The Restrainer of 2 Thessalonians 2

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There are two lines of thought as to the identity of the restrainer. I believe scripture is pretty clear on the identity because one of them has scripture in opposition to itself. The two identities are the Holy Spirit in the church, and Michael the archangel. Before getting into their explanations, we need to cover some background information.

What is being restrained?

What is the restrainer restraining? “That he might be revealed in his time.” Who’s “he?” “that Wicked,” who is revealed when the restrainer is out of the way. 2 Thessalonians 2:6-10 He’s not Satan because, his “coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

So the restrainer is holding back the pre-dragon-powered human antichrist-to-be from revealing himself by, “opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” This is at the abomination of desolation. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 The dragon isn’t cast to earth until Michael and his angels defeat him in heaven. If Lucifer is cast out of heaven, then that’s where he is now. He sits before the throne accusing us. Revelation 12:10 Christ is our advocate. 1 John 2:1-5 He will be cast out of heaven soon. Revelation 12:7-13 This confirms that currently, the restrainer is not restraining Lucifer, but the soon-to-be antichrist.

I believe when the abomination of desolation happens, it will enrage some zealous Jews who will attempt to assassinate him and the world will see, “one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.” The war will have been won in heaven and, “when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.” He will have his followers, having just seen “the dragon which gave power unto the beast:” resurrect the assassinated beast when “they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?”

I believe the indwelt beast will then go after the Jews that just “killed” him and the world, still amazed, will follow suit or allow it to happen because, “who is able to make war with him?” I believe the surrounding Muslims during the first 30 days in Jerusalem and Judea will especially join in the genocide, and later for another 1230 days throughout the rest of the world. For more on the exact day framework of the 70th week, see the exact day prophecies Bible study. 

What is the mystery of iniquity that’s already at work?

2 Thessalonians 2:6
And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

Mystery (G3466)
μυστήριον
mustērion (
moos-tay’-ree-on)
From a derivative of μύω muō (to shut the mouth); a secret or “mystery” (through the idea of silence imposed by initiation into religious rites): - mystery.

Iniquity (G458)
ἀνομία
anomia (an-om-ee’-ah)
From G459; illegality, that is, violation of law or (generally) wickedness: - iniquity, X transgress (-ion of) the law, unrighteousness.

Work (G1754)
ἐνεργέω
energeō (
en-erg-eh’-o)
From G1756; to be active, efficient: - do, (be) effectual (fervent), be mighty in, shew forth self, work (effectually in).

The “mystery of iniquity” would seem to be, from the original Greek, speaking to the silent wickedness that is already prevalent. I personally believe this to be the spirit behind secret societies that have been working behind the scenes to set up all the things that we know must come to pass to bring about a one-world government and religious system under the control of the antichrist. A little history of the mystery of iniquity shows how ideas becoming prevalent through societal norms have caused a blindness regarding this wickedness by attacking and bringing doubt to God’s Word. And the restrainer is holding (lettingG2722) until taken out of the way. The restrainers act of holding is so that the antichrist is revealed in God’s timing. The silent iniquity is already at work in the world though. So who is the restrainer? Let’s examine the possibilities according to scripture and determine what the Bible says.

Holy Spirit dwelling in the church?

I would recommend everyone do a word study of “Holy Ghost” and “Holy Spirit” to see exactly what the Rauch HaKodesh is doing when mentioned in scripture. The term “Holy Ghost” is only found in the New Testament while “Holy Spirit” is found in the Old and New Testaments. They both refer to the same Spirit of God. He is the presence of God Psalm 51:11, the fruits of which are seen in Galatians 5:22-26 and a gift from God. Luke 11:13 | 1 Thessalonians 4:8 | John 7:39 | Acts 2:33;38 | Acts 8:15-19 | Acts 10:45-47 What He does is:

  • relays to us God’s Word 1 Thessalonians 1:5
  • baptizes us Matthew 3:11 | Mark 1:8 | Luke 3:16 | John 1:33 | Acts 1:5 | Acts 10:38 | Acts 11:16
  • seals us Ephesians 1:13 | Ephesians 4:30 | Romans 15:16
  • comforts us John 14:26 | Acts 9:31
  • renews us Titus 3:5
  • shows God’s love in our hearts Romans 5:5
  • brings us joy Romans 14:17 | 1 Thessalonians 1:6
  • brings us hope Romans 15:13
  • speak for/through us Mark 13:11 | Luke 12:12 | Acts 1:16 | Acts 21:11 | Acts 28:25 | 2 Peter 1:21 | Jude 1:20
    • in other languages Acts 2:4
  • speaks to us 2 Corinthians 13:14
  • reveals to us Luke 2:26 | Acts 7:55 | 1 Corinthians 2:13 | 1 Corinthians 12:3 | Hebrews 3:7
  • sends us Acts 13:4
  • guides us Acts 16:6 | Acts 20:28 | 1 Peter 1:12
  • gives us gifts Hebrews 2:4
  • approves us as ministers of God 2 Corinthians 6:6
  • witness with us Acts 5:32 | Romans 9:1 | Hebrews 10:15

And it was the Holy Ghost that implanted Christ into Mary’s womb. Matthew 1:18-20 | Luke 1:35 We are the temples with which that Spirit dwells when we accept Christ and are obedient to His ways of selfless love. 1 Corinthians 6:19 The closest thing to restraining comes in Acts 16 when the Holy Ghost forbids Paul to preach in Asia.

