Saturday, September 27, 2008

More on 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8

This is what the NRSV says:

(6) " And now you know what is now restraining (the lawless one), so that he may be revealed when his time comes. (7) For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. (8) And then the lawless one will revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming."

The King James (which is what the NRSV is based on) only sounds different in 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."

And let's review what the NIV says in 7: "For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work: but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way."

Let's review the fact that the subject of a sentence in verse 7 is "mystery", and that "of lawlessness" is a prepositional phrase, and a prepositional phrase can NEVER contain the subjec. The "it" in the second half of the sentence MUST refer back to the subject "mystery". (Or, if you prefer, the "secret power" is refered to by "it" in the NIV...and with the archaic KJV, "letteth" must refer back to the "mystery.") Very possibly the major problem with interpreting or "rightly dividing" or "discerning" this passage is that most people do not "rightly divide" (grammatically) this passage! Most think that the "it" refers back to "lawlessness" or "iniquity".

Now then... not only must we discern who is restraining but WHAT is being restrained. Again, most people, and dispensationalists in particular, believe that the Holy Spirit is the restrainer and what is being restrained is either "iniquity" or "lawlessness"...because they don't realize that the subject of the sentence in verse 7 is "mystery" or "secret power". Further, most people, again because they don't realize that the subject of the sentence is "mystery" or "secret power", believe that what is being restrained is "iniquity" or "lawlessness".

So now that we know what the subject is, "mystery" or "secret power", lets "rewrite" verse 7 in all three versions again putting "mystery" or "secret power" as the subject and its reference...

NRSV: "For the mystery (of lawlessness) is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains the mystery is removed."

KJV: ""For the mystery (of iniquity) doth already work: only he who now letteth (the mystery) will let, until he be taken out of the way."

NIV: ""For the secret power (of lawlessness) is already at work: but the one who now holds the mystery back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way."

And who is "restraining" or "holding back" the mystery? In other words, who is the "he" at the end of the sentence in the KJV and the NIV? And who is "the one" in the NRSV? For this refers to who the "restrainer" and the "hold back-er" is.

What we are talking about here is WHO RESTRAINS OR HOLDS BACK THE MYSTERY. If we were talking about who holds back or restrains "lawlessness" or "iniquity" it is clear to every Christian that only the Holy Spirit representing God and Christ holds back lawlessness or iniquity. This is precisely why the rapture theory has such a toe-hold on many Christians. clearly is the Holy Spirit is removed all Christians would have to be removed because it is with Christians that the Holy Spirit resides. So I perfectly understand it when those who believe in the rapture make the claim that since the Holy Spirit is removed then all Christians MUST be taken "out of the way" or be "removed" from Earth in "the Rapture."

The thing is, it is IMPOSSIBLE for the purveyor of TRUTH, Christ, through the Holy Spirit, to "restrain" the truth, WHICH IS WHAT "MYSTERY" IS DEFINED AS--"A RELIGIOUS TRUTH DIVINELY REVEALED AND UNKNOWABLE THROUGH REASON." (Readers Digest Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary).

Okay, so now let's complete the sentences with everything in its proper context:

NRSV: "For the religious truth divinely revealed (of lawlessness) is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains the religious truth divinely revealed is removed."

KJV: "For the religious truth divinely revealed (of iniquity) doth already work: only he who now letteth truth be revealed will let, until he be taken out of the way."

NIV: "For the religious truth divinely revealed (of lawlessness) is already at work: but the one who now holds the religious truth divinely revealed back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way."

NOW, WHO HOLDS TRUTH BACK? WHO RESTRAINS THE TRUTH? "The man of lawlessness" (or in the KJV, the Son of Perdition".)

And now we have our final rewrite:

NRSV: "For the religious truth divinely revealed (of lawlessness) is already at work, but only until the man of lawlessness who now restrains the religious truth divinely revealed is removed."

