In Search Of The Origins Of The PreWrath Doctrine:
Part 10: Antichrist "Rendered Useless" . . . Sorta, But Really, But Not Really
By Ed Tarkowski

When the PreWrath doctrine was formed, it also formed a problem concerning the terror of Antichrist lasting throughout the 70th week and 30 days past that week as spoken of by Daniel. The problem is this: PreWrath believes the days of the tribulation will be shortened by Christ rapturing the Church 6 months to a 1-1/2 before the end of Daniel's week, with Antichrist continuing his rampage to the end of the week, reigning over the world in the power and authority of Satan. But in Posttribulationism, Antichrist is destroyed at the battle of Armageddon immediately after the rapture. In PreWrath, IF Antichrist is not limited in some way rather than being destroyed, then it fails because there would be no Antichrist for the last 6 months to 1-1/2 years of the Daniel's 70th week and therefore no Armageddon. Thus we see the results of misinterpreting the shortening of the days of the Great Tribulation as WITHIN the 70th week, where in reality, the last half of Daniel's 70th week and the Great Tribulation encompass the same period of time. The true interpretation of the shortening of these days lies in the fact that Christ returns to put an end to Antichrist at the very end of the week, not by limiting his power at the rapture of the Church at midpoint of the second half of the week.

We must notice, also, that Van Kampen has to jump backwards to make his interpretation fit and justify what he is saying. In other words, to get things in their needed order, he comments on the two aspects of the second coming Paul describes, but in reverse order. Paul had these two aspects in this order:

  1. "the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth" [Van Kampen believes Christ slays antichrist here.]

  2. "and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming" [Van Kampen believes Christ only "renders Antichrist useless" here. Notice this is after Antichrist is slain.]
Van Kampen places these two aspects in this order, and we'll see why he has to as we proceed:

  1. "and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming" [Antichrist slain]

  2. "the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth" [Antichrist "rendered useless"]

Van Kampen used the following verses from the NASB to come to his conclusions:

2 Thess 2:8 "lawless one [Antichrist] will be revealed whom the Lord will slay [destroy] with the breathe of His mouth and bring to an end [renders useless] by the appearance of His coming:
2 Thess 2:9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders."

In KJV, this verse reads,

2 Th 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume [destroy] with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
2 Th 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.

In Posttribulationism, these two events happen at the same time, but in PreWrath they are separated by over 6 months. Van Kampen then comments on these verses, first admitting that,

"Paul seems redundant when he says that Christ will both 'slay' Antichrist (the 'Lawless One;) and 'put him to an end.' Anyone who is slain obviously is put to an end" (The Sign, p. 315).

Yes, it is obvious that Antichrist is slain when Christ comes, and Van Kampen readily admits that, but this admission is nothing but a straw man because he then goes on to set aside his admission using two phrases, "Ultimately" and "but first." Notice, too, Van Kampen's reversal of the order of Paul's statement:

"When examined carefully, however, verse 8 in reality describes separate and distinct results of Christ's second coming. Ultimately Christ will destroy Antichrist at the final battle of Armageddon (the last event of the day of the Lord) [Paul's first point-Ed], but first [which is Paul's second point-Ed], 'by the appearance of His coming [parousia]," Christ will render him helpless, as the first event of the day of the Lord." (Ibid).

The Scripture do not state anything like this. What is happening is Van Kampen is injecting into the coming of Christ an "holy hesitation" of 6 months to 1-1/2 years, and separating the two aspects of Christ's coming by many months after reversing the order in which Paul stated them.

The Brightness Of His Coming

KJV Verse 8 - "and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming"
NASB verse 8 (Van Kampen) "and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming"

Van Kampen goes on to tell us how the words "bring to an end" do not really mean a total end, as in being destroyed:

"Christ will in effect 'handcuff' Antichrist and his forces and 'render him helpless' (a better translation of the Greek term rendered 'bring to an end' is given in Rotherham's Bible which translates this more precisely as 'paralyzed').(5) This restriction of Antichrist's power will happen 'at the appearance of His coming' - in other words, when 'every eye will see Him' (Rev. 1:7), when the church is gathered to Christ in the clouds and the wrath of God begins. Antichrist will be 'rendered useless' until the time of final judgment and destruction, when he will be slain [6 months to 1-/2 years later at the end of Daniel's 70th week-Ed]"(Ibid).

