how the scribes and Pharisees had so shut it up (Matthew 23) and taken away the key of knowledge (Luke 11) that the Jews. penance. when men were most godly and most fervent in the Holy Spirit. so that they cannot understand a sentence of the scripture unto their salvation. It is darkened by purpose-driven doctrine. These are diminished or distorted by false teaching. Tyndale’s great lament. was locked up and shut away. given eternal life. may be so locked up. it must be interpreted only according to his decrees. for God’s word is Spirit and it is life (Deut 32:47). such as the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion. which is the scripture and word of God. and was teaching salvation by false means such as fasting. such as the sacraments and Christian holy days. But when the Spirit of God began to be Thomas Cranmer 10 . like their avowed enemies the Roman Catholics before them. it must be locked away behind the Book of Mormon or the Watchtower. were yet locked out. Also vulnerable are those things which serve the word. The service was glossed with superstitious notions. keeping the cup for the priests. In the 16th century the Roman Church had so fallen that its tradition was to minister the Lord’s Supper only once per year. Only by the true word may we know God through Christ and worship in spirit and in truth. as among the Charismatics. and whatever truth remained in the liturgy was lost because it was given in Latin. and some insisted on nude immersion. some persons delayed baptism until near death in order to avoid condemnation for later sin. and then only the bread. Antichrist is ever seeking reason and occasion to suppress the word: it must be kept in Latin. It is darkened by occult doctrine. Nothing is as important as this. Nowadays the Jehovah Witnesses. was that God’s word was so badly locked up by the dominant Church that the people were denied salvation: the Church was apostate and sinful. who thought themselves within. then they received the Communion daily. or they are made the objects of false traditions: in times past. as we have seen. Antichrist will also suppress or destroy those things which serve the word and the faith of the word. Tyndale wrote: The kingdom of heaven. will only celebrate the Lord’s Supper once a year. It is denied by a ‘wiser’ morality that would affirm homosexuality. and the purchase of indulgences. etc. they are ignored or carelessly performed. and are to this day. To such persons the Reformation martyr Thomas Cranmer wrote: “In the beginning.

22 and more. through faith. how careth he for us! First. and with him to give us himself and all. and to keep his mercy in mind: as baptism. Examples of false suppresses the Gospel. which it isn’t. the Apostle Paul said that no matter how Christ was preached. above all and beside all his other benefits. The Puritans.21 fasting. traditions are the preaching and sale of indulgences not which celebrates it. or “holy days” as Tyndale called them – cunningly characterizing them as false traditions. because it “provokes us and helps our weak faith”. Thus ‘Easter’ becomes an evil word. or. which are visible and public signs. and Christians fear that they are being unfaithful to the Lord if they celebrate Christmas. even if Christmas were a problem.more cold in men’s hearts and they waxed more worldly than godly. by which we. may receive grace for remission of sin through Jesus Christ our Lord.19 This would include the observance of holy days. and which he obviously treasured in the Church’s calendar.23 Anything that puts us in mind of holy things and helps our faith may therefore be called sacramental. he rejoiced (Phil 1:18). thereby abetting the suppression of the knowledge of the incarnation of Christ. a thing very common today. nor given superstitious “signification” or meaning. or ministering Holy Communion once per year – not celebrating the birth of Christ.”18 Antichrist further suppresses Christian feast days – holidays. and a most loving Father. as pagan. but serve only to suppress the faith. He recognized baptism and the Lord’s Supper as supreme and divinely instituted. Behold: that is false which suppresses the Gospel. especially when meaningfully celebrated. the sacrament of his body and blood. That is false which not that which celebrates it. and not content therewith. to give us his own Son Jesus. or ceremony that could stir up faith as a lesser sacrament of sorts. But he also regarded any “visible sign. and even some Evangelicals. it is the greatest comfort that in this world can be imagined. But Antichrist will not suffer us to show forth or remember holy things. for salvation.” practice. Jehovah Witnesses. Beware objections that do not in reality serve the faith! Tyndale's view on sacraments is worthy of consideration. O what a subtle beast is the serpent! Indeed the subtlest of the beasts in the field. and leads us astray with objections which have the appearance of piety. then their desire was not so hot to receive the Communion as it was before… But to them that live godly. Further. Tyndale further wrote that those who suppress or distort the sacraments are “destroyers”: O a merciful God. to provoke us and to help our weak faith. but to give us so many sacraments or visible signs.20 He recognized also marriage. and as many other 11 . provided of course it is not to be understood in the same way as baptism and the Lord’s Supper. and the more godly a man is. do greatly err when they anathematize and suppress Christmas as a pagan festival. the more sweetness and spiritual pleasure and desire he shall have often to receive it.

