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,2 Thessalonians 2:3(NASB)
In this passage, Paul sets out to clarify a misunderstanding about the coming of Christ "our being gathered to Him," and the Day of the Lord, which not only incorporates the future 70th week of Daniel's great prophecy (the Time of Jacob's Trouble) but also the thousand-year millennial reign of Christ.
Paul had already taught these believers the comforting truth about the Rapture of the Church, the devastation and destruction during the first seven years of the Day of the Lord, and the glorious Second Coming of Christ to set up His Millennial Kingdom on earth. But we discover that in the meantime, false teachings had been introduced to deliberately cause confusion and fear to overtake these believers.
False teaching, false prophecies, and fabricated letters - which were allegedly from Paul, had been circulated - causing these Christians to worry that they had missed the Rapture of the Church whilst believing that the Day of the Lord had already arrived! But Paul set out, point by point, the exact sequence of events in this passage, in order to comfort their hearts and allay their fears - reminding them of his earlier teaching, and warning them not to be worried or deceived by these false teachings... that the Day of the Lord had already begun.
Although the book of Revelation had yet to be written, numerous descriptions of the Day of the Lord are given in Old Testament Scriptures which tell of that terrible time when God's wrath will be poured out on a God-hating, Christ-rejecting sinful world: "Let no one in any way deceive you," were Paul's heartening and encouraging words, "for the Day of the Lord will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed." Paul goes on to say, "He Who restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed..."
Paul is outlining three things that have to happen before the Day of the Lord begins.
1: the falling away - in the Greek ‘apostasia’. Bible scholars debate whether this means a spiritual apostasy in the Church where there is a falling away from the faith – or the physical departure of the Church when it is removed in the Rapture.
2: the revealing of the man of sin. This is the Antichrist who will usher in the Day of the Lord which begins with the 7 year Tribulation period when God’s wrath is poured out on a world in turmoil.
3: the removal of the Restrainer of evil. The Holy Spirit is currently working out His role as the Restrainer of evil as he indwells believers in this Church Age. However, before that terrible Day of the Lord's wrath, the Restrainer of evil must be removed. This happens when the Church is raptured and the role of the Holy Spirit as Restrainer of evil will come to a close.
And so, we march ever closer to the close of this Church Age - and the time is at hand for the transition from the Age of Grace to the Day of the Lord. The day when Christ comes to gather His Church is closer than ever before, as evil marches on and heresies multiply with increasing intensity.
Nevertheless, as Paul taught, the evil of the world is still being held back by the prayers of a righteous remnant, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. But the day is fast approaching when He (the Restrainer), will be taken out of the way. And in a world where almost every semblance of righteousness has been removed, the man of sin will be revealed - that man of lawlessness who is the son of destruction, also known as the Antichrist.
As saved saints, we are not appointed to wrath and will not be here when the Antichrist is revealed, but we have a solemn task ahead of us as we occupy ourselves in the things of God until the Lord Jesus comes to take us to be with Himself. Let us continue to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the Word of truth... and let us earnestly share a knowledge of that truth with those that are lost in their sins so that others may be snatched from the teeth of the enemy, before that great and terrible Day of the Lord - when seven years of God's wrath will be poured out on a Christ-rejecting world - and then the Day of the Lord will continue for a further 1000 years, during Christ's millennial reign on earth as He rules as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Heavenly Father, thank You for telling us the end from the beginning and for telling us what will happen before the great and terrible Day of the Lord. May I resist the urge to look for the Antichrist and rest in the fact that he will not be revealed until the Church has been raptured and the Restrainer of evil has been taken out of the way. Help me to hold fast to the truth and never take my eyes off the Lord Jesus in a world that is on the fast-track to God's punishment. In Jesus' name, AMEN.