Who is the Restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2?

Reggie’s response to an excellent comment (quoted at the bottom of this article) on the video “The Downfall of the Devil is in the Details of Daniel.

Someone’s been listening in class! 🙂

In the interest of brevity and people’s natural lack of stamina for involved discussions, I would only tweak a couple of points. Read his summary first below my remarks, and then return to my comments here for a few, hopefully helpful caveats and additions.

Others may very reasonably differ, but it is not my view that when Michael casts Satan down to take up full and unimpeded residence in the body of the mortally wounded and risen beast that he is now “confined” or restricted to the body of the Antichrist. As in the Lord’s incarnation, the Father remained omnipresent and ubiquitous, but the fullness of His divine nature was concentrated in all its moral perfection in the body / humanity of Jesus. This mystery of incarnation (1Tim 3:16) was, of course, made possible by the virgin birth, because only in this way was it possible for Jesus to be born perfectly free of the fallen, Adamic nature that all others are born into by natural procreation.

In similar parallel, the fullness of Satan’s moral image will be fully embodied / incarnated in the Antichrist, but as Isaiah said, the Antichrist (typified by the Assyrian) does not know God’s intended use of him (Isa 10:7). In the same way, Satan, symbolized as the dragon, knows his time is short, but the risen beast will doubtless think his time has just begun, that nothing will be withheld from this consummate expression of self exaltation.

Furthermore, just as the incarnation of the son was made possible by his freedom from any taint of the fallen nature by means of the virgin birth, just so, it appears that what Paul sees as necessary for the mystery of lawlessness to be revealed requires the removal, not only of Satan from his hindering position in heaven, but something has been removed from the humanity of the Antichrist at the same time. This is why there must be this marvelous intersection and convergence between the time of Satan’s expulsion that starts the tribulation (Dan 12:1 with Rev 12:7-14) and the death and resurrection of the Antichrist in the healing of the mortal wound, which occasions his ascent up out of the abyss into which he descended at death (Rev 11:7; 13:8), all taking place at the middle of the week.

Whatever it is that preserves even the least residue of what it is that makes us human, apparently, this is what has been removed through the Antichrist’s descent and ascent out of the abyss at the very same time that Satan is being removed by Michael from his hindering place in heaven. This great transition is necessary to reveal what Paul calls, “the mystery of lawlessness” (2Thes 2:7).

As Jesus, the Anointed prince of the host in Dan 8:11; 9:25-26, fulfilled the “mystery of godliness” through circumventing passing the fallen seed of man by the virgin birth, just so, the mystery of lawlessness is revealed in the resurrection and full embodiment of Satan in the Antichrist. This is made possible by the miraculous coincidence of the death and resurrection of the Antichrist with the casting down of Satan. Observe what this implies.

Doubtless, through their understanding and certain knowledge of the time, those of understanding (Dan 11:32-33; 12:3-4, 10) will imitate Daniel. Through deep self abasement and prevailing prayer, they too will receive the help of Michael. That is why all heaven rings out with shouts of Jubilee when Satan is cast down. It is also why, just now, as perhaps never before on such a wide scale, the saints received great power and strength (Dan 11:32; Rev 11:2; 12:10). It just so happens that both Daniel and John put this great anointing precisely at the middle of the week (Dan 11:31-33; Rev 11:2; 12:7-10). This is no accident! With Satan’s expulsion, not only is there woe for the ‘earth-dwellers’ (sensual, destitute of the Spirit), but with an open heaven, free of the Accuser’s influence, great power has come upon the saints for the final test and greatest witness unto death.

No wonder all of heaven rejoices when this great blockage has been once and for all removed from his illicit access to the consciences of believers, as through deep travail the veil gives way to the clearest grasp of the liberty of the gospel and fullest enforcement in heaven of the victory that Jesus won at the cross. With Michael’s greatest victory in the removal of Satan from his position of hindrance, the now awakened sleeping giant that is the true body of Christ will arise, and shake itself like Samson, to accomplish more in its last, remaining hours (in this mortal frame) than anytime since Pentecost. I see a type in Samson that gives me hope for the sleeping wise, some of whom have been sinfully distracted and compromised by the vanities of the world system, but God can use again the son He chastens.

