I believe the genitive "man of lawlessness" is descriptive of the man himself such that he will be famous and celebrated for his lawlessness because above all else he is the most lawless among men during a time of lawlessness.
Originally Posted by glad4mercy
Paul describes the age of lawlessness as a mystery because during that time this condition of the human experience will be very strange and/or difficult to explain. Such lawlessness will remain inexplicable in terms of a rational, reasonable, wise course of action. A mysterious lawlessness is a lawlessness without any discernible reason or logical basis. This kind of lawlessness will thrive during a time when the population will be under the darkness of skepticism and doubt of an objective truth.
2. What is the mystery of iniquity/lawlessness?
Why is it called "lawlessness"? Literally, lawlessness is "the state of being without law." In practical terms, lawlessness is the mental state involving a set of beliefs and values, which concerns self-interest at the expense of moral principles. At its worst, lawlessness stands in contradistinction to love, which is why Jesus says that when lawlessness is increased, love will grow cold. The lawless tend to have concern for one's own welfare and interests before those of others.
The man of lawlessness will appear to be anthropocentric but in fact, he will be entirely selfish, deciding for himself what is good and what is evil but solely and wholly relativistic to the point that whatever pleases him at the moment is good and whatever displeases him is evil. He will place himself above every so-called god or object of worship, practicing an extreme form of egoism. This man will be the one man in all of history who will stand as the head of all those who have believed Satan's lie, "You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
We work for the cause of lawlessness if we put man's interests above Gods as Peter once did.
3. How was it working even in Paul's day?
22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid [it], Lord! This shall never happen to You." 23 But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests , but man's."
Jesus called Peter "Satan" because like Satan, Peter tempted Jesus to take his role as King without first going to the cross. Had Jesus done this, he would be putting his own interests ahead of God's interests, which is a form of lawlessness.
Lawlessness was present in Paul's day, which is why Paul often exhorted his readers to place each other above themselves. And Paul, looking back to the cross, encourages his readers to follow the example of Jesus Christ who humbled himself and put the interests of others ahead of his own.
. . . do not merely look out for your own personal interests , but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus who . . .humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Before we ask "who", we need to discover "what" is being restrained. The man of lawlessness is the obvious answer from the text, just as it is written, "and you know what restrains him now." However, the picture is a little more complex because Paul paints the scene in which a man arises during a time of apostasy, lawlessness (love grown cold), deception, mystery, skepticism, doubt, darkness, tricks, false signs and the like. The man of lawlessness can't come until the scene is set and all the conditions are ripe for the coming of this man.
4. Who is the one who restrains?
So then, in order to keep that from happening -- in order to keep the man of lawlessness from working among the people -- he who restrains will prevent deception, skepticism, doubt, and darkness from having a free reign. The man of lawlessness will finally come when such an influence has been removed so that inexplicable wickedness and lack of love will be normal among us, which will pave the way for some man who will be able to trick people will false signs and powers of darkness on a massive scale. When truth is gone and love is cold, this will be the milieu into which the deceiver will have his say and those who do not love the truth will believe him.
In my view, the Holy Spirit is the restraint the world has against falsehood, darkness, skepticism, suspicion, ignorance, delusion, superstition, and hate. Jesus says that he will send the Holy Spirit as the "Spirit of truth" in order to convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment.
The Holy Spirit will do very little to convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment, mainly because people are no longer hearing and accepting the truth, and God will pour out on them a spirit of stupor. It's not that the Holy Spirit himself is taken out of the way; it's the fact that people are no longer hearing and listening to him, the prophets or the apostles. At that time, skepticism will have taken hold to such a great degree, the world will live under the cloud of doubt that anything can be known for sure. Nothing is true; or truth doesn't exist.
5. How will He be taken out of the way?
Someone wise once said that we get the leaders we deserve. As such, Satan will offer the world a leader that epitomizes the mysterious, illogical, irrational lawlessness and selfishness of that age. The man of lawlessness will rise to be the perfect example and typify all that mankind has become.
6. In what way does the removal of the one who restrains usher in the revealing of the Lawless one?