CGFF and PCG views on the restrainer in 2 Thessalonians are in error

17th Century Depiction of Michael and Satan


A while back, I watched the Key of David program by PCG’s Gerald Flurry (I have probably only watched three since it began decades ago). Anyway, here is some of what he taught:

Satan cast down…It has happened…He had a war with God.

Revelation 12:13:
Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.

He did in this end time…

Revelation 12:12… because he knows that he has a short time…Why does Satan have a short time?

About 5% of God’s people are doing the work in this end time…

There are two men…

The man of sin… there is no truth in him… He attacks God’s church…The son of perdition here is second Thessalonians 2…in all likelihood is possessed by the devil…That is why he shows himself that he is God. …

There is another man {2 Thessalonians 2:7} the mystery of lawlessness … only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way…

He was taken out of the way…The very day he was taken away, Satan was cast down. (Flurry G. Satan Cast Down (2014). November 16, 2014)

I know the above is a bit cryptic–yet Gerald Flurry did not lay out the specifics of the identity of the two men in that video. But based upon other items from Gerald Flurry, it is clear that he believes that Satan was (or probably was) cast down to the earth on January 16, 1986.


Two basic reasons.

First, Gerald Flurry taught the following:

Remember that Malachi is about an end-time messenger, like John the Baptist, who prepares the way for Christ’s Second Coming (Malachi 3:1-2). It all occurs just before “the great and dreadful Day of the Lord.” Common sense would tell us the events Malachi prophesied about couldn’t happen while Mr. Armstrong was alive. There was a type of it in the 1970s—but he stopped it, and as one pcg member said, that was the only time in recorded secular and biblical history that it ever happened! The only time! Mr. Armstrong restrained it (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7). (Flurry G. Malachi’s Message, Chapter 9. Copyright © 1990, 1995, 1999, 2004, 2008 Philadelphia Church of God)

Second, because Herbert W. Armstrong died on January 16, 1986, and that is the event that Gerald Flurry seemed to be alluding to in his video program.

Now, I do NOT believe that Herbert W. Armstrong could possibly be the restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2:7–the restrainer would need to exist from the time of the Apostle Paul to now. While a change from the Philadelphia to Laodicean church era may have happened on January 16, 1986, I do not believe that Satan was cast down on that date.

Notice what the old Radio Church of God taught about the restrainer:

One prominent writer attempts to prove that II Thessalonians 2:7-8…has not yet begun to be fulfilled…But notice the first part of verse 7:, “For the mystery of iniquity DOTH ALREADY WORK”–even in Paul’s day. (Hoeh H. The Secret Rapture: Fact or Fiction. Plain Truth, July, 1959, p. 30)

Read the rest of this alarming prophecy! “… sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God… for the mystery of iniquity (a babylonish MYSTERY religion!) doth ALREADY work (yes, Paul said it had its insidious beginnings even then!) only he who now letteth (an old word meaning “restrains”) will let, until HE BECOME TO BE!” (The original Greek verb, “ginomai” has this sense, rather than “taken out of the way,” as it appears in the King James translation) “And then shall that WICKED (A WICKED ONE — ONE EVIL PERSON IN HIGH OFFICE — is the whole subject and content of this passage of scripture!) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming” (II Thess. 4:8). (Armstrong GT. And when you see the ABOMINATION… Plain Truth, July 1963)

The above is teaching that the restainer was restraining nearly two thousand years ago. That understanding agrees with that of the Apostle Paul, the late Herbert W. Armstrong, and me (see also What is Restrained and Who is Restraining in 2 Thessalonians 2:7?).

Don Billingsley, of Church of God, Faithful Flock (CGFF), also has improperly taught that Herbert Armstrong was the restrainer:

Mr. Armstrong … He had to be taken out of the way by his death to make the fulfillment of them possible (II Thessalonians 2:7). (Billingsley D. Philadelphia Remnant, written January 16, 2007.

As I wrote earlier, the restrainer was at work during the Apostle Paul’s day–it was NOT Herbert W. Armstrong. See also What is Restrained and Who is Restraining in 2 Thessalonians 2:7?

Perhaps, I should mention that Gerald Flurry also teaches that Joseph Tkach was the man of sin. He originally taught that it was Joseph Tkach Sr., who became in charge of the old Worldwide Church of God at the time of Herbert W. Armstrong’s death; Gerald Flurry later changed that to Joseph Tkach, Jr. But neither of those are correct. Other COG groups also misunderstand the identity of the “man of sin/son of perdition.”

To understand who that is, please check out Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2? and/or watch a related YouTube video titled Who is the Man of Sin?

The position that PCG is publicly proclaiming, though cryptically in its Key of David program, is in error. Hopefully those that are part of PCG will realize this soon. Gerald Flurry is NOT God’s prophet nor apostle as he falsely claims to be.

Nor is Don Billingley’s CGFF the ‘faithful flock’ as its name implies. His claim that God told him that Hillary Clinton would be the next president of the USA and then get re-elected in 2020 were proven false (see also How Will President-Elect Trump be Apocalyptic? Two false prophets exposed!).

Both PCG and CGFF have also insisted that Donald Trump would remain president of the USA and that Joe Biden would not take office (see Biden-Harris Inaugurated: Gerald Flurry and Don Billingsley again proven wrong). They were wrong on that as well.

That being said, many are afraid to believe that God uses any prophets in the 21st century. That is also NOT biblical (see How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God), but instead is a dangerous and lukewarm position to hold (cf. Revelation 3:14-22; see also Laodicean Church Era).

Getting back to the restrainer, part of the understanding of what is happening in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 is more affected by the translation than many other scriptures.