It seems to me that the Holy Spirit is not a restrainer of evil, but our conscience and comforter. We can still choose not to follow the Spirit of God revealed in His Word and then we will not be in relationship with Him. It seems that He doesn’t restrain evil, but rather warns of it and helps us through it with a joyful heart that speaks and reveals Truth to us so that we can use our free will and choose. Those that choose against God do not have His Spirit, He leaves unless they repent. Judgment is coming for the wickedness that is prophesied to take over the world in the end-times. Matthew 24:3-28

There’s also a logic problem presented with the argument that the Holy Spirit in the church is the restrainer. In this study we will examine who the restrainer is and who it is not according to scripture. There are two separate presentations of timing in 2 Thessalonians 2 in relation to our gathering to Christ and the revealing of the antichrist. As we will see, they make a clear point as to who the restrainer is not.

The timing of our gathering to Christ in relation to the man of sin being revealed:

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [our gathering unto Him] shall NOT come, except:
  • there come a falling away first, and
  • that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
    • Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

Here scripture gives us this order:

  1. Falling away (apostacia)
  2. Man of sin revealed (antichrist: Takes place when he reveals himself at the abomination of desolation)
  3. Our gathering to Christ (harpazo)

Notice too, that the “day of Christ” is directly connected to our gathering to Him. We see this differentiated from the day of the Lord in several passages that talk about the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is not a day of darkness, but for Christians a day of rejoicing. (1 Corinthians 5:5 | 2 Corinthians 1:12-14)

The timing of the revealing of the man of sin in relation to the restrainer being removed:

This color coding only applies IF we view the restrainer as the Holy Spirit/church, and therefore tying the unrestraining to our removal in the harpazo.

2 Thessalonians 2:6-10
And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

Here, if the restrainer is the Holy Spirit which dwells in the church, we have this order:

  1. Our gathering to Christ must take place (The restrainer [Holy Spirit/church] has to be taken out of the way)

  2. Then the man of sin can be revealed

There is a direct opposition when defining the restrainer as the Holy Spirit symbolizing the removal of the church before the revealing of the antichrist. By placing the Holy Spirit/church as the restrainer, a contradiction is set up by assuming our gathering to Christ is directly related to the restrainer being removed. I believe the Holy Spirit wrote it this way to remove confusion. This leads us to the clincher for me as to who the restrainer is.

Michael the Archangel?

The answer to the question of who the restrainer is lies in the Old Testament in a parallel verse to the revealing of the man of sin. Matthew 24:15-22 This event is unparalleled in all of history, so we can define it that way. What is the event in which the removal of the restrainer causes? The abomination of desolation, the revealing of the antichrist. This is the beginning of the great tribulation, “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

Daniel 12:1
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people
: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

The time of Jacob’s trouble, great tribulation, starts when Michael stands up. This is the abomination of desolation, the revealing of the man of sin. This is also the time in which the redemption of the children of Daniel’s people, the Israelites, takes place.

So Michael stands up to head to the war in heaven. At that time, the antichrist is able to reveal himself at the abomination of desolation. This fits the order of 2 Thessalonians 2:6-10 of the restrainer being lifted before the revealing of the man of sin at the abomination of desolation. Then, after the antichrist is revealed, we can be gathered to Christ in the clouds. What’s even more interesting is that Daniel 12 is connected to Revelation 12 around this same subject, Michael, and same time-frame.

Revelation 12:7-9
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

It is the dragon which gives the beast his power. It would seem that Michael is currently holding back the revealing of the antichrist, but at some point in the future will be called to heaven to battle Lucifer. He will prevail over Satan and he will be cast to the earth. He then goes after the woman through the beast whom he gives power to. This is the beginning of the great tribulation, the time of Jacob’s trouble of Matthew 24:15-22.

Revelation 12:7-13
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.

I don’t think it’s coincidence that Michael is specifically mentioned as standing up right before the antichrist is revealed and we’re told in the New Testament that the restrainer must stop before the antichrist can be revealed. The restrainer is not the Holy Spirit, but Michael the archangel, the prince that stands for Israel. He is restraining the antichrist now until God’s timing. Then the antichrist will be allowed to reveal himself.

