Who Is “The Restrainer”?
II Thessalonians 2:5-12 (New King James Version)
5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.
8 And 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 coming.
9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,
10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,
12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
If you read the NKJV, the translators capitalize the pronouns in verse seven clearly leading all to believe “the restrainer” is the Lord.
But is that accurate?
The King James version was based upon the highly-reliable Textus Receptus manuscripts. The New King James, however, was not a modern English update of the KJV. Critical changes to Scripture were made. Although the 1982 preface to the New King James states the intent is only to take the Elizabethan language1 and make it understandable in modern English, the translators failed to mention that changes would be made according to the Septuagint and even Jerome’s Latin Vulgate!
Other translations are noticeably different.
II Thessalonians 2:5-12 (New American Standard Bible)
5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?
6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.
8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;
9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,
10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.
11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false,
12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
So who is “the Restrainer”? Does this help us understand who anti-Christ will be? What is the “strong delusion”?
Often, it is assumptions that lead to biased and incorrect exegesis of Scripture. Such is frequently an error of the Western mindset. A Buddhist saw tells us—
If you wish to know the truth, hold no opinions.2
Daniel’s 70 Weeks
A similar confusion of pronouns can be found in an even more important passage; Daniel’s “70 Weeks”—the Prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27.
Sadly, there are no English translations that show this Prophecy in its clarity.
Daniel 9:24-27 (New International Version)
24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.
25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.
26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.
27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
In one of the most important passages of Scripture are mixed two seminal yet diametrically-opposed figures; the Anointed Messiah and the Destroyer—the anti-Messiah (although not equal in power).
The key to interpretation is found in the final verse. The one who puts an end to the sacrifice and offering must be evil, mustn’t he? The “covenant” must be a future, 7-year covenant, mustn’t it?
In Scripture, there are only two Covenants—the first is the Covenant between YHWH and His People given by Moses. It was a Covenant His People could not keep [Acts 15:7-11], one that was only meant to hold them and point them toward a new Covenant [Galatians 3:19-24]. This New Covenant was radically different from the old—rather than written on tablets of stone and impossible to keep, this One would be written on the hearts of God’s People and they would keep it out of love for Him! [Jeremiah 31:31-34]
In this light a literal reading of the Prophecy produces a radically different interpretation.
Daniel 9:24-27 (Young’s Literal Translation)
24 ‘Seventy weeks are determined for thy people, and for thy holy city, to shut up the transgression, and to seal up sins, and to cover iniquity, and to bring in righteousness age-during, and to seal up vision and prophet, and to anoint the holy of holies.
25 And thou dost know, and dost consider wisely, from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem till Messiah the Leader [is] seven weeks, and sixty and two weeks: the broad place hath been built again, and the rampart, even in the distress of the times.
26 And after the sixty and two weeks, cut off is Messiah, and the city and the holy place are not his, the Leader who hath come doth destroy the people; and its end [is] with a flood, and till the end [is] war, determined [are] desolations.
27 And he hath strengthened a covenant with many — one week, and [in] the midst of the week he causeth sacrifice and present to cease, and by the wing of abominations he is making desolate, even till the consummation, and that which is determined is poured on the desolate one.’
There are flip-flopping contrasts floating between verses 26 and 27; first Messiah arrives at the appointed time but is “cut off”. Then, anti-Messiah comes (from the anti-Messiah people) and will destroy the Sanctuary and make desolate with a “flood” (flooding waters often are a Biblical metaphor for many people). Contrasting again, Messiah will re-affirm the Old Covenant but only for a single “week” (7 years). Halfway through, He will cause the sacrifice to become obsolete and impossible to continue both physically and spiritually.
John 2:13-22 (Modern English Version)
13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14 In the temple He found those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers sitting there.
15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. He poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.
16 He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!”
17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house will consume Me.”
18 Then the Jews said to Him, “What sign do You show us, seeing that You do these things?”
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”
21 But He was speaking concerning the temple of His body.
22 Therefore, when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them. And they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.
Matthew 23:37-24:2 (Modern English Version)
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you, how often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not!”
38 “Look, your house is left to you desolate.”
39 “For I tell you, you shall not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
1 Jesus departed from the temple and was leaving when His disciples came to show Him the temple buildings.
2 Jesus answered them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another that shall not be thrown down.”
Most bizarre of all, both Messiah and anti-Messiah work together to fulfill the Prophetic Divine Will!
