The Mysteries or Secrets of God revealed to the Apostle Paul - Part 9:
Our last study was the first of a two parts on 2 Thessalonians 2:77 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
: “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” In order to fully understand this verse we need to understand the context in which it appears so the last study provided an explanation of the verses leading up to it. You can review it on my website if necessary but I’ll briefly recap last week’s study of 2 Thessalonians 2:1 - 61 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
, verse by verse as follows:
1. Paul beseeches all believers by “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,” that is, he reaches out to the believers at Thessalonica, and to all believers living since then, beseeching (requesting or desiring or praying) by our mutual earnest expectation of the coming rapture.
2. He advises the Thessalonians, and all believers since then, not to be shaken (in our faith) by either spirit, or spoken or written word claiming the day of the Lord, which is the Great Tribulation, had begun or about to begin.
3. He exhorts believers not to let anyone deceive them because the Tribulation will not begin until a great apostasy or turning from the truth by the Hebrew and Christian churches occurs first. This teaching is that after true believers of the Gospel, (which is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1 - 41 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
) are taken up in the rapture there will still exist on earth those who follow the Hebrew and Christian religions but they will do so in self-righteousness and not true faith; that is, they will defect from the truth. (This has been going on in a somewhat lesser degree since Paul’s time.) At that time the “man of sin,” the “son of perdition,” who is the Anti christ will be revealed. We will see in the context that the Anti christ is or will be held fast in the abyss until he ascends from there into perdition. Which means he’ll show up on earth as the epitome or personification of perdition; perdition being ruin, loss, destruction, pernicious ways.
4. When the Anti christ ascends out of the abyss onto the earth he will not only oppose God but will exalt or place himself above God. Under the guise of being God he will sit in the temple that will be rebuilt in Jerusalem.
5. Paul reminds the believing Thessalonians that he taught about these things when he was with them.
(Verse 6) “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.”
The word “withholdeth” is a translation of the Greek word katecho, (G2722) which means to “hold down (fast), etc.” This is in reference to the abyss, which does or will hold fast the Anti christ until the time appointed, Revelation 17:88 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
. The reason I write “does or will” is that we don’t know the identity of the man who will be the Anti christ so we don’t know if he has already lived and died or whether he will live and die in the future. One way or the other, he will be in the abyss until he is called out.
(Verse 7) “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” 2 Thessalonians 2:7.
The mystery of iniquity: Mystery here is the word we’ve been studying that simply means a secret or secrets. The Greek word translated “iniquity” is “anomi’a,” (#G458) found 15 times in the New Testament where it is translated variously “iniquity, unrighteousness and transgress the law.” So Paul is stating that the secret of wickedness/ unrighteousness was already at work at the time he wrote this epistle and from this verse and others in his epistles we understand it has been in operation since then.
The Greek word translated “letteth” as in “he who now letteth” is the same Greek word that is translated “withholdeth” in verse 6 meaning to hold down/ fast. However, whereas the Greek in the original is used alone in verse six, in verse 7 it appears in combination with an adjective that has the idea of suspension or “just now.” In addition to studying every occasion where the word translated “iniquity” is found I examined numerous Bible translations and no less than 9 different commentaries while attempting to understand the truth this verse conveys. At this time I believe George Williams’ commentary (Pg 950) is most accurate (Several other Commentaries agree with him to one extent or another). Mr. Williams wrote that the verb “hold fast” in verse 6 is something neuter whereas the word translated “letteth” (holdeth fast) in verse 7 is in the masculine participle. Therefore, in verse 6 it refers to the abyss where the Anti christ is or will be held while in verse 7 it refers to someone holding fast to something and this must refer to Satan who presently holds fast to his position in the heavens. (It should be noted that there are no words in the original for “will let;” the translators added these two words.)
The idea conveyed by this verse is that the secret of perdition already works and this agrees with what we’ve seen in past studies of Ephesians 6:1212 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
, where Paul wrote: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (high places should be translated heavenlies or in the heavens). Satan presently holds on to his position in the heavens where he influences the works of iniquity on this earth from behind the scenes, so to speak. He has been and is the secret of iniquity and will be until he is cast out of heaven onto the earth as described in Revelation 12. Then, by his power he will call the Anti christ up out of the Abyss onto the earth and iniquity will no longer be a secret, or behind the scenes. It will be out in the open, however the people remaining on earth after the rapture who witness the coming Anti christ will wonder or admire him, Revelation 17:8.
(Verse 8) “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:”
After the church, the Body of Christ consisting of all believers since Paul is caught up into the heavens (the rapture), 1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 1813 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
; 1 Corinthians 15:51 - 5451 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
, the prophesied seven year Great Tribulation will take place, after which Christ will return to save His people Israel, Matthew 24:3 - 313 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
25 Behold, I have told you before.
26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
; Mark 1:3 - 263 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
6 And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
12 And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness.
13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.
14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
19 And when he had gone a little farther thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.
20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.
21 And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.
22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,
24 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.
25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.
26 And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.
; Luke 21:7 - 287 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?
8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.
9 But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.
10 Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:
11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.
13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:
15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.
18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish.
19 In your patience possess ye your souls.
20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
. Christ’s return is described in Acts just after He ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives. Two witnesses in white clothes told the Jewish believers there that He would return in like manner, Acts 1:9 - 119 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
, and so this will happen. Believers today are comforted by what Paul teaches; we will be ruptured before that terrible Tribulation sets in. Then, after the Tribulation The Lord Jesus Christ will return to the Mount of Olives and establish the Kingdom He promised to Israel, which is His 1000-year reign on earth when all nations will be blessed through Israel. “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Hebrews 10:16 & 1716 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
(Verse 9 & 10) “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
It will be the Anti christ, energized/ empowered by Satan who will be destroyed by The Lord Jesus Christ at His return to earth. We know from other passages that Satan will be cast into the bottomless pit during the 1000-year reign of Christ. After that, Satan will be loosed for awhile and will manage to deceive many, Revelation 20:1 - 31 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
, but he and they will then be judged and cast into hell, Revelation 20:4 - 104 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
But here and now, during this age of Grace, the Apostle Paul tells us: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” 2 Corinthians 4:3 & 43 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
. This is indeed the secret of iniquity that is working today.
As for believers today, we are “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, (the same Greek word for iniquity in our text) and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:13 & 1413 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.