THE RESTRAINER’S ROLE
2Th 2:3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
2Th 2:4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.
2Th 2:5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
2Th 2:6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time.
2Th 2:7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. [English Standard Version]
restrains (KJV ‘letteth’) katechō
1) to hold back, detain, retain
1a) from going away
1b) to restrain, hinder (the course or progress of)
1b1) that which hinders Antichrist from making his appearance
1c) to hold fast, keep secure, keep firm possession of
Notice that it’s a “him,” not an it or a thing that the ‘restrainer’ is holding back. “out of” means, Thayer Definition: 1) out of, from, by, away from; “the way” means, mesos: 1) middle, the midst, in the midst of, amongst. This is why Pre-tribber’s say the “restrainer” must be the Holy Spirit, because they say the Holy Spirit is in the “midst” of believers; Lk 24:36, John 20:19, and Mat 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. While that’s true, I don’t believe that the identity of ‘he who’s taken out of the way’ [KJV] is immediately clear, nor is the Holy Spirit the ONLY possible rendering.
Many teach that the “restrainer” is the Holy Spirit who is “removed” from the Earth when believers are raptured out of the world right before the great tribulation begins. These teachers use a few verses from 1 Thessalonians mainly, to support their Pre-Trib rapture theory, taken out of the context of the rest of Scripture, even the same book and chapter – 1Th 4:15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven…
WATCH! When does the Lord Jesus descend from heaven?
Mat 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
Mat 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Mat 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
So you see, there’s already a problem with the Pre-Tribulation rapture and it’s that Matthew clearly places the coming of Jesus AND the ‘gathering together of his elect,’ AFTER the tribulation. And that’s not the only problem with it, these scriptures say something else – Mat 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Mat 13:49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, Mat 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
Now, to address a few objections to a post-trib rapture. Some say ‘clouds’ refer to the ‘saints’ who’ve already been caught up in a secret rapture before Jesus returns, and so return with Him. However biblical evidence doesn’t support that notion. It seems that these are clouds of angels that are spoken of. It also appears that the angels escort Jesus from place to place: “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.” (Psa 68:17) “Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:” (Psa 104:3) “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.“ (Dan 7:13) The word “they” is referring to the angels who “came with the clouds” earlier in the verse. They brought the Son of Man to the Ancient of Days.
As some are aware, there are two New Testament verses, Jude 1:14, and 1 Thess 3:13 which at first glance, appear to say that Christ comes with His “saints” but I’ll show you why that isn’t so. Let’s take the quote from Jude first – Jude 1:14 “And Enoch also the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying. Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.”
“saints” here was chosen by the King James translators, as the meaning of the Greek G40 ‘hagios,’ which is often used to refer to redeemed human beings in the New Testament, but in this particular verse, it doesn’t. Why the King James translators chose “saints” over “holy ones” or “angels” I can’t say, but the English Standard Version chose to render it, “holy ones” (or angels) which lines up perfectly with the rest of what Scripture says, which is that Christ is coming with His ANGELS, not His saints – Jud 1:14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, [ESV]
With ten thousand of his saints – Or, “of his holy ones.” The word “saints” we now apply commonly to “redeemed” saints, or to Christians. The original word is, however, applicable to all who are “holy,” angels as well as men. The common representation in the Scriptures is, that he would come attended by the angels Mat_25:31, and there is doubtless allusion here to such beings. It is a common representation in the Old Testament also that God, when he manifests himself, is accompanied by great numbers of heavenly beings. See Psa_68:17; Deu_33:2. [Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible]
With ten thousands of his saints (ἐν ἀγίαις μυριάσιν)
Lit., in or among holy myriads. Compare Deu_33:2; Zec_14:5. [Vincent Word Studies]
saints — Holy angels (compare Deu_33:2; Dan_7:10; Zec_14:5; Mat_25:31; Heb_12:22). [Jamieson, Fausset & Brown Commentary]
If that isn’t enough, Jude was making reference to what Enoch had prophesied many centuries prior, a prophesy which is nearly identical to Deuteronomy 33:2 – And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints:
Deu 33:2 He said, “The LORD came from Sinai and dawned from Seir upon us; he shone forth from Mount Paran; he came from the ten thousands of holy ones, [ESV] Deu 33:2 And he said, Jehovah came from Sinai, And rose from Seir unto them; He shined forth from mount Paran, And he came from the ten thousands of holy ones: [ASV]
With ten thousands of saints – Render, from amidst ten thousands of holy ones: literally from myriads of holiness, i. e., holy Angels (compare Zec_14:5). God is represented as leaving heaven where He dwells amidst the host of the Angels 1Ki_22:19 and descending in majesty to earth Mic_1:3. [Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible]
As you can see, both the ESV and the ASV, render haggios, as “holy ones” while the King James version renders it as “saints.” Actually, either term fits, so long as it’s understood that haggios can also mean “holy ones” or “angels” as well as holy men! Throughout the Old Testament writings, there are several words used for angelic beings but a different word was used when human beings were meant. That Hebrew word is châsîyd H2623 חסיד From H2616; properly kind, that is, (religiously) pious (a saint): – godly (man), good, holy (one), merciful, saint, [un-] godly. In my search I found that in every instance where a human being, or beings was meant, the word châsîyd is used, and where angelic beings are meant, the words qâdôsh or qôdesh H6944 were used.