So then. diminishment. of course. which generally refers to the human face or countenance and is used to distinguish man from other species or orders. or through false teaching (as Tyndale would say. One of the most insidious forms of withholding is to provide all kinds of “bible teaching”. Historically this has meant professing Churches of Judaism and Christianity. and he works in earth through men against Christ to keep or lead all people (if it were possible) away from God’s word. the father of lies and implacable enemy of God. This writer is not a Greek scholar. He works through men. Thus Antichrist works the mystery of iniquity through a Church that wrongly keeps the word from men through persecutions. (3) Why is Antichrist referred to as ‘he’ or a ‘man’ if Antichrist never will be one particular individual? Or. One of his major works in the last days. “false glosses”: distortion. mankind. as we saw above. those who possess it. if they put significations to them (for we destroy none. In such congregations the people may hear much that they think to be biblical. since Jesus rose from the dead and returned to be with the Father. is to profess faith in Christ while cunningly destroying Christ’s witness and testimony. or feigned some [that have no meaning]. false applications). And yet that great preacher. As Tyndale understood it. Here we see the significance of the second sense of katĕcho: Antichrist possesses and locks up. often personified in Scriptures. of Satan. spiritual Antichrist ‘has’ a human face and assumes a human face. determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified when he was among the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 2:2). the only ones who could do so are those who have control of it. and truth. ‘He’ is a spiritual power. but they never hear the message of the great salvation bought for us by the blood of the Lamb. by withholding the Gospel. he seizes control over the written word and then withholds it by various means. He is opposed to Jesus Christ.sacraments as they will have.24 Sacraments and holy days serve and support the faith and the word. but they destroy who have put out the significations.25 or the things of man from other things. or he assumes authority as holy teacher and then locks its true sense away by false teaching. for he has power and dominion over men. (2) Who or what withholds God’s word? Who “locks” it? In the earth. who at times are referred to as ‘very 12 . although he may be epitomized in certain men (or women). the apostle Paul. but it is perhaps noteworthy that the Greek word translated ‘man’ in the ‘sinful man’ of 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is anthropos. therefore they become the targets of Antichrist along with God’s word. how can Antichrist also be many antichrists as related by the apostle John (1 John 2:18)? Tyndale’s answer. Antichrist is not any single man. but to never actually give the Gospel. even much talk about the Gospel and the need for the Gospel. but not to identify an individual. is that Antichrist is a spiritual thing. Antichrist and the iniquity he works are. false interpretations.

unless there come a departing first. and Sadducees reigned in Jerusalem at Christ’s first coming.” (4) How is the mystery of iniquity taken out of the way? It is ultimately by restoring truth that the mystery of iniquity is taken out of the way and Antichrist’s grip is broken. and burnings. in a Christendom that is now greatly divided along denominational lines and scattered around the globe. and maim has been diminished. to enter in. it is nothing: but whosoever swear by the gold of the temple. his indulgences.” We live in the last time of which the beloved apostle spoke. deeds. which say whosoever swear by the temple. By then the departing had come. hypocrites. he offendeth. even now are there many antichrists come already. it is nothing: but whosoever sweareth by the offering that lieth on the altar. Pharisees. and doctrine. the son of perdition which is an adversary. wielding greater or lesser power as they advance within their own kingdoms. Whereby we know that it is the last time (1Joh 2:18).antichrists.’ because in him the forces of darkness wield supreme authority. When the scribes. for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven before men: ye yourselves go not in. or that is worshipped: so that he shall sit as God in the temple of God. and is exalted above all that is called God. offendeth. and as ye have heard how that Antichrist shall come. though fraught with sects and division. secret traitors to the true faith. and that sinful man be revealed. dispensations. but it will ever remain that antichrists may be among us. the Scriptures had been locked up. at least for the time being. “Little children it is the last time. burn. This happened when the Lord came in the flesh in the 1st century. neither suffer ye them that come. by the teaching of those blind guides: M’t 23:13: Woe be unto you scribes and Pharisees. the gold or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? And whosoever sweareth by the altar. and show himself as God. was revealed as the Antichrist of that kingdom. the offering or the altar which sanctifieth the offering? 13 . Christendom. The apostle John warned almost 20 centuries before our time. was under a supreme and fierce pontiff who. Ye fools and blind: which is greater. and if we believe him. for the Lord comes not. The power of any pope to hurt. or “shut up”. we know to look out for “many antichrists. M’t 23:16-19: Woe be unto you blind guides. inquisitions. by his laws. Ye fools and blind: which is greater.’ Or an unfaithful and apostate person who is the head or highest ruler might be referred to as ‘the Antichrist. When Martin Luther and William Tyndale lived and wrote. the apostasy of verse 3: Let no man deceive you by any means.

