The Watchtower Society has written much over the years about the "man of lawlessness." For example, Volume 2 of Insight on the Scriptures, under the heading "Temple," ―and after stating that "anointed Christians are a spiritual temple,"― it goes on to explain that "an impostor" is sitting within God's temple. It says: "The apostle Paul, in warning of the apostasy to come, spoke of 'the man of lawlessness' as setting himself up 'so that he sits down in the temple of The God, publicly showing himself to be a god.' (2Th 2:3, 4) This 'man of lawlessness' is an apostate, a false teacher, so he actually seats himself only in what he falsely claims to be that temple."―it-2 p. 1083 Temple
The Watchtower identifies the "man of lawlessness" with the clergy of Christendom. But is that scripturally correct? Are the clergy of Christendom sitting within God's "spiritual temple", as they refer to "anointed Christians"? Would God accept their claim to be his temple, when they are not? The apostle Paul explains: "Do you not know that you people are God’s temple, and that the spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] you people are." (1 Corinthians 3:16,17) Christendom with its clergy is not God's people, his holy temple. Since the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E., they have been an integral part of this world of which Satan is the god. They belong to Babylon the Great, which has "a kingdom over the kings of the earth." (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 17:5, 18; Compare Luke 4:5-8) As such, they are an enemy of God; and never would Jehovah refer to his enemies as "my people" or his temple. (James 4:4; 1:27; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
Only God's people can apostatize from true worship, by leaving the true God Jehovah. (Isaiah 9:17; Jeremiah 5:26-31; 17:13) Who, then, is this "man of lawlessness" as described in the Scriptures? Interestingly, the Watchtower Society helps to identify him in their publications. And although they are referring to the clergy of Christendom, see how, in actuality, they are exposing themselves to be that "lawless one." Here are some of their quotes regarding the "man of lawlessness" (Bold added):
Man of Lawlessness. An expression used by the apostle Paul at 2 Thessalonians 2:2, 3 in warning of the great anti-Christian apostasy that would develop before “the day of Jehovah.” The Greek word for “apostasy” here used, apostasi′a, denotes more than a mere falling away, an indifferent sliding back. It means a defection, a revolt, a planned, deliberate rebellion … This rebellion, however, is not a political one. It is a religious one, a revolt against Jehovah God and Jesus Christ and therefore against the Christian congregation.
Paul warned the Christian overseers of Ephesus that after his going away “oppressive wolves” would enter in among true Christians and would not treat the flock with tenderness but would try to draw away “the disciples” after themselves (not just making disciples for themselves but trying to draw away the disciples, Christ’s disciples). (Ac 20:29, 30)
The apostle Peter drew a parallel between the apostasy from Christianity and that which occurred in the natural house of Israel. He said: “However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among you. These very ones will quietly bring in destructive sects and will disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves. Furthermore, many will follow their acts of loose conduct, and on account of these the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively.” Peter goes on to point out that these would exploit the congregation but that “the destruction of them is not slumbering.”—2Pe 2:1-3.
A composite “man.” The “man” of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 is, therefore, not an individual, but a composite “man,” a collective group, as the foregoing scriptures show, and this “man” was to continue after the apostles’ death and exist down until the time of the Lord’s presence.
The “lawlessness” that this composite apostate “man” commits is lawlessness against Jehovah God the Universal Sovereign. This “man” is guilty of treason. He is called “the son of destruction,” as was Judas Iscariot, the traitor who betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ and who was instrumental in bringing about his death. He, like Judas, is to be annihilated, sent into extinction forever. This “man” is not “Babylon the Great,” who also fights against God, for she is a woman, a harlot.—Joh 17:12; Re 17:3, 5.
“The man of lawlessness” sets himself in opposition to God and is therefore a “satan,” which means “resister.” And, indeed, his “presence is according to the operation of Satan.” (2Th 2:9) In the days of the apostle Paul, there was “mystery,” or a religious secret, about the identity of this “man of lawlessness.” To this day mystery shrouds his identity in the minds of many persons, because his wickedness is practiced under the guise of godly devotion. (2Th 2:7)
By his lying teachings contrary to or superseding, as it were, the law of God, “the man of lawlessness” sets himself up over Jehovah God and other ‘gods,’ mighty ones of the earth, and also against God’s holy ones, true spiritual brothers of Jesus Christ. ―Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2 pp. 310-312 Man of Lawlessness
It is vital that we identify this man of lawlessness. Why? Because he is intent on undermining our good standing with God and our hope of eternal life. How? By getting us to abandon the truth and to believe falsehoods in its place, thus diverting us from worshiping God “with spirit and truth.” (John 4:23)
The evidence shows that they are the body of proud, ambitious clergymen of Christendom, who over the centuries have set themselves up as a law unto themselves… What all these religions have in common is that they do not hold fast to the Bible’s teachings, having violated the rule: “Do not go beyond the things that are written.”—1 Corinthians 4:6; see also Matthew 15:3, 9, 14.
Why have Jehovah’s servants powerfully exposed the man of lawlessness all these years? Because the millions of the great crowd of Jehovah’s sheep that are already on the way to salvation must be protected from Satan’s world and its false religion. (John 10:16; Revelation 7:9-14) ―w90 2/1 pp. 10-25, Identifying “the Man of Lawlessness
Where else, then, could the apostasy be expected to start from but in the Christian congregation? It was to the Christians, as represented by the congregation at Thessalonica, that the apostle wrote: “Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the congregation of the Thessalonians in union with God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: May you have undeserved kindness and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 1:1, 2) These Christians could apostatize from God, could revolt and rebel against God, because they were in union with Him and with his Messiah Jesus and were receiving undeserved kindness and peace from God their heavenly Father and through his Son Jesus Christ. Who, therefore, are such rebels from the Christian congregation?
In the light of what the apostles Paul and Peter say about the apostasy, who really is “the man of lawlessness . . . the son of destruction”? To “elders,” the “overseers” who represented the congregation of Ephesus, the apostle Paul said that men would rise and “speak twisted things,” in the religious field. This narrows the matter down to the religious leaders of the Christian congregation, those ordained or appointed to “shepherd the congregation of God.” ―God's Kingdom Has Approached (ka) chap. 18 pp. 368-397 pars. 19-72, Bringing the “Man of Lawlessness” to Nothing
Although the foretold "man of lawlessness" is present within God's temple today, not everything that is taught originates with this "lawless one." Jesus also spoke of a "faithful and discreet slave" who would be rewarded for having provided "food at the proper time" for the domestics of God's household, right up until the day of Jesus' return—"in favorable season, [and] in troublesome season." (Matthew 24:45-51; 2 Timothy 4:1-5)