By Elizabeth Prata
Many people are curious about the coming antichrist. Predicting who he might be by name is not a great idea, but the fact that he will come, that he may be alive on earth right now, and the certainty that he’ll conquer most of the world when sin reigns, is an absorbing thought.
The Antichrist, one man, also called The Beast (Revelation 13:1), predicted to come and who will be not only energized by satan (as Hitler was) but actually indwelt by him, is sobering. (Daniel 11:32, ESV)
We think of war as with horses and guns and more lately, planes and bombs. But war is not only overt, but covert. There have been many wars in human history where blood was shed. But also many others where the war was with the mind and with words. There was the Cold War, for example, where spies and intrigue and undercover ops battled against forces of evil, and they against the forces of good.
The Antichrist will pursue war, and the Tribulation will be a time of war, but of both kinds. Yes, there will be bloodshed, but the other war will be covert. The Antichrist will seize kingdoms by intrigue and flatteries.
I want to focus on the flatteries today.
He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. (Daniel 11:32)
2 Thessalonians 2:9 said he will be full of “lying wonders“.
Romans 16:18 reminds us that the everyday false teachers “For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve.”
Flatteries, when insincere, are a deadly weapon used by evil people to deceive and gain advantage over the naïve.
How does a person gain control by flatteries? How can even one person fall victim to conquering by this method, never mind the whole world? I am always interested in how words are used. We hear much today of ‘misinformation’. I studied the Cold War’s war of propaganda, and also the birth of advertising at the onset of the twentieth century. Flattery is another name for smooth speech, and it can draw the unwary in as much as belligerent speech pushes people away.
When Areopagus Newsletter came to my inbox a few weeks ago and I read about the origin of flattery, and its power, I immediately thought of the Antichrist and the Daniel verse that says he will conquer using this method. Here is The Cultural Tutor with an explanation of ‘flattery’.
Areopagus by the Cultural Tutor, issue XVI. Rhetoric=
The Ancient Greeks did an awful lot of thinking. Sometimes it seems like they thought of everything. Indeed, it is quite frustrating when you think you’ve managed to put a name to a new concept, only to discover that one or more Athenians already discovered and explained it far better than you ever could, two thousand before you were even born.
Kolakeia is one such concept. Its literal meaning is flattery, but in the context of rhetoric it refers to flattery with ulterior motives. The idea is that, by praising somebody, you can distract them from what you really want. We all like to hear good things said about us, but the trouble is that this can affect our clarity of thought.
If somebody begins by telling you how brilliant, helpful, or hard-working you are, then you’re probably more inclined to agree with what they say next. We tend to trust the people we like, and we are naturally drawn to like people who also like us. Kolakeia is, therefore, a smokescreen.
But the Ancient Greek and Roman rhetoricians did not approve of kolakeia. They saw it as a deceitful and improper form of speech because it persuades by manipulation rather than dealing with reason or rational arguments. It subverts the listener and allows the speaker to exploit them. This is most apparent in political speech, whereby populist politicians can endear themselves to the people by praising their virtues and, having done so, make an unjustified claim which the people are thus more likely to support.
Contrast that with somebody who does not use kolakeia and instead appeals to the rationality of a crowd. That is much harder to do, because you are inviting people to think critically and therefore exposing yourself to the possibility that they might simply disagree. It’s more honest and better (for all involved) in the long run, but much less common than we might wish.
So watch out for kolakeia. It’s been around for over two thousand years and it isn’t going away any time soon.
–end Areopagus Newsletter by The Cultural Tutor–
No, it’s not going away any time soon. In fact, manipulation by flattery will be brought to history’s highest point and most evil use when the Antichrist begins to use this covert method to gain power.
Paul reminded us in Romans in just every day daily life of the power of flattery to deceive. During the time predicted to come when all the world will hate Jesus and war against him, that there will be one leader taking over all the world (except the nation of Jordan and except the hearts of believers) who will do so by smooth speech, flatteries, and intrigue. It does a Christian well to always be on guard in discernment to effectively parse true words from false.
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