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2Thessalonians What was restraining the man of sin, and who was he?

Weighing scripture against scripture and some historical facts will answer these questions.


When talking about what Paul says to the church here I think I will put up this verse first.

Co 13:12 "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

Even Jesus didn't know when He would return, nor the angles in heaven, only the Father knew. In the discourse the Lord was prophesying, He knew what He was given by the Father to know, but the Father had not revealed when he/Jesus would be returning.

The apostles knew what Jesus had laid out for them in the Olivet Discourse concerning what would happen before He returned and that Is what Paul is reminding the people of on this day. The order of events that were to take place before His return. But we have something that Paul didn't have concerning these things, we have hindsight. So really before these passages can be understood then first a person must understand the Olivet discourse in light of that hindsight. We know that almost 2000 years has passed and the discourse must allow for that time. That is why I ask people to read my work on this in order and why I begin with the Olivet discourse, move on to Dan 9 and then back to the discourse before going on to Revelation.

So, just as the Olivet discourse must allow for that 2000 year gap so must this scripture here in Thessalonians.

The Olivet discourse begins with a few of the apostles taking to Jesus about Herod's temple. Jesus answers them by saying what would happen to Herod's temple. It will come to a complete destruction after an abomination stands where it ought naught, and this in accordance with what Daniel had prophesied. And He points out how important that is. Now in hindsight we know that this final destruction of Herod's Temple, that they were speaking to Him, about took place in 70 AD but to them and to Paul that was still future.


2Th 2:3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for {it will not come} unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

2Th 2:6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.

 When the apostasy happens then the next event would be the man of sin entering the Temple and standing where he should not.

Apostasy means to forsake that which was once adhered to, and in the case of the Jews it was the Law of God. To forsake the Law is to forsake God.

In Daniel it says that the city and Temple will be destroyed when abominations reach the pinnacle (wing) or highest point.

This is the ever growing wickedness of the people towards God by not following the Law. When their abominations, in forsaking the law, has reached its highest point,  then will the man of sin come into the House of God and pollute it..

The abomination of desolation means "that which will bring on the desolation"., When the church sees this wicked man standing where he shouldn't then they are to flee the city because the city is about to be destroyed.

Know this;  When someone.... not ordained by God..... enters the Temple of God then they are putting themselves above God by putting themselves above all that God calls Holy.

Here is an account of those days and the abomination that stood in the Holy Place; They took place in 66-70 AD and  preceded the full destruction of the temple and the Holy City until not one stone was let upon another.

Flavius Josephus, The Wars of the Jews (ed. William Whiston, A.M.)

(3)[135] Now the Roman garrisons, which guarded the cities, partly out of their uneasiness to take such trouble upon them, and partly out of the hatred they bare to the Jewish nation, did little or nothing towards relieving the miserable, till the captains of these troops of robbers, being satiated with rapines in the country, got all together from all parts, and became a band of wickedness, and all together crept into Jerusalem, which was now become a city without a governor, and, as the ancient custom was, received without distinction all that belonged to their nation; and these they then received, because all men supposed that those who came so fast into the city came out of kindness, and for their assistance, although these very men, besides the seditions they raised, were otherwise the direct cause of the city's destruction also; for as they were an unprofitable and a useless multitude, they spent those provisions beforehand which might otherwise have been sufficient for the fighting men. Moreover, besides the bringing on of the war, they were the occasions of sedition and famine therein.

(4)[138] There were besides these other robbers that came out of the country, and came into the city, and joining to them those that were worse than themselves, omitted no kind of barbarity; for they did not measure their courage by their rapines and plunderings only, but preceded as far as murdering men; and this not in the night time or privately, or with regard to ordinary men, but did it openly in the day time, and began with the most eminent persons in the city; for the first man they meddled with was Antipas, one of the royal lineage, and the most potent man in the whole city, insomuch that the public treasures were committed to his care; him they took and confined; as they did in the next place to Levias, a person of great note, with Sophas, the son of Raguel, both which were of royal lineage also. And besides these, they did the same to the principal men of the country. This caused a terrible consternation among the people, and everyone contented himself with taking care of his own safety, as they would do if the city had been taken in war.