Thus, the term for “human saints” in the Old Testament, is châsîyd and the word indicating “angelic beings” is qâdôsh or qôdesh. Why is it important? Because false doctrine (the Pre-trib Rapture) has been built upon assuming the word “saints” ALWAYS means redeemed human beings but as is proven by comparing scripture with scripture and comparing the various terms used for “saints,” the truth is that the KJV doesn’t always discern the difference between the two terms châsîyd and qâdôsh; rendering them both in a few places as simply “saints.” The English Standard Version renders qâdôsh accurately as “holy ones” (or angels), while the KJV rendered the same term inaccurately as “saints.”
Moving on now to the other N.T. verse which states the Christ is coming with his saints –
1Th 3:13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.G40 (In this case, the other bible versions also render haggios, as ‘saints.’)
So, what exactly is going on here? Why would Paul, who wrote first and second Thessalonians, say the opposite in 2Th 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,G32
Well, this seems to present a conundrum, but I’m sure there’s an answer. While I don’t have it at the moment, in the mean time, I’m going to believe the 99% of Scripture which states that Christ is coming with his ANGELS – over the 1% of Scripture which states He’s coming with His SAINTS. And, when I find the answer to this puzzling, seeming contradiction, I’ll come back to this article, and insert it. Until then, I think we can safely conclude that since Jesus is coming back AFTER the Tribulation and sends His “angels” to gather his elect at that time, there can be NO PRE-TRIB RAPTURE OF THE SAINTS. Therefore, the doctrine of a Pre-trib rapture is false, false, false!!! Concocted by two Jesuit priests back in the 1800’s, for the purpose of diverting attention away from the Vatican as being the Great Harlot (apostate church) of Revelation. But please, don’t take my word for any of this. Do your own thorough study about the Jesuit priests and Margaret McDonald (who supposedly had a vision of the pre-trib rapture). [2-3] And remember Jude’s warning: Jud 1:8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. Now, I’m not saying that believers shouldn’t ‘have dreams’ as some dreams come from God and are one of the gifts of His Spirit – but not ALL dreams are from God. Dreams and visions must pass the same test with which we are to test all spirits and spiritual communications – 1Jn 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. *try/test 1) to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals 2) to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy
What I am saying is, if a prophet or anyone has a dream or vision that clearly goes against Scripture, then one should disregard it. This of course doesn’t apply to a Word of Knowledge , dream or vision that involves a particular person or place. God often gives supernatural knowledge to his regenerated ones for the purpose of praying for, encouraging and relieving those who are hurting, depressed, oppressed, etc. These types of messages aren’t usually found in the Bible, so are judged by the ‘witness of the Spirit’ within regenerated souls – 1Jn 5:7 And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is the truth. [ASV] There are many biblical examples in the New Testament and Old, where men of God received supernatural messages from the Spirit of God, to pray about and/or to deliver to others. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are not to be despised or rejected but embraced, albeit with discernment.
WHY THE HOLY SPIRIT CANNOT BE THE RESTRAINER
Since He lives in every true Believer, and as we just read, some believers will REMAIN – be alive when Jesus returns – He must therefore REMAIN on the earth until Jesus comes.
Joh 14:17 even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him: ye know him; for he abideth with you, and shall be in you.
Jesus sent us His Spirit to dwell in and remain with us to the “END.” Mat 28:20(b) And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.“ If the Holy Spirit doesn’t remain on Earth until the end of the Age, then God is a liar! “Let every man be a liar, but let God be TRUE.” (Rm 3:4)
The Holy spirit is the One who draws men unto Jesus and convicts a sinner of sin and of his need for salvation, John 16:7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. John 16:8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, John 16:14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
It’s the Holy Spirit by which a saved individual is “sealed” unto Salvation, Eph 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, Eph 1:14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,
So you see, the Holy Spirit has to be present in order for a person to get saved! If the Holy Spirit is ‘removed’ before the tribulation starts, it would be impossible for anyone to get saved during the Tribulation. Scripture shows us that the Holy Spirit will remain with us to the end of the Age, and that Jesus returns AFTER the tribulation and gathers together his elect.
THE RESTRAINER’S IDENTITY
So, if the Holy Spirit is not the Restrainer, who or what is? The Restrainer is Michael the archangel, ‘protector of Israel.’
“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. (Dan 12:1) It is seen in Scripture more than once that God used his angels to bind up, cast down, and war against “fallen ones,” or Lucifer’s angels. One example, Rev 20:1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. Rev 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, Rev 20:3 and cast him into the abyss, and shut it, and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years should be finished: after this he must be loosed for a little time. More references on Michael the Archangel and how God uses him; Dan 10:21, Jude 1:9, & Rev 12:7.
