Summary: Paul provided us with significant bits of information about the End Times and the coming of the Antichrist.
The End Times and God’s Timetable
1. Things can change quickly in modern society. Take this Associate Press story.
2. PARIS - From next week, one of France’s most iconic institutions — the smoky cafe — will be but a hazy memory.
The extension of France’s smoking ban to bars, discotheques, restaurants, hotels, casinos and cafes on Jan. 1 marks a momentous cultural shift in a country where thinkers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir once held court while clutching cigarettes in Left Bank cafes.
For smokers, this is the most distressing part of a phased smoking ban that began last February in workplaces, schools, airports, hospitals and other "closed and covered" public places like train stations.
But many bartenders and restaurant staffers are looking forward to breathing easier and to clothes that don’t stink of seeped-in odors from the clouds of smoke where they work.
Just about anywhere indoors will be off-limits for smoking, except homes, hotel rooms, and sealed smoking chambers at establishments that decide to provide them."
3. In my lifetime, I have seen smoking become taboo while homosexual relationships are considered good and healthy.
4. Right now, in younger generations, Christianity is under attack as never before. Christians are being blamed for all the abuses and problems in our world. Paganism is filling in the religious void. We are seeing a polarization of society, and people must choose if they are going to identify themselves with Jesus Christ or with the anti-Christian element. The middle ground, occupied by most Americans for decades, is disappearing.
5. Who knows where this is all headed in regards to Bible prophecy. America is only about 6% of the world’s population, and we need to stop evaluating what is happening in the world by what is happening in our corner of the world.
6. Nonetheless, when we see how quickly things can change, it is very easy to believe that the end times can begin at the drop of a hat. It is possible that the antichrist is alive today. But, having said that, it is possible that the end times are centuries away.
MAIN IDEA Paul provided us with significant bits of information about the End Times and the coming of the Antichrist.
Let’s examine those bits of information.
I. God Has Been RESTRAINING the End Times from Coming (6-7)
A. WHAT is holding him back (6)
B. WHO is holding him back (7)
Robert L. Thomas comments,
"Now" should be connected with "what is holding him back" to indicate that "holding back" is a present phenomenon. To katechon ("what is holding back") is a neuter title for this restraining force. The word recurs in the masculine in v. 7 where it is translated "who ... holds it back." Proposed identifications of to katechon have been multiple. Because of inability to explain the neuter-masculine combination, such suggestions as the preaching of the gospel, the Jewish state, the binding of Satan, the church, Gentile world dominion, and human government are improbable. To identify to katechon with a supernatural force or person hostile to God is difficult in a paragraph such as this because the restrainer is limiting Satan (vv. 7-9), not cooperating with him (Best, pp. 298-301). [Source: Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Frank Gaebelein, editor)
Two particularly notable views:
(1.) The Holy Spirit’s restraining ministry (the Holy Spirit will not be removed during the Tribulation, but perhaps His restraining ministry will)
(2.) Angels behind the scenes…
Marvin Rosenthal has suggested this refers to Michael, as referred to in Daniel 12:1, "At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered."
According to the Talmud, "Michael [reaches his goal] in one [flight], Gabriel in two, Elijah in four, and the Angel of Death in eight. In the time of plague, however, [the Angel of Death, too, reaches his goal] in one." Berakoth 4b (vs. 33)
--- Or perhaps another Angel who is not mentioned…
Revelation 7:1 reads, "After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree."
Note how they "hold back’ the winds (different Greek word, but similar concept)
(3.) What matters is that God has this timed; the Thessalonians knew exactly who Paul meant here, but we can on make conjectures…
C. This takes us back to BABEL
II. The LAWLESS One Will Be Revealed (8-10)
A. How he will be REVEALED (8a)
1. To those who know the SCRIPTURES