The next passage is also somewhat obscure. Clearly, Paul told the Thessalonians what was holding back the Antichrist, or possibly his arrival, since he still hadn’t appeared. And the one, obviously some persona, is doing the holding back and will continue to do so until this is removed. Many understand this to be the Holy Spirit. But how can the Holy Spirit be removed, if people are to be saved during the Tribulation? Some hold it is the role of the Holy Spirit as restrainer, through the church that is referred to here. If the church is raptured prior to the appearance of Antichrist, it is the Rapture itself that will allow him to be revealed. Now there are a number of supplemental arguments to support this position, but again, we can’t be dogmatic in demanding adherence to this view. Eventually, we will all know how God works these things out.
So we have seen that the Thessalonians couldn’t be in the midst of the Great Tribulation because Antichrist hadn’t been revealed. Antichrist couldn’t be revealed because the restrainer hadn’t been removed. The restrainer, whose personality must be greater than Antichrist and by inference, Satan, mostly likely is a member of the Godhead, and because of the focus of the language is probably the Holy Spirit. Clearly the Holy Spirit wouldn’t be removed from indwelling believers; therefore, and in conjunction with the passages already noted in 1 Thessalonians, the church will be removed before the appearance of Antichrist.
Now Paul notes some other facts about this individual and events around him. Most importantly, no matter what he accomplishes, his destruction at Christ’s hands is foreordained at the Second Coming. When Christ returns with the Church, Antichrist will be defeated.
But prior to that, Antichrist will work great miracles, signs and wonders. For all those who believe, miracles today are still a validation of God’s working, but keep in mind that Satan too has performed miracles. Real or perceived doesn’t matter. And by the day of Antichrist, they will be tied to his work, just as they are to the cults and occult today. Yes, God still does work miracles, but there is no value in seeking them out as a validation of His presence.
Antichrist’s works will be evil by definition, and will deceive all who desire to find an alternative to God’s Truth. It shouldn’t surprise us that many who follow after today’s “messiahs” don’t want truth. Even when their leaders are exposed, they continue to follow them.
People are lost because they reject Truth. They have no desire for salvation. As a result, God not only allows them to go their own way, but as He did with Pharaoh, He hardens them in their delusions, in their beliefs in lies. This is why people continue to support the Mansons, Hagens, Meyers, etc.. Most who follow the cults and occult aren’t simply misled. They want to hold to their false beliefs - and therefore will face eternal condemnation. So most of the world will desire to follow after the false god, the false Christ, the Antichrist.
Finally, Paul tells the Thessalonians they do not have to fear these things, because obviously the Tribulation hadn’t arrived. And more importantly, they had nothing to fear because they were loved and chosen by God.
They were to continue to hold firm to what they had been taught, not sidetracked by every new fad that came along, by every teaching of those who claimed to be teachers. They were to hold to the truths which came from Scripture and the Apostles.
Study to be continued.