THE SPECIFIC APOSTASY
That will precede the day of the Lord.
2:1-3 Paul mentioned three events that will all take place at the same point
The coming of the Lord.
Our gathering together to Him.
The day of the Lord.
The gathering will occur AT the coming of the Lord. Mt. 24:30-31.
The day of the Lord will occur AT the coming of the Lord. 1Cor. 1:8; 2Cor.
1:14; 1Thes. 5:1-11.
Also, correlation of the 3 "cosmic signs" passages indicate that the day of
the Lord will occur at the second coming.
These three events will not occur until after THE apostasy comes and the man
of lawlessness is revealed.
THE apostasy is not a general time of apostasy, but it is a SPECIFIC time
and condition of moral and spiritual decline. The word itself means a
falling away or departure FROM something.
It is prefaced with the definite article, THE, to indicate not only
something that is SPECIFIC, but also something that was KNOWN and understood
by the readers as having been previously taught.
"Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you
THESE THINGS?" 2Thes. 2:5.
At the time of writing, about 56 AD, there was no other written revelation
from God except the first letter to the Thessalonians and perhaps the
gospels of Matthew and Mark. And of course, the Old Testament. The primary
teaching content was the OT Scriptures and what Jesus taught; the words of
Jesus as preserved in the book of Matthew and what was brought to memory
through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; Eph. 3:5).
Paul had received personal teaching from Jesus (Gal. 1:12), and with a copy
of Matthew, put emphasis on "the words of our Lord Jesus Christ" as he
taught those who had believed. 1Tim. 6:3.
"If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound
words, THOSE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, and with the doctrine conforming to
Here at 2Thes 2:3, Paul wrote that the day of the Lord would not arrive
UNTIL there would first occur TWO THINGS.
These two things are two sides of the same coin.
That is, the apostasy is what will occur AT THE TIME that the man of
lawlessness is revealed, and in fact, as a result of that man's actions.
In many places the bible indicates that the apostasy will involve both Jews
and Christians and will occur in connection with the great persecution from
the man of lawlessness (the beast). Accordingly, there is no specific order
to the apostasy and the revealing of the man indicated in the passage. Thus
I use the idiom, "two sides of the same coin."
This ONE unique and SPECIFIC situation in human history will occur BEFORE
the coming of the Lord, the gathering of the saints, and the start of the
Day of the Lord.
The man of lawlessness will be revealed at the midpoint of Daniel's 70th
week BEFORE the massive spiritual decline that Jesus taught about will
occur. Jesus taught that the massive spiritual and moral decline will occur
within the time frame of the tribulation (Matthew 24:9-21) and that it will
not occur until the abomination event occurs. The abomination event is
directly connected to 2Thes. 2:4 as the man of lawlessness will "take his
seat in the temple of God displaying himself that he is God."
THE apostasy, then, is the attitude and action of the earth dwellers AFTER
the man is revealed.
There is no SPECIFIC apostasy or falling away taught in the Bible other than
what will occur through the influence from the beast.
Until then, it is all general as described BY Jesus at Mat 24:5-8 as what
will occur BEFORE the tribulation of verse 9.
Later the apostles amplified this GENERAL apostasy as seen at 1Tim. 4:1 and
2Peter 2:1-3 and Acts 20:29-30 and others.
THE apostasy is what will occur when the earth dwellers embrace the beast
during the tribulation which will begin at the midpoint of the 70th week of
Daniel. Jesus described it at Mat. 24:9-12. And the context indicates that
it will happen as a result of the abomination event of verse 15.
1. THEN: This is the Greek word, tote, and indicates chronological
progression. It refers to what will occur AFTER the events of the “beginning
of birth pangs.”
2. they will deliver you: The verb is paradidomi in the aorist tense. It
refers to an historical point of time when a “new” societal environment will
exist for the believers in Jesus – the elect. The subject, THEY, refers to
the people of the world under the influence and guidance of the man of
lawlessness of 2 Thess. 2:3-3. This man is the beast out of the sea of
Revelation 13:1-8, who is often referred to as the antichrist.
