Dr. John Feinberg  


Written by: Dr. John Feinberg
Conference: 1992 Pre-Trib Study Group

Arguing About the Rapture: Who Must Prove What and How

Feinberg: I shall focus primarily on the first seven verses. There are three issues that I wish to address: 1) the relationship between 2 Thessalonians 2:1 and Matthew 24:29-31 and the time of the rapture; 2) the silence of Paul about a pretribulational rapture in correcting false teaching in 2 Thessalonians 2:2-4; 3) the identity of the restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2:5-7.

The Relationship Between
2 Thessalonians 2:1 and Matthew24:29-31

He gives a great summary of Gundry’s arguments, but BEFORE any further discussion, there must be an establishment of proper definitions.
Tribulation: It is NOT the 70th week of Daniel. It begins at the midpoint of the 70th week and is the wrath of Satan against God’s people, both Jew and Christian. It is not the wrath of God. Furthermore, it is cut short prior to the end of the 70th week by the sovereign decree of God the Father and the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.

Day of the Lord: This is the time when God’s wrath is expressed on the earth dwellers after the tribulation and after the rapture, during which His judgments will be expressed though the trumpets and bowls.

Feinberg: There is a twofold argument that relates 2 Thessalonians 2:1 with Matthew 24:29-31and sets the time of the rapture as post- tribulational. One finds these arguments in Robert H. Gundry's The Church and the Tribulation.[1]The arguments are as follows. First, Gundry argues that "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him" is a reference to the return of Christ and the rapture at the end of the Tribulation period. He bases this argument on the idea that 1 Thessalonians 4:16-5:9 is a reference to a rapture that will take place just before the Day of the Lord which begins at the end of the Tribulation.[2]Moreover, Paul makes no distinction between his description of the second coming given in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 and the coming in 1 Thessalonians 4:16ff. Further, he introduces the phrase "our gathering together to him" in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 without any observable shift in reference from 1:7-10, which is a posttribulational coming in judgment to destroy the wicked. Finally, Paul writes about an event that will take place in the Tribulation, the Antichrist and his demise. Gundry concludes, "Hence, outstandingly posttribulational references surround the highly debated section2:1-7. The very setting of the section should make us wary of unnecessarily interpolating the idea of a pretribulational rapture."[3]And again, "if then the context of 2:1 leads us to regard the parousia there as posttribulational, it is singularly strange that 'our gathering together to Him' should be connected with it and mentioned second in order-unless the rapture, too, is posttribulational."[4]

To summarize what Gundry has done to this point, he has related Paul's discussions of the coming of Christ in the Thessalonian epistles to one another: 1Thessalonians 4 and 5 to 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 to 2 Thessalonians 2:1. He has also argued that, in their context in the Thessalonian epistles, these are references to a posttribulational return and rapture.

Here is a more thorough discussion of the aforementioned conditions. First, to what does the "gathering together to Him" of 2 Thessalonians 2:1 refer? There are only two answers: to a rapture, the time of which would be determined later, or to the coming and revelation of Christ on His return to this earth after the Tribulation.<

The problem with this last paragraph is that there is NO DIFFERNECE between the rapture event and the “coming and revelation of Christ.” Titus 2:13 makes this perfectly clear. It is AT THE VERY moment of Christ’s REVELATION in glory that the rapture takes place.  “looking for the happy expectation and appearing of the glory of the great God and our savior, Christ Jesus.”
And no matter how adamantly the pretribbers resist the normal, and natural understanding of 2Thes. 1:6-7, the fact remains that it teaches that the revelation of Jesus will bring TEMPORAL relief to those who are experiencing affliction. “and to give relief to you who are being afflicted and to us as well, at the REVELATION of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.” And this language requires a direct correlation with Mat. 24:29-31.
Therefore the passages in question (1Thes. 4:14-17; 5:1-9; 2 Thes. 1:7-10; and 2:1-3) all refer to the one and the same event, which is the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.

Feinberg: What remains to be examined is when this rapture will take place. It must be a posttribulational rapture for Gundry's argument to be established. This could be done on one or all of the three grounds suggested by Gundry. The first is that Paul only discusses the coming of Christ as a single complex event coming at the end of a time of Tribulation, since 1 Thessalonians 4: 16ff, 2Thessalonians 1:7-10, and 2 Thessalonians 2:1 are discussed without any appeal to a distinction between a pretribulational rapture and posttribulational second coming of Christ. The important link in this argument is the relationship of 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 to the rest of the references to the coming of the Lord, especially 1 Thessalonians 5:1-9. The point is that if you can tie 4:14-17 to posttribulational rapture, and identify 2 Thessalonians 2:1with 4:14-17, and support the posttribulational timing of the rapture by its relationship to 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10, which everyone takes to be after the Tribulation, then you have the rapture in the Thessalonian epistles consistently a posttribulational.

Again, the key to making this argument is to show that 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17, is so related to 5:1-9 that a posttribulational rapture is required. It is just at this crucial point in the argument that a pretribulationist disagrees, and rightly so in my judgment. While Gundry thinks that 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17, on its own, best fits a posttribulational rapture, another important reason is its relationship to 5:1-9. The connection between the two sections is through the Greek particle de. According to Gundry, this particle has "a mixture of a continuative sense and a slightly adversative sense. In other words, the particle implies a shift in thought, but not without close connection with the foregoing thought. Sometimes the adversative sense drops out altogether."[9]Gundry's argument is based on a misreading of the text, as the connection between 4:14-17 and 5:1-9 is not through the particle de, but peri de. This is Paul's usual way of introducing a new subject (e.g., 1 Thess. 4:9,13). While it may be true that the two subjects discussed are not so different that they are completely unrelated to one another, or in contrast to one another, it is also true that they are not simply the continuation of the same subject.<

I will agree that 1Thes. 4:14-17 does not demonstrate a pre or post trib event on its own. However, if the connection can be made with chapter 5:1, then the debate is over, and 2Thes. 1:7 hammers in the final nail.
The issue between “de” and “peri de” is moot. Yes, peri de, is the connection between chapter 4 and 5. But it is clearly a CONTINUATION of the same subject with just a shift in focus. There is no TIMING language in chapter 4, so Paul brings up the TIMING issue next. “Now concerning the chronological factors and the specific time factors, you have no need of anything to be written to you.”
The rapture event is mentioned in chapter 4 and the timing is mentioned in chapter 5.
That timing factor is clearly identified with the language that Jesus used in Matthew 24 when He taught us about the thief in the night. It also relates it to the “peace and security” that the unbelieving world will be experiencing “as in the days of Noah” (Mat. 24:37-39).

