Q. On one hand I read where the meaning of the word “apostasia” has to do with people in the church “falling away” from the faith. On the other hand, I read where the same word means more of a “departure” from this earth as in “The Rapture.” The second argument seems very convincing and yet, in Revelation we read about how small and weak the Church of Philadelphia is in comparison to the “Luke warm” church of Laodicea. Which is it? What does apostasia really mean?
A. The watershed event that prompted the change in the accepted meaning of the Greek word apostasia in 2 Thes. 2:3 was the publication of the King James Bible in 1611 where it was translated “falling away”. Prior to that it was almost always translated departure.
There is still disagreement among scholars as the to word’s proper meaning and even its etymology (origin). Some, like E.W.Bullinger, said it’s a compound of apo and stasia and means a “separation away from”. Others, like the Strong’s Concordance, said it’s the feminine form of apostasion, which means a divorce or repudiation, and is derived from aphistemi which is most often translated “depart.” The question that to me remains unanswered is whether Paul intended to refer to a physical departure, such as the rapture would be, or whether he was speaking of an intellectual or spiritual departure, such as our understanding of apostasy would indicate.
But to me it’s all semantics. Whether you think the word points to the rapture or a falling away from the Gospel doesn’t change the fact that the Bible tells us the rapture will take place before the end times judgments of Daniel’s 70th Week (Isaiah 26:19-21, Romans 5:9, 1 Thes 1:10, Rev. 3:10).