In context it refers to the what will happen AFTER the abomination event as
indicated by the words, "THEREFORE when you see . . . for then there will be
a great tribulation" in verses 15-21.
4. YOU: The YOU refers to the disciples AS representatives of the first
advent saints (or the church), who will, in a future generation, witness the
rise of the antichrist. The words of Jesus are directed TO and FOR His
disciples as those who will lay the foundation for the church that Jesus
will build upon Himself (Mat. 16:18; 1Cor. 3:11; 1Peter 2:4-9; Eph.
THE apostasy could happen in the first generation after the resurrection of
Jesus, as Paul indicated in 2Thes. 1:6-10, or it could happen in any
subsequent generation, as long as the conditions that Jesus will explain are
5. to tribulation: The KJV translation, “to be afflicted,” is quite wrong.
This is the noun, thlipsis, without a definite article. It should be
translated either as “a tribulation” or simply, “tribulation.” But it should
not be translated as an infinitive of a verb, “to be afflicted.”
The terms "the tribulation" (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:19) and "the great
tribulation," (Matthew 24:21; Revelation 7:14) both refer to a period of
intense persecution that will begin in the future, at the midpoint of
Daniel's 70th week (Matthew 24:15-21; Revelation 13:3-7; Daniel 9:27; 12:1).
This will occur NOT as an expression of God's wrath, but as an expression of
Satan's wrath (Revelation 12:12) and man's hatred (Matthew 24:9) toward God
and His people on the earth, both Christians and the nation of Israel.
Although there have been times of tribulation and persecution throughout
history (Acts 14:22; 1Peter 4:12-14), the Tribulation will be of greater
intensity than any other time before or after (Matt. 24:21; Dan. 12:1). This
persecution is so horrific that, unless it is cut short, "no [persecuted]
flesh would be saved" (Matt. 24:22), that is preserved alive. It is taught
in the Old Testament at Jeremiah 30:4-7, Daniel 11:36-39, and 12:1.
This period of time will not only be a time of great persecution but also a
time of great moral and spiritual decline.
This is described by Jesus at Matthew 24:9-14.
After describing a little bit about the tribulation, Jesus then told the
disciples, “THEREFORE” when you see the abomination (verse 15). This becomes
another chronological trigger that helps pull the passage together. The
“therefore” tells US what to look for as the starting point for the
tribulation described in verses 9-14.
6. And they will kill you. And you will be hated by all nations: This does
not refer to the persecution within the early church that resulted in the
death of many Christians, as described by Luke and discussed above. Nor does
it refer to the various periods of persecution that will occur in subsequent
history. It refers to the killing of Christians that will occur ONLY after
the antichrist sets up the abomination of desolation in the Holy Place of
the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.
According to Revelation 13:7, “it was given to him (the beast) to make war
with the saints and to overcome them.” And since according to verse 8, “all
who dwell on the earth will worship him,” these will be the tools of the
beast to carry out his persecution agenda. Of course, this "all" is a
generic all and does not refer to absolutely everyone. At 2Thes. 1:6, it is
“those who afflict you” who will be visited with their own affliction when
Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.
At Daniel 7:25, it is described as “he will wear down the saints of the
At Revelation 12:17, “And the dragon was enraged with the woman (national
Israel) and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring (the
brethren of Jesus) who keep the commandments of God and hold to the
testimony of Jesus.”
7. On account of My name: This hatred and killing is ON Christians BECAUSE
they are Christians. It is because they are called by the name of Christ and
represent Him in their witness and testimony during the time of the
This is not talking about national Israel or Jews in general, for they will
not be persecuted FOR CHRIST. They are not “saints” (believers in Jesus),
Nor is this talking about the Jews who flee Judea and are protected in the
mountains as per Rev. 12:6, 13-16. These likewise are not believers in
Jesus, but are orthodox Jews who resist beast worship based on RELIGIOUS
standards, not Christian standards.
