The Identity of the “Restrainer” in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 -- By: Charles E. Powell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 154:615 (Jul 1997)
Article: The Identity of the “Restrainer” in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7
Author: Charles E. Powell


The Identity of the “Restrainer” in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7

Charles E. Powell

[Charles E. Powell is a Teaching Assistant in New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.]

One of the most baffling problems in the New Testament and in eschatology is the identity of the “restrainer” in 2 Thessalonians 2:6–7. Verse 6 has the neuter participle τὸ κατέχον (“what restrains”) and verse 7 has the masculine participle ὁ κατέχων (“he who restrains”). More than a dozen views have been proposed. Many of these views in part stem from the scholar’s eschatological perspective.1 Other views stem from historical considerations and the Sitz im Leben of the Thessalonians.2

Part of the difficulty in determining the identity of ὁ κατέχων is that it is based on Paul’s previous teaching in Thessalonica, which he alluded to in this passage without explanation (καὶ νῦν τὸ κατέχον οἴδατε, “and now you know what restrains”). Nor in any of his other letters did he explain or even mention ὁ κατέχων.

While Scripture includes information elsewhere on other issues in 2 Thessalonians 2, such as the man of lawlessness (Dan 7:8–26; 8:23–26; 9:27; 11:36–45; Matt 24:15; Mark 13:14; Rev 13:1–18; 14:9–10; 16:10–14; 17:1–19:21), the apostasy (Matt 24:10–12; 1 Tim 4:1–3; 2 Tim 3:1–9; 2 Pet 3:3–7), and Christ’s second advent (Zech 14; Matt 24–25; Mark 13; <...

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