It was intended for Messiah to re-affirm the Old Covenant with His 7-year ministry (beginning at His Baptism by John).
Halfway through His Ministry, traitorous Jewish leaders intent on killing anyone who threatened their power, seditiously worked with real power in Judea to have the Anointed One murdered without just cause (“not for Himself”).
A short time later, the people of the coming anti-Christ devastated Jerusalem and leveled the Temple down to its last foundation stone—Romans.
Gessius Florus loved money and hated Jews. As Roman procurator, he ruled Judea, caring little for their religious sensibilities. When tax revenues were low, he seized silver from the temple. As the uproar against him grew, in A.D. 66, he sent troops into Jerusalem who massacred 3,600 citizens. Florus’s action touched off an explosive rebellion—the First Jewish Revolt—that had been sizzling for some time.
Launching the Revolt
The Jewish Revolt began—and met its bitter end—at Masada, a hunk of rock overlooking the Dead Sea. The Romans had built a virtually impregnable fortress there. Yet the atrocities of Florus inspired some crazy Zealots to attack Masada. Amazingly, they won, slaughtering the Roman army there.
In Jerusalem, the temple captain signified solidarity with the revolt by stopping the daily sacrifices to Caesar. Soon all Jerusalem was in an uproar, expelling or killing the Roman troops. Then all Judea was in revolt; then Galilee.
Cestius Callus, the Roman governor of the region, marched from Syria with twenty thousand soldiers. He besieged Jerusalem for six months, yet failed. He left six thousand dead Roman soldiers, not to mention weaponry that the Jewish defenders picked up and used.
Emperor Nero then sent Vespasian, a decorated general, to quell the Judean rebellion. Vespasian put down the opposition in Galilee, then in Transjordan, then in Idumea. He circled in on Jerusalem. But before the coup de grace, Nero died. Vespasian became embroiled in a leadership struggle that concluded with the eastern armies calling for him to be emperor. One of his first imperial acts was to appoint his son Titus to conduct the Jewish War.
Crushing the Revolt
By now, Jerusalem was isolated from the rest of the nation, and factions within the city fought over strategies of defense. As the siege wore on, people began dying from starvation and plague. The high priest’s wife, who once basked in luxury, scavenged for crumbs in the streets.
Meanwhile the Romans employed new war machines to hurl boulders against the city walls. Battering rams assaulted the fortifications. Jewish defenders fought all day and struggled to rebuild the walls at night. Eventually the Romans broke through the outer wall, then the second wall, and finally the third wall. Still the Jews fought, scurrying to the temple as their last line of defense.
That was the end for the valiant Jewish defenders and for the temple. Historian Josephus claimed that Titus wanted to preserve the temple, but his soldiers were so angry at their resilient opponents that they burned it. The remaining Jews were slaughtered or sold as slaves.
The Zealot band that took Masada held it for at least three more years. When the Romans finally built their siege ramp and invaded the mountain fortress, they found the defenders dead—they had committed suicide to avoid being captured by foreigners.
Results of the Revolt
The Jewish Revolt marked the end of the Jewish state until modern times. The destruction of the temple also signified a change in the Jews’ worship…3
Understanding the Romans as the people of the anti-Christ is the key to unlocking the proper understanding of these passages. The Romans would later become “Holy Romans”, mutating just as Daniel predicted into a Beast very different from the three previous Beasts (empires) given to both Daniel and Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel 7:1-8 (Modern English Version)
1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his mind while on his bed. Then he wrote the dream and told the sum of the matters.
2 Daniel spoke and said: I saw in my vision by night the four winds of the heaven striving upon the Mediterranean Sea.
3 Four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse from one another.
4 The first was like a lion and had eagle’s wings. I watched until its wings were plucked and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.
5 Another beast appeared, a second, like a bear, and it raised itself up on one side, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said to it, “Arise, devour much flesh.”
6 After this I looked and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a fowl. The beast also had four heads. And dominion was given to it.
7 After this I saw in the visions at night a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and exceedingly strong. And it had great iron teeth. It devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the rest with its feet. And it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.
8 I considered the horns, when there came up among them another little horn before whom three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
This Fourth and Final Beast was unlike the previous three because she would control in secret. This way, she would spread tendrils across civilization.
Now, instead of enforcing her will by posting soldiers on every street corner, she would co-opt the soldiers and officials of each nation she conquered and they would do her will in secret!
