Who is the restrainer the Bible talks about in 2 Thessalonians 2:6?
Second Thessalonians 2:6-7 reads, "And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 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." Who is this restrainer?
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First, it is clear from this passage that the restrainer is holding back sin and lawless living. A wide variety of options have been suggested, including government, preaching, the binding of Satan, the church, the Holy Spirit, or even the angel Michael. The context of the passage speaks of someone or something that restrains the Antichrist from being revealed until the proper time. To have this level of power, the restrainer must be something supernatural and most likely something good. This would remove the options of Satan, evil spirits, or human government.
Further, only God has the power to overcome the power of Satan. Therefore, the church or angels would not be the restrainer mentioned here. Most likely, the Holy Spirit's indwelling presence holds back the power of lawlessness and of Antichrist's revealing. At a future time when God's people are removed at the Rapture, the unique role the Holy Spirit has played during the Church Age will be removed, allowing the revealing of the Antichrist and increased lawlessness in the world.
This does not mean the Holy Spirit will not be at work during the Tribulation period. For example, the Book of Revelation mentions many Jewish people who will come to faith in Jesus during the Tribulation as well as others. In Revelation 11, Two Witnesses will perform acts that will require the involvement of God's Spirit. The Holy Spirit will still be alive and active, yet will in some ways work differently than during the period of time prior to the Rapture.
The Holy Spirit's unique role in the Church Age is also made evident by the unique entry of the Holy Spirit's work in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost. In that passage, the Spirit came to empower the disciples to begin the work of sharing the Gospel with others. The church continues to grow today, reaching many people around the world. Yet a future time will come when the Spirit will operate differently, allowing the appearance of an Antichrist who will ultimately reject God and persecute those devoted to Him. Only at the coming of Christ at the end of the Tribulation will the work of the Antichrist come to an end.
During this unique period of history, the restraining role of the Holy Spirit can be seen as a special blessing. His work allows Christians to continue to share the good news of Jesus as Lord with all who will listen, allowing many others to come to faith in Jesus Christ.
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