April 19, 2009
I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
In this edition of THE WEEKLY WORD, I call your attention back to 2 Thessalonians 2. Paul wrote this second epistle primarily to reiterate and explain the great truths of the rapture and the resurrection he had written about in his first letter to them.
Between the writing of 1 Thessalonians and 2nd Thessalonians someone had circulated a letter, purportedly by Paul, stating that the catching away had already occurred and those remaining were facing “The Day of Christ.” Paul begins in verse 1,
1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. [2 Thess. 2:1 – 4 NKJV]
First, I submit to you that Paul speaks of two separate events here, 1) The Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (GR. Parousia, presence, coming to a place); 2) our gathering together unto Him (GR. Episunagoge, a gathering together, an assembling together at one place). I submit to you that Paul is speaking here of the 2nd Coming of Christ, and our gathering together unto Him at the rapture. Paul is writing to clarify the difference between the two, and the order of the events. The document being circulated apparently stated that the Day of Christ had already come. Paul makes it very clear here that could not possibly be the case.
To clarify, the term, the Day of Christ, is a prophetic term that speaks of the Day of Judgment. It is generally understood to be used interchangeably with terms like, The Day of The Lord or, The Day of God. It speaks of the end of the Church Age and the beginning of the Great Tribulation. However, Paul makes it very clear to his original readers and to us, that two things must occur before this day occurs. He says that, the falling away must come first, and then the man of sin, the son of perdition must be revealed. Let us examine the falling away first.
The phrase, falling away is from the Greek word apostasia. W.E. Vine defines this word as apostasy, or a rebellion from the Christian faith. [W.E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of NT Words] The general idea with many commentators and scholars is that there will be a great falling away, a great apostasy, or a great defection from the Christian faith just prior to the Coming of The Lord. This is what I had always heard and believed for many years. However, as a young minister I couldn’t understand how it was that Jesus was going to return for a Bride that had fallen out of love with Him. This must be the case if we hold to the standard translation of apostasia.
However, many years ago I found a great little book by the late Dr. Roy Hicks that put forth the idea that there were two ways to translate this Greek word. Not only is there the standard translation, “falling away” or “apostasy”, you can also translate it as, “departure” as does Tyndale for example in his translation of the New Testament from Greek to English. This is a good place right here to explain a basic principle of translation that Greek scholars show us. In order to pinpoint the true meaning of the Greek noun, it is necessary to look at the verb form which that noun is derived.
The Greek noun apostasia comes from the root verb aphistemi, meaning “to go away, depart, and remove.” This root verb is used fifteen times in the Bible, and in only three of those times does it speak of a falling away. It is most often translated “depart”, and usually refers to “one person departing from another person or place.” Dr. Hicks in Another Look At The Rapture explains that in his years of study he had the privilege of consulting several Bibles from the fifteenth century. Some of them presented the translation of apostasia with the idea of a departure as opposed to an apostasy. I will not take the time or space to directly quote all of the references that Dr. Hicks lists; I will however list the sources.
- Geneva Bible
- Great Bible
Then we come to the translation of the widely recognized commentator and Greek scholar, Kenneth S. Wuest. In The New Testament – An Expanded Translation, Dr. Wuest translates 2 Thessalonians 2:3 as follows:
Do not begin to allow anyone to lead you astray in any way, because that day shall not come except the aforementioned departure [of the Church to heaven] comes first and the man of lawlessness is disclosed [in his true identity], the man of perdition… [The New Testament – An Expanded Translation Dr. Kenneth S. Wuest] The definite article occurring before the word apostasia makes it apply to a particular departure, one known to the writer and the recipients of the letter. Further,
John Dawson, A.B., indicates that apostasia means a departure from any place.
John Lineberry, B.A., translates 2 Thessalonians 2:3 thusly:
Do not begin to let anyone beguile you in any way, because the day will not come [day of the Lord] except there come the departure [rapture of the Church first] and the man of lawlessness be revealed [unveiled, uncovered] the son of perdition [eternal misery, doom and destruction].
The following is a list of others who use the word departure:
Rev. J.R. Major, M.A. 
John James, L.L.D. 
Robert Baker, Breechers Bible 
John Parkhurst  Lexicon – London
“Properly, a departure.” Third meaning, “A divorce or dismission.”
Robert Scott [1881 – 1887] Oxford Press
Second meaning: “Departure, disappearance.”
James Donnegan, M.D., Greek/English Lexicon
The Amplified Bible, New Testament footnote
These excellent Greek scholars and commentators give us sufficient evidence to know of a certainty that this Greek word apostasia can be rightfully translated in more ways than one; “departure” best fits into this context. Dr. Hicks makes the following statement in Another Look At The Rapture,
I will be happy to acknowledge that our hope in the pre-tribulation rapture does not hinge on how one Greek word is translated, but this translation certainly ties in beautifully with the rest of the chapter. [Dr. Roy Hicks, Another Look At The Rapture, pg. 49] I couldn’t agree more!
Next time I want to examine 2 Thessalonians 2 in a bit more detail and discuss the restrainer. It should prove to be an interesting study. Please join us then.
The Weekly Word is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:6, 7. Here the Bible says,
6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 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 Thess. 2:6, 7 NKJV]
Until next time, this is THE WEEKLY WORD.
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson