K.S. Wuest on 2 Thes 2:3

Carl (cybrough@northcoast.com)
Wed, 22 Jan 1997 08:48:49 -0800

To All:

I'm new to this list. I don't know much about b-greek but want to learn. I
recently came across an article by Kenneth S. Wuest entitled " The
Rapture=97Precisely When?" =97 Vol 114 #453 =97 Jan 1957 =97 60

Here Mr. Wuest discusses 2Thes 2:3, specifically the meaning of "apostasia."
He asserts that it should be translated as 'departure' with reference to the
rapture of the church. I have never come across this in any translation and
I wonder if it is a correct exegesis of this verse?

Any insight that you have will be appreciated. Mr. Wuest's argument=

"The words =93a falling away=94 are the Authorized Version rendering of
apostasia. The verbal form afistamai from which it comes is present middle
of afisthmi, the root verb, which we will study. The simple verb Jisthmi in
its intransitive sense means =93to stand,=94 the prefixed preposition means
=93off, away from,=94 and the compound verb, =93to stand off from.=94 The=
word does
not mean =93to fall.=94 The Greeks had a word for that, piptw. Afisthmi, in=
various uses, is reported by Thayer as follows: =93to make stand off, cause=
withdraw, to stand off, stand aloof, to desert, to withdraw from one=94; in
contexts where a defection from the faith is in view, it means =93to fall
away, become faithless.=94 The verb is rendered by the translators of the
Authorized Version =93to depart,=94 in Luke 2:32; Luke 4:13; Luke 13:27;=
12:10; Acts 15:38; Acts 19:9; Acts 22:29; 2 Corinthians 12:8; 1 Timothy 4:1;
2 Timothy 2:19; Hebrews 3:12. In Luke 8:13 it is translated =93fall away,=94=
Acts 5:37, =93drew away,=94 and in Acts 5:38, =93refrain.=94 Had they=
translated the
word here instead of interpreting it, they would have rendered it by the
word =93departure.=94 The reader will observe that the predominant=
of the verbal form is =93to depart,=94 also, that where it is translated=
away,=94 the context adds the idea of =93falling away=94 to the verb, which=
is still a departure.

E. Schuyler English, to whom this present writer is deeply indebted for
calling his attention to the word =93departure=94 as the correct rendering=
apostasia in this context, also informs us that the following translators
understood the Greek word to mean =93a departure=94 in this context: Tyndale
(1534), Coverdale (1535), the Geneva Bible (1537), Cranmer (1539), and Beza
(1565), and so used it in their translations. Apostasia is used once more in
the New Testament and is translated =93to forsake=94 (AV), signifying a
departure. The neuter noun apostasion in Matthew 5:31; Matthew 19:7; and
Mark 10:4 is rendered by the Authorized Version, =93divorcement,=94 which=
also signifies a departure, here, from antecedent relations.

The writer is well aware of the fact that apostasia was used at times both
in classical and koine Greek in the sense of a defection, a revolt in a
religious sense, a rebellion against God, and of the act of apostasy.
Liddell and Scott in their classical lexicon give the above as the first
definition of the word. Moulton and Milligan quote a papyrus fragment where
the word means =93a rebel.=94 But these are acquired meanings of the word=
from the context in which it is used, not the original, basic, literal
meaning, and should not be imposed upon the word when the context does not
qualify the word by these meanings, as in the case of our Thessalonians
passage, where the context in which apostasia is embedded does not refer to
a defection from the truth but to the rapture of the church. The fact that
our word =93apostasy=94 means a defection from the truth is entirely beside=
point since we do not interpret Scripture upon the basis of a transliterated
word to which a certain meaning has been given, but upon the basis of what
the Greek word mean to the first century reader. The fact that Paul in 1
Timothy 4:1 uses this verb in the words =93some shall depart from the faith=
and finds it necessary to qualify its meaning by the phrase =93from
the faith=94 indicates that the word itself has no such connotation. The
translators of the Authorized Version did not translate the word, but
offered their interpretation of it. They should have translated it and
allowed the student to interpret it in its context.

With the translation of the word before us, the next step is to ascertain
from the context that to which this departure refers. We note the presence
of the Greek definite article before apostasia, of which the translation
takes no notice. A Greek word is definite in itself, and when the article is
used the exegete must pay particular attention to it. =93The basal function=
the article is to point out individual identity. It does more than mark =91t=
object as definitely conceived,=92 for a substantive in Greek is definite
without the article.=94 This departure, whatever it is, is a particular one,
one differentiated from all others. Another function of the article is =93to
denote previous reference.=94 Here the article points out an object the
identity of which is defined by some previous reference made to it in the
context.=94 Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 has just spoken of the coming of the
Lord. This coming is defined by the words =93our gathering together unto=
not as the second advent, but as the rapture. The Greek word rendered =93and=
can also be translated =93even,=94 and the translation reads, =93the coming=
of our
Lord Jesus Christ, even our gathering together unto him.=94

The article before apostasia defines that word by pointing to =93the=
together unto him=94 as that departure. This article determines the context
which defines apostasia. The translators took the context of 2 Thessalonians
2:10-12 as deciding the significance of the word, but they went too far
afield, not grasping the function of the definite article preceding
apostasia which points back to the rapture of 2 Thessalonians 2:2, not ahead
to the refusal to believe the truth of 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12. The article
is all-important here, as in many instances of its use in the Greek New
Testament. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul had given these saints teaching
on the rapture, and the Greek
article here points to that which was well known to both the reader and the
writer, which is another use of the Greek definite article. Thus, the
departure of the church from earth to heaven must precede the great
tribulation period. And we have answered our questions again. It might be
added that the reason why Paul merely speaks of a pretribulation rapture
rather than a preseventieth week rapture is that he is addressing himself to
the needs of the Thessalonian saints and is not explaining the particular
place of the rapture in the prophetic program of God."

Thank you,

Carl Yarbrough