Jesus said He will return soon, just as He left. Things are heating up. Both Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2) were “raptured” away by God. Each was walking along one day and – suddenly snatched by God!
This question about the Rapture is controversial: Do we see the Antichrist just prior to the Rapture? Or does the Rapture happen before his appearing? It does not really matter if we get this one wrong. God will do what He will do, regardless of our interpretations! But the passages give us pause to wonder.
To-date I believe Paul gives this order of events: First, Apostasy, then Antichrist, then the Rapture (see article). But others, smarter minds than I, believe we do not see the Antichrist, interpreting Paul as saying …first Apostasy, then the Rapture, and THEN the Antichrist. Here’s the main passage:
Now in regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
and our gathering together to meet Him,
we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to be quickly unsettled or alarmed either by a [so-called prophetic revelation of a] spirit or a message or a letter [alleged to be] from us, to the effect that
the day of the Lord
has [already] come.
3 Let no one in any way deceive or entrap you,
for that day will not come
unless the apostasy comes first
[that is, the great rebellion,
the abandonment of the faith by professed Christians],
and the man of lawlessness is revealed,
the son of destruction
the one who is destined to be destroyed]
4 who opposes and exalts himself [so proudly and so insolently] above [d]every so-called god or object of worship, so that he [actually enters and] takes his seat in the temple of God, publicly proclaiming that he himself is God.
The order in 2 Thessalonians 2 verse 3 is quite clear:
then 2 just the “revealing” of the Antichrist (not the full Tribulation),
then 3 the Rapture (where “He who now restrains” — “is taken out of the way”),
THEN 4 The Great Tribulation starts happening, with all the evils (including the Temple abomination) and God’s wrath being poured-out. That is how it reads in 2 Thess. 2.
So, verse 3 is where Paul says “the revealing” comes after the Apostasy, implying the Rapture (“our gathering together to meet Him”) immediately follows the “revealing”. So we would get to see the Antichrist.
But verses 7-8 muddy the waters with a statement that covers several years, where it says (v7) “He who now restrains it is taken out of the way“… and (v8) “Then the lawless one [the Antichrist] will be revealed…“, seeming to change the order of events (from verse 3).
7 For the mystery of lawlessness [rebellion against divine authority and the coming reign of lawlessness] is already at work; [but it is restrained] only until he who now restrains it is taken out of the way.
8 Then the lawless one [the Antichrist] will be revealed and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of His mouth and bring him to an end by the appearance of His coming. 9 The coming of the [Antichrist, the lawless] one is through the activity of Satan
Events are not always presented in chronological order
In the narrative style of Paul, chronological order is not always given. In verse 3, the order of events is relevant, evident, quite clear: “that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first …and the man of lawlessness is revealed.”
Paul writes (these are my words; not quoting him):
Don’t let the many false teachers tell you I already came! (Believe me they will try, with false teachings….) The true order of events is this way: There will be a huge falling away from the faith (“apostasy”), and then the “man of lawlessness” will be revealed to the world, and THEN, look to be Raptured very soon after that — but not before those two events happen. After all of these three events, then The Great Tribulation period will explode around the globe.
Paul gives us a very clear “first this, then that, then the other” order of events. First, Apostasy, then Antichrist, then the Rapture.
But that is the exception. The rest of the passage relates end-time events in narrative form, without any specific chronological order. The passage of 2 Thessalonians 2:verses 7-12 is a narrative of what will be transpiring further down the road. 1
What’s coming soon
– with the One World Antichrist Takeover
This is how I see it: 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12
1. The “Mystery of lawlessness”
This is happening already (v7). Evil is so obviously growing in intensity. But evil is currently restrained.
Believe that?! It will get worse and worse…. Not much use praying for the world to get better! Read: Praying for the world to get better? Instead, pray for the salvation of folks.
2. The “Restraining”
God is controlling events so they happen in His time (“just in time“). He is doing so by the Holy Spirit on earth, and the Spirit inside His Body of believers on earth.
This “restraining” is part of His never-ending work inside of us, and our enduring work and ministry in the Spirit. We “restrain” the growing spirit of lawlessness with our efforts to keep justice and goodness in our land, as we love our neighbors and present to them the saving “good news” of Jesus’ salvation, and as we volunteer or serve in government “as salt and light”. Pray that friends and family get saved.
3. “The Revealing”
Some day soon, of a sudden, the One World government forces will take power, and they will present the Antichrist as the One World leader. This is the “revealing” of the Antichrist (v3 and v8). I think we will see this “revealing” event happen. The Spirit is on earth still, and we are here still. God has not yet poured out His wrath on the earth.
4. “The Rapture”
But then, in a sudden fantastic event that happens “in the twinkling of an eye” all around the planet, all born again followers of Christ disappear without a trace. We are taken up by the Holy Spirit “to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4: verse 17). “And thus will we ever be with Him.”
Simultaneously with our “rapture”, the Holy Spirit strategically leaves town: “he who now restrains it is taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:verse7). This event is Jesus coming to rescue us from His wrath.
God’s wrath (Luke 21:36 and Revelation 3:10-11) will never be poured out on His followers. Ever. His wrath is reserved for those who are under His condemnation. We (believers) are no longer under condemnation. So we are safe now, and we will be safe later. Halellujah! Romans 8:1 – Source: The Wrath of God and His Indignation
5. Evil is unrestrained
So then what happens? With holy God “out of the way”, no born again Christians anywhere… evil is unrestrained: all peoples, all individuals, all political authorities, all social influencers, all city powers, state powers, national leaders… will do evil to their hearts content – whatever they want to do. Without any restraint whatsoever, since the holy powers of God the Holy Spirit are “out of the way”, all manner of abhorrent evil breaks loose all over the world. Can’t imagine that.
the Antichrist will become active
after his “revealing”
6. The Great Tribulation
I believe there is a time lapse here with verses 8-12. I’d say – then the lawless one [the Antichrist] will become active – for a 7 year period.
7. Paul says “and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of His mouth”. That happens at the end of the age. All the specific events of the Tribulation period are skipped here. They are not included in this narrative. Paul is not giving the order of events here. This is not a chronological description, but rather “a general narrative” of that period.
8. Paul then says, “and bring him to an end” (v8). Again, that happens at the end of the age. God takes-out the Beast, ends his rule.
9. Paul then says, “by the appearance of His coming [His coming in glory and power to conquer]” (v8). Again, that happens at the end of the age. This is the return of Christ “in glory and power to conquer”.
Whatever the order of events becomes, we just need to listen to the warning of Christ and Paul: Jesus is coming. Be ready. Regardless of what we think — it will all happen exactly as God predicted. Not to worry.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:verses 7-12
7 For the mystery of lawlessness [rebellion against divine authority and the coming reign of lawlessness] is already at work; [but it is restrained] only until he who now restrains it is taken out of the way. 8 Then the lawless one [the Antichrist] will be revealed and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of His mouth and bring him to an end by the appearance of His coming. 9 The coming of the [Antichrist, the lawless] one is through the activity of Satan, [attended] with great power [all kinds of counterfeit miracles] and [deceptive] signs and false wonders [all of them lies], 10 and by unlimited seduction to evil and with all the deception of wickedness for those who are perishing, because they did not welcome the love of the truth [of the gospel] so as to be saved [they were spiritually blind, and rejected the truth that would have saved them]. 11 Because of this God will send upon them a misleading influence, [an activity of error and deception] so they will believe the lie, 12 in order that all may be judged and condemned who did not believe the truth [about their sin, and the need for salvation through Christ], but instead took pleasure in unrighteousness.