The verse 2 Thess. 2:7,
τὸ γὰρ μυστήριον ἤδη ἐνεργεῖται τῆς ἀνομίας· μόνον ὁ κατέχων ἄρτι ἕως
ἐκ μέσου γένηται(Textus Receptus Stephanus 1550)
"The indeed mystery already is working of lawlessness, only(there is)
the(one) restraining(it) at present until out of (the)midst he might
is translated the same from the NA27 to the TR, therefore we may conclude that at least the sources are in singular agreement at to what the words say. But as to what they mean we must examine the entire context of this chapter, and indeed the entire bible.
Mystery of Iniquity(Lawlessness)
In order to identify the "restrainer" we must first identify the mystery. "Mysterion" as defined by Thayer's Lexicon is "a hidden or secret thing, not obvious to the understanding", or "a hidden purpose or counsel; secret will". Therefore, if it were plainly obvious it wouldn't be considered a 'mystery'.
So, if it's a "mystery", how do we know with any certainty what the true meaning is?
The answer can be found throughout Scripture; but it is contained in one word-"revelation".
But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets,(Dan. 2:28)
He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know
the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.(Matt. 13:11)
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have
entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for
them that love him.10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his
Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of
God.(1 Cor. 2:9-10)
Since Paul doesn't spell out exactly what the "Mystery of Iniquity" is, what other clues does he give us that might help us determine what he is talking about?
In vs 7, he states that "it is already working". And further on in the verse the "restrainer" is "already restraining". Is there another "mystery" Paul references that we might reference the "Mystery of Iniquity"?
In 2 Tim. 3:16, Paul talks about the "Mystery of Godliness",
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was
manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels,
preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into
What is important is that this "mysterion" is spelled out: Christ is the "Mystery of Godliness". And if we understand that Christ was a "Mystery" from the beginning, we can see how both mysteries are presented, then revealed, each in their proper order and time.
The Garden of Eden
Both Christ(The Mystery of Godliness) and the Antichrist(Mystery of Iniquity) were 1st revealed in the Garden of Eden. In Gen. 3:15, God says to the Serpent(Satan),
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed
and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his
Two "Seeds" were revealed by God: and what is important is that neither the devil or the woman can bear seed! Adam bore the "seed", and if we believe Jesus's words to the Saducees (Matt. 22:30) when they asked who's husband will the woman in the Resurrection be, who had 7 husbands, He said,
For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage,
but are as the angels of God in heaven. If the angels can't "procreate", then Satan must rely on another source for his "seed"-Adam. The "woman's seed" singular is Christ, who came through Mary's womb apart from man. Satan's 'seed' however is plural(for a further explanation, see Jack Collins " A Syntactical Note(Gen. 3:15) Is the Woman's Seed Singular or Plural" ). However, these 2 "seeds" are also Trees; Christ is the Tree of Life(Gen. 2:9), and the "Antichrist" which was never "born"(there are no 'incarnation' passages for the Antichrist-he arises out of hell,(Rev. 11:7)
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that
ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and
shall overcome them, and kill them.
It's important to understand that these 2 mysteries(Christ-the Mystery of Godliness, and the Antichrist-Mystery of Iniquity) become kingdoms. The Kingdom of God, of whom Jesus is the Righteous King, begins with the Covenant Promise to Abraham, fulfilled physically through Israel, and then spiritually through the church.
The Antichrist's Kingdom is found in the Statue of Nebuchnezzar(Dan. 2:31-49); his 'kingdom' started with Babylon, and is "spiritually fulfilled" today through those who embrace "man as God", the same way Satan got Eve(and Adam) to fall.
The 1st Restraint
As previously mentioned, both Christ and Antichrist were from the beginning, they both are kingdoms, and furthermore, they are at war with each other over the souls of men.
But the Mystery of Iniquity gets restrained; the 1st time we see this is in Gen. 11:4,
And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top
may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name(for ourselves), lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
God's command was to (Gen. 9:1) "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth." Instead, they wanted to make 'a name for themselves'. In vs 6 God says,
And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one
language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be
restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
Therefore, He "restrained" man by dividing his language(vs 7), so that men could not understand each other and were forced to separate. Though the "Antichrist" has been existent from Adam, during the Time of John he "was not",(Rev. 17:11-KJV)
The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of
the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the
earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life
from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was,
and is not, and yet is.
So, in light of this previous verse, who is the "Antichrist", and why is he "Is Not" during the Time of John, yet "Is" later?
Kingdom of God vs Kingdom of Antichrist
In order to understand the Restrainer, one must understand what is restrained. The Beast that "Is Not" during the Time of John, "Was" as was previously understood from the Garden of Eden. But since we included "kingdoms" in our understanding of both Christ and Antichrist, how were these kingdoms manifested?
During the Time of John, an important statement was made,(Mark 1:15)
"And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand:
repent ye, and believe the gospel."
Up until that point of time, the concept of God's Kingdom was contained in the Kingdom of Israel, which at that time was a vassal suzerainty, ruled by King Herod but subjected to the will of Rome, of which tribute was regularly paid and a Roman Army was quartered. This was not a 'kingdom' which was expanding it's borders or increasing it's subjects, yet Jesus states, "The Kingdom of God is at hand". Ruler-ship therefore, must mean more than land or subjects; the "Kingdom of God/Heaven" implies obedience to a King who's authority extends over every creature on the planet-indeed all creation! And what's more, Jesus says,(Luke 19:21)
"Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the
kingdom of God is within you."