Feinberg: "The proper interpretation recognizes a shift in thought, but not without some connection with the foregoing."[10]suggest that the topic remains the coming of the Lord, but that there is a discussion of two distinct phases of it. This is further supported by the change from the use of "we" to "they" and "you" in 1 Thessalonians 5. Gundry does not think that this is significant, but to a pretribulationist's mind it certainly is. Once 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 is no longer connected in the simple way that Gundry suggests, his argument is going to fail.[11]<

There is NO shift to a different PHASE of the second coming. The same event is in view and there is not even a HINT that something DIFFERENT is being discussed. There is no support for such a “shift” by appealing to the pronouns. It should be obvious that the YOU refers to the Christians alive at that time, and that the THEY refers to the unbelievers who have embraced beast worship and are enjoying a relative peace and safety that allows them to live a RELAXED lifestyle “as in the days of Noah.”
The reference to the day not coming upon YOU as a thief indicates that if the believer is expectant and recognizes the TIME OF THE SEASON, then he will be prepared, not caught off guard, and the arrival of the Lord will NOT be like a thief.

Feinberg:To this argument is added a second one which relates 2 Thessalonians 2:1 to Matthew 24:29-31. In summary, Gundry has argued that the gathering together at the coming of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:1) is a reference to the rapture of the church, and that that gathering is the same as the gathering of the elect in Matthew 24:31, decisively establishing the time of the rapture as posttribulational. If this argument is correct, then a pretribulational rapture of the church cannot be correct. . . . Second, this argument is good only if two conditions are met. The "gathering together" of 2 Thessalonians 2:1 must be a reference to the rapture of the church, and the gathering of the elect in Matthew 24:31 must be identical with it. I shall argue that first condition is met and is true but that second is false, because arguments aimed at identification fail. Therefore, this argument fails as an objection to a pretribulational rapture.
Feinberg: A second reason for identifying the Thessalonian references as a posttribulational coming of Christ is the linguistic parallel between the "gathering to him" of 2 Thessalonian 2:1, and the "gathering of his elect," in Matthew 24:31. 2 Thessalonians 2:1 uses the noun episunagoges, while Jesus uses the verb episunachei in Matthew 24:31. On the basis of the use of related words, it might be argued that the two gatherings are the same and that they are clearly posttribulational, since Matthew says that this is "immediately after the distress of those days."

Such an argument fails. Methodologically, one cannot simply identify two events merely because they are described by the same word. Further, to do so in the context where the debate is whether the events are the same or different is to beg the question. There is one way out of this dilemma. One might argue that the word in question has become a technical term, such that wherever it occurs it has a constant meaning. In this case the argument would be that the verb episunage in and its cognate noun have the status of a technical term relating to a posttribulational gathering of God's children to Himself. However, an examination of the evidence shows this argument is simply false. There are nine occurrences of the noun and verb in the New Testament. Of those nine only three have an eschatological significance. They are the two under discussion here and a third instance in the synoptic parallel in Mark 13:27. Six occurrences are very general: the citizens of a city coming to see a dignitary. Therefore, to claim that a term has become a technical term based upon three occurrences, two of which are parallels in the synoptic Gospels, is to claim too much.[12]<

There is more than just the ONE way out of “this dilemma.” And I reject that it is a dilemma. What it is, is an attempt by pretribbers to explain away the most natural, reasonable and literal understanding of all the related passages.
But the OTHER “way out” is to do a comparison of several words and not just rely on episunage.
First of all, it is an assumption that sees TWO “comings” of the Lord. It is an assumption that places the rapture of the church at a time that is 7 years prior to “a” second coming. And it is an assumption that places the rapture at a time OTHER THAN the time of the second coming of Christ.
Second, the comparison of words and other factors should not be limited to the two passages in question.
ALL the rapture and second coming passages should be compared to show the similarity. Each separate passage does not NEED to mention each and every factor involved with the second coming. Thus, while it is argued that the “resurrection” is not mentioned in Matthew 24 as it is in 1Thes. 4, it should be pointed out that neither is the resurrection mentioned at John 14:1-3, which is clearly a rapture passage.
So the comparison of words and other factors does not rest with just EPISUNAGOGE.

The following is an outline of the points of affinity between the second coming and the rapture.

SON OF MAN: Mat. 16:27; 10:23; 24:31
The title, Son of Man, is just as valid for a New Testament orientation as any Old Testament orientation.
The use of the title in and of itself does not mean that the church is not involved.
John 3:13-14;  5:27; 6:27;  6:53; 8:28; 9:35; 12:23; 12:34; 13:31; Acts 7:56

Second Advent: Mat. 16:27, 10:23; 24:31;
Rapture: John 14:3; 21:22; Acts 1:11; 1Cor. 4:5; 11:26;
1Thes. 5:2; 2Thes. 1:10; Rev. 1:7; 3:11;

Second Advent: Mat. 16:27; Mat. 24:31;
Rapture: Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 4:13

Second Advent: Mat. 16:27; 24:31;
Rapture: 2 Thes. 1:7; 1 Thes. 4:16 (angel); 1 Thes. 3:13? (holy ones);

Second Advent: Mat. 16:27;
Rapture: 1 Cor. 4:5; 1 Pet. 1:7; 1 Peter 5:4;

Second Advent: Mat 24:42-44;
Rapture: 1 Thes. 5:2-11; 2 Pet. 3:10-18; Rev. 3:3; Rev. 16:15

Second Advent: Mat. 24:31;
Rapture: 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thes. 4:16

Second Advent: Mat. 24:31;
Rapture: Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thes. 4:17; Rev. 1:7

Second Advent: Mat. 24:31;
Rapture: 2 Thes. 2:1; 1 Thes. 4:17 (different word, same idea)

TAKEN: (paralambano)
Second Advent: Mat. 24:40-41;
Rapture: John 14:1-3; 1 Thes. 4:17 (different word, same idea).

REVEALED: (word group, apokalupto, apokalupsis)
Second Advent: Luke 17:30;
Rapture: 1Cor. 1:7; 1Pet. 1:7; 1:13; 4:13; Col. 3:4;

PRESENCE: (parouosia)
Second Advent: Mat. 24:3, 27, 37, 39;
Rapture: 1 Thes. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2Thes. 2:1, 8;
James 5:7-8; 2 Pet. 1:16; 3:4, 12; 1 John 2:28


Feinberg: In fairness to those who make this identification, they do not all do it simply on the linguistic parallel mentioned. They would offer a third reason, which, in combination with the second reason, they believe constitutes the case for identifying the gatherings. It is the similarity of detail along with the linguistic parallel that justifies the claim that the two gatherings are the same event and therefore posttribulational. There is the use of a trumpet, there are clouds, and there is a gathering of saints to the Lord. This argument, if true, is more substantial.

Close consideration, however, shows this argument is unconvincing to a pretribulationist.[13]The parallel between trumpets, clouds, and saints being caught up to meet the Lord in Thessalonians and Matthew, depends on establishing 1 Thessalonians4:14.17 as posttribulational. At the center of this argument is its relationship to 5:1-9, which we have previously rejected.<

And I have demonstrated that such a rejection is an error on their part.
And the comparison of the passages above should stand on its own merits.