KJV: "For the religious truth divinely revealed (of iniquity) doth already work: only he who now letteth truth be revealed will let, until the man of lawlessness be taken out of the way."

NIV: "For the religious truth divinely revealed (of lawlessness) is already at work: but the man of lawlessness who now holds the religious truth divinely revealed back will continue to do so till the man of lawlessness is taken out of the way."

So now, the Holy Spirit is not "taken out of the way" or "removed" from the Earth, and, ipso facto, neither are Christians! But what is taken out of the way or removed is the man of lawlessness or son of perdition...that is, the agency of Satan is removed from the believer.

Also, for the (verse 9), "coming of the lawless one is apparent in the workings of Satan (the lawless one works through the agency of Satan, who is permitted by God to work his "agent", lawlessness), who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved." Verse 10: "For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false"

And if you don't believe that God uses Satan to work his agency "lawlessness" on the Earth, then you need to read Job Chapter 2. And if you don't believe that God creates evil, then you need to read Isaiah 45:7--"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things." (KJV)

And, speaking of Isaiah 45, verses 22-23 (NRSV) says "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness a word that shall not return: 'To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear." (see also Philippians 2: 9-11)

So that even those under "strong delusion" (KJV) and all unbelievers will be saved, because God has sworn by Himself that this will be so.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Myth of the "Removal" of the Holy Spirit from Earth: 2 Thessalonians 2:7

Haven't posted any Bible Myths lately, or anything else for that matter!

But the passage in 2 Thessalonians Chapter 2 verses 6, 7 and 8 (NIV) it says:

"And now you know what is holding him (the "man of lawlessness" in verse 3) back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus Christ will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming."

The King James uses the term "restrainer" to mean the one "holding him back" and (I think, I don't have it in front of me) the NRSV uses the term "retainer" or "holder"...it is commonly thought that the one who holds back or the restrainer refers to the Holy Spirit. Pre-trib rapture folks, post-trib rapture folks, post-millennialists and amillennialists pretty much agree with this.

That's not the argument here...the argument is whether or not the Holy Spirit "leaves" the Earth ("taken out of the way" here and the King James, "is removed" in the NRSV...the Concordant Literal is completely different, confusing, and I will not bring up what it says here).

Those who believe that the Holy Spirit leaves the Earth believes that event happens because it leaves the Earth when God "raptures" up the believers who have the Holy Spirit with them, thus the Holy Spirit will not be able to be found on the Earth once those with the Holy Spirit leave the Earth. But one of the major problems with Rapture Eschatology is that part and parcel with that theology is that "a remnant" will convert to believing in Christ (Jews, mostly) during the time when the Holy Spirit is no longer on the Earth. Now, isn't it true that when one truly believes Christ is his Savior, that Christ died for his sins, that the Holy Spirit is given to the new believer? Thus, one cannot say that once the raptured believers are taken off the Earth, the Holy Spirit goes with them, and will not return until the "lawless one" is defeated by Christ. In fact one of the main things that keeps believers still believing is that they have the Holy Spirit. And in fact the Holy Spirit will ALWAYS remain in the believer if one truly is a believer.

But what if one is a "believer" of convenience, one on which the Word of God has fallen, and then it whithers as if surrounded by thorns or falls on rock or the soil isn't deep enough (see Matthew 13)? What if the believing is not true believing? What if one stops believing, then rebels against God? There are examples of this happening in the Book of Acts, Paul's Epistles and other places. So, perhaps the Holy Spirit "leaves" those particular individuals, but never "leaves" the Earth completely.

The wording is important: Notice the prepositional phrase "of lawlessness" in verse 7; the subject is "secret power", and in verse 7, who does "he" refer to? So let's read this without the prepositional phrase:

"For the secret power is already at work; but the one who now holds back the secret power (it) will continue to do so until the man of lawlessness (he) is taken out of the way."

Or, does "he" refer to the one who holds "it" back?

Stay tuned, and I will discuss this further in the next day or so.

Deborah Lagarde