“The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…”
If you understand that one of the NEXT events on the horizon is going to be God’s wrath being poured out upon the earth then we can move on.
(Why did I say “one of the next events”? Because Daniel 9:26 tells that this time frame will come with a flood – not a literal flood, although that could happen, but a flood of armies coming at Israel from every direction; and Israel will be at war, and they will be desolated. Ezekiel chapters 38,39 tells us that God interrupts this war with fire from heaven. Strangely, Ezekiel speaks of people merely marking the bodies that lie on the hills of Israel, so that specialists can take care of them; from that, we might assume that this fire is nuclear. This theory makes sense, considering the players involved.)
These events happen so rapidly and include the entrance of the Antichrist who declares that there will be a seven-year peace treaty. (Here again, we can see from Daniel 9:27 that someone rises up as a “global” leader. I suspect that he will be a global leader over the Islamic nations. Keep in mind the territory that this scenario is focused on.) With that understanding we can move forward and discuss what we the church will experience just moments before this wrath – our being gathered to Him. (“Him,” is Jesus Christ, and you can see that distinctly in 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17)
While these two verses (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2) are the entrance into a solid and critical understanding of the rapture of the church, the first three verses used to bring me much confusion. The confusion came because verse three, which we will get to shortly, is typically written in such a manner that it comes across as though the Antichrist will come first. Let me show you.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 NASB (3) Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
See how it says, “it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed.” The word “and” is merely a conjunction and not a mandatory timing. The major problem with this verse is the word apostasy, and we will get into that.
“… and our being gathered together to him,”
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, (2 Thessalonians 2:1 ESV)
Gathered or gathering it is the Greek word episunagōgē and means a complete collection, to gather together, or an assembling.
At some point, soon, we are going to be gathered and collected, back to Jesus.
Our gathering together to Him is the catching away of the church, or, if you wish, the rapture.
“… unless the apostasy comes first, …”
2 Thessalonians 2:3 NASB Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
If I read this passage, as is, it gives the impression that two things have to happen before the rapture, but that is NOT what it says. Yes, the apostasy must come first, but the second half of this sentence says nothing about the church’s rapture, nor does it define what the apostasy means. It does, however, speak of a moment when the man of lawlessness will be revealed, and if we migrated forward to 2 Thessalonians 2:7,8 we can see this clear definition.
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. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 NASB)
Comes is the Greek word erchomai and means to be established, become known, arise, come into being, show itself, find a place, influence.
In light of verse one, where it speaks of our being gathered together with Him, we know that the “it” is the catching away of the church, however, it could also be pointing to the seven-years of God’s wrath.
“unless the apostasy comes first,”
This section has been the game-changer for me.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 in the NASB, tells us that the church will not be caught away until there is, as the NASB states, an apostasy, but, as I have learned, the text and interpretation of the word apostasia, was changed to fit a Roman Catholic motive.
G646 apostasia; from G868. G868 is the word aphístēmi, and is derived from From G575 and G2476 and has the meaning to remove, or to put away.
Who or what then, is to be removed? The church.
Now let’s get back to apostasia for a moment.
The Word Study dictionary tells us that apostasia means to depart, or departure.
The simple word and, is our problem child here. While I have a clear understanding, based upon apostasia meaning to gather or remove, the word “and,” can in some cases, infer that an event or action must occur at the same time.
And is the Greek word kahee and apparently a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force. It can mean: and, also, even, so, then, too, etc.
Since we are looking at 2 Thessalonians 2:3 then let’s see how this changes the way we look at this verse with some original wording.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 NASB (3) Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the (departure, gathering, or removal – of the church) comes first, and (then) the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, (The bold type is mine.)
One of the early texts was the Geneva Bible. (Imprinted in London, by Christopher Barker, Printer to the Qveenes Maiestie. 1587.) A Swedish translation covers the word apostasia most appropriately.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a departing first, and then that man of sin be disclosed, even the son of perdition, (2 Thessalonians 2:3 Geneva)
To read this passage, with this understanding, for me, eliminates any confusion I might have had, as we should have been looking for our removal by means of the harpazo, or catching away.
