What is the restraining and when is the revealing of the Antichrist
II Thess. 2:1-6,
vs. 1-2, Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.
Vs. 3-4, Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come (the day of Christ previously mentioned) unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
Vs. 5-6, Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.”
There are various view points on what this day is. Is it the rapture, the tribulation, the second coming?
Let me begin by stating The Day of the Lord in Scripture is always associated with the wrath, the testing and judgment of God, The Day of the Lord is a day of wrath against sinful man and it is identified as a time of darkness and judgment.
The Day of Christ refers to a time of blessing and we are in anticipation of it, it is the expectation of the church meeting Him (1 Cor.1:7-8, Phil. 1:10). So we must avoid having these two separate and distinct days into the same singular day as some have done.
We need to apply Biblical sense and apply scripture to scripture in order to see the MEANING AND TIMING correctly. Also, we must first understand the overall theme, BEFORE we go into the details ... Specifically that which relates to the revealing of the man of sin in relation to the day that Paul refers to here in 2 Thess.2.
2 Thess. 2:1-2Notice, he begins by his subject which is concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, v.2 as though the day of Christ had come.
This day is our gathering together to him, clearly is the rapture (1 Thess.4:17).
The day of the Lord is found in the Old Testament background and was previously mentioned by Paul's letter to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 5:2). It is not a single day, but rather a period associated with God's outpouring of judgment on the world rejecting his Son and continuing in sin. It is also with the intention of bringing repentance, specifically to God's chosen people, Israel.
Rom. 9:27-28 Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved. For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth." The same is said in Mt.24:22 unless this time was shortened no flesh would survive.
That short work is the Great tribulation, in the last portion of the 70th week of Daniel, it is explained in Rom. 11:25-27: “blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in and so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins."
God will keep his promise and his covenant with his people (The Jewish People) (Zech. 12:10), and relating to the statement above “all Israel will be saved.” The all of Israel is the one third that survives the tribulation period. Zech. 13:9 “I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; and each one will say, 'The LORD is my God.'" They will come out having a personal relationship with their Messiah.
It is necessary to understand this in order to make clear distinctions; the tribulation is about God’s people Israel and their will being broken, then repenting in order to receive the blessings promised in the covenants.
For that day will not come unless:
If we go back to v.1-2 we read about certain False teachers who came to the Thessalonian church after Paul had left and they were trying to convince the church there that the believers were already in the Tribulation.
In verse 3, Paul writes that the Tribulation had not yet come because of the two required events that precede the Tribulation had not yet happened… First, the apostasy of the Church; and second, the revelation of the man of sin …, the son of perdition, (also called the abomination of desolation) will be revealed AFTER the falling away has begun…Paul said they knew what is restraining him and that he would be revealed in his own time.
Paul has describe events which must precede the day, (the Great Tribulation – or the day of Christ), certain (signs) are to be present.
Paul states When I was still with you I told you these things:
(Acts 17:1-10 tells us that Paul was with the Thessalonians a short time and was able to talk with believers about Biblical prophecy in detail), explaining that Only when this restraint is lifted can this man of sin come into his position with power.
Satan who will both influence and be the man of sin is being restrained, but that, even now the working of Satan is present (the mystery of lawlessness is already at work: Eph.2:2). but at the right time, the Holy Spirit (He who restrains) restrains the full revelation, will be taken out of the way. (Meaning he will stop his withholding).The man of sin that is currently being restrained from coming into his time and position of rulership, the working of Satan is present (the mystery of lawlessness is already at work).
Bear in mind, this in no way means the Holy Spirit would leave the earth during the Great Tribulation because many are saved and sealed which can only happen by his ministry (Revelation 7:3-14 and 14:1-5). The Holy Spirit is taken out of the way, on his restraining, but He is not removed. V.7, this taken out of the way (restraining) is about the mystery of lawlessness, not the church; it is about the man of sin, the son of perdition to come forth in the time of rampant apostasy.
The Holy Spirit (He who now restrains) holds back the full revelation of this mystery will no longer be withholding. The consequence of this will be, Col. 3:6 “Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience (Eph. 5:6).