Feinberg: Moreover, any argument of this sort must not only be based on similarities; it must also be sensitive to differences. Similarities between events may be because they are similar, not the same. Gundry himself recognizes that there are differences, but he tries to show that they are compatible with one another and/or insignificant. The gathering may be related to that of dispersed Jews at the coming of their Messiah as taught in Deuteronomy 30:4 and Isaiah 27:12,13.,Those who are gathered in Matthew are called the elect, a term Gundry himself says may refer to Israel, the church, or both.

The issue should NOT focus on differences at all. That operates on the false premise that every rapture passage must include the SAME information in order to be considered a rapture passage.  Instead, the focus should be on how ALL the passages taken together show a unity of understanding that there is one and only one second coming, at which time the rapture of the church will occur. And when all the passages are compared properly, one will see that there are really NO differences at all.

Feinberg: The one who gathers the saints is different. It is angels in Matthew and the Lord Himself in 1 Thessalonians4.<

As is typical with those who fail to properly compare scripture with scripture, this conclusion shows academic inaccuracy at best and laziness at worse. And I shall apologize for my criticism in this manner, but  these people need to be called on the carpet and challenged.
1. Matthew 24:31 tells us that “He will send forth His angels . . . and THEY will gather His elect . . .”
2. 1thes.
4:16 tells us that “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven.” At verse 16, we are also told that “the dead in Christ will rise first.” At verse 17, we are told that “we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them.”
IT DOES NOT SAY THAT THE LORD DOES THE GATHERING. It simply says that the gathering takes place. So there is no inconsistency.
3. Mark
13:27 tells us “and then He will send forth His angels, and HE WILL GATHER together His elect.”
It should be obvious that the Lord DOES THE GATHERING, but – He USES the angels to do it.

Feinberg: Gundry calls the Olivet discourse the most complete description of what will take place at the rapture, but there is the curious omission of any statement about the resurrection of the dead.<

And as I have already pointed out, there does not NEED to be (nor IS there) a mention of the resurrection at every single second coming and rapture passage.

The Silence About a Rapture in Correcting False Teaching

Feinberg: A second issue is the Paul's silence about a rapture in his correction of the false teaching that was troubling the Thessalonian believers, in 2Thessalonians 2:2-4.<

There is no silence about a rapture. Does not “our gathering together to Him” in verse one refer to the rapture? Indeed it does!

 Feinberg: An important reason for Paul's writing this second epistle so shortly after the first is found in these verses. The false teaching that was troubling the Thessalonians came to them either by a variety of means (a prophecy, a report, a letter) or by one of these means. The content of this false teaching is clear "The Day of the Lord has come" (2:2). The teaching was that these believers were in the day of the Lord. This teaching was unsettling and alarming them. Paul writes to correct this false teaching, which was also incorrectly attributed to him.

Gundry thinks that there are two ways in which pretribulationists can interpret this passage. First, they can argue that the Thessalonians were unaware of a pretribulational rapture, and because of this ignorance they believed that they were in the Day of the Lord. This move, however, comes at a price. It requires that the entire case for a pretribulational rapture in the Thessalonian epistles be invalidated. If they did not know of such a rapture both from the first epistle and Paul's oral teaching, it is unlikely that we, who lack the latter, would be able to discern such a teaching. Furthermore, Paul merely reminds them of what he has taught them in order to correct their error. Thus, if they were unaware of such teaching, the case for a pretribulational rapture fails in 2 Thessalonians as well.

Second, pretribulationists can hold that Paul taught a pretribulational rapture in 1Thessalonians and orally, but that the believers forgot about it. Their forgetfulness caused them to believe the false teaching, and this was the source of their agitation. This is more likely the approach that a pretribulationist will take, but it too has a price. The problem here is that Paul had a very simple and decisive response to the Thessalonian error. He could have, and on Gundry's view ought to have, said that the Thessalonians should not worry because he had taught them that a pretribulational rapture had to occur before the Day of the Lord was going to begin. Paul is silent on this issue. He makes no mention of the rapture, and this counts severely against a pretrib rapture. Paul's answer is that the Thessalonians cannot be in the Day of the Lord because the apostasy had not occurred and the man of lawlessness had not been revealed.

There are a number of points that one can make in response to this claim. First, I can agree with Gundry that it would have been nice to have had an unequivocal statement about the time of the rapture here. However, the Spirit of God did not see fit to do that, and as I will argue that is not necessary here.

Feinberg: Second, there are some pretribulationists who do think that there is a reference to the rapture in Paul's response. For them, the reference comes in the statement that the apostasy must come before the Day of the Lord. They take the word "apostasy" not only to have the meaning of a religious defection but also to mean a physical departure. Were this the case, and I do not think it is,[16]then Paul corrected the Thessalonian believers by reminding them that the rapture had to occur before the Day of the Lord began.<

Since Feinberg does not believe that “the apostasy” refers to the rapture, I need not refute that theory in this article.

Feinberg: Third, let us grant that there is no reference to the rapture in Paul's answer to the false teaching. <

But HOW can we “grant” such a suggestion? I suggest that there is a very clear reference to the rapture in verse 1 with the term, “our gathering together to Him.” There, “the coming of the Lord” and “our gathering together to Him” are referring to the one and the same event just as Jesus Himself taught at Matthew 24:29-31. They will see him coming and then He will send forth His angels and He will gather together His elect.
Furthermore, it is AT this second coming that the Day of the Lord ARRIVES. Our comparison of passages shows that (1) Jesus will come like a thief in the night and (2) the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night (1Thes. 5:2; Rev. 16:15; 2Peter 3:10; Rev. 3:3).
The arrival of the Day of the Lord should be identified as occurring at the same moment as the coming of the Lord, even though the actual JUDGMENTS of that day will be delayed until the 144,000 bond servants are saved and sealed.
The second coming occurs at the 6th seal and it is at that time that the Day of the Lord has arrived.
The judgment on the earth is delayed in Revelation 7:1-8; the raptured church is seen in heaven at Revelation 7:9ff; and the trumpets of God’s wrath and judgment are then sounded starting at Revelation 8.

Feinberg: Does that invalidate a pretribulational rapture? I think not! I can put my reason both negatively and positively. Negatively, what would invalidate a pretrib rapture would be teaching by Paul that was inconsistent with or contradictory to such a rapture. Positively, as long as Paul's teaching is compatible with a pretrib rapture there is no problem, as long as there is sufficient basis for such a belief elsewhere. In sum, all that is required is that Paul's teaching does not contradict a pretrib rapture and that such a rapture is based on biblical teaching elsewhere. I think that both of these conditions are met, although an unequivocal statement by Paul would have been nice.<

Except that Paul’s teaching DOES IN FACT contradict a pretrib rapture.
Not only here in this passage (2Thes. 2), does Paul contradict a pretrib rapture, but also in chapter one.
2 Thessalonians 1:4ff
Paul expresses his appreciation for their consistent faithfulness in both Christian growth and in expressing the love of Christ towards one another.

