Appendix – 3.3 The Mystery of Lawlessness and “The Daily”

The character attribute described by the phrase “the mystery of lawlessness” is defined in 2 Thess. 2:4 as exalting oneself above and opposing all that is called God, showing oneself to be God. This self-exalting character attribute was shown to be described by the terms, “the daily” and “the transgression which desolates” in Dn. 8:11-13 in which the later term is equivalent to the “desolating abomination” in 11:31 and 12:11. These terms were directly linked with pagan and papal Rome, respectively, in the exegesis of Daniel 8:9-14.

The evidence from 2 Thessalonians 2 and Daniel 8 leads to the conclusion that “the restrainer” is not directly equivalent to “the daily.” However, the two terms are indirectly related. “The restrainer” is pagan Rome symbolized by the horn from littleness in Daniel 8; “the daily” is the mystery of lawlessness which is the character attribute of pagan Rome. The mystery of lawlessness is the all-inclusive descriptive term for both “the daily” and “the desolating abomination”.


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The mystery of lawlessness is the outworking principle of Satan which works in all those who refuse to believe the truth, but believe the lie and have pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thess. 2:12). This principle is described by “the daily” and “the desolating abomination,” both of which may now be defined with further clarity. “The daily” is the mystery of lawlessness manifested in the self-exalting character of paganism inherent in mankind of which Arianism became integrated. “The desolating abomination” is the mystery of lawlessness manifested in the self-exalting character of nominal Christianity of which the papacy became the fountain head.

Although William Miller in his day did not grasp the full significance of the relationship between “the daily” as the outworking of the principle of the mystery of iniquity in connection with “the restrainer” of 2 Thessalonians 2 in which this principle was embodied, we must credit him with a remarkable breakthrough in understanding. He was the first to discern clearly that “the daily” was an evil thing. For a layman to breakthrough the scholastic confusion of many centuries and take a position as he did in the face of widespread ridicule and opposition was a major accomplishment. This perception enabled him to resist the almost overmastering pressure from his contemporaries who insisted that the “little horn” of Daniel 8 was Antiochus Epiphanes and that the 2300 days were literal and were fulfilled far in the past. Had it not been for his view of “the daily” it is doubtful that the 1844 Movement could have gained the momentum that it did.

Thus his view that “the daily” is paganism was a key element in forming the convictions of those who took part in the Advent Movement. That contribution should be recognized today for what it was–as evidence of the solid leading of the Holy Spirit. This exegesis of “the daily” confirms a conviction that should grow among Seventh-day Adventists worldwide–that God led our pioneers in building a foundation of truth better than they realized.


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