2 Thessalonians 2:6
ESV - 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time.
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I've always been taught to believe that the restrainer is the church indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He will be "taken out of the way" when the church is raptured (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). See the Ryrie Study Bible for this view as well, by Dr. Charles Caldwell Ryrie. Dr. Ryrie was one of my professors at the Dallas Theological Seminary. He was good, too!
There is a different interpretation of the identity of the restrainer of II Thessalonians 2:6-7, than the usual explanations. Lee W. Brainard who wrote “The Restrainer – Not Who You Think,” claimed the common understanding of the Holy Spirit as the restrainer does not work. The removal of the Holy Spirit, or for that matter, the church, prior to the tribulation has no Scriptural support. Furthermore, no adequate explanation can be given of how the Holy Spirit does this and still works during the Tribulation. To begin with, two pronouns of different gender are used. Verse 6 has a neuter pronoun, even though rendered “he,” and verse 7 has a masculine pronoun “he.” The neuter pronoun of verse 6 is the “mystery of iniquity,” which is mentioned in verse 7. The pronoun “he” in verse 7 refers to an individual mentioned earlier in the context. The Holy Spirit cannot be the one, as He is not mentioned in the passage. “He” refers back to “the man of sin...the son of perdition,” in verse 3. He is also “the lawless one” of verse 8, all masculine. This is the Antichrist. The correct use of pronouns clarifies it is not the Holy Spirit but the Antichrist who restrains. Restraint in this passage is against the truth, not against evil. The mystery of iniquity is the force trying to hold back or hinder the truth, but there will be revealed in time, an individual who is the restrainer. His ultimate goal as given in verse 4 is to not only restrain the truth (Romans 1:18) but to oppose God and set himself up as God in the temple. Some terms in verse 7 are mistranslated. Instead of “only” (Greek “monon”) in verse 7, the word should be ‘except’ as used in Galatians 2:9-10. Lee Brainard cited many places in the works of Josephus where “monon” consistently means “except.” “Only he who restrains” needs to be changed to “except the restrainer” so it reads, “For the mystery of iniquity – except the restrainer...” The last phrase of verse 7 reads, “is out of the way.” The more accurate translation would be “until he appears in the midst.” The verb “ginomai” is incorrectly translated “remove” or “take.” The sense of the verb is the opposite, “arrive,” as in Acts 27:7 and 25:15. The mystery of iniquity is doing its work until one individual comes or arrives on the scene. He is the restrainer, the opposer of God. It is not that the restrainer is taken out of the way, but instead the restrainer will arise from the midst of mankind. Correcting these mistranslations, verses 6 and 7 translate literally: “Even now you know the restraining effort, that he should be revealed in his own season (time). For the mystery of iniquity – except the restrainer – is already working now, until he arises from the midst.” II Thessalonians 2:8-10 further describes the appearing and working of this person. Rather than being the Holy Spirit, the restrainer is the Antichrist.
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