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Oh, the Irony of Circular Reasoning!

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Circular arguments, they make me crazy. And when it comes to end times discussions there are tons of these mind numbing battles. This is one of the most irritating-ironic arguments from Pretribulation believers. It comes from 2 Thes.

2TH 2:1 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, showing 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. [7] For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. [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:

In this set of verses Paul is credited incorrectly for establishing the pretribulation rapture doctrine. The argument usually follows this line. Paul says that the day of the Lord will not come until there comes first a great apostasy, a falling away from sound doctrine and the “Man of sin”, Antichrist, is revealed who the Lord will destroy with his glorious appearing. Paul has set the sequence of events very clearly
1. Apostasy
2. Antichrist revealed
3. Our being gathered together with the Lord at his coming.
4. The wicked one defeated by Yeshua at His coming

This sequence is the same as that stated by Yeshua as well as Old Testament Prophets. But here is where things go off the rails. In verse 1 Paul sets the subject of the passage as being the question concerning the coming of the Lord and our being gathered together with him at that time. It is the same event that is repeated in verse 8. The gathering of the saints is placed together with the second coming and not in some secret calling out before the tribulation begins. The pretrib-believers then state that verse 6 identifies the Holy Spirit filled church as that which holds all these prophetic things from happening and must be removed before any of this can take place. Paul says, “Remember, I told you all this before” and then states that because of that they already know what is holding back the final events. Yes they knew, but Paul didn’t tell us! We DON’T KNOW! It is not shown to us what the restrainer is. It is only assumed that it is the Holy Spirit and the spirit filled church. The irony of this position is that Paul never tells us what the restrainer IS, but in this passage he makes it clear what the restrainer ISN’T. It’s not the spirit filled Church. That is the one thing that Paul is assuring them that it can not be! Paul’s letter is addressing the believers concern that the day of the Lord, His glorious return and the gathering of the righteous is imminent. And he is assuring them that it isn’t imminent at all, that other things must happen first and that their gathering together can only take place AFTER those events!

It amazes me that well-meaning people can read this passage and extract a meaning that is completely contrary to what the passage is saying. We don’t know what the restrainer is. It might be the Lord’s will, or the Archangel Michael, or a predetermined point in time. We can only guess what it might be. But we know that it isn’t the Holy Spirit and the Spirit filled Church. That is the one and only thing Paul assures us that it can not be. So hang on folks we are here for the duration just as Paul said speaking even concerning himself, in Chapter 1 that he would enter into God’s rest at the same time as everyone else on the day of the Lord, when Yeshua comes in a great spectacle in flaming fire to execute judgment and to be glorified in the saints. Isn’t it a blessing when you can finally see that all the prophets of old, the Lord Yeshua and Paul and John and Peter all agree and say the very same thing? There was no secret mystery revealed exclusively through Paul concerning a Rapture of the righteous before the tribulation.

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