2Ths. 1:4 so that, we ourselves boast about you among the churches of God for your endurance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you are tolerating;

He tells them that he actually brags on their behalf because of their faithfulness in the face of severe persecution and pressure. The word afflictions is thlipsis and simply means pressure. It can come from a variety of sources, but the focus in this context seems to be on the persecution pressure that they were enduring. This is not something new or strange to the church. Paul taught at Acts 14:22, "it is necessary that through many afflictions (thlipsis) we are to enter into the kingdom of God," (BFT). And at Philippians 1:29, "For to you it has been graciously provided on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him," (BFT). And Peter too, at 1 Peter 4:12, "beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you . . . as though some strange thing were happening to you."

This experience of affliction from those who are rejecters of God and of God's plan of salvation through Christ, is simply evidence that God is JUST in judging them. It is their own actions that condemn them, and at the same time vindicate your faithfulness because it is demonstrated that you are walking worthy of your place in the family of God. As the believer endures such persecution affliction, he testifies to the reality of his salvation relationship with God.

2Ths. 1:5 a plain indication of God's righteous judgment with the result that you are considered worthy of the kingdom of God, on behalf of which also you are suffering.

This faithful consistency in the face of thlipsis is a testimonial beacon to the believer's status as a child of God, and to God's grace provision for the believer, which is the basis for that believers faithful devotion and endurance.

2Ths. 1:6 Since indeed, it is just for God to repay with affliction those who are afflicting you,

The construction, "since indeed," is eiper, which is a particle of recognized reality. Paul states here the certainty of God's repayment to those who are the persecutors of believers. The word, repay, is antapodidomi, and means to give back to someone in recompense for actions or service rendered. The verb has two objects and two indirect objects (actually 3, including "us as well"). On the one hand God is paying back something to the persecutors, and on the other hand, he is paying back something to the believers. Both playbacks will be initiated by the same event of Christ's glorious descent from heaven in the clouds of the sky. At that time, He will give rest to the believers by removing them out from the affliction, and he will give affliction to the unbelievers by pouring out his wrath upon the world.

This truth is taught by language of principle rather than a specific promise to the Thessalonians that it will indeed occur in their lifetime. This language of principle is the same thing that Jesus used when He gave the promise to the disciples at John 14:1-3, for the promise that He would come again and receive them to Himself never occurred in their lifetime. But it could have, and indeed will in the lifetime of a future generation of believers.

The principle here, that "it is just for God to . . ," applies to whatever group of believers are alive on the earth at the time that Jesus returns. At the time of writing, the affliction (tribulation, thlipsis) that is being endured by the Thessalonians, and indeed, by other believers in other locations (including Paul, 2 Thes. 3:2; 1 Thes. 3:3-4) is not THE tribulation that Jesus taught about (Matthew 24:9-22), but it could easily escalate into that period of time if the man of lawlessness were to be revealed. In such a case, the principle stated in verses 6 and 7, would be applied and Jesus would return to both deliver (give relief to) the believers out from the world, and to render affliction on the unbelievers left in the world.

1. It is just with God: the adjective, dikaios, and the preposition, para, indicates something that is just, righteous, fair BESIDE God, that is, in his presence or sight. This indicates that the absolute standards of divine justice are in play and nothing can refute or discredit the administration of that justice to those who are deserving of either blessing or judgment. Although the translation, "just for God," is clear enough, it does not reflect for us the application of divine standards that the preposition para does, but at the same time, I suggest that ANY English translation will require additional explanation even while adequately indicating that God is justified in what He does.

2. To repay with affliction: the thing that is being repaid is thlipsis. That is, pressure and trouble, of an equal quality as what these unbelievers were inflicting upon the believers. The recipients of this affliction are "those who are afflicting you." This is a present active participle of thlibo and indicates that Paul has in mind the present persecution affliction that the Thessalonians are encountering. It does not see these persecutors as ones who (once) afflicted them, but those who RIGHT NOW are afflicting them.


However, because there is the possibility that THAT present time frame for the church might progress unto the revealing and reign of the man of lawlessness (the beast), the affliction that they are presently encountering, might advance into the affliction administered by the beast. In that case, the "repay with affliction" will be directed on the beast and his kingdom through the trumpet and bowl judgments as the book of the Revelation teaches. The possibility of this being the case is indicated by the fact that Paul speaks of deliverance from this affliction by the revelation of Jesus from heaven.

The possibility of this happening is not going to be a matter of guesswork by any particular generation of the church, for both Jesus and Paul taught that there would be indicators to portend the coming of the Lord. Jesus taught that when the SIGNS of the tribulation period occur, which would be evidenced by the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place (Jewish sanctuary or temple), that His second coming would be near - even though the exact day or hour would be unknown (Matthew 24:32-44).

And here at 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Paul teaches that the COMING of the Lord would not occur until after the man of lawlessness is revealed and the subsequent apostasy of many believers occurs in connection with this man's persecution.

2Ths. 1:7 and relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,

1. AND: This introduces the 2nd object and direct object governed by the verb, repay.

2. relief: This indicates that the Thessalonian believers are going to receive something that is directly opposite to what they were presently encountering.

There is a surprising number of commentators who see in this passage, the idea of a future "just satisfaction" to be experienced by believers when at the last judgment, the unbelievers, and specifically, those who persecuted them while on the earth, will be judged and assigned to the lake of fire. However, the context strongly suggests that the relief is to be experienced immediately, while still in the midst of the affliction, and is not something that would be experienced at some distant time in the future. In other words, this relief is immediate and personal and does not refer to any idea of "just satisfaction" at the future last judgment. The Greek noun is anesis and only occurs 4 other times in the New Testament.

(1) Acts 24:23

And he gave orders to the centurion for him to be kept in custody and {yet} have {some} freedom (relief), and not to prevent any of his friends from ministering to him.

This refers to immediate RELIEF from the pressure of confinement by allowing him to have visits from friends. There is no idea of "just satisfaction" in view here.

(2) 2 Corinthians 2:13

I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother;
but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia.

This certainly refers to turmoil and worry in the soul.
The REST would be immediate relief from such worry.

(3) 2 Corinthians 7:5

For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest,
but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within.

Again, the word is used to indicate the absence of affliction. Ie, they had no relief from the pressures of persecution.

At 2 Thessalonians 1:7, those for whom the Lord comes at the Day of the Lord, will be given relief from the affliction that they are experiencing at that time. There is no idea of "just satisfaction" in view here.

(4) 2 Corinthians 8:12-14

For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what {a man} has, not according to what he does not have. For {this} is not for the ease (RELIEF) of others {and} for your affliction, but by way of equality - at this present time your abundance {being a} {supply} for their want, that their abundance also may become {a supply} for your want, that there may be equality;


Here, the idea is that ease or relief from material need is provided by the generous giving of more prosperous believers.

