ο κατεχων αρτι εως εκ μεσου γενηται [TR - undisputed] 2 Thess 2: 7 (b)
... only he who now letteth (will let), until he be taken out of the way. [KJV]
... he who restrains at present until out of [the] midst he be [gone]. [EGNT 1 ]
... only he who is keeping down now, will hinder till he may be out of the way. [YLT]
- The first verb - κατηχω
The verb κατηχεω has the meaning of inform, instruct, teach as used and listed eight times in scripture (YAC 3). This is an outgoing process : expressive.
The 'partner' to this expressive verb is the more reflexive verb, κατηχω, and this is the verb actually used in this passage.
The verb in 2 Thess 2:6 (here used in the nom. sing. masc. part.pres. act. see BAGL 2 ) is κατεχω and has a more inward concept of receptiveness and retaining. It is used nineteen times in scripture and is translated in a variety of ways in the KJV, among them 'hold', 'hold fast', 'keep', 'possess' and 'withhold' (YAC 3).
But it seems that in all of these meanings, there is never a case of one 'holding' another or someone 'restraining' someone else : except that it has been rendered in this particular verse. Otherwise, the verb appears to be a reflexive corollary to its partner κατηχεω.
- The second verb - γινομαι
The verb γινομαι (here used in the 3 pers. sing. aor. 2, subj. see BAGL 2 ) means 'to come', 'to become', 'to begin to be' (Thayer) when applied to a person. 'Come to pass' or 'happen', when applied to events.
- εκ μεσου
And, notably, only the EGNT has properly translated εκ μεσου as 'out of [the] midst' the others seeming to bend this construction to suit their own viewpoint.
It seems to me that liberties have been taken with the second verb, translators adding 'taken out of the way' or 'gone' or 'out of the way' all of which extend the verb 'to be or become' into another dimension of being 'removed away' which meaning is not present in the original word.
And it seems to me that liberties have also been taken with the first verb in the implication that another agent is acting to 'let' or 'restrain' or to 'keep down' the party under consideration.
The bare words seem to me to mean :
... only who now refrains until out of [the] midst he be.
Or, to be more fully idiomatic in English :
... only who now restrains (himself) until out of the midst he be (revealed).
It seems to me that this sentence has been misunderstood. That the concept in Paul's mind is one of an entity lurking in the midst, restraining himself, not drawing attention (though he be lawless, see context) but eventually his lawlessness cannot be hidden any longer and, in the midst, he is now revealed to have been resident all the time.
This is akin to the shocking situation expressed by John in the Apocalypse, having seen it in vision, of a beast that rises up out of the sea. Already there, already forming - then become formed and visible. Or akin to the beast, in the same visionary book of Revelation, which was and is not : and yet is. Still there, lurking, but unknown. Seeming to have vanished. But still present, just not recognised.
Have the translators misunderstood this verse in 2 Thessalonians and mis-rendered the concept ?
- EGNT - Englishman's Greek New testament
- BAGL - Bagster's Anaytical Greek Lexicon
- YAC - Young's Analytical Concordance