To ask, as some are doing, whether St Paul and St John, in their pictures of the Antichrist,* were predicting the enormities committed by [a great political leader] and his people during the present war, is to ask a futile question. The inspired writers were giving instruction, encouragement, and warning to Christians of their own time. What help would it have been to Christians in the first two centuries to have cryptic descriptions of horrors that were to take place [in our day]? And how could teachers who were fully persuaded that Christ would return very soon, and bring this world to a close, be supposed to foresee what would be going on in this world many centuries later?
Don’t worry; all hope is not lost:
What they did see was this:–that any God-opposing power, however successful for a time in making might prevail against right, and however skilful in adapting miracles of science to its own wicked purposes, must in the end fail, and be destroyed by the righteous judgment of God. Moral principles may be derided and reversed. “We ought, therefore we can” may be turned into “We can, therefore we ought,” so that the power to conquer is made to imply the right to conquer: but sooner or later the mills of God accomplish their inevitable work, and the monstrous rebel is ground to powder.
–A. Plummer, A Commentary on St Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians (1918), xxi
* My only point of disagreement is Plummer’s linking Paul with the idea of “Antichrist.”