The Restrainer


Paul, in his second letter to the Thessalonians, talks to them regarding the Last days and in chapter two he is correcting them from a false message that the Day of the Lord had already come. He then explains about the Restrainer.


“And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He us taken out of the way.”

2 Thessalonians 2: 6-7


We need to understand who the Restrainer is and its role in Christianity. The Greek word for “restrain” is “Katecho” meaning:

  1. To Hold back
  2. Restrain
  3. Hinder the course of or progress of
  4. To hold fast
  5. Keep Secure
  6. Get Possession of

In John chapter five, we see the account of where the angel would come down and stir the waters-


“For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; and then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the waters, was made well of whatever disease he had (katecho)”

John 5: 4


In other words, whatever disease was hindering and restraining the person, they would be set free from by being first into the water when the angel stirred the waters. In this account, we get a clear image of a man restrained by disease, even though we are not told exactly what he had, the man for thirty-eight years was unable to make it first into the water.


So, the enemy can seek to restrain us, and evil men can seek to restrain the truth:


“For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress (katecho) the truth in unrighteousness.”

Romans 1: 18


These ungodly people seek to hinder or restrain the truth. Here we gain a true picture of this hour. During the Church Age, there was a restraining of evil and the appearance of the antichrist, but in this hour, we are seeing a growing restraining of the truth. In previous generations, there was an honoring of the Gospel to some degree, but today the goal is to hinder and restrain it. The judgment that is coming is against these people who are restraining the preaching of the Gospel so that souls are being swept into hell.


This restraint is more than just headwinds that can come in various seasons but a demonic onslaught to stop and hinder.  In John chapter five, we see the story of the pool of Bethesda and the angel stirring the waters.


For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had (ketecho).”

John 5: 4


The person was healed of whatever disease had restrained the person, and of course, we know that Jesus healed a man who was bed-bound and unable to walk. So a demonic spirit can do more than just hinder and harass you but restrain a person. However, remember:


“All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen’
Matthew 28: 18-20


The Church is to go and we go in the Name! Jesus is the stronger strong man and He is the Greater One who is in us.


Now turn to the first chapter of Romans:


“For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress (ketecho) the truth in unrighteousness.”

Romans 1: 18


When people ask if we are truly living in the last generation here is proof- we see a generation that doesn’t just seek to hinder the truth! No! They are restraining and stopping the truth so that souls are being swept into hell. So people can restrain us.


Now add this:


“Those who weep as though did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess (ketecho)”

1 Corinthians 7: 30


Paul is talking about living in these Last Days and how we are to be careful that we are not restrained by our possessions. How many would love to do certain things but can’t for various reasons such as their pets.


Now turn to Psalm 2:


“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast Their cords from us.”

Psalm 2: 1-3


Please note the capital “T” in Their bonds and cords or we could say “Their restraints.” Here we see the state of the world today which wants the Restrainer removed. The enemy recognizes the restraint of the enemy and hates it.


In Roman and Ancient times, we see just how important and powerful witchcraft was and the worship of these demons. The leaders relied on mediums to work with these demons, so when Christianity spread, and the power of the enemy became restrained, resulting in severe persecution of Christians. Roman, which tolerated all kinds of religions, launched a barbaric persecution of Christians.


We live in a similar hour, but due to the apostasy in the Church, where we are not standing up and preaching the Gospel, the enemy is increasing lawlessness. Elitists have their new prophets and evangelists preaching their social gospel and painting a picture of a perfect tomorrow through science. They call for tolerance but seek to restrain the preaching of the truth.


“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is I you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and spirit of error.”

1 John 4: 4-6


Remember, Paul referred to the Restrainer as “He” and here we discover more about Him and that He abides in us and he is greater than the enemy in the world. The wonderful Holy Spirit comes and abides in us-


“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you.”

1 Corinthians 3: 16


The word Paul used for ‘temple” here is better translated as Holy of Holies, the place of His Presence. The Holy Spirit will never leave us nor forsake us, and he works through us in this hour to preach the Gospel. Going back to Thessalonica, we see that they thought they had missed the rapture and the Tribulation Period had begun. Why did they think this?