Footnote 5 in Van Kampen's original writings is this:

Second Thessalonians 2:8 (katargeo): "Whom the Lord will bring to an end." The Greek word katargeo ("bring to an end") is a compound of two other Greek words, kata (down) and argeo (to be idle, to reduce activity, to abolish), and can therefore legitimately be translated as "rendered useless." Strong's #2673, 691; W.E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Westwood, NJ: Revell, 1940), 1:13.

In this definition, it is obvious that Antichrist is "rendered useless" NOT THROUGH PARALYSATION, but BY BEING ABOLISHED: "to abolish." Yet, Van Kampen cannot bring this fact into his discussion of Paul's second point because he would be arguing against himself. He can't have Antichrist destroyed at this point in the tribulation, so he juggles definition to only minimize his power. Furthermore, there are other words in these verses that Van Kampen never discussed and it is obvious why. Let's look at those again in the KJV and Strong's rather than the NASB:

2 Th 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
2 Th 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.

This aspect of Christ's coming that Paul describes, according to Van Kampen, occurs 6 months to 1-1/2 years before the end of the week. He basically uses the word "and" [KJV] in verse 8 to jump back to the middle of the week so he can say Christ only "renders [Antichrist] useless." But, the KJV uses the word "destroy" instead of "rendered useless":

2673. katargeo, kat-arg-eh'-o; from G2596 and G691; to be (render) entirely idle (useless), lit. or fig.:--abolish, cease, cumber, deliver, destroy, do away, become (make) of no (none, without) effect, fail, loose, bring (come) to nought, put away (down), vanish away, make void.

The definition carries with it too much weight to say that Antichrist is only neutralized in his power to some degree, as words are used to define "destroy" as "abolish," "cease," "do away," "make of NO effect," "bring to nought," and "vanish away."

These words in these definitions are also found in the words used by Paul in the other aspect he describes of Christ's coming:

KJV Verse 8 - "whom the Lord shall CONSUME with the spirit of his mouth"
NASB Verse 8 (Van Kampen) "whom the Lord will slay with the breathe of His mouth"

The word "consume" here means,

CONSUME (KJV) 355. analisko, an-al-is'-ko; from G303 and a form of the alternate of G138; prop. to use up, i.e. destroy:--consume.

These meanings of CONSUME certainly supports the idea of Antichrist being abolished or destroyed since "consume" here means "to use up, i.e. destroy." The idea of Antichrist's power just being minimized cannot be justified by these definitions.

Furthermore, Van Kampen denies the force of these words ["destroy," "abolish," "cease," "do away," "make of NO effect," "bring to nought," and "vanish away"] because of what he says of the two witnesses:

"As we have seen, Antichrist will have been rendered GENERALLY [!!!] helpless at the return of Christ [2 Thess. 2:8], thereby cutting short his great tribulation persecution of God's elect [Matt. 24:22]."

The words describing Christ's effects on Antichrist when He comes back is anything but rendering Antichrist "GENERALLY HELPLESS." In spite of saying his "great persecution of God's elect" is cut short, he then goes on to say,

"Satan, however, will still have spiritual rule over the earth and will, solely upon the permissive will of God, enable Antichrist to kill the two witnesses as his last act of defiance against God, before ANTICHRIST'S COMPLETE authority is taken away at the conclusion of the seventieth week."

Which is it? What is wrong with this picture and the definitions we discussed above? In spite of all this minimizing of Antichrist's power - but sorta having power - to make his doctrine fit together, Van Kampen then goes on to describe ANTICHRIST'S DELUSION OF THINKING HIS KINGDOM IS SECURE!!! At this point, my mind wanted to be confused because of the unsettledness of this entire picture Van Kampen painted. I am shocked that anyone could logically read this scenario and not be confused by the ups and downs of it all:

"By the death of the two witnesses, Antichrist will be deluded into thinking his rule is secure when in reality it is over and will, like the rest of the ungodly world, believe that his battle with the forces of God is finally won. But the only two things God will permit Antichrist to do after he is "rendered useless" ["destroyed" in KJV-Ed] will be, first, to kill the two witnesses and, second, to assemble his forces for his predetermined defeat at Armageddon, which is still to come thirty days later" (p. 318).

This is quite a feat considering that, according to a proper look at the definitions involved, Antichrist was destroyed 6 months to 1-1/2 year before. Even disregarding the definitions, one would wonder at the weakness of Christ manifested in His power and glory at the middle of the Tribulation when Van Kampen's Christ encounters Antichrist. The conclusion: these are similar to the "spiritual gymnastics" that Pretribulationism goes through to prove its points.