However, as seen in Revelation 12, these Jewish people will also come under
direct persecution from the beast. Revelation 12:6, 13-16.
1. And then many will fall away: The TIME word, tote (then, at that time),
occurs again. The verb is skandalidzomai, and it means to be intimidated,
ashamed and “scandalized” through their association with Christ, and thus,
to stumble and fall. It occurs as a future passive indicative. The passive
voice shows us that these people will RECEIVE an influence or effect in
their life that causes them to stumble over the things of Jesus Christ and
to turn away from those things. Thus, they will FALL AWAY from their
attitude toward Christ. This can refer to Christians or professing
In the context of the abomination event of verse 15, it is the beast's war
against the saints of Rev. 13:7 (Rev. 12:17), that will cause this massive
withdraw from Judeo-Christian standards.
It is true that the history of the church from its inception in 30 AD to the
present, has known many examples of such a falling away or apostasy.
In fact the very same kind of STUMBLING (skandalizdomai) happened to the
disciples at the time of the crucifixion (Mat. 26:31).
The principle is seen at Mark 4:16-17 in the case of a believer who does not
have good teaching and preparation for persecution pressure.
"And in a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky
places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and
they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when
affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall
away (stumble – skandalidzomai)."
Even the emotionally zealous believer needs to be careful; to WATCH OUT
(Mat. 24:4), lest he also fall away as did Peter at Mark 14:29, “But Peter
said to Him, though all may fall away, yet I will not.” And at verse 31, 'If
I have to die with You, I will not deny You! And they all were saying the
same thing too." And of course, we know what happened to him (Mark 14:30),
and to the others (Mark 14:50, "and they all left Him and fled").
Warnings by Paul are sobering. "Let him who thinks he stands WATCH OUT (blepō)
lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12).
And the writer of Hebrews warns us, "But encourage one another day after
day, as long as it is called 'today,' lest any one of you become hardened by
the deceitfulness of the sin nature," (Heb. 3:13, BFT).
And at verse 4:11, "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest
anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience."
And then because of the massive acceptance of beast worship as per Rev.
13:3-8, those who fall away will betray those who have not fallen away –
both family and friends.
But this GENERAL withdraw from moral and spiritual standards is not what
Jesus was talking about.
2. And will deliver up one another and hate one another: close associations
with family and friends will be rejected as the beast worshippers seek
approval from the beast.
Again, Jesus is talking about a SPECIFIC period of time when this betrayal
activity will occur.
THE FALSE TEACHER INFLUENCE
The strong influence of false doctrine; especially the false teaching, signs
and miracles from the antichrist and his associate The false prophet, will
most certainly deceive EVEN THE ELECT (Mat. 24:24; 2Thes. 2:9).
Mat. 24:11 (Mark 13:12-13)
"And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead (planaō) many."
"For false christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs
and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect," (Mat. 24:24).
The significance of "mislead, if possible, even the elect" at Mat. 24:24
does not mean that the elect will NOT be deceived, but it means it will be
with difficulty and it is a hard thing to imagine.
The IF clause in this verse is a first class condition. That means that the
"condition" is seen as either ASSUMED to be true, or UNDERSTOOD to be true.
The point here is that the deception of the elect is a very real potential,
just as Jesus indicated at verse 4, "See to it that no one misleads you."
From the beginning of the church, believers have been attacked by numerous
and varied false teachers.
In about 59 AD, Paul warned the leaders of the church that "after my
departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and
from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things to draw
away the disciples after them."
And in about 65 AD, Paul prophesied that such a falling away would be
prevalent as the history of the church progresses. “But the Spirit
specifically says that in later times some will fall away from the faith,
paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,” (1 Timothy
4:1). Here, Paul used a stronger verb, aphistāmi, to indicate a departure
from the standards of Christian truth.
And Peter, well aware of the dangers, gave similar warnings. After telling
us that there will be false teachers who distort the scriptures, he wrote,
“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest,
being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own
steadfastness," (2 Peter 3:16-17; 2:1-3).
