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2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Study: Who is 'The Restrainer'?

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Commentary

2 Thessalonians 2:6 Many ask what is the "restrainer" or “restraining force/thing” or “one who holds it back” so that he [the man of lawlessness] can be revealed. I decided to do a deeper study because I was intrigued.

The Greek words can be translated in different ways, so I decided to do some word studies. I like this bible resource because I don't get the distracting pop-up ads. :)

The Greek word is katechon, or katecho', Strong's number 2772 You can see the definitions and uses yourself:

Some of the definitions, translations or uses stated on that page are: hold fast [as in hold fast in your memory], hold firmly, restrain or hinder, bind, detain, keep, occupy [as in keeping your seat or position], possess or take possession on, lay hold of, suppress, etc.


One Lexicon Definition:

I thought this was interesting. Check out the whole definition what the page says for Thayer's Greek Lexicon, in definition b, about what 'restrainer' means in 2 Thessalonians 2:6 - “Roman emperor”.

My comments: If the Roman empire is part of the Beast system, I suppose it could be the power of the Roman empire holding the Antichrist back until the right time. I suppose it could have been the 'secret power of lawlessness already at work' (v. 7) back in Bible Times, that might have the power to say when the right time is for the 'lawless one' to be revealed. (All under the control of our sovereign God, of course). Who knows? But they did know back then because Paul says in verse 6, "And now you know what is holding him back...".


Instances of word 2772 Used in the Bible:

So I began to look up where the other 18 instances of the Greek word for “restraining force” was used in scripture to give us some ideas. There are 18. I only got through 7 or 8, when I decided that was enough, because it could basically be anything or anyone.

You can see my notes on the instances below. But if you're in a hurry, you can jump through all the mumble-jumble and see what my other ideas of what 'the restrainer' could be below. One, in particular stood out for me (No. 1).

(I used bold type for the thing [or person] who is doing the restraining / keeping / holding / suppressing, etc. and I used italic type for the how the word is used. Check it out. I used this bible study website to look up the interlinear Greek text and Greek words). If you want to see the interlinear text to see the word 2772 and how its translated in each instance, just go to the scripture, then click on Interlinear.

Luke 4:42 The crowds of people who wanted Jesus to stay with them, tried to keep Jesus from leaving their town, but Jesus told them he must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns.

Luke 8:15 The seed that fell on good seed (those with a good and noble heart) who hear the word and retain it (keep in memory).

Luke 14:9 In the parable of the wedding feast, the one who is occupying the best seat, and would be asked to take the seat of least importance.

John 5:4 KJV only has verse 4. It describes the disease that the person was held by. The disease is doing the holding.

Acts 27:40 The ropes that held the rudders of the ship Paul was sailing on.

Romans 1:18 The wicked people who supress the truth by their wickedness.

Romans 7:4-6 4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh, a the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. NIV (Italics and bold used for emphesis).

1 Corinthians 7:30Those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep...” NIV (Partial verse, Italics and bold used for emphesis).

1 Corinthians 11:2 The disciples of the church in Corinth were holding to traditions, as in keeping them or carrying them out (or obeying what someone told you to do).

1 Corinthians 15:2 The disciples of the church in Corinth were told to hold firmly to the word which was preached.


Ideas of What the 'Restrainer' Could Be:  

If it's not what I found in the lexicon above, then these are some other possibilities for you to think about. I like No. 1 the best.

1. The law. Why? Well, the verses are talking about the man of law-lessness. (In my -- very limited -- understanding, 'the restrainer' can also be a thing, its not limited to just being a 'he'). One instance of the word [the Greek word used for 'restrainer or restraining force' in 2 Thess. 2] is in Romans 7:4-6, which talks about the law is what binds [or restrains] us before we have the Spirit. So, then I thought well couldn't it mean the laws that are in place? It doesn't have to mean the restrainer (a person) is taken out of the way, or from the earth. It could just mean a thing that binds him -- like the law -- Until the laws are changed, or taken out of the way, or the Antichrist is released from the law with new laws or executive orders, so that he can carry out his evil plans at the right time. Exactly which laws? I have no idea. I'm not real knowledgeable of the laws, plus the fact that they change rapidly.

2. Satan, or the devil. Along the same lines (See number 1), it could be the laws, or the rules of the one whom the Antichrist serves -- his father, the devil. In other words, the devil could be restraining the Antichrist, because the Satan is the father of the Antichrist, so wouldn't the Antichrist obey him? Wouldn't Satan and his demons have the power to restrain him until the right time for him to be revealed? It never says the restrainer will be taken completely off the earth, only out of the way. (All under the control of God, of course).

3. Angels or demons. Satan also has his angels, doesn't he? Can't they restrain things or people in other scriptures? I'd have to do more research on this.


Is the Holy Spirit 'The Restrainer'?

Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I don't agree with the popular notion that “the restrainer” could be the Holy Spirit. Why? Because it's woven neatly into the pre-trib doctrine, which I no longer agree with. (See my post-trib page for a few of my reasons). If you believe in a post-trib “rapture” or pre-wrath “rapture” / resurrection of believers, then believers would still on the earth during the Great Tribulation, then how could the Holy Spirit be restrained? I don't know. So, this one doesn't make sense to me so far.

I don't know. Maybe none of these are correct. Maybe I'm completely off base. Just my thoughts.

Related articles:

Watch and Pray

Encouragement for End Times

End Times Events

Enduring Hardship


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