But this is not advocated by Paul in order to cause an affliction upon the prosperous believers while at the same time providing RELIEF to the needy, but simply to set up a system by which some kind of mutual aid and assistance can be practiced so that there will be a certain degree of

equality between the believers involved. But what is clear here, is that the word is used to indicate an immediate relief from the affliction of material need, and there is certainly no idea of "just satisfaction" that would be experienced at some later date.

There is no contextual basis, no hermeneutical basis and no reasonable basis for seeing in the word, anesis (relief) any idea of some future "just satisfaction" that would be experienced long after the martyrs in view (the Thessalonians) had died and gone into the presence of Jesus in heaven.

The claim for such an idea rises out of the corner that the pretrib view backs theologians into and their inability to reconcile this passage with that view.

3. To you who are being afflicted: This is a present active participle of the verb, thlibo, and is used to indicate the present and immediate affliction that they are enduring. It is not an aorist tense which would suggest the translation, "to you who WERE afflicted" and could possibly justify then, the idea of a future "just satisfaction" for what had happened to them while they lived on the earth. But no, this is clearly affliction that they are PRESENTLY experiencing and from which they will be given relief while they are in the midst of it. This of course, confirms what was already established by the present active participle of the verb at the end of verse 6.

4. And to us as well: Paul includes himself here, and by way of application, all believers who are alive at that time. This indicates that the deliverance that Paul has in mind when Jesus returns, is something that will be universal for all believers who are alive on the earth. This of course is what the other rapture passages teach, and there is perfect consistency between all of them.

5. The time when this deliverance or RELIEF will be given to the afflicted believers is at the revelation of the Lord Jesus.

A. At the revelation of the Lord Jesus: The word is apokalupsis, and is used by the apostles four other times for the 2nd coming of Jesus to gather the church to Himself, and the verb (apokalupto) is used one time by Jesus as is recorded at Luke 17:30.

1Corinthians 1:7, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

1Peter 1:7, that the proof of your faith, {being} more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

1Peter 1:13, Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober {in spirit,} fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1Peter 4:13, but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.


B. These passages taken together and compared with 2 Thessalonians 1:7, make it irrefutable that they all refer to the very same arrival of Jesus at which time He will be revealed IN GLORY to the world of unbelievers, and will gather to Himself all the living believers at that time. And surely there is no basis for making this REVELATION of Jesus any different than the one He talks about at Luke 17:30, where the verb, apokalupto is used.

"It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed."

C. Furthermore, Luke 17:34-35 makes a direct correlation between this revelation in glory and the supernatural removal of believers from the earth, who will then be gathered (paralambano, taken) to the side of Jesus, just as He promised would happen at John 14:1-3.

"I tell you, on that night there will be two men in one bed;
one will be taken, and the other will be left.
There will be two women grinding at the same place;
one will be taken, and the other will be left."


D. The translation in the NASB, KJV, NRSV, and the NIV, "when the Lord Jesus is revealed," is inaccurate and does not represent the literal Greek, which makes a significant difference. Regardless of the reasoning and rationale of these so called experts who insist on translating this as a temporal clause (when . . . revealed), it does not change the fact that the literal translation is clear and precise, and points significantly back to the four other places where the noun occurs, as noted above. William Hendriksen at least acknowledges the correct literal translation before he goes on to rationalize agreement with the usual rendering (New Testament Commentary, page 158). A. T. Robertson translates it correctly and describes it as the "unveiling of the Messiah," and identifies it with the same revelation as is mentioned at 1 Corinthians 1:7 and 1 Peter 1:7. (Word Pictures, Vol. IV, page 43).

What is quite interesting to me is how John Walvoord seems to arbitrarily assign the use of this noun (revelation), now to the rapture and now to a subsequent second coming, with which Dwight Pentecost agrees as he quotes on page 159 in Things to Come:

A survey of those passages in which the word is used in relation to Christ demonstrates that in a number of instances it is used of the second coming of Christ (1 Peter 4:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Luke 17:30). . .
In other passages, however, it is clearly used in reference to the coming of Christ in the air for His church (1 Cor. 1:7; Col. 3:4; 1 Peter 1:7, 13).


An objective analysis of this noun produces only one second coming at which time, not only will Jesus deliver His elect (give relief to you who are being afflicted), but also begin a judgment on those who are left on the earth. This is confirmed by this passage if by none other, for the promise proclaimed here is clearly given to church age believers concerning an immediate relief from ongoing affliction at the revelation of Jesus from heaven.

6. From heaven: Of course Jesus comes down from heaven, where he is presently located, sitting at the right hand of the Father. This is perfectly consistent with all of the other second coming passages and does not require any amplification. Phlip. 3:20-21; 1 Thes. 1:10; 4:16;

7. with His mighty angels: This, of course, is what poses such a problem for the pre-trib rapture position, for they cannot harmonize this coming with angels in power and glory with the arrival of Jesus to rapture His church. They are thus, required to take this very vivid church promise away from the church and make the relief that is in view, totally meaningless to those who are going through the afflictions, and the revelation that is mentioned, to apply to Christ's descent to the earth at Armageddon.

However, since it is contextually obvious that this promise is for church age believers, then it is just as obvious that when Jesus comes back to rescue the living believers from the earth, He will come with His mighty angels. And this is exactly what several other passages teach.

In fact, the rapture passage at 1 Thessalonians 4:16, clearly indicates the presence of at least one angel, with the phrase, "the voice of the archangel," who is Michael. Earlier at 1 Thessalonians 3:13, we see the return of the Lord as "coming . . . with all His holy ones." The word hagios means one who is set apart as unique and special in God's plan, and who reflects God's glory. Thus, it is used of God himself (God is holy, 1 Pet. 1:16), and of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21); of Jesus (Acts 4:30); of believers in the Messiah, both Old Testament (Matthew 27:52) and New Testament (Romans 1:7); of Jerusalem (Matthew 4:5); the Jewish temple (Acts 6:13); and of angels (Mark 8:38).

Now since this promise is clearly given to LIVING believers who will be delivered (given rest) from a present experience of affliction, and since this will occur at the Revelation of Jesus WITH His mighty angels, then there is perfect harmony with the other 2nd coming passages such as:

Matthew 16:27

"For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and WILL THEN RECOMPENSE EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS."

Matthew 24:31

"And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other."

Matthew 25:31

But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne."

Mark 8:38

"For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."

Jude 14-15

"And about these also Enoch, {in} the seventh {generation} from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."

