The Falling Away

I have struggled with Second Thessalonians chapter two for a long time. My struggle has been with the apparent conflict between verses three and eight.

Verse three says there will be a falling away (the church is still here?), and then the “man of sin” will be revealed, while verse eight says the wicked man will not be revealed until after the Restrainer is taken out of the way. It is almost universally agreed that the Restrainer is the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will not be “taken out of the way” as long as Believers are here on earth. Verse three indicates that the man of sin will be revealed after the falling away (while the church is still here?) while verse eight strongly implies that the church must be raptured before the man of sin is revealed.

A Bible scholar, Dr. Henry Morris, in the footnotes of the Morris Study Bible has helped me understand and reconcile this passage. The key to my understanding, and perhaps your own, is the Greek word translated “falling away.” The word is apostasia, from which we derive our English word “apostasy.” The Greek word is translated in various versions as “falling away,” “rebellion” or “apostasy.” The problem is; we have seen at least forty years of falling away, rebellion, and apostasy and we are still here and the man of sin has not been revealed.

Brother Morris points out the fact that the Apostle Paul used the definite article the, which indicates a specific apostasia. He also notes that the word apostasia appears in verse three in a precise form found nowhere else in the Bible. Therefore Brother Morris said, “Its meaning must be derived from its context [in verse three]. It is derived from two Greek words, apo (meaning ‘away from’) and stasis (meaning ‘standing’). It thus could be properly rendered ‘standing away from’ instead of ‘falling away from’.”

Paul clearly tells the Thessalonians that he had already discussed this subject when he was with them. (Second Thessalonians 2:5) Brother Morris reminds us that Paul made no mention of a spiritual falling away in his previous letter, First Thessalonians. But Paul did spend over a chapter of that epistle discussing the “catching away” or the “rapture” of the church.

Based upon the etymology of the word and the context in which it was used, Brother Morris believes that Paul was saying in verse three that the church would be standing away from or “raptured” and then the man of sin would be revealed. Then there is no conflict with verse eight which says the Restrainer (and the church) will be taken out of the way and then the man of sin will be revealed. They agree. “Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!”

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