9 September 2011

The Restrainer

Jacob vying with the angel

His Core Attributes
The "Spiritual Princes"
The "Little Horn"
The "Prince of the Host"
Note: All scriptural references from the KJV Bible

By Martin Nicodemus

From human government to the Roman Empire, European Christendom to the Christian Church, Restrainer theories abound.

However, I would like to concentrate on the most prevalent, yet fallacious of them: which claims the Church is withholding the man of sin from being revealed. And, as the hypothesis goes, that when it is “raptured”, this refers to the Restrainer being removed. I have several problems with this.

Paul said immediately prior to the man of sin being revealed a falling away would come first. (2Th 2:3) Evidently, the Church would be in a state of widespread apostasy. How then could it be acting as a restraint? It is precisely because there is a falling away the Restrainer is removed. This exempts the Church as Restrainer.

Moreover, Paul said — “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand”. (2Th 2:2) If it were merely the case they would be “raptured” away, so escaping the evil to come, what cause would there be for them to be consoled? But he told them — “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition —”. (2Th 2:3)

The reason they had no cause to “be soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand”, is as the man of sin had not yet been revealed.

His Core Attributes

That he cannot possibly be alluding to a thing, but instead a Person, is evident by his words, when he said — “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time”. (2Th 2:6) For one to be withheld — or restrained — requires an even stronger to do the withholding — or restraining. (Though, granted, it may be something else doing the restraining, however this is highly unlikely indeed given his following words:)

Paul said — “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way”. (2Th 2:7) Now, there are a number of key points we need to take into account here.
  1. Paul refers to the Restrainer in the masculine pronoun — “until he be taken out of the way”.
  2. His use of the reflexive pronoun — “only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way” — suggesting the one doing the letting and being taken are both one and the same.
  3. The verb describing the manner of his departure — “until he be taken out of the way”.
Furthermore, until the one who is acting as the restraint is taken — or removed out of the way — the man of sin could not be revealed. Paul said:

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2Th 2:8-12)

The question is: where did he acquire this knowledge from?

Therefore whoever is acting as the restrainer, be they man or spirit, they are immensely powerful indeed.

So might the Bible provide any other illustrations of all-powerful beings that are acting as a restraint?

The “Spiritual Princes”

Not many are considered special enough to have received a visitation from an angel. Daniel is one of them. We read of his account in chapter ten of the book of Daniel.

Here, for the first time, it is revealed him the spiritual warfare being waged in the earthly realm. Beginning in verse ten:

And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. (Dan 10:10-13)

Archangel Michael defeating Satan
Now pay very close attention to what the angel says.

He tells him — “the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days”. (Dan 10:13) This suggesting a spiritual vying taking place, of good verses evil. And though it cannot be perceived by the natural eye, the repercussions of it far outlast Daniel's time way into the future.

But also that the one whom is doing the resisting is no benevolent prince.

This beckons the question: how could an earthly prince contend with a spiritual being that he is not even able to see let alone equal in power?1 It makes absolutely no sense at all! The angel said:

Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince. (Dan 10:20-21)

It turns out these are no vying earthly princes after all: they are angels!

So could that imply Michael the archangel is acting as Restrainer?

The “Little Horn”

In Daniel 8, he received yet another startling revelation. It involved a ram and a male goat battling it out for supremacy: the latter being the dominant, and so it gained the upper hand.

However, when it became mighty its great horn is broken, and “for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.

And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered. (Dan 8:9-12)

Now what is important to understand is the “little horn” is in direct opposition with all who dare stand in its way. Notice it even exalts itself against the host of heaven! It reads — “and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them”.2

Daniel – 2 Thessalonians 2 Timeline

When Daniel sought after the true meaning Gabriel was sent, who proceeded to impart to him the rightful understanding. He told him:

And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days. (Dan 8:23-26)

Now what may not be immediately obvious at first glance is that his words closely tie in with those of Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2.

Yet Daniel is told: “Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down”. (Dan 8:11)

Who is this Prince of the host?

The “Prince of the Host”

Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? (Mat 26:53)

That Michael, or any other archangel for that matter, does not fit the description of the prince of the host is apparent by Gabriel's words, when he said — “he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand”. (Dan 8:25) Now we know this is with direct reference to one “Messiah the Prince”, as spoken of in Daniel 9:25; yet also that he is linked with a sanctuary and a sacrifice, as mentioned of in chapter eight and verse eleven. This is most significant indeed.

Paul said the man of sin could not be revealed until “he who now letteth is taken out of the way”. (2Th 2:7) What is unmistakable is how his words correlate exactly with those of Daniel concerning “the daily sacrifice”.

Admittedly, both are in full agreement as to whatever is doing the restraining, it is a he; that he is in possession of a sanctuary; and that he will eventually be taken out of the way. This can be no coincidence.

