The Trojan War of history took place around 1200 B.C. It had to do with the control of trade in the Dardanelles. But it is the Trojan War of mythology that captures the imagination.
The old story has it that the Greeks fought against the city of Troy for 10 years. They were unable to breach its fortified walls. And so, as the myth goes, the Greek forces of Agamemnon pretended to pack up and leave. But outside the city gates they left a large wooden horse. The people of Troy figured it was a gift from the gods. Contrary to the warnings of Cassandra, they took the horse into the city.
Most of us know the rest of the old story. There were Greek soldiers hiding in the hollow belly of the horse. After sundown, they came out and opened the gates of Troy to the Greek army. It was all over. So came the old saying: “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”
The lesson is an old one. Trouble often comes from a direction we do not expect. In fact, trouble often comes from within. So it is in the history of Christ’s Church.
Bloody persecutions have often been unleashed on the people of God. But most often the effect has been to strengthen the church.
Far more damaging are the dangers from within – flattering false prophets, influential teachers who defect from the truth, drawing away disciples after themselves, setting up their own little cults, or planting their poison while remaining in the church organization. There’s nothing worse than “an inside job.”
In 2 Thessalonians 2, St. Paul speaks of just such “an inside job” by one he calls “the man of sin.” Later in the New Testament, St. John uses a different name – “Antichrist.”
Your first impression would probably be that “Antichrist” is someone who is “against Christ.” The word can certainly mean that. But the word “anti” in the language of the New Testament also, and more often, means “instead of” or “in place of.” The nature of the great Antichrist, along with countless lesser “antichrists, is not just that he opposes Christ. The entire ungodly world does that! But he also wants to take the place of Christ in the lives of God’s people. He wants to substitute something else for Christ.
How this plays out in the long history of the Christian Church is outlined by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2. The most important take-away is that nothing ever can or ever should take the place of Christ and His undeserved love.