Bible Question:

Who is the restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7?

Bible Answer:

2 Thessalonians 2:3-7 is a prophecy about the future. In verse 3 we are told that the man of lawlessness will arrive someday in the future. Verse 7 says that the mystery of lawlessness is already at work but some day an individual who is called the “man of lawlessness” in verse 3 will finally be allowed to do as he pleases. Verse 6 and 7 say the man of lawlessness will be restrained until “he who now restrains” is taken away.

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 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. Do you not remember that  while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will 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. 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; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of  Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders . . .  2 Thessalonians 2:3-9 (NASB)

Who Is Doing The Restraining?

The Man Of Lawlessness Is The Antichrist

The Greek word for  the restrainer in verse 7 is katecho. The word means to prevent someone from doing something by restraining or holding back. When we are told the “mystery of lawlessness is already at work,” we are to understand that it refers to the spread of sin or evil in our world (1 John 3:4-5; 5:17). The man of lawlessness is the ultimate man of evil. He is the antichrist (1 John 2:18; 4:3) who is under the control of the devil. 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9 clearly tell us that the man of lawlessness is the under the control of the Satan.

This antichrist is described in Daniel 7:8, 21-27 and Revelation 13. For more information about the antichrist, visit “How can we know who is the antichrist?” A comparison of Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 and Revelation 13:1-6 reveals that this man of lawlessness is the antichrist who is empowered by the devil.

Various Views About The Identity of The Restrainer

There are many views about who the restrainer is in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7. Here are some of the views:[1]

1.  Preaching the gospel about Jesus Christ
2. The Jewish nation
3. The binding of Satan
4. The Church
5. Gentile worldwide domination
6. Human government
7. Michael the archangel

But the difficulty with all of these views is that none of them can control the devil or anyone the devil empowers. Note that verses 3-7 reveal that the antichrist, who is empowered by the devil, will be hindered by the restrainer. Since none of the views listed above explain how the devil and his antichrist can be controlled, they must be rejected. The only explanation left is that God the Holy Spirit is the restrainer. God the Holy Spirit can restrain the devil.


Today the spirit of the antichrist (1 John 4:3; 2 John 7) is already at work. False teachers are everywhere (1 John 4:1). Someday the antichrist, himself, will finally arrive and he will be empowered by the devil. However, the antichrist will not become known and possess full power until the Holy Spirit stops restraining him.



1. Frank Gaebelein. 2 Thessalonians. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Zondervan Publishing. 1978. vol 11. p. 324.

Suggested Links:

Who is the restrainer: Michael or the Holy Spirit?
How can we know who is the antichrist?
The Antichrist, part 1 - sermon
The Antichrist, part 2 - sermon
The Antichrist, part 3 - sermon