INSIGHT INTO BIBLE PROPHECY #123
What Restrained the Man of Sin?
by David Vaughn Elliott
The Bible was not sealed in a vacuum as soon as it was written, unread and unstudied until it reached each of us in the twenty-first century. To ignore the intervening centuries is shortsighted and egotistical. If we do not learn from others, why should we expect others to learn from us?
"I told you . . . you know," said Paul, "what is restraining" (2 Thess. 2:5-6). This is amazing. The saints in Thessalonica knew. Paul had taught them in person, but the Holy Spirit prevented Paul from writing it down. Is there any other place in Scripture like this? The writer says his readers know what he is talking about, but he shrinks from writing it down. It becomes irresistible to scan early Christian writings to learn what they can tell us. Can you conceive that the first-century Christians would not pass on the information?
Before examining these early Christian writers, we need to be aware of three things:
1. They were not inspired. Therefore, they express many contradictory views on prophecy as well as on other matters.
2. Before a particular prophecy is fulfilled, we cannot expect Christians to understand it completely. For example, the apostles did not have the correct views of many messianic prophecies even though Jesus was in their midst.
3. After a prophecy is fulfilled, there will always be those who will deny its fulfillment. For example, to this very day the Jews deny that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah.
With these precautions in mind, it is still very enlightening to discover what Christians through the ages have believed regarding various prophecies. This is especially true here where Paul said, "You know . . ."
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