Feinberg: Second, it can be argued that Paul taught a posttrib, pre-Day of the Lord rapture. This is the view that I would attribute to Gundry. If this is so, Gundry has the same problem that the pretrib does on the second interpretative option set out above. The Thessalonians thought that the Day of the Lord had come. The decisive answer here, as well, would have been, "You are wrong in your belief; don't you remember I taught you a posttrib, pre-Day of the Lord rapture?" The text is silent about such a rapture too. <

Am I missing something? Where do these guys get the idea that Paul does not mention a rapture?
In verse one the SUBJECT is, “our gathering together to Him,” that is, concerning the rapture. This is the same event of chapter one, that brings relief to the saints “at the revelation of our Lord Jesus from heaven, with His mighty angels in flaming fire.”
And since “the coming” and “the gathering” and “the day of the Lord” are equated in the context, all three will not arrive UNTIL the apostasy occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed. Thus, it will occur AFTER the middle of the 70th week, which is the starting point of the triubulation, and at a time that the Father will cut short the tribulation by His own sovereign decree, at some unknown day and hour prior to the end of the 70th week.


Third, posttribulationists may hold that Paul taught a posttrib, Day of the Lord rapture. That is, the rapture will be both posttribulational and in the Day of the Lord. In this case, the problem is not the same but similar. It is not why Paul is silent about the rapture but why the Thessalonians are unsettled and alarmed, two strong words. On this interpretation, the Day of the Lord would have to come before the rapture could take place. If the Thessalonians thought they were in the Day of the Lord, even though erroneously, they should not have been unsettled and alarmed, for the coming of the Lord to rapture them was imminent; it was about to occur. Joy and expectancy should have been their attitudes. Those who were not working because they thought the Lord was about to return, were in fact vindicated. The rapture was about to occur.<

But of course, a posttribulation rapture is not being defended here.
According to the prewrath view, the Day of the Lord will not begin until AFTER the tribulation is cut short by the sovereign decree of God. It is then at that time that Jesus comes back and the rapture occurs. This is the inception of the Day of the Lord. This is what Paul has consistently taught. Some of the Thessalonians were disturbed by the false teaching that the Day of the Lord had already arrived because they were simply deceived by the false teaching, that brought doubt to them concerning what they had been previously taught. And to make a statement as above, “they should not have been unsettled and alarmed,” fails to recognize that this is indeed a weakness of believers all throughout history. This is a danger that Jesus warned the disciples about at Matthew 24:4, “see to it that no one misleads you.”
Paul is re-establishing their confidence in what they had been previously taught.
Verse 2, don’t be disturbed.
Verse 3, don’t be deceived.
Verse 5, don’t you remember.
Verse 15, so then, stand firm.

By the way, those who were not working, who are discussed by Paul in verses 3:6-15, were making this decision NOT because they thought the Lord’s return was near, but because they were lazy, undisciplined, and sticking their noses in the business of other believers (verse 11).



The Identity of the Restrainer
Feinberg: A final theological and exegetical question in 2 Thessalonians 2 is the identity of the restrainer and its importance for the question of the time of the rapture. This issue is a bit different than the previous two. The first two matters dealt with arguments that posttribulationists offer against pretribulationism. This issue deals more with an argument that pretribulationists bring in support of their position and against mid- or posttribulationism. The argument is that the restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2:6,7 is the Holy Spirit, and that the removal of His restraint comes at the rapture. This removal supports a pretribulational rapture.

The first step in dealing with this argument is to identify the restrainer.[17]As we might expect, we have a variety of interpretations.<

The various interpretations of who or what the restrainer might be is not of concern in this article.
The issue is to refute the theory that the Holy Spirit is the restrainer and to establish the more scriptural view, that the restrainer is the Arch Angel Michael.

Feinberg: Third, many identify the restrainer with the Holy Spirit. This interpretation seems best to me. It too was widely held in the early church, being found in the writings of Theodoret, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Chrysostom. The view may reflect apostolic teaching. Moreover, it would seem that a person is required to restrain a person, and a supernatural one to restrain this man of lawlessness who is motivated by Satan himself. Finally, this view best accounts for the change in gender between verses 6 and 7. Verse 6 uses a neuter to identify the restrainer, most likely a reference to the Greek noun for spirit, pneuma. The change in verse 7 to the masculine is a reference to the personality of the Holy Spirit. Thus, I conclude that the most likely reference is to the Holy Spirit, for even if the restraining of evil is through human government, ultimately that is only possible through the power given it by the Holy Spirit.<

The use of the neuter in verse 6 is because Paul is talking about WHAT restrains, that is, the concept of restraint, and that is a neuter issue. When he gets to verse 7, he uses the masculine gender, NOT because he is now referencing the “person” of the Holy Spirit, but because he is talking about an actual MASCULINE personage, who is none other than Michael the archangel.

Verses 6-7
"And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed.
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."

The key in this passage is to recognize that the information regarding the man of lawlessness is viewed from a context concerning ISRAEL and the temple of God in Jerusalem.

There are two places where we must add some "helping" words in order to smooth out what the Greek says.

1. In the first clause: And now you know -

A. What do they know? The Greek just says, "the (thing) restraining".

1. This is because we have a present active participle plus a NEUTER definite article, so that it must be either as above or as, "the restraining."

2. Is Paul suggesting that they actually KNOW the restrainer?
The Greek seems to indicate that, as well as the NASB translation, "what restrains him now."

3. What they know is based on verse 5 where Paul reminds them that he was telling them about these things while he was present with them.

4. The point is, that they know of the reality of this restraining activity if not the actual identity of the restrainer.

5. The word, "now" goes with the restraining. There is nothing in the context that suggests their knowledge is something that is "now" acquired, but rather knowledge about something that is NOW or presently going on. Thus, it refers to what is restraining at the present time. This is further confirmed by the contrast with the next clause, "that he may be revealed IN HIS TIME." The idea of NOW is contrasted with a FUTURE, "in his time."

B. Let me suggest the addition of either: "there is," or even "that there is," or as the NASB renders it, "what." Thus, "And (what is, or, that there is) now the restraining, you know."

C. The neuter suggests that the focus is on the "function" of restraining rather than the one who actually does it. Especially since the next time the "idea" of restraint is mentioned (v. 7), the masculine form is used. This sets up a contrast to indicate an amplification beyond the "activity" of restraining to the "agent" of restraint. Thus, the translation at verse 6, "the restraining," is best.

D. The translation continues, "so that he can be revealed in his time." This is the preposition EIS (unto) plus the infinitive (to be revealed) to indicate the RESULT when the restrainer "becomes out of the midst" (verse 7). Thus, we have the cessation of the restrainer's activity, and THEN the man of lawlessness is revealed. What reveals him is his act of breaking the covenant, taking his seat in the temple, and the start of operation beast worship. Prior to that time, the man who will become the beast, may or may not be specifically known even though the effects of his diplomacy will be clearly understood when the covenant is established. Of course, IF the signing of the covenant can be ascribed to one particular man, then "those who have wisdom among the people" (oriented Christians) will know that he is the beast.

2. The last clause also requires an addition of words.

A. What seems to fit best is "there is."

B. But this time we have a present active participle, Masculine singular WITH the masculine singular definite article (the) which requires it to be translated as "the one restraining" or "the restrainer," as long as we make it a "person" and a "he" at that.