Here is how the NKJV translates 2 Thessalonians 2:7:

7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. (2 Thessalonians 2:7, NKJV)

Without going into excessive detail, this verse has many possible translations, and part of the most relevant (as the capitalized “He” is a completely forced translation) has to do with the Greek expressions translated as “He is taken” above. The Greek term is γένηται, transliterated as géneetai.

Based upon my review of the possible translations of related terms, the NKJV suggesting forcibly being “taken” does not seem to be the best translation. Here are several translations of 2 Thessalonians 2:7 that may be more applicable:

7 for the secret of the lawlessness doth already work, only he who is keeping down now [will hinder] — till he may be out of the way,
(2 Thessalonians 2:7, Young’s Literal Translation)

7 For the mystery of lawlessness already is working, only he (is) holding back now, until it comes out of (the) midst (2 Thessalonians 2:7, Jay Green’s Literal Translation)

7 For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:7, New Living Translation)

7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. (2 Thessalonians 2:7, English Standard Version)

7 For the mystery of lawlessness already works; only [there is] he who restrains now until he be gone. (2 Thessalonians 2:7, Darby)

The point I am trying to emphasize here is that the “he” leaves and is not necessarily taken out by anyone like the above translations indicate.

Now some of the rapturists like to emphasize the “being taken” translation. To cite one example, I have heard Hal Lindsey state that the Holy Spirit is taken out of the way when all the Christians who possess it are raptured. That is how he and some others view the above. It may be of interest to note that the marginal reference in the Vine’s, Ryrie, and Nelson Study editions of the NKJV indicate that “he” is not needed to be capitalized (it seemingly has been placed in the actual NKJV to support the trinitarian view of the Holy Spirit being part of this text–even though grammatists acknowledge that the term for the Holy Spirit in the New Testament is neuter NOT masculine–see Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity?).

Furthermore, some others who claim a pre-tribulation rapture believe the “he is taken” is a reference to the Christian church being raptured away. However, it should be pointed out that references to churches in the New Testament with respect to some gender being associated with it are feminine (e.g. Ephesians 5:25-31; 2 John 1-2; 4-6; Revelation 12:14-17; 19:7-9). Thus, this is not a reference to the church being taken away. See also Is There A Secret Rapture for the Church? When and Where is the Church Protected?

More about the restrainer is found in the article: What is Restrained and Who is Restraining in 2 Thessalonians 2:7?

Some items of related interest may include the following:

What is Restrained and Who is Restraining in 2 Thessalonians 2:7? Are sorceries, signs, and lying wonders being restrained until the future? What is the mystery of lawlessness? Could the archangel Michael be the restrainer? Here is a related article in Spanish: ¿Qué es lo que se restringe y quién lo está restringiendo en 2 Tesalonicenses 2:7?
Who is the Man of Sin of 2 Thessalonians 2? Is this the King of the North, the ten-horned beast of Revelation 13:1-11, or the two-horned Beast of Revelation 13:12-16? Some rely on traditions, but what does the Bible teach? Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Quién es el Hombre de Pecado de 2 Tesalonicenses 2? Here is a version in Mandarin: 主编: 谁是’大罪人’?Here is a link to a related YouTube video, in English, titled Who is the Man of Sin?
Why Be Concerned About False and Heretical Leaders? There have been many false leaders–here is some of why you should be concerned about them. Here is a related article in the Spanish language ¿Por qué estar preocupado acerca de falsos y heréticos líderes?.
Herbert W. Armstrong, the Philadelphia Church, & the Mantle Herbert Armstrong claims God had him raise the Philadelphia up. Are there reasons to believe that the Philadelphia mantle in now within the CCOG? Here is a link to a related sermon: Herbert W. Armstrong and the Philadelphia Mantle.
How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God There are many false prophets. How can Christians determine who is a true prophet? There is also a sermon-length video titled How to determine if someone is a true prophet of God. Here is a related link in Spanish/español: ¿Cómo determinar si alguien es un verdadero profeta de Dios?
Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18? Does any church have the confirmed dream and prophetic signs of Acts 2:17-18? Should one? Here is a link in the Spanish language: ¿Tiene la CCOG confirmadas las señales de Hechos 2: 17-18? Here is a link in the French language: Est-ce que l’Église Continue de Dieu confirme les signes d’Actes 2:17-18?
Church of God Leaders on Prophets Have there been prophets throughout the church age? Are any supposed to be around in the last days? What have COG leaders stated or written about prophets? Here is a link to a related sermon: Church of God Leaders on Prophets.
Teachings Unique to the Philadelphia Church of God Simply calling oneself ‘Philadelphia’ does not make one so (see Revelation 3:7-9), nor does Gerald Flurry calling himself “that prophet” make it so. This article provides many quotes from this group which tries to look faithful.
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it? Here is an old, by somewhat related, article in the Spanish language LA DOCTRINA DE LA TRINIDAD. A related sermon is available: Trinity: Fundamental to Christianity or Something Else? A brief video is also available: Three trinitarian scriptures?
Is There A Secret Rapture for the Church? When and Where is the Church Protected? What does the Bible really teach? Does the Church flee or is it taken up just prior to the great tribulation? Who really is left behind? There is also a YouTube video with information Did Jesus Teach a Pre-tribulation Rapture?
There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Near Petra This article discusses a biblical ‘place of safety’ and includes quotes from the Bible and Herbert W. Armstrong on this subject–thus, there is a biblically supported alternative to the rapture theory. There is also a video on the subject: Might Petra be the Place of Safety? Here is something related in the Spanish language: Hay un lugar de seguridad para los Filadelfinos. ¿Puede ser Petra?
The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now the remnant of that era is basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. The Laodiceans are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG or its offshoots. They do not properly understand the work or biblical prophecies and will face the Great Tribulation if they do not repent. One video of related interest is 17 Laodicean Errors in Prophecy.

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