So put the two things together. Christ cannot return and the kingdom cannot come in all its fullness UNTIL this man has first been revealed. This event is the ”WHAT” (Greek neuter) that withholds. What is being withheld? The WHAT, I would submit, is the return of Christ to gather us together (2Thes 2:1). Paul says this cannot happen until the man of lawlessness is revealed FIRST (2Thes 2:3). But for this to take place, there is a mystery that he embodies that also must be revealed. This is the mystery of lawlessness, but for this to be revealed, there is a person who must first be removed.

For the reasons shown, we believe that person to be Satan who must be removed from heaven by Michael in the middle of the week. It is Satan’s removal from his position as the one who hinders (1Thes 2:18) that permits the revelation of the mystery of lawlessness to be revealed in the man of lawlessness. This is fatal to his interest.

It is because the whole age waits for this great event that the saints in heaven and earth rejoice, not simply because the time of greatest tribulation has now started, but because “NOW is come salvation, strength, the kingdom of our God and the power of His Messiah” Now, with Michael’s victory over Satan in heaven, that which stood in the way (hindered) the full coming of the kingdom has been taken out of the way. The kingdom can now come unhindered. The opposer can no longer oppose the necessary revelation of the mystery of lawlessness that releases the Lord to release the remaining seals and finish the mystery of God (Rev 10:7; 11:15). Satan is out of the way! The long foretold tribulation can begin that brings in the kingdom and the sure fulfillment of all that is written.

Of greatest puzzlement to commentators is to decide between the what and the who in 2Thes 2:6-7. There is a what (neuter in the Greek text) that is restraining (or some preferred translations say ‘withholding’) and there is also a person who is restraining or withholding. How do we sort this out? I would suggest that the puzzle is best solved by understanding that the necessary prior revelation of the man of lawlessness is holding back the return of the Lord. This corrects the perilous error circulating at Thessalonica.

When Paul says, “and now you know WHAT withholds” (2Thes 2:6), he is saying that after reviewing with them the order of events he had laid down at his earlier visit, they are now reminded and thus fully apprised of why Jesus cannot be expected to return until this necessary preliminary event has first taken place. This calls to mind the person who is pledged to restrain the revelation of the mystery of lawlessness that will mean his time is short.

Who is the person and what is he restraining? Satan is restraining the revelation of the mystery of lawlessness. Why would he do this? It is because he knows that when this mystery is revealed in the person of the man of lawlessness, his time will be short.

Do not confuse the identification of the Antichrist with his revelation. He will be identifiable well before this, but he cannot be ‘revealed’ until Satan has been removed (cast down) in order to become incarnate in the man of lawlessness. For this mystery to be revealed, Satan must be “taken out of the way”.

We say this happens when he is cast down by Michael. Only then will Satan be forced to take up a full and unhindered habitation in the moral nature of the man of lawlessness, thus empowering him with “ALL power, signs, and deceiving wonders”, (reminiscent of the strong delusion evoked by his resurrection). The world has never seen anything, even remotely like this!

So Jesus cannot return until this happens first. The prior revelation of the man of sin is the event (the what) that is now withholding / i.e., hindering the return of Jesus to gather His own. This corrects the dangerous presumption that Christ’s return is immediately imminent, thus diverting from all that Jesus so carefully commended as a bulwark against deception and to be fully armed for the time when it comes (Mk 13:5, 14, 21-23).

But the withholding event calls to mind the withholding revelation and the unnamed person who is committed to withhold it. That is the revelation of the mystery of lawlessness in the man of lawlessness, and this can only be revealed when Satan is removed. It is Satan (not the Holy Spirit, or Michael) that must be forcibly removed in order to be fully embodied in the now resurrected Antichrist.

This is the strong delusion that causes the whole world to marvel when they see the mortally wounded beast that was, and is not, and yet is (Rev 13:8). The removal of Satan from heaven permits the predestined revelation of the mystery of lawlessness, and this in turn opens the way for the return of the King. It is the great ‘without which not’ of Jesus’ return and the end of the age.

