“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“
Verse 7 explains verse 6.
the mystery of lawlessness
The word “mystery” does not mean something spooky or an enigma in its New Testament usage. It is a truth not revealed by God up to this point. We cannot know a “mystery” by natural means; we can only know it by divine revelation. In the New Testament, the word “mystery” always refers to some relationship to the church. God never revealed the mystery of the church in the Old Testament (Ephesians 3:1f). We need God’s Word to know the content of the “mystery.” The unleashing of the man of lawlessness is not known yet.
The definite article “the” points to a special “mystery of lawlessness.” It is not just any lawless outbreak in society. The Tribulation will be a time of tyranny where principles of marriage, government, and civility will collapse.
is already at work;
Lawlessness was at work in the first century, but it was under control to some extent. The persecution that the Thessalonians faced was not the Tribulation. They suffered persecution because of lawlessness but not the kind of lawlessness in the Tribulation, which will be pervasive.
The New Testament always uses the word “work” for supernatural work. Here it is satanic supernatural work. Present day lawlessness is satanic, and it is supernatural. We may be tempted to think that lawlessness is merely a social problem. It is far more than that. It is a satanic problem.
A pervasive breakdown in law will occur in the Tribulation.
We can get foretastes of the breakdown of law in our society. The lawlessness of our time is the seed for the destruction that will come in the Tribulation.
When God takes the church indwelt by the Holy Spirit in the Rapture, all restraint against law will break down. Children will hate parents, and parents hate children. Order and trust in business will break down. Great numbers of people will revolt against the government. Anarchy will be the norm. Above all, revolt against Jesus Christ will be the most important value in society. Jesus is the target of Satan. He has been Satan’s target since the fall of man (Genesis 3:15). Satan will attack the Word of God and all that it represents.