“And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way” (II Thess. 2:6-7).
The identity of the Restrainer is the subject of much debate. Some say it is the Holy Spirit. Some say it is the Church. Some say it is both the Holy Spirit and the Church. And there are a few less widely held interpretations.
His identity is important because He is holding back the man of sin, also called the son of perdition (the Antichrist) in verse 3. And if the Restrainer is the Church, this means the Church must be removed from the earth before the Antichrist can appear. And that is a compelling reason to believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
We believe the Restrainer is BOTH the Holy Spirit and the Church for several reasons:
1) If the Restrainer is the Holy Spirit ONLY, removing the Holy Spirit would leave behind a Church that is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. There is no such thing as a Church that is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
2) If the Restrainer is the Holy Spirit ONLY, removing the Holy Spirit would leave the Church behind to go through the worst and most dangerous time the world has ever faced (the Tribulation Period) without the help of the Holy Spirit. This is not like Jesus who said, “I will not leave you comfortless” a reference to the fact that the Holy Spirit will always be with the Church (Jn. 14:18) and “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). This is always true, but it is most especially true at times of great danger.
3) If the Restrainer is the Church ONLY, the removal of the Restrainer would have the Church going to heaven without the Holy Spirit. Again, there is no such thing as a Church that is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
4) If the Restrainer is the Church ONLY, it could not hold back the Antichrist who will receive his power from Satan (Revelation 13:4). The Church could not restrain the Antichrist (and Satan) without the help of the Holy Spirit. The power to restrain evil comes from the Holy Spirit.
AFTER THE RAPTURE
The Holy Spirit works in many ways. He was present at the Creation, but the Church didn’t exist (Genesis 1:2). He came upon Othniel, Gideon and others during Old Testament times, but the Church didn’t exist (Judges 3:9-10; 6:34). He caused holy men of God to write Scripture in Old Testament times, but the Church didn’t exist ((II Peter 1:21). Those who limit the work of the Holy Spirit to the Church don’t understand the Holy Spirit or the many ways He works.
Today, the Holy Spirit baptizes people into the body of Christ, the Church (I Corinthians 12:13). He will continue to save people after the Rapture, but He will turn back to Israel and work like He did in Old Testament times. He will seal the 144,000 Jewish evangelists (Revelation 7:3). He will save multitudes of Gentiles and Jews (Revelation 7:9). He will protect the Two Witnesses for 1260 days (Revelation 11:3). He will be poured out upon the Jews at the Second Coming (Zechariah 12:10). But He won’t baptize people into the Body of Christ.
We can conclude at least five things:
1) The Restrainer is both the Holy Spirit and the Church.
2) The Holy Spirit is empowering the Church to restrain evil.
3) The Holy Spirit and the Church will be removed together before the Antichrist can appear.
4) The Pre-Tribulation Rapture is valid because the Church won’t be here when the Antichrist comes on the scene.
5) God saves people without adding them to the Church which is what will happen when He works through the 144,000, the Two Witnesses after the Rapture.
Prophecy Plus Ministries
Daymond & Rachel Duck