Dr. Lawrence Butler
The Bridge Church, Pembroke
“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 “withholdeth” that is used in this verse is somewhat of an awkward usage for us today. If something is withholding, it is stopping some event from occurring.
That is the correct application of the word in this verse. “What withholdeth” is that which is preventing what could be expected to happen. It is a bit of a challenge for us to understand this expression. I don’t think it should be very difficult for us. Something is hindering the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. The only thing that could do this is God Himself. The Lord is not ready for these scriptures to be fulfilled. The “what withholdeth” of verse 6 is the same thing as “he who now letteth” of verse 7. The word “let” simply means to restrain or hinder.
There is a power that is restraining events. The restrain is not upon God, but rather the Spirit of God acting on events that would lead to the Antichrist, or “man of sin,” being revealed.
According to Albert Barnes, noted Bible commentator, it was a power that checked the growing corruptions that then existed. It did not destroy them, but simply did not allow their complete development. They would be permitted to grow over time, gradually winning control of the hearts and minds of those who chose to enjoy the pleasures of sin. This hindrance was in no way related to preventing Christ from returning, nor stopping the Apostle Paul from preaching and teaching the truth, but only prevented the revelation of the Antichrist upon the scene until God’s time had come.
When will the antichrist be revealed?
“In his time” (v.6).
The Antichrist could never step onto the scene without preparation.
He would never be accepted, would never be successful. Therefore, a constant barrage of anti-Christian sentiment can be traced throughout history. From the crucifixion to the persecutions, from the organizational dominance of the established church hierarchy to the wars over the Holy Land, from the struggle to make the Word of God readable by all to the general hatred of the very name of Jesus Christ, this world system is on a path to reject the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. The next step is to unwittingly open their hearts to one who seems to be able to solve many of the evils of this world by his wisdom and power. Not only will this man come, but he is supported and strengthened by one known as the false prophet, the religious leader of this group of deceivers, who is able to perform miracles that astound the world! (Rev. 13).