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Who the Restrainer really is, certainly not the Holy Spirit

 

 

The identity of the “one who restrains” mentioned in II Thessalonians 2 has always been very controversial. There is a host of different theories about who this mysterious person or thing will prove to be, from the Holy Spirit, to the Church, the archangel Michael, the Papacy, America, government, the Roman Empire, or a special prophet, etc.

 

Theories for the Restrainer are usually linked directly to a specific doctrine of the Rapture, whether pre-Tribulation, post-Tribulation, or no Rapture at all. Many teach a specific Restrainer theory as if it were an undisputed fact and all others are clearly in error. The most popular teaching about the Restrainer is that he is the Holy Spirit.  

 

The problem seems to be that the Restrainer is not clearly identified in the text, or is he?

 

Something is being overlooked

 

They all seem to make the same mistake in their interpretation of II Thessalonians 2. Finding out what is being overlooked will help us uncover the true identity of the Restrainer.

 

II Thessalonians 2:1-12

 

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together with Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you I was telling you these things?  6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 Then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they may all be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

 

The most common mistake of those who attempt to identify the Restrainer

 

Paul uses some long and complex sentence structures so we have to be careful to make sure we follow and understand exactly what he is saying, and not assume to read something into it that is not really there. The incorrect assumption everyone seems to make about II Thessalonians 2 is that the “man of lawlessness,” or the Antichrist, is being restrained from coming. The text simply does not say this. Read it again and note exactly what it is about the Beast that is being restrained.

 

“And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then the lawless one will be revealed

 

It is not the coming of Antichrist but the revealing of the Antichrist that is being restrained!

 

This is the most important clue to who or what the Restrainer really is. The text does not say the Restrainer keeps the Antichrist from coming, but restrains him from being revealed in his time. Some may think that this is a slight distinction, but it is actually a huge difference and the key to knowing who the Restrainer really is.

 

So who is the mysterious Restrainer?

 

Take another careful look at the text. The true identity of the Restrainer is right before your eyes.  It is clearly identified by name right there in chapter 2 verse 7.

 

And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then the lawless one will be revealed…”

 

The Restrainer is the Mystery of Lawlessness or The Mystery of Iniquity (KJV)

 

The Mystery of Iniquity keeps the Antichrist from being revealed. In other words, the Mystery of Iniquity keeps the true identity of the Beast from being exposed so the world will not realize who he really is.

 

The Mystery of Iniquity is the power of Satan to deceive unbelievers:

 

“…The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving…” II Corinthians 4:4.

“...The serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.” Revelation 12:9.

 

This satanic deception that will restrain the antichrist from being revealed is actually taught throughout the New Testament , but only in II Thessalonians by this name and in this context.

 

“Do you not remember that while I was still with you I was telling you these things?” II Thessalonians 2:5.

 

The Mystery of Iniquity has been at work since before the 1st century and will be so until he is taken out of the way. The Restrainer will continue to deceive the world, especially about the satanic nature of the antichrist.

 

“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then the lawless one will be revealed...” II Thessalonians 2:7-8.

 

Contrary to what the most popular prophecy teachers say about the Restrainer:

 

He is not the restrainer of lawlessness

He is not the restrainer of the Second Coming

He is not the restrainer of the Mystery of Iniquity

He is not the restrainer of the coming of the Beast

He is the restrainer of the revealing of the Beast

 

The Restrainer is the overpowering delusion upon all who have rejected the Gospel.

 

“...The deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false...” II Thessalonians 2:10-11.

 

How and when will the Restrainer be taken out of the way?

 

At the Last Trumpet when Jesus returns on the clouds for every eye to see Him (I Thessalonians 4:16 & Revelation 11:15). Satan at that time will have lost his ability to deceive the world so that the true identity of the Beast will be exposed for all to see.

 

So what is the point that Paul wants the Thessalonians to realize and why is it import to us today?

 

Paul was warning the Thessalonians to not be fooled by false teachers who say that the Second Coming and Rapture can take place before:

 

1. The apostasy of the Church occurs (2:3)

 

2. The Antichrist comes to seat himself in the Temple and declare himself god (2:3-4).

 

3. The restraining Mystery of Iniquity is taken out of the way and the Antichrist is revealed, that is, exposed to all the world for who he really is (2:7-8).

 

Then and only then will Jesus come on the clouds to gather His saints in the Rapture of the Church (2:1,8) It is important because the same thing is happening today! The Church is being fooled by a false Rapture teaching.

 

When Christ appears on the clouds, this is not the end, but the beginning of the Day of the Lord

 

Jesus will gather the Church and then return to heaven where the wedding of the Church will take place (Revelation 19:7-8). In the meantime, Israel will be under attack from the armies of the world led by the Beast. When all Israel comes to faith in Christ, the Lord will then return again to rescue and redeem Israel while pouring out judgment on the Beast and his kingdom (Joel3, Zechariah 12:2-3, 14:2-3).

 

The removal of the Restrainer is prophesied in Isaiah:

 

“And on this mountain He will swallow up this covering which is over all people, even the veil which is stretched over all the nations.” Isaiah 25:7.

 

Summary of II Thessalonians 2

 

2:1-3  Christ will not come, the Rapture will not occur and the Day of the Lord will not arrive until first the apostasy (of the Church) takes place and the man of lawlessness is revealed (exposed).

2:4-5  The Antichrist will seat himself in the Temple and declare himself God (the Abomination of Desolation ) before Christ appears on the clouds at the Rapture.

2:6-7  The Mystery of Lawlessness restrains the Antichrist from being revealed and seen for who he truly is “in his day,” that is, in the day when he rules the world during the Tribulation.

The Restrainer in the Greek is described as both an “it” (neuter) and a “he” (masculine). The Mystery of Iniquity is  the “it” and Satan is “he.”

2:7-8  The Restrainer will first be taken out of the way by the appearance of Christ on the clouds, then the Antichrist will be destroyed by the Lord when He comes later to rescue and redeem Israel.

2:9-12  The Beast, in accord with Satan, will deceive the world through signs and false wonders. The deluding influence of the Restrainer is allowed by God so as to bring about the full judgment of the wicked.

 

 

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© Daniel Speck 7.6.10