The Restrainer. What, Who, Or Both?

Q. Paul prophesied the removal of a “someone” or “something” that restrains the Antichrist from being revealed. (2 Thes 2:6-8). Paul describes the restrainer as a “what” (neuter in gender in 2:6) and as a “He” (masculine gender in 2:7). Paul taught that the governing authorities are appointed by God to restrain evil (Rom 13:1-4). Could the “what” be the existence of national governments that will not allow the Antichrist’s government to emerge, and the “He” to be God and His sovereign decree to bring the ten nation confederation into unity with the Antichrist (Rev 17:17)?

A. I’ve heard a number of opinions on who the restrainer in 2 Thes. 2:6-8 might be. After eliminating the ones it can’t be, such as the Roman Empire, Paul’s ministry, and Israel, the three most popular candidates are the system of law and government, the archangel Michael, and the Holy Spirit.

I don’t think the fact that the restrainer is described as a “what” in verse 6 and more specifically a “who” in verse 7 means two different forces are involved. I think Paul was narrowing the focus from an entity to a person. By doing this he eliminated the world’s governmental system as a possibility.

As for it being Michael, just at the time the proponents of this view have Michael being taking out of the way so the anti-Christ can take over, Daniel 12:1-2 has Michael standing up to defend Israel against him. It doesn’t make sense.

That leaves the Holy Spirit, who in my opinion is the only logical choice. The “what” in verse 6 describes the restraining influence and the “who” in verse 7 refers to the restrainer Himself. There’s also Biblical precedent for this. According to Genesis 6:3 the Holy Spirit was also taken out of the way before the Great Flood. As it was in the days of Noah?

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