The Christ in Prophecy Journal

Who or What is the “Restrainer?”


An interesting argument in behalf of the pre-Tribulation timing of the Rapture can be found in 2 Thessalonians. The church at Thessalonica was in a turmoil because someone had written them a letter under Paul’s name stating that they had missed the “gathering to the Lord” and were, in fact, living in “the day of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2).

Paul attempted to calm them down by reminding them of his teaching that the day of the Lord would not come until after the Antichrist is revealed. He then stated that the Antichrist would not be revealed until a restraining force “is taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-7).

There has been much speculation as to the identity of this restraining force that Paul refers to. Some have identified it as the Holy Spirit. But it cannot be the Holy Spirit because there will be people saved during the Tribulation, and no one can be saved apart from the testimony of the Spirit (John 16:8-11 & 1 John 5:7).

Others have identified the restrainer as human government. It is true that government was ordained by God to restrain evil (Romans 13:1-4). But the governments of the world are in rebellion against God and His Son (Psalm 2), and they are therefore a contributor to the evil that characterizes the world. Furthermore, the Tribulation will not be characterized by a lack of government. Rather, it will feature the first true worldwide government (Revelation 13:7).

In my opinion that leaves only one other candidate for Paul’s restrainer — and that is the Church. It is the Church that serves as the primary restrainer of evil in the world today as it proclaims the Gospel and stands for righteousness. When the Church fails in this mission, evil multiplies, as Paul graphically points out in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Paul says that society in the end times will be characterized by chaos and despair because “men will hold to a form of religion but will deny its power.” When the Church is removed from the world, all hell will literally break loose.

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Dr. David Reagan

Dr. David Reagan is the Founder and Evangelist Emeritus of Lamb & Lion Ministries. He is a life-long Bible student, teacher, and preacher and he led over 45 pilgrimages to Israel. Dr. Reagan was the host of the radio then television program Christ in Prophecy for nearly 40 years.

24 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • The “force” is referred to as “he” in 2 Thess. 2:7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
    The Holy Spirit is (indeed)removed with the church.

    Certainly people are saved during the tribulation, starting with the
    144000. (FIRSTFRUITS! Rev. 14)
    This takes place in conjunction with the 7th seal. If they are the firstfruits then no one is saved before the firstfruits are sealed.
    They are the first.
    And they are sealed.
    The Holy Spirit graciously returns.
    Yeshua remains faithful to His covenant with His nation Israel.

    Many blessings in Yeshua,


    • That's a new one on me. Now the Holy Spirit has two appearances is also?
      Neither the church nor the Holy Spirit are going anywhere, until after the man of sin is revealed.
      The restrainer is Gabriel. He himself tells you so in the book of Daniel chapters 9 10 and 11

  • ok 2 Thess 2:3 say that the apostasy happens first, then the lawless one is revealed. you have to ask yourself, what does the Bible mean by lawless. From the greek it is the word Anomia which means lawless or Torahless. God gave us instructions for our lives, very applicable to today, and do we follow it. All references in the Bible when you use the word Law refers to the Torah. So how could the church, which for the most part, dismisses Gods Torah, by saying it is for the Jews only (but really for all us grafted in ones too) being the restrainer? Read Daniel chapter 10 to see what I mean about Michael…

  • The church is the bride of Christ. It was always referred to she. The Holy Spirit is referred to as He. It is my observation the restrainer is the Holy Spirit indwelling the church and it is this indwelling spirit that is pro-tecting the church from satin. It is this indwelling spirit that is removed and thus the Church of Christ with it.

  • Daniel 12 is speaking about the same thing as 2 Thess. it says “At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delived, every one who is found written in the book, and many of those who sleep in the dust shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.” There is alot more about this subject in Daniel 10-12 that would be a good read for everyone. Daniel 10:13 talks more about how he holds back the spiritual powers….

    • Staig, read that again and see what you think of the possibility of Gabriel being the restrainer, seeing he restrained the Prince of the kingdom of Persia and mentions restraining the princes of the kingdom of the Medes at one time under Darius and then was going to go back and restrain the Prince of Greece.

  • I believe it`s the Ruach HaKodesh. I don`t believe the 2 different Greek terms, one used as a “force” and the other as a “person” can apply to the Church. And it`s the Holy Spirit`s INFLUENCE – holding back or restraining evil`s influence is what is meant here. BTW, Pre-trib rapture teaching is False Teaching. In Y`shua, Tom.

  • There seems to be much confusion in regard to this passage (i.e. 2 Thess. 2:1-12). The proper way to understand it, is to first identify the subject. The return of the Lord is the most obvious choice here. Paul is telling us something [a second subject] must occur before the Lord’s return. Paul then identifies what that is-the [a] widespread apostasy in the Church. He then states “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time” (2 Thess. 2:6). Therefore, Paul has said that the Lord will not return to defeat the anti-christ and establish his kingdom on earth, until the Church has fallen so far into apostasy that the anti-christ will be unchallanged when he is revealed. As for verse 7 in this passage, there is no reference to the Holy Spirit here, for that would not agree with the secondary subject. The Greek word translated as “he” is a little word that can mean he-she-or it, depending on the context. Here the proper meaning would be “it.” By replacing the word “he” with the word “it” you will find that the entire passage flows in agreement, because all the elements are intact.