Later, John and Jude likewise warned of the dangers from the false teacher
influence. 1John 2:18-19; Jude 4.
But this GENERAL rise of false teachers and the attendant falling away is
not what Jesus was talking about.
He was talking about a SPECIFIC period of moral and spiritual decline that
will occur in direct connection with the abomination event He mentioned at
“And because lawlessness is increased, the love of many will grow cold.”
The word, lawlessness, is anomia and refers to the general rejection of the
divine laws of morality that have been established by God for the proper and
orderly function of the human race. Lawlessness is anarchy, which can be
described from Judges 21:25, “In those days there was no king in Israel;
EVERY MAN DID WHAT WAS RIGHT IN HIS OWN EYES.”
And this is why the beast of Rev. 13, is called “the man of lawlessness,” (anomia)
at 2Thes. 2:3.
The love of many will grow cold: The partner of anarchy is the absence of
“love” for others.
LOVE: The word here is agape and refers to basic love for fellow man.
Seeking what is good or beneficial for your fellow man.
When lawlessness increases, this kind of love goes by the wayside.
Lawlessness favors the natural tendencies of the sin nature to be
self-absorbed; self-centered; self-promoting, and self-protecting.
At Mark 7:21-22, Jesus described this moral lovelessness and lawlessness by
a long list of attitudes and actions that basically come from the sin
“For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual
immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy,
slander, arrogance and folly.”
This is exactly the kind of thinking that causes people to accept beast
worship. The lawless one will do anything and everything to promote his own
interests and comforts and security, no matter what the cost to other people
within his society. This is not talking about Christians losing their “first
love,” as at Rev. 2:4, or the absence of the “love of God” in general, as at
This refers to the absence of common love for humanity and one’s fellow
citizen within his society. That is, a kind of love that basically "cares
for" and wants what is beneficial for my fellow citizens.
However, since these moral laws are divinely designed, it is also the
absence of love FOR God that encourages lawlessness. This is seen at 1 John
3:17, “But whoever (a believer) has this world’s goods and beholds his
brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God
abide in him?”
In other words, whether with a believer or an unbeliever, the absence of the
love of God as an influence in the life will allow the sin nature to
influence the soul toward LOVELESSNESS and lawlessness.
The influence from the false teachers will direct everyone to accept beast
worship, as that is the only way to preserve one's social and economic peace
and security (Rev. 13:17). It is in fact those who reside under the umbrella
of beast worship who will be rejoicing in the experience of peace and
security, during the months before Christ's second coming. 1 Thes. 5:2-3.
And through their allegiance to the beast, they will seek to promote his
persecution agenda against Jews and Christians, and against ANYONE who has
not accepted the mark of the beast.
Thus, as Jesus stated, "and they will BETRAY one another and HATE one
This is amplified by Mark's account of Christ's words. "And brother will
DELIVER brother to death, and a father his child; and children will RISE UP
AGAINST parents and have them put to death" (Mark 13:12).
So, involved with THE apostasy is -
1. Professing Christians totally deserting their claims and becoming beast
worshippers. They will betray friends and family into the hands of the
beast's "storm troopers."
2. Other unbelievers becoming totally lawless and only interested in
self-preservation. Thus, taking the mark and hating and turning others in to
the beast's "storm troopers."
3. Real Christians losing their faith and living lawlessly. (Of course, they
cannot take the mark because God won't allow it via divine discipline as in
physical removal from the earth before they can actually take the mark). But
they might try and even try to win approval or favor from the beast by
betraying friends and family.
At 2Thes. 2 Paul describes it in the verses AFTER the revealing of the man.
Verses 9-12 describe the satanic influence and the apostasy.
INFLUENCE: "the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan,
with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all the deception of
wickedness for those who perish, because they did not accept the love of the
truth so as to be saved."
APOSTASY: "For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so
that they will believe what is false, . . . who did not believe the truth,
but took pleasure in wickedness."
Mat. 24:9-12 describes the apostasy.
Mat. 24:23-24 further describes the apostasy.