When Satan can no longer retain his place in heaven as the one one who hinders / resists / withholds or holds back, the revelation of the mystery of lawlessness, his time is short. It is now, with his removal, that the kingdom can come in all its full strength and power. Therefore, we say Rev 12:7-12 becomes the key to understand the mystery of the restrainer in 2Thes 2:7.

As the brother so well points out (see below), this is all in perfect parallel to the way that through Daniel’s self emptying intercession, Michael was sent to remove the prince of Persia who was “withstanding” (the Hebrew equivalent of hinder / resist / oppose) the arrival of the holy messenger who carried the critical revelation of how the age will end (Dan 10:13-14). Doubtless, this is the background behind Paul’s understanding of the role of the dark powers to oppose and hinder the advance of the kingdom’s conquest of evil.

Somehow, Satan’s dejection must coincide perfectly with the death and resurrection of the Antichrsit (Rev 11:7; 13:3; 17:8). This is what reveals the mystery of lawlessness, which is nothing short of the revelation of Satan in the “coming prince” of Dan 9:26. It is the fulfillment of THIS mystery (i.e., “mystery of lawlessness”) on which all else depends and awaits, because Jesus CANNOT return to gather together His elect UNTIL this final, outstanding mystery has FIRST been revealed (Mt 24:29-31 with 2Thes 2:1-8).

Since the removal of Satan from heaven to earth must coincide perfectly with the time of the Antichrist’s death and resurrection (obviously, very closely aligned in time), we may ask why is the death and resurrection of the Antichrist necessary in order for Satan to fully inhabit this man? I would suggest that just as Jesus circumvented (by-passed) any hindrance to the full expression of the image of His Father through the virgin birth, something here too of a hindering nature must be removed from the Antichrist in order for him to most fully express the fully exposed image of his father, the Devi (“son of perdition”). What might that be? It would seem to have to be something that was never fully eradicated, even in the most wicked antichrists (plural) of history.

Other than the predestined timing, what is it that stopped these demonically empowered antichrists ‘ beasts (plural) from becoming THE Antichrist / beast? Whatever that is, it has apparently been removed by the mortally wounded Antichrist’s descent into the abyss. Whatever this is (the remnant of the moral image that makes us human?), apparently it is the impediment that is fully removed only by the death of the Antichrist (mortally wounded beast).

By death he descends into the abyss. In resurrection he ascends up from the abyss to become now the full incarnation of Satan in the flesh. This has apparently been made possible by the divinely ordained convergence of the death of this particular man and the expulsion of Satan from heaven at the very time the tribulation is about to begin with his entrance into the temple to present himself to the world as above all other forms of deity (Dan 11:36-37 with 2Thes 2:4).

Finally, one may very reasonably ask why was this left to be such a mystery? Why, if at all important for us to know, did Paul not simply identify the restrainers, both the impersonal what or thing that is being restrained, and the person who is restraining? Firstly, it was not his pastoral purpose to expound on all the details, but simply review and recount what he had told them on his earlier visit in order to correct a serious error. But also, it is in the nature of scripture that many things are revealed in such a way as to require grace and mercy for the Spirit’s help in making the correct connections, and this is especially true of anything that the Lord wanted to be kept till the time of the end.

That said, I believe Paul did indeed most definitely identify what was being withheld. It was the return of the Lord. Let me show why this seems so plain to me.

Translators will translate enesteken in 2Thes 2:2 as “already here”, or “near at hand”, depending on whether they think the Thessalonians would have conceived of the DOL as distinct from the actual return of Jesus, since Jesus had obviously not arrived personally. The error of the Thessalonians that the day of the Lord had either arrived or was very imminently to be expected would be corrected by Paul’s demonstration that the DOL is being held back by the necessity of a specific event, namely, the preliminary revelation of the man of sin.

This, I would argue, is the ‘what’, or the impersonal ‘thing’ that is holding back the return of the Lord. It is an event, one that very necessarily MUST preceded the Lord’s return. What is being withheld (some translate restrained) is the Lord’s return, and the thing or event (impersonal neuter in the Greek text) is the prior revelation of the man of lawlessness exalting himself in the temple of God (2Thes 2:3-4). Simple as that!.