“So that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your PERSECUTIONS and TRIBULATIONS that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels…”

2 Thessalonians 1: 5-7


They were enduring severe persecution, but Paul explained there was coming to them when the Lord appeared a rest. Paul pointed out that the mystery of lawlessness was already at work, and we can see that lawlessness rapidly spread and increased in this hour. However, Paul explained the antichrist can’t be revealed until the Restrainer is removed. The Restrainer is not hindering but stopping his appearance.


Satan is not the restrainer because he is more than eager to destroy. We see in the story of Job that he wanted to destroy Job but was restrained. The devil has sought to destroy Christians and Jews several times, but he has been restrained.


Many people have given various suggestions of what or who the Restrainer is, but it is only once the Restrainer is removed that the antichrist is revealed. So, if it was governments or laws, they would continue.


Lewis Sperry Chafer said-


“The central truth of the passage under discussion is that, though Satan would long ago have consummated his evil program for his cosmos world, and have brought forward its last human ruler, there is a Restrainer who restrains to the end that Satan’s program shall be developed and completed only at God’s appointed time.”1


In John’s first letter, he explained that the spirit of the antichrist was already on the earth and operating, but this spirit was being kept in check, and the enemy hindered and stopped him from proceeding with his plan. If we look at all options for the Restrainer, we can eliminate everything but the Holy Spirit because He and he alone has the authority, power, and ability to restrain. If it was Satan, why would he hinder himself and he will be present in the Tribulation Period? Remember, it is not the removal of the restraint but the Restrainer that allows for the appearing of the antichrist.


What makes the Church Age unique is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. When we look at the Two Witnesses and 144,000 men, they are anointed, but it does not say the Holy Spirit dwelt in them. In the Book of Acts, we see the operation of the Holy Spirit working with and in His people, the Church, yet in the Book of Revelation, we see a return to an Old Testament manner from chapters six until twenty-one.


Pentecost wrote:


“Since all the Spirit’s ministries to the believers today depend upon His indwelling Presence, the absence of this prevents all the dependent ministries to the tribulation saints.”2  


Before the Cross, the Gospel of the Kingdom was preached. What is clear is that a person called the Restrainer must be removed, and the impact of his removal changes the spiritual conditions to allow the antichrist to come forth and perhaps many of the other things we see happen on the earth during the Tribulation Period. The restraining power of the Holy Spirit, who operates through the Church through prayer and intercession, would be gone as well. We must remember you can’t separate the Holy Spirit and the Church. Where one goes, so must the other.


Now Jesus is referenced as in the Days of Noah and in the Days of Lot. In the Days of Noah, the wrath could not come until God had delivered Noah and his family in the ark. When we look at Lot, the wrath could not come until Lot and his family were removed. So, Noah and his family and Lot and his family restrained God from pouring out His wrath.


Looking closer at the Days of Noah, we see that mankind had deteriorated so quickly that it says:


“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So that the Lord said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”

Genesis 6: 5-8


Think about this for a minute God was grieved and repented for making man! But Noah! Noah was not a perfect man but had a heart after God such that it was enough to catch the attention of the Lord. God was looking for anyone to whom he could show mercy and found one, Noah and his family.


Now if we look at Genesis chapter eighteen, the Lord comes to Abraham to say He planned to destroy Sodom because of their sin. But Abraham began to negotiate with the Lord until God agreed that if He found ten righteous, He would spare Sodom. And the Lord could not even find ten, but He still didn’t destroy it until He removed Lot, even though Lot was far from perfect.


As His people are filled with His Spirit, we restrain the judgment of God. While the world awaits judgment, we await Him. The world fails to see the impact Christians have on this world and the blessing we impart. We look at how many events could have and should have destroyed cities or nations but were restrained because of Christians.


This is the Church Age,    and during this time, the Lord, in His mercy, is seeking to persuade men of His goodness so that they may believe in Him. When we look at all the events like earthquakes on the earth, they are the consequence of sin and not wrath. Even then, these events are restrained by the Church through the Holy Spirit.




  1. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, IV, 372
  2. Pentecost page 263