or apostasy. But the KJV says (due to archaic or ungrammatical syntax or punctuation perhaps?) that Antichrist shows himself to himself: “showing himself that he is God. and apostolic teaching was progressively shut up by the Roman Church as the centuries progressed. when God through men like Martin Luther. and so on. where both Tyndale and the KJV committee supplied words that were missing in the Greek. William Tyndale. and the Holy Spirit opened great mysteries to them. the withholding power of the man of sin may also be considered to be at least partly taken out of the way when his power and authority to persecute and suppress the saints is diminished. in a great many places. Jehovah Witnesses. Obviously he would be showing himself to others. during more times of roaring and intense struggle. Apostasy displays the man of sin. Christian Scientists. But then the process of locking up began again. Therefore Tyndale taught that the restoration of truth is the “coming of the Lord” referred to in verse 2:3. Through their faithful teaching the iniquity worked by false prophets in Judaism was taken out of the way for a time. Tyndale: the Lord comes not. saying that Antichrist would make a display of himself as if he were God. and we might expect it to end only with the Lord’s final and most glorious coming. Antichrist. until the full departure. often gravely so.Jesus taught his apostles great truths. A few final notes before leaving this section: (1) A perhaps unintended difference between the KJV and Tyndale is at verse 2:4. Then Antichrist’s withholding was taken out of the way once more in the Reformation of the 16th century. But the time of the pure and true faith was to pass. and show himself as God. and Thomas Cranmer (to mention only a few of many) restored truth and brought much light to bear again upon the Scriptures and the sacraments. including in so-called evangelical and Protestant Churches. He comes in truth to and for those who love truth. Christadelphians. Then they taught others by preaching and by pen – despite the roaring of Antichrist against them. Tyndale put that he will sit as God in the temple of God. and that sinful man be revealed… 14 . Speaking of Antichrist. unless there come a departing first. In my view. He comes notably when apostasy is at its worst. why would we be concerned about the outward? (2) Consider verse 2:3. This cycle has been repeated in world history. for those who have eyes to see. The light has been darkened. let alone among such groups as the Mormons. Then comes the Lord through his prophets and faithful servants. of Tyndale’s era manifestly revealed Antichrist. This is logical.” This rendering might put us off guard: if Antichrist’s posturing is inward only.

and that man of sin be revealed… ‘That’ in the KJV verse is a demonstrative adjective pointing out a particular day for consideration. True. especially with regard to the state of things today. It makes sense given what was historically evident in the Church when Tyndale or can be accessed through the ‘Scribd’ button at the bottom of the ‘home’ page of my website at www. Tyndale understood where we must spy out Antichrist: he was slain by a Church that called itself ‘holy’. I submit that Tyndale’s 1534 rendition of the man of sin passages in 2 Thessalonians 2 is logical. and realistic. but simply makes a statement about when it is that the Lord comes. It makes preeminent sense given the primacy of place that the Scriptures claim for themselves in true faith. In conclusion. Appendix and endnotes follow… 15 . the mystery of iniquity that may be worked by Antichrist through a professing Christian Church. Tyndale used what grammarians call a “timeless present tense”.With “the Lord comes not”. And it makes sense considering what the Scriptures teach about the course of God’s word in the hands of men. who will ever apostatize. In it I also offer my own suggestion for how a person may find a place to worship in Spirit and truth. The beast does not always show himself a wolf. and thereby allows for one or more comings. unless there come a falling away first. However the King James Version is worded such that it points to the future. But what a hard teaching it is.newmatthewbible. It also allows for the final coming. clear. This enables the understanding of the historical cycle of apostasy that we see in the Scriptures – the coming of the Lord in truth whenever apostasy is full blown. The longer version discusses Tyndale’s teaching in more detail. and ‘shall’ is generally understood in the future tense. We must watch and awake as the Scriptures do exhort us. It points us neither to the future nor to the past. especially for those precious scattered sheep who are seeking. ~~~~~~~ Notice to readers: A longer version of this paper is posted at my Scribd account here: http://www. but may speak like a lamb. most of us in the West no longer suffer the vicious inquisitions and tribulations that Tyndale and so many others did. It admits of no internally consistent. But seasons of relative peace ought not to blind us to the warnings and proofs of history and of the Scriptures. thus looking to a future day of apostasy and setting up the expectation of a future Antichrist. to a day that is yet to come: that day shall not come.scribd. so that we may remain among the faithful.