Commentators puzzle and say, “if we only knew what Paul had told them on his first visit, then we would know what they knew”, but we must modestly decline anything more than a rather tentative guess. To me, it seems fantastic that there would be any question of what Paul would have told them on his first visit. He told them exactly what Jesus told His disciples in the Olivet prophecy!

With all urgency, Jesus commands His disciples to read and understand Daniel if they will know the signs and escape the great deception. No wonder Paul opens his correction with words very similar to those by which Jesus begins His discourse, “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Mt 24:4). Paul, moved by the same urgency of warning, will say, “Let no man deceive you by any means …” So a lot at stake here.

The only blank that Paul did not fill in is the identity of the person who restrains. I believe this is because the Holy Spirit did not permit him to make this obvious. I believe it is one of those things reserved till the time of the end that when opened would open so much else. By the Spirit’s kind grace we can put the pieces together and see things reserved for the end, so not to be taken by surprise, or at least have a frame of reference by which to understand the unexpected when it comes. Appropriately, God left it to the Revelation of John to give us the clue that would make perfect sense of the restrainer of 2Thes 2:7, as both build upon the angelology (principalities and powers) of Daniel and Ezekiel that build on Moses and the prophets.


Reggie is of the conviction that Satan is the Restrainer of 2 Thes 2. That might sound counterintuitive to many. This is just my attempt to clarify that position. (I’m not saying this is exactly how Reggie sees it). Some thoughts on the Restrainer of 2 Thes 2. Everything you’ve ever been taught will likely contradict what I’m about to say, it took me 28 years to finally come to see this, now I just can’t unsee it….

2 Thes 2v7… “….Now he who restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way” Some translations say “restrain >him<” or “restrains >it<” or “restrains >evil<” etc. That is only because translators have struggled with this verse. The “it”, “him”, “evil” etc. should not be there. Because of bad translations and what we’ve been taught by sincere teachers who have read bad translations, an assumption is made that it is >evil< that is being restrained. New King James Version… And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. (Good Translation – No ‘it’ or ‘him’ etc) New American Standard Bible… And you know what restrains >>him<< now, so that he will be revealed in his time. (Bad Translation – here we see the Paradigm shifting “him”) So that added “him” or that added “it” etc, is like points on a railway track really, something tiny but entirely capable of shunting the whole train (of thought) on to a different track. And that’s clearly what it does.

So to summarize, the original text does not state that it’s evil or ant-christ that is being restrained. Thats a false assumption based on bad translations. Moving on… Scripture doesn’t explicitly state either that this mystery “restrainer” is the Holy Spirit, Church or Michael or Rome etc. All these views are of course quite widely held by believers and indicate the manifold confusion that exists surrounding this passage because its >>assumed<< because of bad translations, that it’s evil that’s being restrained. So all we can really take from the text is that there is a mysterious “Restrainer” mentioned. We don’t know what he’s restraining and that he will be removed at some point, and when he is, the Antichrist can come into view. So here goes… In Daniel 10, Daniel prays and he is heard immediately and the Angel is sent forth at once but the fallen demonic powers in the heavenlies resist and restrain the Angel for 21 days until Michael intervenes. In Revelation 12v7-9 we see Michael again, this time casting down Satan and the demonic powers to earth. We are told exactly when this happens i.e. at the 1260 days (final 3 1/2 year) point.

Directly following this expulsion, we see this in the very next verse… 10 THEN I heard a loud voice in heaven say >>NOW<< have come the >>SALVATION<< and the >>POWER<< and the >>KINGDOM OF OUR GOD<< and the >>AUTHORITY OF HIS MESSIAH<< for the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down (taken out of the way). So as Satan is removed we see a colossal dam burst in the Heavens. Satan and his angels were holding something back, as they are taken out of the way, the dam bursts! So Satan, the restrainer of God’s Salvation, Power, Kingdom, and Authority in the heavenlies, is now cast out and down from his >restraining place< and hurled down to earth.