The ‘book’ in Dan 12:1, “every one that shall be found written in the book” could be referring to the Lamb’s Book of Life – Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. Rev 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Do you see that if your name isn’t found in the Book of Life, you won’t be found in heaven either?! You’re either a bonafide believer in Christ, or you’re not, there’s no in between. When a man was found at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb not wearing proper wedding attire, HE WAS THROWN OUT. No one can enter the wedding feast unless he wears the ROBE OF SALVATION given to him by Jesus Christ when one repents of his sins and receives Him as his Savior, Mat 22:11-13 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
which had not on a wedding garment — The language here is drawn from the following remarkable passage in Zep_1:7, Zep_1:8 : – “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God; for the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, He hath bid His guests. And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.” The custom in the East of presenting festival garments (see Gen_45:22; 2Ki_5:22), even though nor clearly proved, Is certainly presupposed here. It undoubtedly means something which they bring not of their own – for how could they have any such dress who were gathered in from the highways indiscriminately? – but which they receive as their appropriate dress. And what can that be but what is meant by “putting on the Lord Jesus,” as “The Lord Our Righteousness?” (See Psa_45:13, Psa_45:14). Nor could such language be strange to those in whose ears had so long resounded those words of prophetic joy: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels” (Isa_61:10). [Jamieson, Fausset & Brown Commentary]
THOSE WHO BELIEVE ARE SAVED FROM GOD’S WRATH
Believers in Christ whether Jew or Gentile, are saved from God’s wrath, but not spared all tribulation, trials, tests, and persecution. All are called to suffer for His Name’s sake, as have God’s prophets, apostles, priests, and disciples down through the Ages. Why do believers in the twenty-first century think they should be exempt? 1Pet 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 1Pet 4:2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
Some feel that the “wrath of God” refers to the entire Tribulation period, not just the time when God pours out His “vials of wrath” on the wicked as seen in Revelation 16:1-21 where ONLY the wicked and unrepentant upon earth receive God’s wrath. Rev 16:2 And the first went, and poured out his bowl into the earth; and it became a noisome and grievous sore upon the men that had the mark of the beast, and that worshipped his image. Rev 16:9 And men were scorched with great heat: and they blasphemed the name of God who hath the power over these plagues; and they repented not to give him glory. Rev 16:10 And the fifth poured out his bowl upon the throne of the beast; and his kingdom was darkened; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, Rev 16:11 and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they repented not of their works.
They who patiently wait for Jesus in purity and holiness, like a Bride adorned for her husband (Rev 21:2) will be protected from God’s judgments and wrath poured out during the Great Tribulation period, just like Noah and his family were protected in an ark during the great flood (Genesis 7:1-24). Christ is the Ark of believers, who likewise shall be protected from the flood of judgments poured out upon the wicked during the great tribulation. God kept the Israelites safe from the plagues sent upon the Egyptians. Their houses marked with sheep’s blood, symbolizing Christ’s future sacrificial death, was a ‘sign’ that kept the angel of Death from destroying them. Likewise, God’s Born Again children are ‘marked’ with the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ! When God (Yahweh) sees one of His dear children, He sees the Blood of His Son Jesus covering them, and no demon, devil, or destroying angel can snatch them out of His mighty hand!
Jesus prayed to His Father, “Father, I ask not that you take them (believers in Me) out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil.” John 17:15 ‘That thou shouldest take them out of the world – Though they were going into trials and persecutions, yet Jesus did not pray that they might be removed soon from them. It was better that they should endure them, and thus spread abroad the knowledge of his name. It would be easy for God to remove his people at once to heaven, but it is better for them to remain, and show the power of religion in supporting the soul in the midst of trial, and to spread his gospel among men. Shouldest keep them from the evil – This may mean either from the evil one that is, the devil, or from evil in general that is, from apostasy, from sinking in temptation. Preserve them from that evil, or give them such grace that they may endure all trials and be sustained amid them.’ [Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible]
‘Christ doth not pray that his Father would take up his saints out of this sinful and troublesome world into heaven, because he knew that they were to be of use to him for a time in the world; but he prays that the Lord would keep them from the evil one, (so some would have it translated), or from the evil thing; by which we must not understand what is penally and afflictively evil, but only what is sinfully evil: and by his example he hath directed us how we ought to pray; not for death, nor absolutely for a deliverance from the evils and miseries of this life; but that we may be delivered from those temptations to sin, to which a multitude of sharp trials and afflictions will expose even the best of men.’ [Matthew Poole’s Commentary]
PERSECUTION PURIFIES THE CHURCH
“Many shall be purified, and made white,and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. (Dan 12:10) This is a reference to end time persecution of the saints on earth. Both Daniel and Revelation speak to the end time, and what happens to the world and to believers. This has been taught in the majority of evangelistic and mainline protestant denominations.
Unless evidence can be found to the contrary, I conclude that Jesus Christ is coming at the end of the Age with His angels, not His saints. The evidence thus far, doesn’t support a Pre-trib rapture. When Jesus comes, he will judge the wicked, gather his Elect together, and reward the just, all at approximately the same time – as the book of Matthew states. Jesus appears in the clouds first, separates the wicked from the just, then gathers together his elect and disperses his rewards to them. Things and events move very fast in the spiritual realm so each of these events could happen simultaneously yet very quickly, in the “blink of an eye…”
1Co 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
Debra R. Stout © August 31, 2016