A number of the early Church writers tell us what they (wrongly) believed on this subject, some said this hindrance was the Roman empire as governed by the Caesars; and that while the Caesars held imperial power it was impossible for the predicted antichrist to arise, also that on the fall of the Caesars he would arise, which is incorrect, because as we know the antichrist is the ultimate Caesar (he will act as Rome’s Caesar and far worse). Considering that since the Roman Empire has not existed through the ages since its fall, it would make it impossible for it (then or now) to be the power in which holds evil in check?
As to the "let" or hindrance of the manifestation of the "man of sin "referred to in 2 Thess. ii., (Mr. Elliott held a traditional view, a pre millennial view of Christ’s return).
"We have the consenting testimony of the early Fathers, from Ireneus, the disciple of the disciple of St. John, down to Chrysostom and Jerome, to the effect that it was understood to be the imperial power ruling and residing at Rome." (" Horae Apocalyptica;" vol. iii., p. 92. an eschatological study written by Bishop Elliott)
So, what Mr. Elliott is saying is that those in the early church held as long as Rome is in power the antichrist cannot come … (Ireneaus believed Rome dividing into 10 kingdoms would precede his coming). but even the reformers did not hold the view of it being the Roman empire, they believed it was the office of the Vatican/via the Pope in Rome who was an antichrist, or as some believe will be The Antichrist.
Certain other Protestants saw the man of sin in the succession of popes, they do not see the man of sin to be an individual, but rather a system or an office. However, scripture explains him to be an individual and his identity is unknown to the world until the restraint is removed (the man of sin.)
The restraint has everything to do with the holding back of the antichrists rise to his position and power, so for the early church to believe it was Rome with their Caesars simply cannot be accurate. Because now nearly 2,000 years later we know they were wrong.
The only power that could ever restrain The Antichrist who will work under the influence and power of Satan is the power of the Holy Spirit of God…no man, no office or any earthly power could ever do what only God himself has done and continues to do until he himself chooses to no longer restrain that which he has been restraining. This restraint is lifted in order that all of His word will be accomplished, as foretold in the scriptures.
Two question’s need to be answered:
First: will the church be here to see the Antichrist and his coming to power? And Second, how can the man of sin be revealed before The Day of the Lord, or Christ?
As for the first, those who believe in a post tribulation rapture hold that believers will not know who this man of sin is, until he goes into the temple, in the middle of the tribulation (there are a few that also say by the signing of the peace treaty).
Is this correct? Or can believers, even now know his identity (that is if he is already present in the world). Can we know his identity even before the signing of the treaty/covenant of betrayal with God’s people (Dan.9:27) which begins the tribulation?
There is a revelation of the identity of the Antichrist that will precede the Tribulation for the individual believers living at that time. If we are to see the antichrist rise to power, (it does not happen instantaneously) then clearly his characteristics will be seen in a certain man.
The 70th week of Daniel; the Tribulation will begin with the signing of a seven-year covenant between Israel and the Antichrist… it is not the Rapture that begins the Tribulation. Ad this can only happen by the restraint being removed. The signing of the seven-year covenant has everything to do with the ultimate betrayer of Israel, it is a covenant that is a lie to the people of Israel.
Dan. 9:27 tells us of the one who makes a covenant “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.” Which coincides with 2 Thess. 2:4 that Jesus spoke of in Mt.24:15. Clearly this has something to do with the temple where the Jewish nation’s sacrifices will occur once again.
Isa.28:14-22 this covenant is made by Israel’s leaders to guarantee their security (peace and safety), God calls it a covenant of death and hell because of whom it is made by, and what it will lead to for Israel when it is broken, (the Abomination of Desolation); where he will declare to be worshipped as God in their rebuilt temple.
When this covenant is announced, believers can certainly be able to know the identity of the Antichrist. However, it is possible that believers will be able to deduce who he is before this time by the numerical value of the Antichrist's name (which will be 666), along with his nature and goals as he rises on the political scene.John would not have written Rev. 13:16-18 unless he wanted the church to have a heads up on identifying him at that right time.
