May 4, 2009
I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
I missed posting last week. My internet connection was out of commission. There is so much going on; it is an extremely exciting time to be alive! We have been taking a look at some key verses in 2 Thessalonians 2. If you will recall last time we looked in depth at verses 3 and 4. To get back “up to speed” this week this passage reads in The New King James Version,
3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. [2 Thess. 2:3, 4 NKJV] Of course you will recall we said that the phrase “that day” refers to the “day of Christ” referred to in the previous verse, and that it can be used interchangeably with terms like “the Day of the Lord” and “the Day of God”, which are terms used to describe the Day of Judgment or the Great Tribulation period.
Two things will proceed this day. First, the “falling away”, from the Greek apostasia, which means a “falling away or rebellion.” This is the most common translation of the word. However, as I believe we demonstrated last time, this word can also be translated “departure.” Many scholars through the years have translated it thusly, and I believe it indeed does best fit the context of the passage. I submit to you that it refers to the departure of the Church at the rapture where the dead in Christ will rise first, and then those of us who are alive and remain will be “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air, so as to ever be with the Lord. What a day that will be!
After the apostasia or departure, the Bible says that the “man of sin is revealed.” The word translated, revealed is from the Greek apokalypto, and it refers to an unveiling or uncovering, or revealing of that which had before been hidden. There is an individual, and I believe he is in the world today, which is being groomed and prepared to emerge in these last of the Last Days as the leader of a one world government, funded by a single currency, in a world no longer separated by borders, cultures, ethnicities, creeds, or religion. All who have not loved the truth will be sent “strong delusion” and will believe “the lie.”
Who is this person? He is referred to by various terms such as, “The Beast”, “The man of sin”; “The son of perdition”, and as The Apostle John refers to him, the most commonly used title; “Antichrist.” There has been much speculation among well-meaning ministers and Bible teachers as to his identity. Men such as; Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and Napoleon Bonaparte have been identified as this one who should come. In more recent history Presidents Ronald Reagan, Clinton, and Obama have all been branded the “antichrist.” While I agree that some of these individuals have demonstrated an antichrist spirit, none of them is this final one who will be revealed.
Speculation while often interesting is useless as he will not be revealed I submit to you while the Church is still on the earth. Why? I believe that Paul gives us the answer in verses 6, 7. Paul writes,
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. [2 Thess. 2:6, 7 NKJV] The reason that all “hell”, literally, has not broken out on the earth is because of the presence of the restrainer in the earth realm. Who is this “restrainer?” I know that there is disagreement among capable brethren concerning the identity of the “restrainer”; I can only share with you what I have learned in some thirty years of in-depth Bible study.
Most Bible commentators agree that the “restrainer” is the Holy Spirit. It seems to me that it is the Holy Spirit, and His work in and through the Church, that is the force keeping the antichrist from being fully revealed. Consider the fact that the Holy Spirit is the life [zoe] of the Church. John 14:16 records the words of Jesus concerning the work of the Spirit. There Jesus promised that when the comforter came, He would abide with us forever. So when He is taken, we have to go with Him. If the Church did not leave the earth when the Spirit does, we would have no life. John 6:33 states that it is the Spirit that gives life. If the Holy Spirit stepped aside to allow the antichrist to be revealed before the rapture, then all the spiritual life in the Church would cease. And if the Holy Spirit left without us, the scriptures would be broken, for Jesus promised that He, the Holy Spirit, would abide with us forever.
Some have suggested that the antichrist is holding himself back from being revealed. In his commentary Dr. T.J. McCrossan says that anyone suggesting such a thing is utterly ignorant of Greek grammar. No, it isn’t the antichrist restraining himself.
Others holding the preterist position say that the “he” of verse 6 refers to the Roman Government. If the Roman government had been the one restraining the antichrist, he would have taken over when Rome fell. This restrainer is a person, not a form of government. Think about it, in order to be able to restrain the antichrist, this person must be bigger and stronger than the antichrist. Therefore, it must be the Holy Spirit.
Neither can the restrainer be the Church. I admit I have had to re-think my position on this, because I used to teach that the Church alone was the restrainer. My studies in Greek grammar have led me to re-think my position. Why? Because the Greek word translated as “Church” is ekklesia, which is of the feminine gender. Greek scholars tell us that there is a hard and fast law in Greek grammar which states that the article and participle must agree in gender, number, and case with the nouns they qualify. Ho katechon (the one holding back) is masculine and therefore refers to the Holy Spirit (also masculine) and not to the Church.
I have much more to share on this. Please join me next time.
The Weekly Word is found in Colossians 3:4. Here the Bible says,
He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. [Colossians 3:4 THE MESSAGE]
Until next time, this is THE WEEKLY WORD.
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson