TO WHOM DOES II THESS. 2:6-9 REFER?
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day (“the day of Christ” vs. 2, i.e. His second coming, ) shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, 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. ….and now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. for the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way: and then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth and shall destroy with ….His coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (II Thess. 2:3-9).
The first thing we must do is to determine what some of these words mean. As always, the meaning should be determined by how the original word is used by the Holy Spirit. The Greek word translated “letteth” (“he who now letteth will let“) is “kateko”. Let us look at a few key verses in which that word is used in order to determine its meaning.
Matt. 21:38, let us seize on his inheritance”
Rom. 1:18, “who hold the truth in unrighteousness”
I Thess. 5:21, “hold fast that which is good”
Heb. 3:6, :if we hold fast the confidence”
Heb. 10:23, “Let us hold fast the profession”
I believe it is clear that we are to understand this word to mean “to hold fast”. So ” he who now holds fast will hold fast, until he be taken out of the way”.
Let us now turn our attention to the phrase, “until he be taken out of the way“. The Greek word translated “way” is “mesos”. It is used by the Holy Spirit 61 times. It is translated “midst” 40 times and “among” 12 times. Let us look at just a few examples of those translations.
Matt. 10:16, “as sheep in the midst of wolves”
Matt. 14:24, “the ship was now in the midst of the sea”.
Mark 9:36, “and set him in the midst of them”.
Luke 8:7, “and some fell among thorns”
Luke 10:3, “as lambs among the wolves”
Luke 22:27, “I am among you as He that serveth”.
I believe that the word translated “way” in II Thess. 2:7 is to be understood as “in the midst of” or “among”. So this phrase should be understood to say that one will be “taken out of from among others”.
It is helpful to also understand the phrase “and shall destroy with ….His coming”. What does the Holy Spirit mean by destroy? That Greek word is “katargeo”. It is used, for example, in I Cor. 15:26, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” And II Tim. 1:10, Christ, Who hath abolished death”. It is clear that this word is used of total and complete destruction.
Let us now consider a few key phrases. Let us consider the phrase, “that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, 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”. About whom is this written?
We read in Dan. 11:36 of the antichrist (see vs. 31), “and the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every God, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods……”. So it is the antichrist who will exalt himself above God.
Let us also consider the phrase, “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders”. This tells us that the one who shall be destroyed by the coming of Christ will do the works of Satan through the power of Satan. Who will receive power from Satan in the tribulation? We read in Rev. 13:4, “And they worshipped the dragon (i.e. Satan, see Rev. 12:9) which gave power unto the beast.….”. Who is the beast to whom Satan will give power? That question is answered in Rev. 13:5-6, “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months (3 and 1/2 years). And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle and them that dwell in heaven”. We know from the phrase “blasphemy against God” that it is the antichrist who is the beast that will receive power from Satan.
Let us jump now to the phrase, “then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth and shall destroy with ….His coming”. To whom does this refer? It cannot refer to Satan because he will not be destroyed by Christ’s coming, he will be put in bonds (see Rev. 20:1-2). But the antichrist will be destroyed at Christ’s coming. How do we know that? We know that from Rev. 19:20, “and the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone”. This is the beast of 13:5-6, i.e. the antichrist.
So it is the antichrist that will be destroyed by the second coming of Christ. It is the antichrist who will exalt and magnify himself above God. It is the antichrist that will receive power from Satan. In short, II Thess. 2:3-9 has a great deal to do with the antichrist.
But is it the antichrist who “holdeth fast”? I think not. Let us return to the phrase, “only he who now holdeth fast will hold fast, until he be taken out of the way”. How are we to understand one holding fast? Holding fast to what? I believe that question is answered in Rev. 12:7-9, “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon: and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. and the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him”.
I believe that II Thess. 2:7 which speaks of one holding fast (“letteth”) refers to Satan. But that does not fit the context which, as we have seen speaks of the antichrist. How can we reconcile this difficulty? We learn in Rev. 12:13 that “the dragon (Satan) ….persecuted the woman (Israel)….”. And in verse 17 we learn that the dragon “went to make war with the remnant of her seed….”. But the dragon is Satan and it will be the antichrist who will persecute Israel (see Dan. 7:21). I believe that this passage tells us that because the antichrist will receive power from Satan, he and Satan are sometimes spoken of as the same person.
My point is that II Thess. 2:3-9 speaks, in one sense, of two, i.e. of the antichrist and of Satan. But in another sense, because the antichrist receives his power from Satan they are spoken of in the context of II Thess. 2 as one. So it is Satan who is even now “holding fast”. But when the time is right, he will be cast out of heaven and at that time the antichrist will be revealed, but then destroyed by the second of coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org