Daniel and Paul said a lot of things in common about antichrist. But Paul adds a few very important facts from the revelations given him personally.
First he indicates the difference between what men like Antiochus Epiphanes and Titus did, historically, and what antichrist will do. He claims that antichrist will profane an end- time temple, not by placing an idol in it, not by offering a pig at its altars, but by entering that holy structure himself and proclaiming to the world that he is the God of Israel! He will claim to be God in the flesh!
Paul jumps from that astounding fact to the fact that the Thessalonians should now know (since he visited them and told them, or because of something he just shared) what is holding back the rise of antichrist. If they should know, perhaps we should know too. This is not meant to be a secret. Yet this passage is under contention in most church circles that discuss it. It is as though they too have unwittingly entered into the mystery of the "holding back" of information, as Daniel was told to do in Daniel 12, so that the information would not be lost on persons who did not need it. The more our "scholars" try to unlock these verses, the more bound they become!
The prevalent view is that the one "holding back" or restraining the antichrist and thus Christ's return, is the Holy Spirit. The teaching goes that when the Spirit, which lives in the church, rises with the church and out of the world, before antichrist and before the tribulation, to a safe place in Heaven, then antichrist, who has been waiting for this very thing, is now free to do whatever he wants! He will then rise to power.
Does not compute.
1. The Spirit's presence is not confined to the church. Remember in your own life how the Spirit came from outside of you to the inside of you to bring you to Christ? Before you were in Christ, the Spirit was working with you.
2. The Bible already says that there will be a falling away of truth and righteousness to allow for his rise. It is not the removal of bodies but the removal of faith that gives antichrist the nod in any generation. The Bible gives several examples of Satan fully working his work on the earth, with God's permission, and the Holy Spirit still here. His work on Job and Jesus are two glaring examples. Satan does not need the Spirit's removal, only the Spirit's permission, to do his own evil will on earth.
3. Without the Spirit in the earth, how can those be saved who will indeed come to Christ during the Tribulation period? All of those who contend for a pre-tribulation rapture agree that there are indeed saints here during that evil time, but they refuse to allow that they are part of the Body of Christ, the Church! If they are "saints", holy ones, they had to be saved by the Holy Spirit.
I believe that the concept of "restraining" is not all that complicated. In fact John the revelator gives us a classic example in Revelation 9. There, an angel is given a key to the Bottomless Pit. When the key is used, there is unleashed on earth a plague of "locusts". We are told later that it is out of this same Pit that will come "the beast." Cannot we assume that a similar angel is now restraining this beast, and that at a command from Jesus he will open that Pit once more, and free the one who is now being restrained there?
Another key example is back in the book of Daniel (10-11), where Gabriel tells Daniel that he can only stay a short time because he has to get back into the heavenlies to help Michael fight with the demon spirits of Persia and Greece. Angels under God's direction are restraining world powers all the time, so that everything is done at "the appointed time."
I believe that he who now restrains, using Paul's language (2:7), is indeed an angelic force keeping antichrist in place until the exactly correct time. When the angel is told to step aside ("he is taken out of the way", 2:7) the lawless one will be revealed.
That tells us that the lawless one was being held prisoner in Paul's day (he who now restrains, 2:7). This fact alone rules out the possibility that the coming seventh world emperor, still future in Paul's day and ours, will be "killed with the sword" and rise again as antichrist immediately. Besides that, Daniel 9 confirms that it is the "prince" who both makes and breaks the covenant with Israel. Thus he must reign the full seven years of the period, not split it with that other emperor.
Paul shows us, further, what is revealed by John about how antichrist will surface as a world leader. It seems that every step will be prefaced by a lying wonder or miracle. The part of the world that does not know the true God will have no choice but to believe that this man is God.
So antichrist lives somewhere now, in the netherworld under angelic supervision. When the time is right, he will come to power and fulfill in detail every word of God.
http://chosunhouse.com is a website I put together a few months back to get the word out to believers that they need to pray for North Korea. Just about every day I'm writing a blog featuring some news, a book, or a story of North Korea. There's a live news feed on the site, lists of resources, picture essays, and ways to respond to the overwhelming need in North Korea. Let's love Chosun together!
And who am I? A man found of God over 50 years ago, called to the ministry, serving the Lord as needed in my world. Married, member of a local church in the Chicago area, with full time work in public education. Who are you? Would love to fellowship with believers who respond on my site.