So might the Bible offer an even more compelling example of this?

At Gethsemane fear and suspicion permeated the air like a thick dense fog with the morbid expectation something terrible was at hand.† And though Jesus had on many prior occasions forewarned his disciples, their eyes were heavy and their ears waxed dull of hearing.‡ By the time they realised what was upon them it was already too late.

Jesus said, “Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me”. (Mat 26:45-46)

It was afterwards they realised he said: “All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad”. (cr Mat 26:31; Zec 13:7)

“Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?” (Luk 22:53)
No sooner had he spoken these words than, “Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people”. (cr Mat 26:47; Dan 8:12)

Strangely, Jesus told those who came for him: “When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness”. (cr Luk 22:53; Dan 8:12)

Immediately following this, “Then took they him”. (cr Luk 22:54; Dan 8:11b)

Judas suddenly is revealed as betrayer. (cr Jhn 17:12; 2 Th 2:3)

In the pandemonium that ensued they all “forsook him, and fled”. (cr Mar 14:50; Dan 8:11c)

† "That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand". (2Th 2:2)
‡ "While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept". (Mat 25:5)

There is only one Prince to which Scripture bears witness whom: withholds the forces of darkness; (Col 2:15) and who offers himself up daily as a sacrifice for sins; (Heb 7:27) and who is in possession of his sanctuary. (Heb 8:2)

That is the Prince of princes, Jesus Christ!

It is no wonder Daniel confessed to, “And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days”. (Dan 8:27)

So what might the implication of this possibly mean?

Paul was not drawing on any esoteric knowledge he possessed, though clearly he was in possession of it; he was reciting the wise age-old words of the Old Testament sage Daniel. This knowledge would have been passed down and readily available to the Church of the time (hence his words: “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?”; 2 Th 2:5), however, slowly but surely it became lost on them, only for there to be a sudden welling up in the true knowledge's availability at the time of the end.

The angel said:

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro [in search of the true knowledge], and [spiritual] knowledge shall be increased. (Dan 12:4) [My emphasis]

The implication being that spiritual wickedness in very high places is at work in this world, with the intent of subjugating all. (See Dan 8:12; Eph 6:12) It culminates in the heart of true worship, the Church — the temple or the sanctuary — of Jesus Christ, being thoroughly compromised. (See Dan 11:31; 2 Th 2:4)

The prince, also known as “the little horn”, is none other than the prince of this world, Satan; (See Jhn 14:30; Dan 9:26) “the man of sin”, his duty-bound slaves made up of once-called chosen ones who, like Judas, now inadvertently are on the wrong side, doing his will and bringing about his desired end.

The Restrainer, whom Daniel refers to as “the daily sacrifice” and prince of the host, is none other than the Holy Spirit of God who is restraining “that Wicked [from being] revealed”. (2Th 2:8) However, when he is taken out of the way, that is when he presumptuously makes his move and takes his seat in the temple of God, showing himself to be God.3 (See 2 Th 2:4; 2 Th 2:7; Dan 11:36)

Moreover, Daniel is shown: “And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate”. (Dan 11:31) If the Holy Spirit is taken then the “abomination of desolation” can only be what remains in his place — utter spiritual desolation!4 (See Dan 9:27; Mat 24:15) If it is only just beginning to dawn on you the full implication of what is happening now would be the right time to flee! (See Mar 13:14)

Most deceptive of all this subtle shift in spiritual authority that is presently underway is happening in such a way so as not to be perceived.

I end on a more hopeful note from the Book of Daniel:

† “And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses”. (Act 3:15)
‡ “And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 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 12:9-10)


1. To think contemporary Christian "understanding" takes this to mean an actual earthly prince or leader! It is utterly preposterous, if not downright perilous!
2. Contrast this with Revelation 12, where it speaks of the devil and his angels being cast down to the earth. We are told: “And his [the dragon's] tail drew the third part of the stars [or host] of heaven, and did cast them to the earth”. (Rev 12:4) Moreover, it says: “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him”. (Rev 12:7-9) The language is no different. If you are telling me this speaks of a literal flesh-and-blood Antichrist person taking on the angels of heaven and causing one third of them to fall to the earth, I will eat my hat!
3. The temple of God can also refer to the believer's bodily temple, as when Paul said: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1Cr 6:19) As Satan was easily able to enter Judas, be very careful he does not you! (See Luk 12:39; 22:3)
4. In this respect, the “abomination of desolation” could also be the void once occupied in a believer's heart by the Holy Spirit — that is occupied by Him no longer! The “restraint” has been removed; they are wilfully engaging in their sin. (See 2 Th 2:12; Jhn 9:4-5)