Q. I was listening to a well-known Bible teacher, who was saying that 2 Thes. 2:3 does not refer to a great departing from the faith (apostasia), but the Rapture. I may be missing something here, but my Strong’s concordance lists “falling away” as apostasia. Your thoughts on this please?
A. There is a sense in which the Greek word apostasia can mean departure. It’s a compound of apo (from) and istemi (stand.) Therefore, some scholars believe its core meaning is “away from” or “departure” or even “disappearance.”
I’m told that before the original KJV was published, the common understanding of 2 Thes. 2:3 was that it referred to the Rapture of the Church. Today it’s more widely seen as a falling away of believers-in-name-only from the true church in the days just before the anti-Christ is revealed.
With the seeker-friendly and emerging church movements, I think the “falling away” may be taking place before our very eyes.
But no matter which way you take it, 2 Thes. 2:3-8 does support a pre-trib rapture. Paul wrote in effect that two things have to happen before the anti-Christ can be revealed. One is the falling away in verse 3 and the other is the removal of the restrainer in verse 7. The prevailing view among evangelicals is that the restrainer refers to the Holy Spirit as resident in the Church.
If so there will be a falling away of believers-in-name-only from the Church, then the remaining true believers will be “taken out of the way” with the Holy Spirit in the Rapture, then the anti-Christ will be revealed.