The clarity goes away quickly if I focus on what the Douay-Rheims Bible says. This is the early Catholic translation in which we find the effects of their displeasure with people leaving the church.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3 DRB)
The Rheims New Testament first published by the English College at Rheims, A.D. 1582. The Whole Revised and Diligently Compared with the Latin Vulgate by Bishop Richard Challoner, A.D. 1749-1752. This translation reflected the angst of the Catholic church during the Protestant revolution, where radicals were pulling away from the Catholic Church, the state church – also considered to be the mother church. Hence, we have terminology such as revolt. This translation seems to have been a catalyst for an entire shift in understanding and interpretation, so the degree that we now looking, not for a departing to be with the Lord, but a falling away from the Lord and traditions, in our church bodies. Strangely, a falling away from the Lord, is exactly what is happening, but the focus improperly changed, and confusion entered.
So the Roman Catholic Church had the word apostasia which means to gather, transliterated into the word apostasy, and changed its meaning to a falling away from the truth. Truth, of course, meant the state church, the Catholic Church also deemed the mother church.
We, slightly less than efficient Bible students, may not realize that something like the Strong’s concordance could be driven by error. Look at what we get from Strong’s concordance. Apostasy is the Greek word apostasia and means a defection from truth, a falling away from the truth.
Now examine what the Word Study Dictionary tells us about apostasia. It means to depart, but the WSD doesn’t stop there, it gives us more. “In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 the word apostasía does not refer to genuine Christians who depart from the faith, but mere professors who, without divine grace, succumb to the Satanic deception of the Antichrist.”
Think about these words and phrases for a moment. To fall away from truth implies time, deception, and disinterest.
If what we are looking for is a disinterest in church, we got it.
Having watched Ultimate Fighting Championships and Mixed Martial Arts, they interest me for a time but then it gets boring, and so I “fall” away. Church has always had problems like this, as some mighty move of God, or an evangelist, comes to the church, and everybody gets excited – we had one evangelist at our church when I was a teen, that continued for 13 weeks. My church doubled in size after so many came and stayed for a time. But then, the excitement turned to mundane daily living once again and the church retracted in size.
A defection, on the other hand, implies an intentional turning away from.
We typically associate defection with “spies,” but it does not have to be that dramatic. Yes, some, for whatever the reason, become disenchanted and turn against the church. To be honest, because of events I experienced that were brought on by pastors and church leaders, I could have been one of those defectors, and I have been at times as I think about it. Only in my case, the events, for the most part, did not turn my heart away from God
It is not as though He is giving us another 500 years to get it right, it is time to turn up the fire in your own life now. History has demonstrated that most of what we call church has turned into deterioration and religious practices under a phony pretense. My own Pastor, while standing on a platform in the parking lot, stood before us and talked of God pushing the reset button, (but, he equated the church to a cat litter box, owned by a crazy cat lady, who has so many cats that she can no longer manage to clean up after the cats, nor does she care to.)
Have we as a church fallen away from what is right?
There is no doubt in my mind that we have.
The IVPBBC says this about verse 3-4.
2Th_2:3-4. The first prerequisite is either the “rebellion” (NIV, NRSV, TEV) or the “apostasy” (NASB). If it is a “rebellion” against God, it is the world’s final insult to him (2Th_2:4); if “apostasy,” it refers back to Jesus’ sayings later written in Mat_24:10-13. Both sins are characteristic of Jewish lists of end-time sufferings, but because Paul omits most of the signs found in such lists and focuses only on those cited by Jesus, the term here might mean apostasy. In either case, Paul indicates that the term does not apply to his readers (Mat_2:10-15).
(For those who will not read the passage from Matthew 2, let me give you a taste. Herod has noticed a large dust cloud in the distance, has sent out spies, and now knows that it is the Magi with a large entourage. Nothing in your Bible says that there were only three Magi. It does say that they brought three gifts. I might also note, that these gifts were of such large amounts, that when you next see Joseph and Mary, they are living in a home, and Jesus is now two years old. Herod calls in the chief priests and scribes to find out what is going on. Surprise, they knew but refused to acknowledge or have anything to do with this king of the Jews. So, while the Jewish leaders were rejecting Jesus, the Magi came from afar and fell to the ground before Him.
Now, since the other twisted possibility is a defection, have we done that as well?
Defection = Want or failure of duty; the act of abandoning a person or cause to which one is bound by allegiance or duty, or to which one has attached himself; and revolt.
The answer is a resounding YES. To prove my point look at the descriptions that the NASB/Apostle Paul gives us in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NASB.
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NASB)
This is the world we live in.
It seems the entire Congress of the United States operates on these principles. If that is not enough, we ended the month of May and a part of June of 2020, with looting and rioting across the nation, and for convenience sake, blamed it on the murder of one black man. I don’t mean to sound callous, but Chicago alone has multiple killings of black people daily, but NO ONE seems to care about it, or them.