The Restrainer of 2 Thessalonians 2
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.
What is the mystery of iniquity that’s already at work?
2 Thessalonians 2:6
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 influencing human pawns that are 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. They may not even realize what they are doing, but I believe there is also a segment of them that know exactly what they are doing and who they serve. 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:
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
Here scripture gives us this order:
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
Here, if the restrainer is the Holy Spirit which dwells in the church, we have this order:
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.”
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.
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 the dragon 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 time of great tribulation, the time of Jacob’s trouble of Matthew 24:15-22.
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...
This is the same “withholding” in 2 Thessalonians 2:6 speaking about the restrainer, who I believe is Michael the archangel.
At God’s command, Michael will stand up and go to fight Lucifer in heaven. Lucifer will be cast down, giving his power and great authority to the man of sin 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 with signs and lying wonders whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life. Revelation 13:7-8
I am currently of the opinion that 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
The Falling Away and the Restrainer Dr. Michael Heiser
I wanted to share a podcast from Michael Heiser’s Naked Bible podcast from July 14, 2018 titled The Falling Away and the Restrainer. It covers the topic of the falling away and the restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8 from a more scholarly perspective and it really triggered a lot of thoughts in support of what I understand of the Jewish antichrist paradigm.
The only other place that Greek word is used is Acts 21:21 regarding teaching to forsake Moses, so it is the idea of forsaking the truth. However, he talked of a perspective I hadn’t heard or thought of regarding the falling away, or apostasia, and its timing coinciding with the revealing of the man of sin such that they are essentially the same event. (starting at 9:40 in the podcast) That brought to mind the fact that God will send a strong delusion that the world would believe a lie. The man of sin will be revealed when he declares himself to be god and I believe the strong delusion may be tied to his death and resurrection. Revelation 13:3-5 The world will see, probably literally, a resurrection of the dead. It could be either view based on the text, but ultimately Michael Heiser leans toward two separate events where the apostasia is related to Yeshua’s teaching in Matthew 24:10-15.
While Michael Heiser doesn’t agree with the conclusion of Michael the Archangel being the restrainer. (starting at 31:40 in the podcast) He brings up a couple scholarly articles from Roger D. Aus in 1976 that relate Isaiah 66 to 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7, Revelation 12 and 2 Thessalonians 1. The restraining passage includes both a neuter and masculine describing the restrainer so it seems to be describing both a thing and a person restraining.
Aus points out the similarities between 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 and Isaiah 66:15-16 and that this was in Paul’s mind when writing to the Thessalonians. So in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 the man of lawlessness opposes and exhalts himself against every so-called god. the term oppose is found in the Septuagint of Isaiah 66:6 where His enemies are opposed to God and associated with the Jewish temple in some way. So Paul is painting the Jews who are opposing his ministry in Thessalonica as the enemies of God from Isaiah 66:6, they are denying the true Messiah. He is associating the Jews of that time with this antichrist behavior. “Jews rejecting the very Messiah that their own God had sent. And rejecting the idea that He will come again because he rose from the dead.”
Isaiah 66:7 speaks of a woman in labor, Zion, who delivers a son. The result is the rebirth of the people of God. Aus suggests this is a reference to the Messiah, which Heiser agrees with. So it is the Messiah born from Zion who will come at the day of the Lord and restore the kingdom of God. McKenzie notes in his commentary that the author is sure that the saving act will come suddenly, it’s like a conception and birth in a single day.
Aus concludes “that which is restraining,” the neuter form, is the mission to the Gentiles or God’s will and plan. The Word of the Lord must be carried to all men before the day of the Lord arrives. He then concludes that the masculine restrainer is God Himself. Isaiah 66:9 speaks of the woman in labor bringing forth a son. The Hebrew verb for “shut” h6113 means to restrain, delay or hinder. If Paul is drawing so heavily on Isaiah 66 in his writing to the Thessalonians, then it follows that God would be the one restraining the revealing according to His plan. Romans 11:17-27
Ultimately I can see Heiser’s perspective and that of Michael being simpatico as angels do the will of God to carry out His plans. Given the other passages that seem to connect that unparalleled time of Jacob’s trouble, Daniel 12:1 | Revelation 12:7-17, I can see Michael being the agent of God and keeping His plan according to His timing.
And imagine the place that Israel will be in if Chris White’s view of the False Christ is correct. This man of sin will have been setting himself up for years to fulfill Old Testament prophecies the Jews are expecting the Messiah to fulfill including defeating their enemies. Perhaps the apostasia and the cutting off of 2/3 of Israel when they fall away will be the result of this great deception. Those who reject the man of sin will be target of the dragon, his beast and all those who fell into apostasy, accepting the false messiah and rejecting the true Messiah.
And perhaps this apostasia is indeed focused on the natural branches seeing this false Messiah who deceptively fulfills some of the prophecies they rejected Yeshua as fulfilling and in this corporate acceptance by the majority of Israel the natural braches are cut off, the man of sin is revealed and those who say they are Jews but are not become the enemy of those that reject the man of sin and become the army of the antichrist persecuting the seed of the woman and those that hold the testimony of Christ.
How long is it from the time Michael stands up and the time of Jacob’s trouble starts?
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?
So is this the same time that Michael stands up?
2 Thessalonians 2
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. 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 in the West 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 and by extension rejecting the dragon. However, we must remember the millions of Christians around the world who are currently being killed for their faith and pray for their peace in persecution. Fortunately, we have been promised to escape God’s wrath and, unless we’re in Judea, we probably won’t see the brunt of the dragon’s wrath because of the timing of the day of the Lord and our gathering to Him.
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 and the Holy Spirit.
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In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work herein is archived under fair use without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in reviewing the included information for personal use, non-profit research and educational purposes only. Ref.