(5)[143] But these were not satisfied with the bonds into which they had put the men forementioned; nor did they think it safe for them to keep them thus in custody long, since they were men very powerful, and had numerous families of their own that were able to avenge them. Nay, they thought the very people would perhaps be so moved at these unjust proceedings, as to rise in a body against them; it was therefore resolved to have them slain accordingly, they sent one John, who was the most bloody-minded of them all, to do that execution: this man was also called "the son of Dorcas," 1 in the language of our country. Ten more men went along with him into the prison, with their swords drawn, and so they cut the throats of those that were in custody there. The grand lying pretence these men made for so flagrant an enormity was this, that these men had had conferences with the Romans for a surrender of Jerusalem to them; and so they said they had slain only such as were traitors to their common liberty. Upon the whole, they grew the more insolent upon this bold prank of theirs, as though they had been the benefactors and saviors of the city.

(6)[147] Now the people were come to that degree of meanness and fear, and these robbers to that degree of madness, that these last took upon them to appoint high priests. 2 So when they had disannulled the succession, according to those families out of which the high priests used to be made, they ordained certain unknown and ignoble persons for that office, that they might have their assistance in their wicked undertakings; for such as obtained this highest of all honors, without any desert, were forced to comply with those that bestowed it on them. They also set the principal men at variance one with another, by several sorts of contrivances and tricks, and gained the opportunity of doing what they pleased, by the mutual quarrels of those who might have obstructed their measures; till at length, when they were satiated with the unjust actions they had done towards men, they transferred their contumelious behavior to God himself, and came into the sanctuary with polluted feet.

(7)[151] And now the multitude were going to rise against them already; for Ananus, the ancientest of the high priests, persuaded them to it. He was a very prudent man, and had perhaps saved the city if he could but have escaped the hands of those that plotted against him.These men made the temple of God a strong hold for them, and a place whither they might resort, in order to avoid the troubles they feared from the people; the sanctuary was now become a refuge, and a shop of tyranny. They also mixed jesting among the miseries they introduced, which was more intolerable than what they did; for in order to try what surprise the people would be under, and how far their own power extended, they undertook to dispose of the high priesthood by casting lots for it, whereas, as we have said already, it was to descend by succession in a family. The pretense they made for this strange attempt was an ancient practice, while they said that of old it was determined by lot; but in truth, it was no better than a dissolution of an undeniable law, and a cunning contrivance to seize upon the government, derived from those that presumed to appoint governors as they themselves pleased.

(8)[155] Hereupon they sent for one of the pontifical tribes, which is called Eniachim, 3 and cast lots which of it should be the high priest. By fortune the lot so fell as to demonstrate their iniquity after the plainest manner, for it fell upon one whose name was Phannias, the son of Samuel, of the village Aphtha. He was a man not only unworthy of the high priesthood, but that did not well know what the high priesthood was, such a mere rustic was he ! yet did they hail this man, without his own consent, out of the country, as if they were acting a play upon the stage, and adorned him with a counterfeit thee; they also put upon him the sacred garments, and upon every occasion instructed him what he was to do. This horrid piece of wickedness was sport and pastime with them, but occasioned the other priests, who at a distance saw their law made a jest of, to shed tears, and sorely lament the dissolution of such a sacred dignity.

(9)[158] And now the people could no longer bear the insolence of this procedure, but did all together run zealously, in order to overthrow that tyranny; and indeed they were Gorion the son of Josephus, and Symeon the son of Gamaliel, 4 who encouraged them, by going up and down when they were assembled together in crowds, and as they saw them alone, to bear no longer, but to inflict punishment upon these pests and plagues of their freedom, and to purge the temple of these bloody polluters of it. The best esteemed also of the high priests, Jesus the son of Gamalas, and Ananus the son of Ananus when they were at their assemblies, bitterly reproached the people for their sloth, and excited them against the zealots; for that was the name they went by, as if they were zealous in good undertakings, and were not rather zealous in the worst actions, and extravagant in them beyond the example of others.

(10)[162] And now, when the multitude were gotten together to an assembly, and every one was in indignation at these men's seizing upon the sanctuary, at their rapine and murders, but had not yet begun their attacks upon them, (the reason of which was this, that they imagined it to be a difficult thing to suppress these zealots, as indeed the case was,) Ananus stood in the midst of them, and casting his eyes frequently at the temple, and having a flood of tears in his eyes, he said, "Certainly it had been good for me to die before I had seen the house of God full of so many abominations, or these sacred places, that ought not to be trodden upon at random, filled with the feet of these blood-shedding villains; yet do I, who am clothed with the vestments of the high priesthood, and am called by that most venerable name [of high priest], still live, and am but too fond of living, and cannot endure to undergo a death which would be the glory of my old age; and if I were the only person concerned, and as it were in a desert, I would give up my life, and that alone for God's sake; for to what purpose is it to live among a people insensible of their calamities, and where there is no notion remaining of any remedy for the miseries that are upon them? for when you are seized upon, you bear it! and when you are beaten, you are silent! and when the people are murdered, nobody dare so much as send out a groan openly! O bitter tyranny that we are under!

