Having brought these two mysteries on to the stage of prophecy Paul traces the parallel between them. The stages in both are the same, one their rise, two their coming and three their completed development.
The mystery of iniquity was already at work in Paul's day. It was working as leaven in the meal and as seed in the soil. The mystery of iniquity works as treason works, unknown to the world, planning in secret and conferring in darkness. The time for its manifestation was not yet.
So also the mystery of Godliness, the gospel revelation, was at work long before the incarnation of the Son of God. It was first hidden in the eternal council of the everlasting God and with the advent of time its secret was whispered only in secret to those who were shown His Covenant. Incarnation was concealed in the prophecy of ‘the seed of the woman.’ Expiation was hidden in the appointment of substitutionary sacrifice. The veil was kept upon it both in the Tabernacle and Temple. The types however, getting clearer and the prophecies fuller, till at last from behind the veil stepped forth ‘God manifest in flesh,’ the Christ of God. Centering from His all glorious Person, as rays from the sun, there shone forth all the glorious doctrines of the Gospel.
In like manner ‘the mystery of iniquity’ developed, hastening onwards to the day of its manifestation. While systems of worship arose with powerful hierarchies and grand ceremonials and passed to the ruin, ‘the mystery of iniquity’ as if deathless like the Satanic Being who inspired it, still persisted. It made broken thrones and desecrated altars but stepping stones towards its high goal of being the wonder of the nations of the earth.
It remained hidden but Paul tells us of its workings. Sometimes these workings surfaced in a rash of little antichrists as John tells us, but the great Antichrist was not yet. Paul heard the footfalls of the approaching Apostate Colossus through the spirit of prophecy and warned the Church of what he would be like and what he would do. The One who would say ‘I am Christ,’ would follow these many antichrists, and under the deception of that confession, would make war upon the true Christ.
As the true Christ was shown in picture by types, promise and prophecy so the Antichrist was also pictured.
What were Nimrod, Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar and Caesar but types of that terrible power, temporal and spiritual, which would eventually be enthroned in the Papal Chair.
When the fulness of the time came and the day of Antichrist’s appearance had arrived, the great reality appeared, 'The Man of Sin and Son of Perdition.' He had found his seat on the Seven Hills, but not as yet his full stature.