C. That is why the pronoun in the verb must be rendered as "he" - because it corresponds with the masculine form of the restrainer.

D. This then goes beyond the "function" of restraining in verse 6 and speaks of the actual "person" who is doing the restraining.

E. The idea that the pronoun of the verb, "becomes (or comes)," refers to a different subject than "restrainer," does not agree with the context.

1. First, the nearest subject is what is in view UNLESS the context indicates CLEARLY otherwise.

2. But the whole idea of "restraint" is EXPLAINED by the clause, "comes out of the middle." It is that "coming out" that constitutes the removal of the restraint and allows the revealing of the man of lawlessness.

3. Notice the parallels:

a. Verse 6, restrains and revealed
b. Verses 7-8, restrains, comes out, and revealed.

3. Until he is taken out of the way:

This phrase is very misleading, for it implies an act of removal by another person. However, the Greek literally says, "until he becomes out of the middle." The restrainer is the subject and he is the one ACTING with the result that a condition comes into existence that was not previously in existence; a presence OUT FROM the midst of the mystery of lawlessness.

Just prior to the midpoint of the week, there will be a major confrontation in heaven between the angels of God under the leadership of Michael, and Satan's angels (Rev. 12:7-9).


Revelation 12:7-9

And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels
waging war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels
waged war, and they were not strong enough,
and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.
And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old
who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world;
he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Michael prevails and kicks Satan and his angels physically out of heaven and down to the earth. This initiates the events that will bring about the Day of the LORD and the establishment of the Messianic kingdom on the earth.

Revelation 12:10-12

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, Now the salvation,
and the power, and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of His Christ have come,


This victory was actually anticipated by Jesus when He commented on the success of the 70 disciples over all the power of the enemy, "I saw Satan falling from heaven ..." (Luke 10:18). In other words, the success of the disciples over the power of Satan, portends the final defeat of Satan, which will begin with the war in heaven.

It also fulfills the prophecy of Ezekiel 28:17b where a physical fall from heaven is mentioned concerning Satan (symbolized by the king of Tyre), when he is displayed before the kings of the earth.

It is important to recognize that this physical removal of Satan from heaven is only the BEGINNING of God's functional victory over the forces of darkness.

The "salvation" has not yet come, for it will not be fully completed until the resurrection of all God's people. The power of God is not even demonstrated at this time, for that will not occur until the actual return of Jesus several months later, when He comes "on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory" (Mat. 24:30). And the kingdom of God, the reign of Christ upon the earth, will not actually occur until after the physical defeat of the world's armies at Armageddon, although he will be reigning through judgment prior to that. This language simply anticipates the ultimate fulfillment of these three factors because it is this initial physical victory over Satan that begins the final events leading up to final victory.

Similar language is found at Revelation 11:15, "the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ."

This passage deals with events that chronologically occur after Michael's defeat of Satan at the midpoint of the week. It is proclaimed based on the "in-your-face" maneuver against the beast after the two witnesses are raised up. The completion of their ministry brings to a close the 70th week of Daniel and marks the official end of the 42-month reign of the beast. The Lord begins his reign through judgment on his enemies by the outpouring of the 7 bowls of final wrath, but does not actually sit on His throne until the 45 days of evaluation that follows the Armageddon victory (Mat. 25:31-46; Dan. 12:12; Rev. 20:1-6).

The statement in verse 17, "because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign," indicates that even though the beast is still alive, the final stage of his demise and of Satan's defeat, is now under way.

When Satan is defeated by Michael, and physically denied any heavenly access, his primary concern is to attack the Messianic people whom God has chosen to inherit the earthly kingdom.

Revelation 12:13

And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth,
he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the child.

Prior to this, the "mystery of lawlessness" which is "already at work" in the world (2 Thes. 2:7), had been restrained from such intensity of oppressive action against Israel, by Michael, the guardian angel of Israel. That gives us a hint as to the degree of oppression against the Jews, for it is hard to imagine anything greater than the holocaust, and yet that was not restrained. But once this battle takes place and Satan is kicked down to the earth, Michael stands aside and now allows him to carry out his own agenda as a final "last ditch" attempt to defeat the plan and character of God.

Rev. 12:12

"knowing that he has only a short time."



Once we establish that the restrainer IS indeed a "person" we then need to determine "WHO" exactly he is and from what "middle" he comes. Our choices are God (in general), The Spirit (specifically), the church as an organization, Michael the archangel, and anyone else who might "fit the bill."

The use of the masculine for restrainer, rules out the idea that it refers to the church for the church is never spoken of as a "he."



Literally: "Until HE (necessary now, because we have the masculine) becomes (or comes) out from the middle." The middle of what?

1. The middle of the activity which is described as "the mystery of lawlessness" presently working in the world. This mystery of lawlessness is Satan's plan to discredit and usurp God's character and plan.

2. In other words, the restrainer is in the middle of the advance of lawlessness, placing a restraint on the activities of Satan who is seeking to destroy God's chosen people, Israel, and Christ's ambassadors, the church. So far, Satan has been "limited" in that endeavor, although both groups have been severely oppressed since 30 AD.

3. But there will come a time in the plan of God when the restraint will be removed, and the restrained one, knowing that his time is short will endeavor to "pull no punches" as he tries to establish himself as God and claims fulfillment of the Messianic promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And anyone who tries to get in his way or to resist him, will be killed.

4. In the meantime then, there is a very real and powerful restraint and restrainer preventing Satan from empowering the man of lawlessness to begin his oppressive reign, which starts as an attack against God's chosen nation of Israel and extends worldwide as this man seeks to establish his own Messianic kingdom separate and independent from God.

It makes perfect sense that the restrainer comes out of the middle of the advance of lawlessness in the world. Not because he is a "part" of that lawlessness, but because he is actively engaged in "holding it in check" until the perfect timing within the plan of God.

God is not the restrainer, directly, for he is not going to come out of the progress of those "lawless" events here on the earth.

And the Spirit is not coming out of those events nor out of the world.

Who of all that we find in scripture is actively involved in the spiritual conflict between God and Satan who is shown to have a direct bearing on "when" this oppression by the man of lawlessness begins?

There must be a reason why John tells us about the war in heaven and the fact that Michael kicks Satan to the earth, which is what actually precipitates the "revealing" of the man of lawlessness (Rev. 12:7-17 and 13:1-5). Furthermore the "frame of reference" of these people would know about Daniel 12. It would be included in what Paul taught (2 Thes. 2:5, "I was telling you these things").

At Daniel 12:1 we read,

"And at that time (the time of the end) Michael, the great prince (guardian angel of Israel) who stands over (present function) the sons of your people, will stand up (and away - implied, because of what happens). And there will be a time of distress (the oppression by the man of lawlessness) . . ."