I should also point out that Michael is not restraining evil... well, if he is, it’s beginning to overwhelm him according to my nightly news. The love of many is growing colder and colder just as prophesied. Matthew 24:12 Michael is specifically restraining the revealing of the man of sin. It naturally happens that way because he can’t be revealed until Michael stands, and Satan isn’t on earth till Michael’s in heaven throwing Satan out. The transition is at the abomination of desolation.

Michael has restrained before...

Daniel 10:10-14
And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.

Daniel 10:21
But I will tell thee that which is inscribed in the writing of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me against these, but Michael your prince.

Holdeth (H2388)
חזק
châzaq (khaw-zak’ )
A primitive root; to fasten upon; hence to seize, be strong (figuratively courageous, causatively strengthen, cure, help, repair, fortify), obstinate; to bind, restrain, conquer: - aid, amend, X calker, catch, cleave, confirm, be constant, constrain, continue, be of good (take) courage (-ous, -ly), encourage (self), be established, fasten, force, fortify, make hard, harden, help, (lay) hold (fast), lean, maintain, play the man, mend, become (wax) mighty, prevail, be recovered, repair, retain, seize, be (wax) sore, strengten (self), be stout, be (make, shew, wax) strong (-er), be sure, take (hold), be urgent, behave self valiantly, withstand.

This is the same “withholding” in 2 Thessalonians 2:6 speaking about the restrainer, who I believe is Michael the archangel.

Withholdeth (G2722)
katechō (kat-ekh’-o)
From G2596 and G2192 to hold down (fast), in various applications (literally or figuratively): - have, hold (fast), keep (in memory), let, X make toward, possess, retain, seize on, stay, take, withhold.

Letteth (G2722)
kat-ekh’-o
From G2596 and G2192; to hold down (fast), in various applications (literally or figuratively): - have, hold (fast), keep (in memory), let, X make toward, possess, retain, seize on, stay, take, withhold.

At God’s command, Michael will stand up and go to fight Lucifer in heaven. Lucifer will be cast down and Michael will no longer be restraining the revealing of the antichrist so all hell will break loose on earth, literally, as Lucifer deceives the whole earth whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 13:7-8

I also believe heaven is outside of time. So Michael could leave to heaven and we would simultaneously see Lucifer cast out. It’s all in God’s timing and that’s what is so wonderful about Bible prophecy. We can always trust exactly what the Word says, and He wants us to know the details. Amos 3:7


How long is it from the time Michael stands up and the time of Jacob’s trouble starts?

Daniel 12:5-7
Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river. And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

Revelation 12:9-17
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. [Abomination of desolation] And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman, which brought forth the man-child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood, which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

So 3½ years is how long the great tribulation lasts. This would also match with this being the time during which power is given unto the beast because that ends at Christ’s return when Christ throws him and the false prophet into the lake of fire in Revelation 19:20. How long is the beast given power for?

Revelation 13:4-10
And they worshipped the dragon, which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man has an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

So is this the same time that Michael stands up?

2 Thessalonians 2
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. [The wicked on the earth] And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

I believe that the Magog attack will occur before the abomination of desolation. I believe the reason scripture lays events out as they are is that the antichrist will declare himself God in the rebuilt temple on the Temple Mount. Because Israel will be following God after the protection from Iran, Turkey, Russia, Libya and others someone will react to this blasphemy with an assassination and he will be wounded to death. Revelation 13:3 It is at this time that Lucifer is cast from heaven to the earth. Knowing he has but a short time, he goes after Israel in Judea first, the time of Jacob’s trouble and the beginning of the great tribulation. This is why Christ warned those in Judea to run to the mountains when they saw the abomination of desolation.

So the study of the identity of the restrainer has connected to many other events of end time prophecy. It revolves around a very central time and spiritual shift when Lucifer is cast from heaven to the earth where he takes out his wrath on God’s people, the Jews first, then her remnant and believers in Yeshua worldwide. I believe the tools for the implementation of this war against the saints is already coming into existence politically with the Alliance of Civilizations. However, the final 3½ years of Satan’s wrath all revolves around Michael the archangel both releasing the antichrist to be identified and casting his master down to be with him so God’s wrath will be poured out on them in the following years. This just goes to show us how sheltered we actually live now because it isn’t until Michael is told to cast out Lucifer that Satan’s full wrath is allowed to be loosed on the earth. Then you will be killed for believing in Yeshua. Fortunately, we have been promised to escape God’s wrath, and unless we’re in Judea we probably won’t see the brunt of his wrath. However much can change in the world between now and then...and probably will. Get in your prayer closet and into God’s Word, build your relationship with Him.