Daniel’s vision was in perfect harmony with the dream he interpreted for King Nebuchadnezzar in Chapter 2 of a great statue which had a head of gold (Babylon), a torso of silver (Medo/Persia), loins of brass (Greece), legs and feet of iron (Rome).
Notice how the teeth of the Final Beast were the same material as the legs in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream: iron.
But this new “Holy Roman Empire” knew she had been predicted in Scripture and went about wiping off her bloody fingerprints, leaving only faded clues behind.
The 1517 Reformation initiated by Martin Luther gave new light which explained that the entire office of the Papacy was anti-Christ.
The theme became very popular in the late Middle Ages among the Fraticelli, Wycliffites, and Hussites, who identified the popes with the Antichrist soon to be overthrown. Luther was unwittingly in line with these sectaries, with one significant difference, however.
Whereas they identified particular popes, because of their evil lives, with Antichrist, Luther held that every pope was Antichrist even though personally exemplary, because Antichrist is collective: an institution, the papacy, a system which corrupts the truth of Christ.
That was why Luther could repeatedly address Leo X in terms of personal respect only a week or so after blasting him as Antichrist.4
The Jesuit-run Counter-Reformation began immediately upon Luther’s break. Unable to destroy the movement by the brute force of the Inquisition’s burning pyres and instruments of torture, they embarked upon a new strategy to compromise and discredit Scripture.
Again, the keepers of Truth became an underground minority.
Despite their creation by Freemason William Miller, Seventh Day Adventists remained as the sole keeper of the torch of Luther.
Adventist scholar Uriah Smith confirmed these interpretations for us in the 19th century.
Commenting on the prophecy that the little horn should “wear out the saints of the Most High,” Barnes, in his Notes on Dan.7:25, says: “Can any one doubt that this is true of the papacy? The Inquisition, the persecutions of the Waldenses, the ravages of the Duke of Alva, the fires of Smithfield, the tortures of Goa, — indeed, the whole history of the papacy, may be appealed to in proof that this is applicable to that power. If anything could have worn out the saints of the Most High, — could have cut them off from the earth so that evangelical religion would have become extinct, — it would have been the persecutions of the papal power. In year 1208 a crusade was proclaimed by Pope Innocent III against the Waldenses and Albigenses, in which a million men perished. From the beginning of the order of Jesuits in the year 1540 to 1580, nine hundred thousand were destroyed. One hundred and fifty thousand perished by the Inquisition in thirty years. In the Low Countries fifty thousand persons were hanged, beheaded, burned, or buried alive, for the crime of heresy, within the space of thirty-eight years from the edict of Charles V against the Protestants to the peace of Chateau Cambresis in 1559. Eighteen thousand suffered by the hand of the executioner in the space of five years and a half, during the administration of the Duke of Alva. Indeed, the slightest acquaintance with the history of the papacy will convince any one that what is here said of ‘making war with the saints’ ([Daniel 7] verse 21), and ‘wearing out the saints of the Most High’ (verse 25), is strictly applicable to that power, and will accurately describe its history.” (See Buck’s Theological Dictionary, art., Persecutions: Oswald’s Kingdom, etc., pp.107-133; Dowling’s History of Romanism; Fox’s Book of Martyrs: Charlotte Elizabeth’s Martyrology; The Wars of the Huguenots; The Great Red Dragon, by Anthony Gavin, formerly one of the Roman Catholic priests of Saragossa, Spain; Histories of the Reformation, etc.) …
“The prince of the covenant” unquestionably refers to Jesus Christ, “the Messiah the Prince,” who was to “confirm the covenant” one week with his people. Dan. 9:25-27. The prophet, having taken us down to the death of Tiberius, now mentions incidentally an event to transpire in his reign, so important that it should not be passed over; namely, the cutting off of the Prince of the covenant, or in other words, the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to the prophecy, this took place in the reign of Tiberius. Luke informs us (3:1-3) that in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, John the Baptist commenced his ministry. The reign of Tiberius is to be reckoned, according to Prideaux, Dr. Hales, Lardner, and others, from his elevation to the throne to reign jointly with Augustus, his step-father, in August, A.D. 12. His fifteenth year would therefore be from August, A.D. 26, to August, A.D. 27. Christ was six months younger than John, and is supposed to have commenced his ministry six months later, both, according to the law of the priesthood, entering upon their work when they were thirty years of age. If John commenced in the spring, in the latter portion of Tiberius’s fifteenth year, it would bring the commencement of Christ’s ministry in the autumn of A.D. 27; and right here the best authorities place the baptism of Christ, it being the exact point where the 483 years from B.C. 457, which were to extend to the Messiah the Prince, terminated; and Christ went forth proclaiming that the time was fulfilled. From this point we go forward three years and a half to find the date of the crucifixion; for Christ attended but four Passovers, and was crucified at the last one. Three and a half years from the autumn of A.D. 27 bring us to the spring of A.D. 31. The death of Tiberius is placed but six years later, in A.D. 37.5
Who Is The Restrainer?