This "standing up" perfectly corresponds with what Michael does at Revelation 12 when he kicks Satan out to the earth at the mid point of the week. It is at this time and for this reason that Satan becomes aware that "his time is short." Not only does Michael kick Satan out, but he also refrains from any preventative actions toward his intensified attacks on God's people. This is clearly the removal of restraint.



Daniel 12:1

1. "Now at that time . . ." That time refers to the general time of the end mentioned at Daniel 11:35, which is the 70th week of Daniel. It does not refer to the specific event mentioned in the previous verse but to the over-all general period of time introduced at verse 11:35 as the "end time."

2. "Michael, the great prince who stands (as guardian) over the sons of your people, will stand up (or ASIDE) . . ."

Michael is the guardian angel of Israel as demonstrated from Daniel 10:13 and 21 as well as the first part of Daniel 12:1. But the 2nd part of this verse indicates that something different takes place. The rendering in most translations for "stand aside" is stand up. The Hebrew word for stand (Amadh) occurs two times in this verse, but with a different focus the second time. The idea presented is that, Michael, who clearly "stands over" Israel in a protective capacity, will cease that protective activity so that the result will be a time of distress for Israel that is unparalleled in history. The best way to summarize the significance here is to quote from Marvin Rosenthal's, The PreWrath Rapture of the Church, page 258.

"But what does the Hebrew word for 'stand up' (Amadh) mean? Rashi, one of Israel's greatest scholars and one who had no concern regarding the issue of the timing of the rapture under discussion in this book, understood 'stand up' to literally mean 'stand still.' The meaning, according to one of Israel's greatest scholars, would be to 'stand aside' or 'be inactive.' Michael, the guardian of Israel, had earlier fought for her (Dan. 10:13,21), but now this one 'who standeth for the children of thy [Daniel's] people' would stand still or stand aside. He would not restrain; he would not hold down. The Midrash, commenting on this verse, says, "The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Michael, 'you are silent? You do not defend my children?'"


Continuing at Daniel 12:1,

3. "And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time . . ."

The cause of the time of distress is Satan, who "having great wrath," uses the man of lawlessness to oppress both Israel and the church.

Rev. 12:12

"Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you,
having great wrath . . ."

Notice at 2 Thessalonians 2, what results when this "restrainer" is removed.

Verse 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."

Verses 9-10, "the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders and with all the deception of wickedness . . ."

And this is what happens at Matthew 24:15 and 21, "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the Holy Place . . . for then there will be a great tribulation. . ."

4. ". . and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued."

This rescue is in reference to faithful Israel who will be delivered from the oppressive reign of the beast through the return of Jesus at the Day of the LORD. The beast's oppression will be interrupted as his kingdom is judged through the trumpet and bowl judgments of Revelation 8-9 and 16. The final deliverance of the people of Israel will occur at the battle of Armageddon, and they will then undergo the final stage of God's purifying process to prepare them to inherit the physical kingdom over which Jesus will reign for 1000 years.


The church will also be delivered at the return of Jesus, but it will be immediate through removal from the earth by rapture. However, the deliverance of the church is not in view at Daniel 12:1. Only the nation of Israel can be viewed as "your (Daniel's) people." The church would not qualify under that designation. Some have tried to make an association with "the rest of her offspring" at Revelation 12:17, which refers to Christians of the church and include them in "your people," but that is clearly not the intent of the vision. The bible consistently makes a distinction between the church and Israel, as God has a specific plan for each of them.

Once Satan finds himself kicked out of the heavenly spheres and limited to the earth, he feels the time of his demise approaching fast upon his heels and must take major steps to escape his assigned destiny, the lake of fire (Mat. 25:32).

Rev. 12:12

"Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you,
having great wrath, knowing that he has a short time."

2Ths. 2:8, "And 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."

1. This is the immediate result of Satan's removal from the heavenly spheres. Thus we see at verse 9, that his presence (parousia) is according to the working of Satan. Revelation 13:4 tells us that the dragon (Satan) gives his authority to the beast.

2. the lawless one: this is the adjective, anomos, which as we have seen before indicates a total indifference and separation from God's established LAWS for the function of His creatures.

3. will be revealed: this is a future passive indicative of apokalupto.
The passive voice indicates that the lawless one RECEIVES a revealing through the actions of someone else, who is Satan.

4. Whom the Lord will slay (consume, KJV):

The next clause is parenthetical to establish the divine resolution to this Satanic attack. Verses 9-12 then continue with a development of this lawless one's satanic activity. The word slay is a wrong rendering of the verb, anaireo, which means to TAKE AWAY. We learn at Revelation 19:20 that this lawless one (the beast) is not SLAIN, but rather thrown alive into the lake of fire. The verb, anaireo, is consistent with this idea, which is further amplified by the word, "bring to an end." This removal of the lawless one will occur through the Day of the Lord judgments that Jesus will administer at His second coming. It will involve a process of ruin, that will culminate when the beast is defeated by the power of Christ at the battle of Armageddon and thrown alive into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:19-20). The Lord will return at some unknown day and hour after the revealing of the man of lawlessness and begin to judge that evil kingdom and its citizens through the trumpet and bowl judgments.

A. With the breath of His mouth: This usually refers to the power of God's word declaring things and then bring them about, rather than the idea of some kind of "blowing." In this case, it probably has in mind the fact that Jesus will judge the beast and then cast him in the lake. The noun is in the instrumental case, which indicates MECHANICS, and thus tells us HOW the beast will be removed.

B. And bring to an end: This "and" functions as a clarification of the judgment on the beast rather than an additional action. In other words, when the beast is taken away, he will be cast into the lake of fire where he will be brought to an end.

C. By the appearance of His coming: Again the noun is in the instrumental case and further clarifies the MECHANICS of HOW this will come about.

Many interpret this as referring to the physical descent of Jesus at the battle of Armageddon. However, every other reference in Paul to the second coming of Jesus refers to His arrival in the clouds of the sky, at which time He will remove the church from the earth, and will begin to administrate His judgment on the earth through the trumpets and bowls. The reason Paul says that it is the appearance of His coming that brings about the END of the beast, even though that end will not occur until many months later, is because it is, in fact, the coming of the Lord that initiates the judgments that will culminate in the beast's end.

Feinberg: Having identified the restrainer as the Holy Spirit does not settle the issue of the relationship of this to the rapture. For this to be used as an argument for pretribulationism, it must be shown that the Holy Spirit only restrains the revelation of the man of lawlessness through the church. It is only in this way that the removal of the church is identical with the removal of the restraint. As long as the Holy Spirit is active during the Tribulation period, it is possible that He will act to restrain the final manifestation of evil independently of the church and its restraining activity.<

To suggest that the Spirit USES the church to provide the restraint of the man of lawlessness is purely assumption. There is no hint anywhere in the New Testament that the church functions in this capacity. But I will let the lengthy explanation presented above stand on its own merits and at least provide a more than adequate answer to the theory that the Spirit is the restrainer, whether it be THROUGH the church or not.


Questions and comments are always welcome

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