As stated, this happens clearly at the 3 1/2 year point. In conjunction with this we see the beast receiving a mortal wound in Rev 13v3 but coming back to life again and the whole world marvelling at this. He then sets off on his 42 month (3 1/2 year) reign of terror. So as Satan is cast down by Michael exactly at the 3 1/2 year point this dovetails in perfect concert with the beast (human) dying from a mortal wound then coming back to life.

I think it’s plain Satan is now permitted, or perhaps even forced, to take up residence in this man’s body. So what we now see is the full incarnation of Satan in bodily form. We saw “The Mystery of Godliness” in the incarnation of God in bodily form in the person of Jesus. Now we see “The Mystery of Iniquity”, the full incarnation of Satan, in bodily form.

Astonishingly, there is divine symmetry here. Both “mysteries” commence their “ministry” in a death and resurrection (Jesus baptism by John), both have exactly 3 1/2 years. The Genesis prophetic opener of “the seed of the woman” and “the seed of the serpent” has now fully come into view. Keep in mind also Michael appears in Jude where he contends with Satan over Moses’ body. Why would Satan want access to Moses’ body? As Derek Prince states demons are personalities without a body. Speculating, but did he want to incarnate Moses body to then decieve the Israelites? God did not permit it then, but does He permit it, even orchestrate it, at the 3 1/2 year point? So “the lawless one will be revealed”. I.e. Satan is forced down and out of the heavenly sphere to take up residence in a man’s dead body. He’s now exposed and confined into a human body and is FURIOUS >>knowing<< his time is short. So for me this raises a fundamental question. The presupposition amongst much of what calls itself church in relation to 2 Thes 2 is that Satan >>wants<< to take the stage, that he >>wants<< to take over, that “good” in the form of the Holy Spirit OR the Church OR Rome OR Michael is restraining him. So Does Satan >>really<< want this to happen? Mathew 8v29… “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to >>torture<< us before the >>appointed time<>knowing his time is short<<, knowing only eternal torture and torment awaits him.

I see it like the mafia in a city where the forces of law and order are finally and relentlessly closing in. They were happy to be incognito and pulling the strings in the dark but now they know their time is soon up and they are being forced out into the open and to pending and ultimate justice. Or like a desperate death row prisoner who knows his time of execution is fast approaching. In both these instances it’s the last thing they want and a truly desperate fight will ensue. And so we have the end times. A desperate and dark kingdom is coming to be exposed and ultimately judged and it well knows it. Like a cornered pack of rabid hyenas the final expulsion will be vicious and brutal.

In closing. If the mystery restrainer is not Satan then who is it? From whatever angle I now look at this from nothing fits better or makes more sense. I just can’t “unsee” it. Obviously the pre-trib camp uses this passage to bolster their early rapture view but it’s a doctrine based entirely on inference (that’s another story). In closing, Scripture makes plain this displacement, this ‘taking out of the way’ event happens at the 3 1/2 year point so a completely “Open Heaven” is there now for the Saints, the restraining demonic forces are removed and unprecedented Power, Salvation and Authority is now made available. It will truly be the Church’s finest hour. Revelation 7 tells us of a harvest of souls from every tribe and nation, a number so vast it cannot be counted will come out of the “Great Tribulation”.

God surely keeps the best wine till last and I believe this “Restrainer” being “taken out of the way” is the key to all this. So considering now the same verse… 2 Thes 2v7… ….Now he (Satan) who restrains (God’s Power, Salvation, Kingdom and Authority in the heavenlies) will do so >>until<< he is taken (literally forced) out of the way (by Michael in the midst of the final week). As clearly detailed in Revelation 12! So instead of “Good restraining the Evil”, it’s in effect “Evil restraining the Good” until Michael casts the evil restrainer down and out at the final 3 1/2 years point and we see an unprecedented release of God’s Spirit and Power and the greatest ingathering of souls imaginable. So this truly turns everything on its head. As I said at the offset, this view will likely blow all your fuses; it did mine. It’s easy to dismiss as it goes against the grain at night on all that’s been taught on it in this hour. I just humbly ask you to prayerfully consider it.

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