He That Letteth

2 Thessalonians 2:6‑8  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 11
2 Thess. 2:6-86And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: (2 Thessalonians 2:6‑8).-It appears to me that the Spirit here treats of the restraining influence and person with a certain studied obscurity, and that, if wise, we should not too hastily form conclusions. It must be borne in mind that the epistle was an early one, written to young converts who had enjoyed the apostle's oral teaching on the subject of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus (cf. Acts 17:77Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. (Acts 17:7), with 2 Thess. 1), as well as on the matter in question (ver. 5). Further, if we attach any value to the idea, so prevalent in the early church, that the Roman empire was " the letter," or " what withheld," it is natural that the intimation should be but dim, especially if previously taught by the apostle. If the hindrance consisted in the presence and power of the Holy Ghost, whether personally in the church or governmentally in the world, one can understand how nothing more is here given than the assurance of a restraint up to a certain point. Thus, while the powers that be (whatever the form) are ordained of God, there is a time coming, as we know from
Rev. 11-13, when this shall cease, and the beast shall rise out of the bottomless pit (i.e. be resuscitated by diabolic agency in an exceptional and frightful way), when the dragon (i.e. Satan) gives him his power and his throne and great authority. The withholder will have then disappeared, or at least cease to act as such. The apostasy will have come, and the man of sin be revealed in the fullest way: for I do not deny a partial application of the prophecy to the papacy, while looking for a far more complete development of the evil. The revelation of the lawless one, who is clearly, I think, "the king " of Daniel 11: 3640, will be characterized by an unprecedented energy of Satan " with all power, and signs, and lying wonders," similar language as St. Peter uses of Jesus, "a man approved of God" by miracles, and wonders, and signs which God did by him. It is quite a mistake to suppose that verse 6 will bear "and ye know what is now restraining;" for νῦν is here a particle of transition, and fairly enough given in the English version. No more is implied than their general knowledge that there was a some one or thing which restrained; but ὀ χατέχων ἄρτι in verse 7 does mean that he restrains now. Next, ἐχ μέσον is correctly rendered " out of the way." It is its regular known force in sacred and profane authors, whether connected or not with verbs implying separation, as any good lexicon may satisfy any one. Thus, in ἐχ τοῦ μέσου χαθέζεσθαι (Herod. 3: 83) the verb has nothing to do with that sense, which the phrase does carry. See also Dem. 323, 327 (Reiske). Accordingly the authorized version rightly connects ἕως ἐχ μ. γ. With ὁ χατέχων, while the beginning of verse 8 answers to the beginning of the 7th. If the phrase ἕως ἐχ μ. γ. applied to "the wicked one," and meant "till he appears," the force of χαὶ τότε ἀποχ. would be weakened and useless.