2 Thessalonians has qualifications that some call signs.
Chapt. 2:3 or that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition”
The point is that The Anti-Christ cannot rise until a specific time period, a time when the church worldwide has removed itself from the word, and entered into an apostasy, a time where their guard is down and their protection is diminished.
Unless the falling away comes first:
The Greek wording for falling away indicates a rebellion or a departure. This refers to an apostasy among those who once claimed to follow Christ and can include a general worldwide rebellion of those who hate the God of Israel. For it will become a worldwide sentiment. Paul may have both the religious and the secular in mind for the last days (1 Timothy 4:1-3, 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and 4:3-4) both he and Jesus address this elsewhere. And that probably explains what we are seeing today.
The Falling Away
The article "the" makes it even more significant, this is not just a general falling away, but is “The Falling Away” or “Departure.Some say that the gathering together is the same as the falling away which does not fit with what is being revealed, they say the falling away is the taking away of the church (to be gathered to Christ). It cannot be the resurrection/ rapture because it does not fit the overall intention, theme or words that have been given in Scripture. Biblically, our being gathered together is not the same as the falling away. It is not a physical removal like that which is required for the resurrection/rapture. Paul is addressing two separate events, in 2 Thess. 2:3 it says: “for that Day will not come (our gathering together) unless the falling away comes first”. The falling away comes first, which means it cannot be the same catching away of the church.
The apostasy sets the stage for entering the tribulation period where the False messiah’s time to rule has come.The majority of the church (in the last days of its history) leaves the biblical faith that was given to her by the apostles, via the Bible.
When did the apostasy begin?
This apostasy identified itself in the beginning of the 1800’s with many new cults, (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism and Seventh Day Adventism) schisms and new thought teachings …many began to give dates on the time of the end. Also, in the early 1900’s a false new Pentecost began - what is now called the Latter Rain movement.
In the 1940’s Liberalism and the counterfeit healing movement thrust the latter Rain movement into a more cohesive structure which escalated in the 1980’s with the hyper word faith movement and the unbiblical prophetic movement in the late 1990’s. Along with what is called the New apostle and prophet movement and even more recent with a resurgence of early monastic mysticism, early Gnosticism and New Age teachings merging with and being taught as truth, in the church, just to name a few… It is a conglomeration of everything that is false and wrong over the centuries that has believers depart from the word of truth.
The man of sin is revealed:
Before the Great Tribulation can take place, the man of sin, must be revealed (this is the second qualification, the first was the apostasy)
Paul wanted to bring them assurance: that they are NOT in the Great Tribulation or have missed the resurrection/ rapture – our gathering together) because they have not yet seen the falling away that comes first." Both are still in the future.
There for we cannot see the man of sin, . . . he will not be revealed until the one who restrains him is no longer withholding Him, it is only then that he is revealed in power.
The saints do not need to wait 3 ½ years after the tribulation begins in order to know whom the man of sin is. In the middle of the tribulation he goes into the Temple and reveals himself to the whole world, but again, for the individual believer, the man of sin (when present) is able to be known before this.
BECAUSE: There are two revealing’s; the first is to those in the church who are aware, who are awake, this revelation of the identity of the Antichrist precedes the Tribulation, and it is for the believers living at that time when he is alive and gaining prominence.
Only the church can know who he is at this time because only the church is aware of his coming in the world. Again, we can also identify him by his nature, and his ways, (deception, lying etc.) as well as his numerical value in his name. John would not have given us a number to identify him if he did not want us to know before the tribulation, it would not be necessary as the mark and number are both tied to the antichrist, to buying and selling, who needs to calculate this, when it would be obvious.
Again, to summarize: There first must be the falling away from the truth, called the Apostasy which affects the church worldwide; this is the time period in which “he is able to come into his position of power”, (not before), and as it culminates to a near zenith point it is a sign that the events of the tribulation are soon to occur for the whole world (The rapture will occur for the Believers). It is the main sign for those who are awake, not for those who are asleep…as the world is given over to his control the time of the Antichrist will be short, but during that time he will have influence over all the governments and all people (who reject the truth to be saved .v.10) except for those written in the lamb’s book of life who cannot be deceived.(Rev.17:8). The saints that go through the tribulation. or die in it have their salvation secured.