Who is the “Restrainer?”

Posted: August 17, 2015 in End Times, Prophecy
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If we truly want to understand “who is the restrainer,” then we must give attention to about what happened to Paul, Silvanus and Timothy when they were in Thessalonica. Fortunately the Holy Spirit made sure those details were recorded by Luke in Acts, where we see how the “Jews which believed not, [and] moved with envy, [and] took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.” This was no small commotion, for they “drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city,” and made charges against Paul, Silvanus, and Timotheus; that these whom Jason had received “that have turned the world upside down are come hither also… and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.”

It is important to recognize that these are not minor complaints, but rather accusations of treason against both Caesar and Rome. Hence they were accused of having “troubled the people and the rulers of the city”  so that “when they heard these things and when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.” This means Jason and another brother was required to give money as a security, or bond, before they would let them go.

So I ask, does everyone understanding the seriousness with which Rome dealt with those who were seditious and traitors against Caesar? It was a guaranteed penalty of certain death, which is why “the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea.” But that wasn’t the only trouble Paul had encountered on us journeys, before going to Thessalonica, Paul and Silas had been in Philippi where they had been apprehended, beaten, because of accusations of going against the customs of Rome there as well.

Acts 16:20 – And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, 21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. 22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. 23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: 24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

 Thus, because of Luke’s recording of events in Acts we can understand why the brethren greatly feared for the lives of Paul and Silas and were greatly desirous to deliver them from any danger that might befall them based upon these additional accusations. And yet, with reasonable confidence we can be sure their apprehension was not based solely upon the events in Philippi or a few Thessalonian “Jews which believed not” and those “certain lewd fellows of the baser sort.” For from both Paul’s epistle and Luke’s account in Acts we can safely conclude through the teachings of Paul via the scriptures and the illumination of the Holy Spirit (he that has ears to hear), that the brothers  understood there were things on their horizon which were about to transpire concerning God’s judgment upon Israel.

All this obviously contributing to why Paul simply stated in His second epistle, “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” I think it is safe for us all to conclude that Paul would have obviously articulated to them much of what he may have learned from Luke and others concerning what the Lord Jesus Christ had taught concerning the aforementioned “wrath to come” upon Jerusalem and Israel.

Luke 19:43 – For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

However, Paul would have reinforced these words of Jesus with what was already written by the prophets when ministering to the Jews and devout Greeks which believed. Below are passages which very likely would have been addressed by Paul.

Deuteronomy 28:49 – The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; 50 A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young: 52 And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.

Isaiah 29:13 – Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: 14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.

Jeremiah 26:18 – Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest.

Micah 3:8 – But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin. 9 Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity. 10 They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. 11 The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us. 12 Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.

Please also take careful note of the following two passages. For again, in Acts chapter 13, we find Paul speaking using scripture, that is Habakkuk’s prophecy to warn the men of Israel of the “wrath to come.”

Habakkuk 1:5 – Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. 6 For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs. 7 They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves.

Acts 13:16 – Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience… 40 Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; 41 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.

Quoting scripture, Paul rebuked the Jews for being “despisers” of God’s word which was now being revealed to them through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore he warned them, that they were going to perish just as those Jews did when the Chaldeans first destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. Yet we know from history that the coming destruction of which Paul was warning them was not going to be by the Chaldeans this time: rather Rome was going to be the instrument of God’s wrath whereby once more Zion was going to “be plowed as a field” and Jerusalem again destined to “become heaps.” Paul could have taught this to the Thessalonians from the book of Daniel.

Both the scriptural portrayal and historical record agree that Rome “was diverse from all the beasts that were before it.” Thus, Paul having preached to the brethren at Thessalonica concerning “the wrath to come” of God judging the Jews, we know he could have easily taught that just like the three empires before it, Rome too would eventually fall. This is important to acknowledge, because if scripture acknowledges it then we should too.

Daniel 7:2 – Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. 3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. 4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings [Babylon]: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. 5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear [Medo-Persia], and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. 6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard [Greece ], which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. 7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast [Rome ], dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teethit devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. 8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.

Note how Rome, with “great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it.” This is what Rome did to Israel; consequently, Israel as a geographical and sovereign nation with physical boundaries was destroyed and the residue of the Jews scatter among the nations. Thus Israel as a nation “which was, was not… and yet is” today.

