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. And then shall that Wicked be revealed.…
— 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8
If Satan has been waiting to introduce the antichrist to the world, what is stopping him from allowing this evil leader to step onto the platform of the world stage right now? Why is it taking so long for the devil to finally bring this man to public attention?
Paul answered this question when he wrote Second Thessalonians 2:6-8. He said, “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. 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.”
Notice that Paul says, “And now ye know.…” In the Greek, the sentence could be better translated, “Now, since I have already told you all these things, you ought to already know….” This is important, for it tells us that Paul had already informed the Thessalonian believers about events that would occur in the last days.
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Paul had only spent a mere matter of months with the Thessalonian church; we can therefore see from this passage of Scripture the importance he attached to their ability to understand end-time events. In the short time Paul was with the Thessalonian believers, he had instructed them so well on the events of the last days that he could now tell them, “Since I have already told you all these things, you ought to already know….”
Let me ask you this: If Paul used part of his brief stay with the Thessalonian church to teach them about the events that would occur in the last days, doesn’t this tell us that our understanding of this subject should be a very high priority? We can’t shut our eyes to these truths of Scripture. If Paul considered this theme so important that he would introduce it to a group of new believers, how much more do we who are seasoned believers need to grasp what the Bible teaches about the last days?
Paul told the Thessalonian believers that a Force “withholdeth” the antichrist from being revealed. Although the Greek doesn’t specifically state the identity of the restraining Force in this verse, it seems to suggest that Paul is referring to the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.
Think of it — what if the power of the Spirit of God was suddenly withdrawn or removed from the earth? It would be only a brief matter of time before the devil quickly consummated his dream of world domination. You see, the Holy Spirit is the Great Restrainer, and He is holding back this evil from coming to pass in the world today.
The King James Version uses the word “withholdeth” to describe this restraining work of the Spirit. In Greek, it is the word katecho and carries the idea of holding something down or suppressing something. It is clear that this is an evil so horrendous that it must be held down, held back, or suppressed lest it be loosed to release a wide range of wicked effects. The supernatural Force Paul refers to is stalling, delaying, and postponing the evil that is craving to be fully released and set into operation.
Peter tells us why the Spirit of God is stalling, delaying, and postponing this dreadful time at the end of the age. In Second Peter 3:9, he says that God is “…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” God is holding back the ultimate day of evil to give unbelievers more time to come to Him in repentance. But a day is soon coming when the Great Restrainer will “…be taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
When this day comes, the hindering Power that has continuously delayed the worldwide domination of evil and lawlessness will be removed. It will be as though He is suddenly lifted out of the middle of everything. At that moment, the evil forces that have long been suppressed will suddenly be freed, and their wicked plans, purposes, and desires will be abruptly energized. When the supernatural hindering Force is removed, these events will quickly come to pass with no hesitation, for the Restrainer will be out of the picture.
Once the Restrainer is gone, the antichrist will “be revealed.” The word “revealed” is the word apokalupto. The Greek word apo means away, and the word kalupto refers to something that is veiled, covered, concealed, or hidden. When these two words are compounded, they form the word apokalupto, which depicts a veil that has been removed, exposing what is behind the veil that was previously concealed or hidden from view. When the Holy Spirit’s restraining power has been withdrawn, there will no longer be any force present to hold back the evil forces. Therefore, this evil leader who has been concealed and hidden from public view will suddenly “appear.” In that moment, it will seem as if a stage curtain has been pulled out of the way so that he can make his grand appearance to the world.
Taking all these Greek words into consideration, an interpretive translation of Second Thessalonians 2:6-8 could read this way:
“Now in light of everything I’ve told you before, you ought to be well aware by now that there is a supernatural Force at work, preventing the materialization of this person and the disclosure of his identity.
“This restraining Force I’m referring to is so strong that it is currently putting on the brakes and holding back the unveiling of this wicked person, stalling and postponing his manifestation. But when the right moment comes, this evil one will no longer be withheld, and he will emerge on the world scene! The screen that has been hiding his true identity and guarding him from world view will suddenly be pulled back and evaporate — and he will step out on center stage to let everyone know who he is.
“These events have been covertly in the making for a long time, but the world doesn’t realize that a secret plan is being executed right under their own noses. The only thing that has kept this plan from already being consummated is the supernatural Force that has been holding it all back until now.
“But one day this Force will be removed from the picture — and when that happens, these events will quickly transpire. The removal of this restraining Force will signal the moment when the Lawless One will finally make his grand appearance to the world….”
Can you image how quickly evil would take over the world if the Spirit of God stopped restraining the presence of evil? Because God is holding back this force of evil to give men more time to repent, we are still living in a period of grace when men can call on the name of the Lord and be saved. We are truly living in a season of grace that God is extending to the world just before the worst evil in human history is manifested on the earth.
If you haven’t been spending much time in prayer for your unsaved friends and loved ones, why don’t you start making it a high priority today to pray for their salvation? Right now God is holding back evil so that your friends — and all mankind — may have one last opportunity to come to Him in repentance before the end of the age is consummated and all the prophecies of the Bible are fulfilled.
Which of your friends need to be saved? How often do you pray for them? What are you doing to ensure that they have an opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ? If you possess the answers they need but don’t share those answers with them, how do you think you will feel when you stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ?
If you do your best to introduce your loved ones to Jesus but they refuse to listen, at least your heart will be free of guilt on that day when you stand before Jesus. So why don’t you begin to pray for them today? And while you’re in that place of prayer, ask the Holy Spirit to give you another chance to share the Gospel with those whom you know and love!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I thank You for holding back the evil forces that want to manifest in the world today. It’s hard to imagine what the world would be like if Your Spirit no longer suppressed the evil in the hearts of men. I thank You for working in the world today, and I thank You for giving my friends, family, associates, and acquaintances one last chance to come to You. Please help me recognize divinely appointed moments when I can present the Gospel to those who are near me. And I ask You to help me formulate my words so they can understand what I am communicating to them. Holy Spirit, as I speak to people, I ask You to do the work of conviction in their hearts so they will have a desire to believe and to repent.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am sensitive to opportunities that God gives me to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t have a spirit of fear about witnessing. Because the power of the Holy Spirit lives inside me, I am brave, bold, and courageous when it comes to telling the Good News of Jesus Christ. People need the Gospel — and that means they need to hear what I have to tell them. When I speak, God’s Spirit anoints me and people listen. As a result of my obedience, I am being used by God to bring many people to salvation in these last days!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Who are the unbelieving family members, friends, associates, or acquaintances you are most concerned about? Have you ever put them on a prayer list to help remind you to pray for their salvation every day?
2. Before you were saved, did anyone pray regularly for your salvation? Who was that person? After you came to the Lord, didn’t it make you thankful that someone cared enough to pray for you? Have you ever taken the time to thank that person for making your salvation a high priority in his or her prayer time?
3. Is there someone you are going to see today who might be open if you shared the Good News that Jesus died for him or her? Who is that person?