When "He" who restrains is removed
1 John: 4:3: “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
The Apostle Paul spoke of both a mystery of godliness and a mystery of iniquity.
1 Tim. 3:16: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh”
II Thess. 2:3-8: “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come 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. 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. 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. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.”
The mystery of iniquity is the mystery of sin and its influence. It is brought to a completion in the Tribulation period. This one who restrains is holding back the revealing of the son of perdition and the spirit of iniquity. Just as the mystery of godliness came in a single man so will the mystery of iniquity.
Paul is speaking specifically about the Antichrist coming though his spirit has been at work for centuries. The mystery that was operating in power throughout the world in Paul’s day will increase. He is talking about the Antichrist and the spirit of anti-Christ as well. There is coming a leader that opposes Jesus in every way and he is a religious leader not an atheist and he will claim to be God bringing about the destruction of millions of souls through his teachings.
The Mystery of Iniquity is still hid, 2 Thess. 2:6 the Apostle Paul writes “and you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.” The word for time here is not chronos, the normal word used for time. The word for time here is kairos, which is translated to mean the “time of opportunity.” The man of sin is withheld from appearing in the world until a particular time. This restraining force opposes evil and holds back the growth of wickedness preventing the man of sin (v.3) from coming into his time of power. As long as the restrainer continues to do His work in the world this false Christ cannot come into his position of power. Once the “restraint” that held back this mystery of iniquity is removed, the man of sin then comes forward with all power. The Antichrist will finally have the opportunity for self-exaltation and rule unhindered for a short time. It is at this time “he” will be revealed; this “he” (2 Thessalonians 2:6) is the son of perdition.
Who or what is this power called the restrainer that is holding back the Antichrist from coming into power? Some believe and teach that it is the Holy Spirit that is doing this. That he is the restrainer of evil and when the rapture occurs that he will be taken out and then the Antichrist will receive power to do his thing. Some believe that Michael the arch angel is the "restrainer" because he fights against the Devils and his angels in the heavens. Can Michael be the restrainer who is taken out of the way. The battle he fights in the heavens ends and it will continues to be fought upon the earth. 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.
But this is not the restraining that Paul is speaking about.
Can the governments be the restrainer? There was no government in the antediluvian world to restrain lawlessness that overwhelmed the earth, only God’s Spirit was there to restrain or to control evil. In some ways the governments which are to punish evil have held back lawlessness. But in this time period the government that is ruling over men is the problem for it is headed up with the man who is the false Messiah, the Son of Perdition.
Unrestrained, the fallen nature of man can repeat the same inhumane acts that brought judgment on the antediluvian world and those we have seen throughout history. Violence is increasing today and sweeping throughout the world. Jesus says in the end “lawlessness will abound.” John writes, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”(1 John 3:4). This is why the he that is restrained is called “the man of sin.”
II Thess. 2:3: “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition”
We have been told that BEFORE the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ that the man of sin will be revealed (2 Thess.2:2) (made known) to the saints and then to the world. We don’t know if he will be identified by those who know what to look for before he signs the peace treaty (that begins the tribulation period Daniel 9:27), or if the signing itself makes him known. First comes the falling away then his revealing. At the time Paul wrote this epistle a person (He) was preventing the mystery from being revealed then and still does so today, over 1900 years later: “Only then shall that Wicked be revealed,” in the lawless one. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 indicates: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.” In other words, there will come a time where the energy and power of Satan will not be restrained, having full strength to do what he wants. God withdraws his restraint and the lie becomes stronger than the truth and envelopes nearly everyone. Once the restraint is removed evil will no longer be in check and will increase dramatically.
Is the restrainer the Holy Spirit? If the Holy Spirit was removed then the 144,000 could not be sealed and no one could be saved in the tribulation period. All the millions of martyrs could not be saved.
If the restrainer is the Holy Spirit and is removed from the earth people would not be able to be saved during the Tribulation. It is the Holy Spirit’s work that draws men to Christ. The rapture does not remove the Holy Spirit but only the church (those dead and alive), there will still be saints in the tribulation, but the church that is visibly left will be apostate and under the Anti Christ (son of Perditions) control. During the tribulation the Holy Spirit is not removed from the earth, but will continue His salvation work initially sealing the 144,000 Jews to be evangelists (firstfruits-Revelation 14:4) saving multitudes who will be martyred and at the end saving all of Israel (Romans 11:26-27).
Apparently being removed does not necessarily mean completely from the earth. The Holy Spirit’s power to restrain this mystery is removed. It must be the Holy Spirit, since only God can be powerful enough and lived through all the centuries to restrain evil from coming forth in a certain individual and spread to all men throughout the earth.
II Thess.2:7 ‘‘only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.” In other words He will no longer obstruct this mystery of Iniquity. Restrains or “letteth” is katecho- in Greek whose first meaning 1) to hold back, to detain, to retain a) from going away b) to restrain, hinder (the course or progress of). “Letteth katechoon (NT:2684). The same word as "restraineth," 2 Thessalonians 2:6. Let is Old English for "hinder, prevent.” (Vincent's Word Studies of the New Testament).
“2 Thessalonians 2:7 When the obstacle is removed then the mystery of lawlessness will be revealed in plain outline” (Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament) so the one who restrained stops doing this. The question is whether this an abrupt moving aside or a gradual process until it is completely removed.
It is the revealing of sin, in the man of sin, the son of perdition who is the lawless one. It is the ultimate final rebellion against God. Guess who wins.