Furthermore, Daniel’s third beast like a leopard which represented Greece had four horns, this “fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly,” had ten horns. In the case of the fall of the Grecian Empire, when Alexander the Great died, his kingdom was divided among his four generals represented by the leopard’s four horns. In the same way, when the Roman Empire fell it too ended up dividing into smaller kingdoms which have been reckoned as follows.

  1. The Roman senate.
  2. The Greeks, in Ravenna.
  3. The Lombards in Lombardy.
  4. The Huns in Hungary.
  5. The Alemans, in Germany.
  6. The Franks in France.
  7. The Burgundians in Burgundy.
  8. The Saracens in Africa, and a part of Spain.
  9. The Goths, in other parts of Spain.
  10. And the Saxons, in Britain.

So let’s rehearse a few points.

  1. Paul and Silas were accused, beaten, and thrown in jail in Philippi for teaching customs which are not lawful to receive, neither to observe for the Romans.
  2. Shortly after Paul and Silas go to Thessalonica, only to have to flee because a strong accusation was asserted that “Jason and those he had received [Paul and Silas], were doing things that were contrary to the decrees of Caesar, and saying that there is another king, one Jesus.” These charges asserted treason and seditious activity, crimes which carried the penalty of death in Rome. Thus had written concerning the prophetic fall of Rome after God had used it to poured out His wrath on Israel in his second epistle, and had the letter had fallen into the wrong hands, Paul would had been sought, arrested, and killed straightway for treason. Thus he says, “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.”
  3. It is evident Paul preached on the “wrath to come” which easily can be seen to be in agreement with Jesus’ prophecy concerning Jerusalem and Israel.
  4. Paul could have easily taught the Thessalonians concerning the fall of Rome according to scripture, confirming a revelation that the Holy Spirit may have revealed to him. Thus, Paul is seen in Acts quoting Habakkuk while in Antioch earlier before his coming to Thessalonica to the Jews, confirming to them the destruction that was coming to Jerusalem.
  5. Historically it can be seen how both Constantine’s alleged conversion to Christianity and the gradual fall of Rome gave way to the Rise of Roman Catholicism and the Papacy.

Christians were mercilessly persecuted for centuries for clinging to their pure faith in Christ Jesus and for refusing to acknowledge as legitimate the usurped authority of Catholicism and the Papacy. For these and many other reasons it becomes evident why many considered the profane institution of Rome to be the “great apostasy” and wholeheartedly understood the position of the papacy with its successions of popes as being “that man of sin [which would ] be revealed, the son of perdition.” Up until the last 100 -120 years this was almost unanimously accepted by all Protestants.

Furthermore, the phrase “son of perdition” is only used twice in scripture, once by Jesus in reference to Judas who ended up being a false apostle, and here again used by Paul in reference to the Papacy which by Catholicism is said to be overseen by a continuation of apostles now referred to as popes. However, in the eyes of historically true Protestants, the popes have all been false apostles and betrayers of truth just as surely as Judas, the first “son of perdition” was.

II Thessalonians 2:3 – Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? [How that God will judge His people, and afterwards will likewise judge those nations whereby He chastised those who are called by His name, causing those nations to fall? ] 6 And now ye know what withholdeth [Rome ] that he [the false apostle might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he [Rome who now letteth will let [prevent his rise], until he [Rome be taken out of the way [falls]. 8 And then shall that Wicked [lawless one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Another point succinctly stated by commentator Adam Clarke that is noteworthy –

“After the death of Christ the temple of Jerusalem is never called by the apostles the temple of God; and if at any time they make mention of the house or temple of God, they mean the Church in general, or every particular believer. Whoever will consult 1Co 3:16,17; 2Co 6:16; 1Ti 3:15; Re 3:12*; will want no examples to prove that, under the Gospel dispensation, the temple of God is the Church of Christ; and the man of sin sitting implies this ruling and presiding there; and sitting there as God implies his claiming Divine authority in things spiritual as well as temporal; and showing himself that he is God, implies his doing it with ostentation.

*Verses referenced by commentator Adam Clarke:

I Corinthians 3:16 – Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

II Corinthians 6:16 – And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

1 Timothy 3:15 – But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

Revelation 3:12 – Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him My new name.

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