Who or What is the Restrainer that Paul Speaks of? Part 1

June 15, 2015 at 11:55 AM 1 comment

holyspirit2Knowing who or what Paul means by the term “restrainer” in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7, seems to be up for grabs for many people, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s the verse in question:

“6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.” (ESV)

Let’s list a few other translations.

“6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.” (NIV)

“6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” (AKJV)

“6 And you know what currently restrains him, so that he will be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way,” (HCSB)

“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.” (NASB)

“6 And so you know what holds him back, so that he will be revealed in his own time. 7 For the hidden power of lawlessness is already at work. However, the one who holds him back will do so until he is taken out of the way,” (NET)

“6 and now, what is keeping down ye have known, for his being revealed in his own time, 7 for the secret of the lawlessness doth already work, only he who is keeping down now [will hinder] — till he may be out of the way,” (YLT)

6 And now you know what is restraining him [from being revealed at this time]; it is so that he may be manifested (revealed) in his own [appointed] time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness (that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority) is already at work in the world, [but it is] restrained only until he who restrains is taken out of the way.” (AB)

From just the above eight English translations, we can see that in each case, the text seems to more than imply that a specific entity – a person/being with intelligence – is in charge of currently holding back something or someone else that is clearly evil. Because Paul does not tell us exactly who or what this “restrainer” is, we are left to use the best possible method of exegesis to discern the identity. It seems clear enough though, that from verse six, “And you know what currently restrains him, so that he will be revealed in his time,” (HCSB), that Paul had discussed this with the Thessalonian believers previously. He was simply reminding them of this fact. Because of this, the identity would have been obvious to his readers without Paul having to repeat it.

It’s a bit more difficult for us though, some 2,000 years removed and mistakes in interpretation can be made. For instance, here is an example of one individual, who attempts to persuade us into thinking that this “restrainer” is merely an impersonal “block” of some sort, as opposed to an actual entity or intelligent being:

“The pretrib doctrine assumes what the restrainer is. To them it is the Holy Spirit or the church. The Word never states that. It simply states a restraint. However, because of the lack of Scriptural support for the doctrine, they must define what that restraint is. The Scripture merely calls it a restraint. Job shows us an example of a restraint, where the devil dared not touch Job, until he felt that restraint was removed.”

Actually, we assume no such thing, but even for those who do not believe in a PreTrib Rapture position, many still agree that the “restrainer” is a Person and whether or not the restrainer is a Person does not rest on the viability of the PreTrib Rapture position itself. Clearly then, she gives herself away with her statement. She obviously has an ax to grind and approaches Scripture with her own personal view firmly in place. She then simply sets about to “prove” her view is correct by gerrymandering Scripture to fit her preconceived notion. This is called eisegesis and it is a firm no-no when studying Scripture especially.

Good students of the Bible exegete the Scriptures properly to determine exactly what God is telling us. Paul calls it “rightly dividing” God’s Word (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15). The difference is huge and certainly, this is what the PreTribber attempts to do as well. While the person above is correct that the Bible does not specifically state the restrainer is the Holy Spirit or the church, she is 100% in error to believe that this is not implied or cannot be rightly divided from the text itself. Her argument is that since the Bible does not specifically say the restrainer is the Holy Spirit, then it cannot be the Holy Spirit. Her reasoning is severely faulty and it shows.

Note that she relegates the word “restraint” to simply an impersonal action, not necessarily caused by anything. In an attempt to bolster her argument, she goes to the Old Testament and a situation regarding Job. Her comment, “Job shows us an example of a restraint, where the devil dared not touch Job, until he felt that restraint was removed,” actually disproves the point she is attempting to make because all we need to do is ask who the “restraint” was in Job’s case?

She admits that there was a restraint placed on Satan and I would agree with her. However, it is very clear from the book of Job that the “restrainer” in this case was God Himself and in fact, it was God’s WORD to Satan that restrained Satan. God was the One who placed the limitations on what Satan could and could not do with Job. We can even read it in Job 1:12, which states, “Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.’ So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.

How does one come away from a verse like that and determine that it was not God Himself who restrained Satan? It can only be done through exceedingly poor and sloppy exegesis of His Word. God spoke a warning to Satan, telling him he could do anything he wanted to Job except touch him on his person. Later, we know that God modified this to allow Satan to do what he wanted with Job except take his life. Why did Satan obey? Because it was God who gave him his marching orders, not some impersonal barrier or “restraint” that has no mind or power of its own. The restraint was literally God’s Word, which is God Himself (John 1:1).

Her comment is a perfect example of someone who seems to know her way around Scripture but fails to rightly divide it. Clearly, in all instances throughout Scripture, God restrains evil. He does so by His Presence. His Presence is felt in this world through Christ’s Bride, the Church because that is the chosen vessel the Holy Spirit has chosen to work in and through. We – those who are in relationship with Jesus Christ – are the Restrainer’s arm of God as the Holy Spirit works in and through the invisible Church.

The Bible tells us that Someone is keeping evil at bay today. If not for that Someone, then the level of evil would be markedly greater. By way of proof, the Bible also says that as it was in the days of Noah and Lot, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man, (cf. Matthew 24:37; Luke 17:26). What was it like during Noah’s day? The Bible tells us. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination and intention of all human thinking was only evil continually,” (Genesis 6:5). Why was that, in part? For the very fact that the Holy Spirit did not indwell anyone at that time and offered no real restraint on evil then. While God chose individuals here and there to work in and through to accomplish His purposes, it was not until the birth of the Living Church that God – through His Holy Spirit – chose to indwell believers and baptize us into His Body. Because of this, He works through His Body (the Church) to restrain evil.

One day, He will move out of the way, after the Church has been raptured up and off this planet. When that occurs, the “restraint” that the Holy Spirit has placed on evil now will no longer be there. At that point, hell will be allowed to literally run rampant upon the earth.

We’ll be back with more on this in our next installment when we will discuss more of these two verses and the power it takes to actually restrain evil!

Entry filed under: christianity, Pretribulational Rapture, rapture, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation.

An Event That Will Shatter World Equilibrium Who or What is the Restrainer that Paul Speaks of? Part 2

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