I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness.
Toward the end of his third missionary journey, Paul warned members of God’s name people by saying the above. He added: “From among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” This foretold apostasy had clearly manifested itself by the end of the first century. After the death of the apostles, that apostasy blossomed and produced the churches of Christendom. Apostate Christians have even removed the divine name from many of their translations of the Bible. They have adopted pagan rituals and have dishonored God by their unscriptural dogmas, their “holy wars,” and their immoral conduct. Thus, for centuries, Jehovah had just a sprinkling of faithful worshippers on the earth but no organized “people for his name.”
In his farewell talk to the Ephesian elders, as they gathered on the beach to say goodbye to Paul before he set sail for Jerusalem —where bonds and tribulation awaited him —the apostle foretold that even though holy spirit had appointed them to oversee God’s flock, nonetheless, in his absence wicked men would eventually rise up from within the congregation and mistreat and subvert the flock.
Paul knew that the operation to subvert Christ’s followers was well underway, given that he had already exposed the treachery of the superfine apostles, whom the apostle revealed were actually Satan’s agents who had disguised themselves as ministers of righteousness in order to corrupt the congregation in Corinth.
Another aspect of the apostasy that was in operation in the first century was mentioned by Paul in his second letter to Timothy and the warning regarding the gangrenous teachings of Hymenaeus and Philetus, who had “deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred, and they are subverting the faith of some.”
(Strangely, the teaching that “the resurrection has already occurred” is now an article of faith for Jehovah’s Witnesses and any who doubt or question the Watchtower’s claim that the first resurrection began in 1918 are themselves considered to be apostates.)
In his first letter to his beloved Timothy Paul revealed two specific teachings that would be prevalent in the latter days, saying: “However, the inspired word clearly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired statements and teachings of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, whose conscience is seared as with a branding iron. They forbid marriage and command people to abstain from foods that God created to be partaken of with thanksgiving by those who have faith and accurately know the truth.”
The inspired word clearly identifies the Catholic Church and their demon-inspired teachings requiring clergy celibacy and various injunctions requiring meatless Fridays and Lent, etc.
However, there is another apostasy that the inspired apostle foretold.
Whereas the falling away to the teachings of demons in the latter days obviously has been in operation for centuries, Paul foretold that an apostasy would come immediately before Christ returns. In fact, a figure whom Paul identified as a man of lawlessness would promote a false parousia prior to the real event —the false proclamation that the presence of Christ has begun and that the day of Jehovah is here is “the lie” that Paul describes as “an operation of Satan” that exerts a “powerful deluding influence” over those who otherwise know the truth.
Paul pointedly warned the brothers not to be shaken from their reason or unduly alarmed by such proclamations, whether they came as inspired verbal messages (talks) or in written form (magazines, brochures, etc.)
Paul went on to warn: “Let no one lead you astray in any way, because it will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction. He stands in opposition and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits down in the temple of God, publicly showing himself to be a god. Do you not remember that when I was still with you, I used to tell you these things?”
According to Paul’s other writings, anointed Christians comprise a spiritual temple. For example, he informed the Corinthians: “Do you not know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that the spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for the temple of God is holy, and you are that temple.”
Whereas, the falling away that manifested itself in the form of the Catholic Church and its subsequent myriads of offshoots occurs outside of Christ’s congregation, the apostasy that “comes first” is destined to occur within; that is to say, within the spiritual temple of God. According to Paul the man of lawless is going to ultimately declare himself to be a god.
That the final apostasy occurs from within the intimate group of those whom God recognizes as belonging to himself is evident from the fact that Paul referred to the man of lawlessness as the son of destruction. That is the same designation that Jesus gave to Judas, who was an apostle —present among Jesus’ chosen 12 up to the point when Jesus instituted his covenant with them on the last Passover.
Unquestionably, the mystery of this lawlessness has already been exhibited in various ways, most notably in the Watchtower’s 10-year secret partnership with the United Nations.
But that is not the apostasy to come. That is because, although the Watchtower has set itself up as the sole Explainer of all things and has insidiously exalted itself as the master of the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses, it has not yet presumed to seat itself on the throne of God.
But the very fact that the organization had promoted a false parousia, virtually from the beginning —originally declaring 1874 to have been the date —we may be certain that the Watchtower will perpetuate the deluding influence it wields up to and after the time Christ actually returns. Then the organization will stand in opposition to him as an antichrist; presuming to seat itself on Christ’s throne, taking his place as head of the congregation. (See also: Senseless Nabal as a Type of the Antichrist)
No doubt the deception that will go into operation then will involve what Jesus forewarned regarding those who will falsely claim that he is in the wilderness or that he is in the inner chambers. Jesus forewarned that the deception would be so successful that if it were possible even the chosen ones would be deceived. The reason the chosen ones will not be deceived is because Christ will reveal the man of lawlessness and ultimately utterly destroy him by his powerful manifestation.