To read more of this account please google "Flavius Josephus, The Wars of the Jews Book IV"

This is the Abomination standing where he ought not. It is the man of sin. And Josephus goes on to tell of the destruction of both the Temple, till not one stone was upon another, and also the utter destruction of the Holy City to a complete destruction. Laid even with the ground, as Jesus said it would be when the Jews did not recognize the day of their visitation. They had not recognized their Messiah, their King and Savior.

Because they did not believe the truth they were given a delusion to believe instead. They actually believed that the placing of a High Priest should be by casting lots! They had fallen away from the Law so much they could by fooled by false teachings, and in this the abomination was soon came into the temple.

In the end it was the Romans who took control of this situation by means of war and put an end to both temple and city.

So let's look at what Paul was reminding the Thessalonians.

2Th 2:1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, (:2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for {it will not come} unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, (4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. (5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? (6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed.  (: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.

This falling away from the law was already beginning to take place in 55 AD when Paul wrote this. However, the lagitmate High Priest was still in place, restraining the evil, and a false high preist could not come on the scene until the true High Preist was removed by a lawless people. 

Jesus told them about this apostasy that was coming.

Mat 24:10   "At that time many will fall away (apostasy)  and will betray one another and hate one another.
Mat 24:11   "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.
Mat 24:12   "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold.

Mat 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

Notice it is the same order as in 2Thess. First the apostasy and then the lawless one (false High Priest) standing in the Holy Place.  A man of sin, outside the Law.

2Th 2:9 {that is,} the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 2Th 2:10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.  They will parish because of their own wickedness.

Did Paul and the other Apostles really understand that Jesus would not return during the time of the early Church?

2Th 2:8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;

Now we have to look at the Olivet discourse to understand why Paul believed the return of the Lord would be in his generation.

Mat 24:20 "But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. :21 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Mat 24:22 "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

Mat 24:29 "But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Mat 24:30 "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.

At this early date of 55 AD it seems that the apostles believed that Jesus would return in their time.

John and the other Apostles also preached that the Lord was returning within their life time.

1Jon 2:18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming,  even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. NASB

1Jon 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. KJV

In Luke's account of the Olivet discourse we can see that the birthpangs/sorrows  (Luke 21:8-11) would take place after the destruction of the temple but before the return of the Lord. And that the sorrows were the beginnings of the tribulations that Jesus was speaking of in Matt 24:29.

Please see the Olivet Discourse to understand this. 

But the Apostles had no way of knowing that the birth pangs wouldn't take place right after the destruction of the temple and the Jews were taken captive into the nations.  Jesus had said that this generation would not pass away before these things took place.  But He was referring to the abomination of desolation and the destruction of the Temple, which would take place in 70 AD, and not to the birth pangs which would take place at some point between that time and His return... in fact in our time.

If you have been reading this website in order you have already understood that sun being darkened and moon not giving light, etc. spoken of in the Olivet discourse is the same events as the events that take place with the opening of the 6th seal in Revelation, but perhaps you don't realize that the Nations raising against nations and kingdom against kingdom, etc. is the same as the events of the 4th seal. It is a world war.

Replacing the High Priest with an abomination

The Jews  rejected the Law of God and listened to satan's lie and allowed for the High Priest to be removed (taken out of the midst) along with the other priest and all that God called Holy.

2Th 2:11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, (12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. And they were sourly judged and many parished.

That judgment took place in 70 AD.


2Th 2:13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

Jesus became the High Priest for all who follow Him.

The Holy Spirit lead the Apostles in everything they wrote and said, but I also believe that God has allowed, for almost 2000 years, that every generation would believe that they were the last and that the Lord would return in their lifetime.  As Jesus said, No one knows the day or the hour, not even the angels in heaven, only the Father knows.  Even Jesus didn't know at the time He said this.

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