The restrainer is the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul says the lawless one (Antichrist) won’t be revealed until the restrainer is removed (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8).
False Teaching led to Panic
The Thessalonians were panicking. A false teacher had written them a letter telling them the “day of Christ” (a reference to the rapture) had already come and passed (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). They feared they were living in the tribulation.
Paul’s teaching on the future tribulation time answered the Thessalonians’ fears. They were justifiably concerned that they might have missed the rapture. If so, they knew they’d have to suffer through the horrors of the tribulation when God pours out His wrath against sin. The Bible tells us it’ll be the worst time of suffering ever!
“Alas! for that day is great, so that no one is like it” (Jeremiah 30:7).
They’re Not in the Tribulation
1. If they were, they’d know the Antichrist’s identity. Since his identity remained unknown, they, and we, can discern that the rapture hasn’t happened yet.
2. The Holy Spirit is still with them. The Beast will oppose God and His people during the seven-year tribulation. The Apostle Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit’s presence is currently obstructing Antichrist’s appearance:
“Now you know what restrains him (Antichrist) that he might be revealed in his time. Only He (the Holy Spirit) who is now restraining him (the Beast) will do so until He (the Holy Spirit) is taken out of the way (at the rapture of the Church)” (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7).
3. Jesus’ death on the cross saves them from God’s wrath. The Thessalonians were confused about future events. In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he told them Jesus had delivered them from the wrath to come (in the future tribulation):
“Wait for His Son (Jesus) from heaven, whom He (God the Father) raised from the dead—Jesus, who delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
4. Paul told these believers that they were not of the night and that darkness (being in the tribulation) would overtake them. They were children of light (1 Thessalonians 5:1-9). Believers of the Church Age won’t be in that time of wrath.
5. Paul chides them because they weren’t remembering and holding on to what he taught them:
“Do you not remember that when I was still with you, I told you these things” (2 Thessalonians 2:5)?
Jesus Died for Us
Jesus delivered us by suffering God’s wrath against sin in our place. When we believe in Him, God saves us because Jesus died in our stead:
“For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
(If you would like to know more about believing in Jesus, please watch the video on this page).
The Holy Spirit Indwells the Church and Restrains Evil
We’re living in the Church Age. That’s the time between the Day of Pentecost and the rapture. Pentecost came fifty days after Jesus rose from the dead. It commemorates the day the Holy Spirit descended from heaven and came to indwell people who believe in Jesus’ Name. When we believe, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the body of Christ, the universal Church.
The rapture is when Jesus will return for His Church, resurrect the living and dead believers, and take us with Him back to heaven. Once He’s gone:
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 presence, even him, whose coming is in accordance with the working of Satan with all power and signs and false wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-9).
The Holy Spirit will leave with the Church when the Church is raptured. So, once the Holy Spirit is removed, the Antichrist (world ruler) will be revealed.