A divine appointment

Paul told us that Jesus would take us before the end of this age.

The early church had been taught that end of this age would bring 'the time of Jacob's trouble' along with God's wrath in the Tribulation, and then Jesus would come to earth and rule in a 1000 year earthly kingdom, followed by eternity.  Let's look at a scripture passage that is packed with detail about this time.

Now we ask you, brothers, regarding the coming of our Lord Jesus the Christ, and of our gathering together to Him, that you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ1 is at hand2.  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come the falling away3 first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.  Remember you not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?  
2 Thessalonians 2:1-5

There are a lot of end time concepts and event sequences that are attached to these verses.  It is important that we get some critical details correct or mass confusion will result.  Let's look at the three numbered phrases above.

1) "the day of Christ"
Some Greek texts say 'the day of Christ' [Christou or Christos] and some say 'the day of the Lord' [Kuriou or Kurios].  The Latin is 'Lord' [Dominus] instead of 'Christ' [Christos].  The Peshitta Aramaic translation is 'Lord' [Marana].

Most translations, including the following, now render it as 'the Day of the Lord' because evidence leans toward 'Christ' being a change made in the Byzantine manuscripts:

'The Day of the Lord' is not a 24 hour day but is referring to the millennial, 1000 year day of the Lord, the 7th age - the next and last age of man which starts after the years of tribulation.

2) "is at hand"
Some translations incorrectly render this phrase as 'the Day of the Lord had come' in past tense but the Greek word is Enesteken, a present tense form of Enistemi, which means 'is at hand' or 'is now in the present' - or paraphrased, 'is immediately in front of us'.  The 1901 American Standard Version may say it best: 'as that the day of the Lord is just at hand'.

So the message is that the false letters were reporting that the Tribulation, the time of Jacob's trouble had started and the Day of the Lord was coming very soon.

3) "the falling away"
A possible meaning of Apostasia is apostasy, as in departure from the faith.  But it also can mean the more literal departure as in departing physically.  There are only two instances of this noun in the Bible so there is little comparison that can be made but the verb form is commonly found and usually means physically departing.

The first seven English translations all rendered the noun apostasia as either departure or departing:

Unfortunately, most modern translations render it as 'the apostasy' or 'the falling away'.  I believe this is likely due to the lost teaching of the rapture and it does not make sense otherwise.  Additionaly, there is an important clue as to its real meaning.  The definite article 'the' [ἡ or ὁ] is correct indicating it is a specific event.  The King James used an 'a' which is incorrect!

In support of the 'departure from the faith' idea, many Bibles reference 1st Timothy 4 to describe this 'falling away' event.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart [Aphistemi = to depart] from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons...
1 Timothy 4:1

Aphistemi means to depart or withdraw.  It is translated 14 times as 'depart' or 'withdraw' and once as 'fall away'.  This supporting scripture describes a general departing from the faith by using a full descriptive phrase - and does not use the word apostasia.

Does 'some will depart' sound like a notable, recognizable event, worthy of unique reference?  That a great falling away from the true Christian faith in the 'latter times' is undeniable by looking at recent history - but this is not an event that can be used in a time line.

It is my studied opinion that later translators departed, pun intended, from the consensus of earlier works and chose 'apostasy' or 'falling away' because the literal meaning of the Greek did not fit their understanding due to the lost teaching of the miraculous Rapture some time after the fourth century.

So, the big question remains - why was the Thessalonian church upset and what had been falsely reported?  They had not seen the wrath of God and they were obviously not in the Millennial Kingdom so where in the time line did they think they were?

Therefore, watch and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.
Luke 21:36

Paul had taught them that those who were 'accounted worthy' would be taken away for their protection and 'escape all these things' - and they feared that they had been left behind to face the 'man of sin' and probable death in the years of the Tribulation!

Then if there shall be two plowing in the field, one righteous and the other evil, the one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding at a mill, one will be taken and the other left.  This is because the angels at the end of the age will remove the stumbling blocks from the world and will separate the good from the evil.
Matthew 24:40-41 Shem Tov Hebrew


For evidence of the Rapture being taught in the early church:
www.grantjeffrey.com - Why Do Some Teach that the Church will Endure the Tribulation?  Specifically, find 'The third reason' half way down - but the whole article is good.

For more in depth discussion on the translation of apostasia:
www.pre-trib.org - The Rapture in 2 Thessalonians 2:3

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