the Geneva 1557. vntill it be taken out of the waye. excepte ther come a departynge first. Rheims 1582 and KJV 1611. and that man of sinne bee reuealed. for that day shall not come. for the lorde commeth not. with all power and signes. or that is worshipped: so that hee as God. Remember yee not. that he might be reuealed in his time. Tyndale 1534. with all lyinge power. And then shall that wicked bee reuealed.Appendix Original-spelling Versions of 2 Thessalonians 2: 3-9 For the scholars and Bereans who wish to see the original versions. Authorized – 1611 Let no man deceiue you by any meanes.1534 Let no man deceave you by eny meanes. Inconsistencies in spelling are original. I tolde you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth. and neither do I. sitteth in the Temple of God. Facsimile copies are available. The Hexapla did not employ the “tall ‘s’” used in early Modern English. And then shall that wicked by vttered. signes and wonders…. even him whose comminge is by the workynge of Satan. Remember ye not. and is exalted above all that is called god. the sonne of perdition. I tolde you these thynges? And nowe ye knowe what with holdeth: even that he myght be vttered at his tyme. they are copied below as reproduced in the Hexapla. and shall destroy with the brightnesse of his coming: Even him whose coming is after the working of Satan. shewing himselfe that he is God. the sonne of perdicion which is an adversarie. and that that synfull man be opened. as is inconsistency in capitalizing ‘God’. Who opposeth and exalteth himself aboue all that is called God. For the mysterie of iniquitie doth already worke: onely he who now letteth. Cranmer 1539. vntill he be taken out of the way. and shall destroye with the apearaunce of his commynge. whom the lord shall consume with the sprete of hys mouth. or that is worshipped: so that he shall sitt as God in temple of god. except I use a comma instead of the virgule suspensive (slash) of the older versions. that when I was yet with you. The 1841 Hexapla is a 6-version parallel New Testament containing the Scriptures of Wycliffe 1380. will let. whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth. and lying wonders… 16 .com. that when I was yet with you. For the mistery of that iniquitie doeth he all readie worke which onlie loketh. for example at greatsite. Tyndale . and shew him silfe as god. except there come a falling away first.

Having put itself in God’s place.” contained in Selected Writings of Martin Luther. As to the extent of the KJV’s reliance upon Tyndale. God’s Bestseller (a biography of Tyndale and Sir Thomas More). Tyndale’s translations (as much as he could complete before being taken and executed). then or later. 7 Answer. 4 Tyndale. p. Brian. William. drowning. let him 1 17 . and (anonymous book) A Short History of the Inquisition (Kessinger Legacy Reprints: also covers persecutions in the U. the bishops permitted them whores of their own. based on eighteen portions of the Bible. W. Volume 1. 15 I refer to Tyndale’s 1534 translation and not his 1535 revision. which included Tyndale’s New Testament and Pentateuch. More scholarly works include John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments of the Christian Church: facsimile copies are available through greatsite.” (Martin Luther. By a statistically accurate and appropriate method of sampling. inquisitions. 2004) (hereafter Practice or Practice & Sundry). and do still yet in all lands save in England. It was what the man in the office did with it that mattered. but even barbarous and foolish. 2003). “For already the mystery of iniquity worketh. p 40. 1849. p. William. torturing and maiming (e. 10 Daniell. by the sale of indulgences the Church was claiming power to grant (rather. He was not consistent in his rendering of 2 Thess. 2:7. It has extinguished faith. Look also for histories of the Waldenses.4. Unto the Reader. these many centuries. 3 Tyndale. including imprisonments. The original version is also posted there. at page 448. Tyndale further says in Practice. Now Paul’s warning is completely obscured. Minneapolis.truetohisways. which are not only impious and sacrilegious. Albingenses. David. Minimally modernized. 2 Major Bibles after 1537 were essentially revisions of the Matthew Bible. a ‘translation’ of Eugene Peterson. 96. he would not have abolished the office of pope. and other groups were. 8 See Answer. 1850) (hereafter “Answer”). linked from the “Articles” page. Tappert [Fortress Press. In 1526 he had. and what became of the kingdom he Yale University Press.). p. guilty of persecutions. where the man of sin becomes ‘the Anarchist’. ‘revealed’ for ‘opened’. During such time as it was an antichristian kingdom. it has decreed and multiplied without end. 5 As to Martin Luther. Here I Stand (a biography of Martin Luther). Yale University Press (New Haven and London 1995). 12 Ibid. they are guilty of all the souls that perish under this miserable captivity. “When the holy father had forbode priests their wives. Professor David Daniell explains in The Bible in English (New Haven and London. and more than fulfilled. they concluded that for the New Testament Tyndale's contribution is about 83% of the text. and from there into others. by Roland Bainton. banishments. obscured the sacraments.” (Page 295) 9 Answer. while sitting in the church as if he were God? [2 Thess 2:4]. p 104. p 41. 281. Martin’s Press. and the papacy is truly the kingdom of Babylon and of very Antichrist. but only reform it and fill it with faithful men. New York 2002). were taken into the Great Bible. 2007] p 424. where they may not have any other save men’s wives only. sell) forgiveness: something only God can do. New Testament scholars Jon Nielson and Royal Skousen observed that previous estimates of Tyndale's contribution to the KJV ‘have run from a high of up to 90% (Westcott) to a low of 18% (Butterworth)’. cutting out tongues). Wipf and Stock Publishers. 13 Moynahan. Henry Walter. Henry Walter.) 6 For example. All this the papal tyranny has fulfilled. Only he that holdeth. for a yearly tribute.T. for clarity’s sake. from Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of The Holy Scriptures Together With The Practice of Prelates. Luther wrote. 14 One recent exception is The Message. Tyndale’s New Testament. it is an idol to those who grant it this power. Popular histories that touch on some of the atrocities: by Brian Moynahan. and oppressed the gospel. God’s Bestseller (St. and in the Old Testament 76%”. “A computer-based American study published in 1998 has shown just how much Tyndale is in the KJV New Testament. “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church. Puritan. eg. p 105. and Lollards. and burning alive. An Answer to Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue (Parker Society edition. ed. For who is “the man of sin” and “the son of perdition” [2 Thess 2:3] but he who with his doctrines and his laws increases the sins and perdition of souls in the church. lashing.S. and restore to Christ’s churches their liberty and have it taught among them. I will also minimally update language and grammar in other quotations throughout this essay. 11 See the lightly modernized article of ‘Pathway to the Scripture’ posted at www. it was the kingdom of Antichrist. Editor Theodore G. but its own laws.Endnotes: Not only the Roman Catholic. The Practice of Prelates (Parker Society edition. but Reformed.g. Hussites. “Unless [the pope and his papists] will abolish their laws and ordinances.

be taken out of the hold. Our own works and charitable deeds may be sacraments. Lent. August 2013. ~~~~~~~~~~~ © Ruth Magnusson Davis. and thanks given to God. and Corpus Christi day. since it cannot perpetuate the doctrine Tyndale himself warned against. writes Tyndale. Christmas (three masses on Christmas night). facsimile of 1898 edition. p 90 and 91.D. Here it seems he parted ways with Martin Luther. editor John W. Ascension day. we will restore Tyndale's 1534 rendering in the New Matthew Bible. they of course do not save us. Easter. Davis is founder and editor of the New Matthew Bible Project. who had a very broad view of the concept. 20 Tyndale appended to his 1534 New Testament ambitious readings for no less than 189 days in the year. However. etc. November 2009. R. Sawyer. and Trinity. 18 (Mason. Saint John the evangelist’s day. Note. including the seasons of Advent. pp 4-5. Tyndale published two more New Testament revisions. His heart would break to see how these celebrations have been cast off by greater Christendom. Whitsun. He also honoured many departed saints with special readings on their days. and had readings for The Conception of Our Lady and the Dedication of the Church. But it has the same ambiguity as the KJV. p 91. until it be taken out of the way”. 22 Ibid.) 19 Practice & Sundry. But an unthankful populace has now been deprived of that privilege. which I at first referred to. Arthur James. 24 Ibid.. and readings for many other days.” This is the rendering that Rogers then used in the Matthew Bible. p 91. and (2) Daye’s pirated Matthew Bible. 23 Ibid. pp 156-157. For this reason. He specially translated texts from the Old Testament for public reading on days such as Ash Wednesday. incorrectly gave the 1534 translation as the base of the Matthew Bible. 25 See both Strong and Thayer. p 91. We see considerable changes in 1534. M. 16 Tyndale. I was originally misled into thinking that Tyndale’s 1534 translation was incorporated in the Matthew Bible (and so stated in an earlier version of this essay) by 2 things: (1) in Tindale’s Triumph. Then in 1535. including the Rogation or cross days. Parable of the Wicked Mammon (Benedicton Classics facsimile reprint. In the final one (see Wiegle’s Octapla) he changed verse 7 to “For the mystery of the iniquity doeth already work: till he which now only letteth. Thomas Cranmer. the Ember days. How wonderful it would be to live with holy things remembered. 2008) p 5. so much of the year. also used the 1534 text. 18 . 21 Practice & Sundry. Revised (again) April 2013. 17 Ibid. John Rogers’ Monument: The New Testament of the Matthew’s Bible 1537 A.