  • Only one entity is mentioned in the Bible as being removed before the Tribulation, and that is the Church. What force in the world today exists to show God’s love and counteract evil actions and legislation? Only the Church. Without it, evil would run absolutely rampant (and so it will).

    The Holy Spirit remains during the Tribulation for those who become saved. The Archangel Michael remains to protect and defend Israel. Jesus has been at the right hand of the Father and doesn’t set His foot back on the ground until the end of the Tribulation.

    The only logical answer (imho) is that the Restainer is the Church, which Jesus, the Holy Spirit and all His forces work through in this Church Age.

  • Nathan Price & Dr. Dave Reagan, I`d like to answer the one of many problems with the pre-trib position. There are only 2 resurrections mentioned. One for believers and one unbelievers. If believers are raptured [and resurrected] at the start of the 7 year period, what happens to all those that die during those 7 years? There is an ELEMENT of "dual covenant" theology in "dispensationalism". We have been "grafted in". The Church & Israel are NOT completely separate entities! Go to they have teachings that debunks pre-trib! T

  • Voice, I think you got the Pre-Trib Rapture view misconstrued. There’s nothing about Dual Covenant Theology in it. Jesus is necessary for salvation – period. Jews who accepted Jesus as Savior during the Church Age will be raptured as they are part of the Church. The Tribulation, likewise, God also uses to force the Jews as a people to finally accept Him as Savior.

    The First Resurrection includes the firstfruits (Jesus), the harvest (the Church), and the gleanings (the OT Saints and Tribulation Martyrs at the end of the Tribulation).

  • And Nathan you still misunderstand me. I said there is an ELEMENT of dual covenant theology, as in, when you start treating the church & Israel as 2 separate entities. And you still did not explain how the believers during the 7 year period that are murdered are resurrected at the end, if it already happened at the start? The Greek term for the Church is Feminine! While the 2 terms in 2 Thess. are masculine and neuter! So it can`t be in respect to the church! Tom.

  • I have to agree with “anomyous” of Sept. 11. The church is always referred to she. The Holy Spirit is referred to as He. It is my observation,from the Scriptures (see below), that the restrainer is the Holy Spirit indwelling the church. It is this indwelling spirit that is removed and thus the Church of Christ with it. Paul says in Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. John is even more specific: Joh 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
    Joh 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
    Only the Church is indweld by the Spirit, not the world, removing the Church removes the Spirit. Most certainly the Spirit will be available during the tribulation as in the two witnesses and the 144,000. But I believe this presence will be similar to how it was in the Old Testiment. We know that Saul had the Spirit and it was taken away. Certainly David receibed the Spirit but He did not indwell them as He does the Church.


  • Tony,
    I agree with you. I too believe that the Restrainer is the Holy Spirit. I read in revelation were it talks about the Prayers of the saints (us). This refers to the reason people get safe durring the tribulation period. 144,000. male Jews who preach durring this time and together with our prayers wish God has heard, people get safe durring this time. I believe the Holy Spirit leaves with the church.

  • The Mystery of Iniquity is the Restrainer. The Restrainer does not restrain evil or even the Antichrist, it restrains the revealing of the Antichrist. It is the powerful delusion of verse 11 that keeps the world blinded to who the Beast really is, the same delusion that II Corinthians 4:4 talks about.
    All these theories about the Holy Spirit or the Church or Michael being the Restrainer do not come from this Scripture, they are forced onto it from outside. The Restrainer is clearly identified in the text. You do not have to bring something from outside to understand who or what this is. Paul says that he told them about this, and that the Restrainer was in the world when he wrote this. It is the deluding influence of Satan. How can you get the Holy Spirit and Satan mixed up? Well, apparently some prophecy “experts” seen to think that “Darby says so” is more authoritative than “The Word of God says so.”

  • The restrainer is Jesus Christ, a mystery world was not mean to know about the effect holding the cup of sin has upon Hell, Hell is held back while the Son of man bears and suffers and overcomes the cup taken, once it is completed once it is to it dregs the cup is released and mankind becomes accountable to universal law, this gives Satan and Antichrist power to act directly more openly the world falls and becomes a kingdom of darkness. The spirit of truth will withdraw when it anchor leaves for the Light of the WORLD is Jesus Christ, and the mystery is He has not yet returned to Heaven but is still to be resurrected and leave, for time is not a factor in this mystery of creation. Therefore few will remain faithful when faced with tribulation, do not think rapture will occur for the churches for all are in apostasy to God not one holds 100% truth, but must be trialed as job and each member prove themselves individually.

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