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The Restrainer Removed: A Truly Alarming Thought (2 Thess 2:1-12)

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image of Horizons in Biblical Theology

While many of the apocalyptic images in 2 Thessalonians have puzzled readers, it is question of the identities of "the lawless one" in 2:8 and "the retrainer" in 2:6 that has occasioned the most debate. The author of the letter is apparently building upon and assuming earlier discussions that the modern reader cannot re-create. However, this article argues that by placing these terms in the context of biblical prophecy, esp. Isa. 14:12-20 and Hab. 2:3, it becomes likely that "the lawless one" is Satan or a representative thereof and that "the restrainer" is God. This reading further suggests that a complex apocalyptic narrative underlies these texts.

Affiliations: 1: Assistant Professor of Religion, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA 92354


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