This is the frame of reference of the readers. They may have had the written
text of Matthew's book, but they most certainly had the oral teachings that
had been passed down by the apostles.
They did not have the context of the book of Revelation. But Revelation also
indicates that the apostasy will follow the rise of the beast.
Rev. 13:3 describes the apostasy.
Rev. 13:8 describes the apostasy.
Rev. 13:12-16 describes the apostasy.
It is this THE apostasy that Paul has in mind at 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
The word in the Greek is "apostasia," and means basically the act and/or the
condition of standing away from something; a departure from or rejection of
something. Paul even suggests for us what this apostasy is at verse 3, by
exhorting the believers to "stand firm and hold to the traditions which you
were taught, whether orally or by letter from us (2 Thes. 2:15).
The extent of this apostasy is such that Jesus suggests there will be very
little practice of true Christianity on the earth when He comes back to take
the elect to Himself (Luke 18:7-8).
"Now, will God not bring about justice for His elect who cry out to Him day
and night, and will He delay long for them?
"I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily."
This first part states a general promise of God's concern for His elect who
encounter various troubles throughout their life.
Deliverance in the face of crisis is described as occuring "speedily" (tachos).
The issue of "speedily" is determined according to God's wisdom and timing.
The trusting believer will be patient and accept whatever deliverance God's
character and plan determines. (1Peter 4:19).
Jesus then makes a specific application to the time period just prior to His
"However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find the faith on the earth?"
Jesus queries by way of a rhetorical question, "will He find THE faith on
the earth?" Faith refers to the function of faith by believers who are
relaxed and confident through trusting in the character and plan of God and
adhering to the standards of the faith. The issue is not the presence of
believers ON the earth, but the presence of believers functioning "in
fellowship" with God ("abiding in Him," 1 John 2:28), and actively trusting
Him in the midst of the tribulation-persecution from Satan and the beast.
This question indicates what the condition on the earth will be like after
the beast begins his great persecution of Christians.
By way of comparison, there will be very few who have not accepted beast
That condition is stated hyperbolically at Rev. 13.
13:3-4, "the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast and
worshipped the dragon."
13:7, "authority over every tribe and people and language and nation was
given to him."
13:8, "those who dwell on the earth will worship him."
13:14, "he deceives those who dwell on the earth."
13:16, "and he causes all, the small and the great, the rich and the poor,
free men and slaves to be given a mark."
At Luke 18, with that DIRECT application to the second-coming, Jesus
indicates that it is at that time that He will bring justice to His elect.
This will occur in two steps.
FIRST will be the physical deliverance of the persecuted believers on the
This is described by Paul at 2Thess. 1:6-7 and applies it to the believers
who will be alive when Jesus returns.
"For after all, it is only just for God to repay with affliction
those who afflict you, and to give relief to you, and to us as well,
at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of
His power in flaming fire."
When Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory, He
will gather together His elect OUT FROM the earth and INTO heaven.
John 14:3, "I will come again and take you to My side so that where I am
there you will be also."
Mark 13:27, "And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather
together His elect from the four winds, OUT FROM the farthest end of the
earth UNTO the farthest end of heaven."
At 1Thes. 4:13-17, Paul describes it as "we who are alive and remain shall
be caught up together with them in the clouds for a meeting with the Lord in
At 2Thes. 2:1, Paul calls it "our gathering together to Him." He used the
Jesus used the verb, sunagō.
Theologically is is called the rapture.
SECOND will be the pouring out of justice on the persecutors. 2Thes. 1:6-10.
This will be administered by the symbolic trumpet and bowl judgments of Rev.
8-9 and 16.
2Thes. 1:8, "dealing out retribution to those who do not know God even to
those who do not obey the gospel."
Rev. 6:17, "for the great day of Their wrath has come."
Thus, "those who endure to the end will be delivered (Mat. 10:22 and 24:13).
That is, those who are able to endure the persecution pressure and remain
alive throughout it, will be physically delivered when Jesus comes back.
MORE on The Apostasy
Apostasia: Greek word group