After telling the Thessalonians in person the Rapture will come before the Day of the Lord, in a letter, and again in this letter, Paul wondered if they were listening (v.5) be-cause they were acting like they weren’t. They were troub-led and shaken in mind (v.2), so Paul says it again (v.1-3). When seasoned saints who know the truth are troubled you don’t have to come up with a new angle on the truth to comfort them, you only need repeat the truth, as Paul did.
Since “withhold” (v.6) means “to hold back” (Pr.11:26), we know he’s telling them again, though some say the Spirit is holding back the Antichrist, not the Body of Christ. But Paul hasn’t mentioned the Spirit previously, so when v. 6 begins “Now ye know…” I have to think he’s repeating what he said in 1-3, the rapture must come first. Plus, the Spirit will be here during the Tribulation (Isa.59:19,20; Mt. 10:19; Rv.11:11). If the Spirit could be here at the same time as the devil (Lu.4:1,2) He can be here with the beast.
Those who think the Spirit is the Withholder may wonder how the Body of Christ would have the power to restrain the beast, but we don’t hold him back by any power of our own, but on the strength of God’s promise that he can’t come till we are gone, just as Noah’s flood couldn’t come until Methuselah died because his name means “when he is gone it shall come.” He too withheld God’s judgment through no strength of his own but by the strength of God’s promise.
When Paul says Antichrist will be “revealed in his time” (v.6), Isaiah predicted the Lords “little ones” (cf.Mt.10:41, 42) would one day be a majority and the “nation” (Mt.21: 3) of the “little flock” (Lu.12:32) would become “a strong nation” in the kingdom.” Redeemed Israel has always been a minority on earth, but that will change “in his time,” and Antichrist will be revealed “in his time.” And the time of a prophetic figure can’t come during the age of the mystery.
If any thought he wouldn’t be revealed, Paul told them that the mystery of iniquity that would produce him was already in the works (v.7). But if it was, how come it hasn’t pro-duced the Antichrist in 2,000 years? Well, remember, Paul thought he’d be among the “we” who live to see the Lord come (ITh.4:15). If He came back then, the mystery of iniquity Paul saw working would have produced the beast.
So what is the mystery of iniquity? We’ve seen the “woman” of Revelation 17:4,5 is the idolatrous false Judaism called “Mystery Babylon,” and is again called a mystery (v.7). Think that might be the mystery of iniquity? God calls idolatry “iniquity” (Ezek.14:3; 44:10,12), and this harlot sits on the beast (Rev.17:3), meaning he rises up under her. Paul may not have seen idolatry in Israel, but idolatry is Baal worship (IIKi.10:26) and he saw Baal worship (Mt.23:14). Since the Rapture didn’t come, Baal worship will rise again after the Rapture
It’s like how God promised to send Elijah before the Lord (Mal.4:5) and He did (Lu.1:16,17). But John the Baptist would have been Elijah only “if” Israel received the kingdom (Mt.11:7-14). So Elijah will have to come again, and be one of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:3-6) who could destroy their enemies with fire and cause it not to rain (cf. IIKi.1:10-12; James 5:17). But that doesn’t mean John wasn’t Elijah, the Lord said he was (Mt.17:10-13); but there’ll have to be another. And the Mystery Babylon Paul saw in his day would have produced the antichrist, but now another will have to be formed after the Rapture.
But Paul says that “he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way” (v.7). The Greek word for “let” is the same as “withhold,” and the English word also means to hinder or restrain. This is what “let” means in the Bible also (Ex.5:4). We can prove that Mystery Babylon will form after the Rapture, for if it were destined to form before, Paul would have listed it in his lists of the signs of the last days. The fact that he doesn’t proves that not only will you not see the Antichrist, you won’t even see the idolatry form in Judaism to become the Mystery Babylon Harlot that will produce the Antichrist. Once again all the stage-setting for the Day of the Lord will take place in the gap after the Rapture and before Daniel’s 70th week.