He also says,(Matt. 18:20),
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in
the midst of them.
In "The Gospel of the Kingdom"(George Eldon Ladd-Paternoster Press:1959) he explains,
The Kingdom of God is His kingship, His rule, His authority. When this
is once realized, we can go through the New Testament and find passage
after passage where this meaning is evident, where the Kingdom is not
a realm or a people but God's reign.
Furthermore, it is the acceptance of this reign, empowered by the Holy Spirit that makes this reign evident.
It was previously stated that the Beast "was, and is not", meaning he "is not" during the Time of John. What one must understand is that his "kingdom" is not reigning during the Time of John.
In our model, we compare the "false kingdom" by the True Kingdom, even as we compare a 'counterfeit' by the real. In Rev. 13:3(KJV) it says,
And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly
wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
Since it has been determined that these 'heads' existed prior to the the Time of John, in Rev. 12:3 it says,
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red
dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his
which in vs 5 attempt to devour the "man-child"(Christ) who would rule the nations with a rod of iron(see Ps. 2) we can see again that the Antichrist Kingdom is "restrained", even it's chief head "severed unto death", so that the Kingdom of God, and the message of the Kingdom of God which is the Gospel can be preached to all nations. The Beast which was "like unto a leopard" meaning that it followed, imitated, bore resemblance to the "Leopard" kingdom, which we know from Dan. 7:6 was the "Greek Kingdom",
After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon
the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads;
and dominion was given to it.
This kingdom was 3rd in progression from Babylon(the lion's head-vs 4), and Mede-Persia(the bear with 2 sides-vs 5). This "Leopard-Like" kingdom was restrained during the Time of John-indeed, "severed unto death", so that Israel, the spiritual "woman" could give birth to the "man-child".
But just as the "Kingdom of God" is not a mere physical kingdom with territory and subjects, so also is the Kingdom of Antichrist not a mere kingdom of territory and subjects. In Rev. 13:7,
and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
meaning that although many other nations are known by their particular name, the "Beast" has power over them. This means that the "Beast" is a spiritual kingdom, just as the Kingdom of God is a "spiritual kingdom", who's 'king' is the Antichrist, present from the Garden of Eden, and finally coming to his "spiritual reign", after his 'severed head' gets restored.
Throughout history, God has restrained the Mystery of Iniquity. He has intervened directly in Gen. 11, intervened through other nations, when the "Beast's head was severed unto death, so that is "was not" during the Time of John.
But the Primary Restraint of the Spiritual Kingdom of the Beast is the Church. In Eph. 1:20-23, it says,
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set
him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all
principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that
is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head
over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of
him that filleth all in all.
Through Christ we have victory over the Spiritual Kingdom of the Antichrist. That means that the philosophy, values, laws, truths, code of conduct are all governed by the Kingdom of God, even though 'physically' we may be a citizen of a particular nation. Our spiritual identity is with the Kingdom of God, of who we profess obedience to it's righteous King, Jesus.
But something happened in history which 'revived' this head, severed unto death, and indeed forms the greatest opposition to Christianity and the Church today.
The Renaissance was in fact a "revival" of the Greek(leopard) kingdom; only it revived "spiritually". Renaissance introduced a pagan, foreign concept called "Humanism" which in it's essence glorifies man; in it's art, culture, philosophy, literature, as well as government. Rather than being fought against, these concepts pervaded the church at the time, so much so that Reformation became a Divorce(apostasion-root of apostasea) of which the church has never recovered. In a few centuries later, the 'Beast' which arises out of the 'sea' manifested itself as Secular Humanism-embraced in France as the "goddess of Reason", which openly persecuted the church, and has spread to other nations and countries unchecked. It has been responsible for more murders of Christians than any pagan religion in it's 'Communist' form, and continues to "wear out the saints"(Dan. 7:25) in this present day.
2 Thess. 2:3-4 says,
except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be
revealed, the son of perdition; 4Who 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.
The "Reformation" was the 'divorce'; the "Head severed unto death, yet lived" is the Greek Head, as a false gospel of man's accomplishments called "Secular Humanism", which is man, being called 'God', attempting to rule the minds and hearts of humanity even as Christ rules the minds and hearts of those who bear allegiance to Him. Because of the "Divorce", the church has been unable to defeat this force, which(Rev. 13:7)
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome
them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and
Just as a "Divorce" between Israel and Judah led to the weakening and overcoming of the nation of Israel, so also does "Divorce" threaten and weaken the Body of Christ, unable to prevent the onslaught of Secular Humanism and it's corrosive effects on society.
The Restrainer in 2 Thess. 2:3 is God, working through His Church. Because of "apostasion", the Church is 'pushed aside' and overcome; allowing the Kingdom of Antichrist to rise to it's fullest extent. It is representative of the Greek(leopard) Kingdom, yet embraces all the kingdoms, including the Roman Empire as a spiritual kingdom which is contradictory and opposed to the Kingdom of God, attempting to rule the nations and impose it's will on them. The power of God is in the church to overcome it-yet divided and confused it has succumbed to the warfare and will continue to do so until it recognizes it's foe and exercises it's rightful authority.