Now with the proper understanding we can return to our original question.
It was well understood be even “Church Fathers” like Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, (c. 155 – 240 AD)—better known to us as “Tertullian”.
Dealing with the eschatological section of Paul’s first Epistle to the Thessalonians, Tertullian asks: ‘What archangel’s voice, what trump of God, is now heard, except it be forsooth in the entertainments of the heretics? ‘He also points out that in the second Epistle to the Thessalonians Paul bids them not be troubled by false prophets, who teach that the day of the Lord is at hand. For that day shall not come, unless there first comes a falling away, and the appearance of Antichrist. The Antichrist cannot, however, come until he who now hinders shall be taken out of the way. The ‘one who now hinders’ is the Roman Empire. ‘What obstacle is there but the Roman state, the falling away of which, by being scattered |p210 into ten kingdoms, shall introduce Antichrist upon (its own ruins.)’6
The anti-Christ office of the Papacy could not materialize unless the military office of the Roman Empire first disappeared.
Learning Against Learning
So if the early Church knew Rome was the 4th and Final Beast, and Protestants knew the Papacy was the anti-Christ, why isn’t it common knowledge today?
With Rome so clearly depicted as the 4th and final Beast of both Daniel and Revelation, Jesuits needed to disconnect Christians from that interpretation and they used Preterism and Futurism to do it.
Preterism is the idea that most of prophecy has already taken place. It was concocted by a Jesuit.
Preterism was first advanced in 1604 by Jesuit Luis de Alcasar to destroy the Reformed Protestant teaching that the papacy was Mystery Babylon, the Great Whore and the historical Antichrist. …
Preterism wasn’t accepted by large groups of Protestants and an alternative interpretation of the End Times was put forth.
Futurism is more appealing in that it acknowledges that much of prophecy is yet future but it distracts from the 4th Beast and paints the anti-Christ as a man who suddenly appears just before the Tribulation and who stands alone, apart from any organization or system.
It, too, was fabricated by a Jesuit.
Francisco Ribera (1537-1591) of Salamanca, Spain, published a 500 page commentary on the grand points of Babylon and Antichrist, the object being to set aside the Protestant teaching that the Papacy is the Antichrist. In his commentary, he assigned the first chapters of Revelation to the first century. The rest he restricted to a literal three and a half years a the end of time. He taught that the Jewish temple would be rebuilt by a single individual antichrist who would abolish the Christian religion, deny Christ, pretend to be God, and conquer the world.8 …
Ribera’s commentary laid the foundation for the greater structure of Futurism, which would be built upon and expanded by those who followed. Ribera’s teaching was further popularized by Robert Bellarmine (1544-0621), an Italian cardinal and the most renowned of all Jesuit controversialists.10
After accepting the Jesuits’ Futurist System (and the Preterist System…) millenarian Protestants no longer saw Rome as a present but only a distant future threat.11 We should also mention Irving’s system saw no hope of victory over the present forces of evil except “by the brightness of his coming” in the second advent. With no hope, why try to conquer all things for Christ? ~ Death of the Church Victorious, Ovid Need557 7
Perhaps such a complete accomplishment seems impossible—no organization on Earth could so thoroughly control the understanding of almost all Christendom … could it?
“Unless those days were shortened, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Listen, I have told you beforehand.” ~ Matthew 24:22-25 (Modern English Version)
UPDATE 29 March 2017, 01:31 PM, EST
The dichotomy and contrast between the old Mosaic Covenant and new Covenant in Messiah Jesus Christ can clearly be seen in this passage from Jeremiah where even physically circumcised Jews are called “uncircumsized”—
Jeremiah 9:25-26, (Modern English Version)
25 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, that I will punish all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised—
26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the children of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the wilderness who clip the hair on their temples; for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart.
The meaning is clear: true Faith in YHWH (through His Son) is a radical change of the heart. Righteousness is kept from within, not by memorization, legalism or rote.