<<Assuming, for the sake of argument, that APOSTASIA refers to a departure,
namely a pretrib rapture, then it seems we are faced with at least two
insurmountable difficulties. First, is the matter of double-talk. Paul
would then be saying, concerning the coming of the Lord and our gathering
together unto Him (a clear reference to the rapture, v. 1), that day will
not come except the rapture (departure) come first. Huh? This is
A second and fatal problem for pretribbers is this: they still have the
problem of the revelation of the Man of Lawlessness which must take place
before the coming of the Lord and our gathering together unto Him (v. 1).
But, pretribbers say the Man of Lawlessness is not revealed until after
the rapture and in the middle of the tribulation period.
All of this, of course, is assuming your interpretation of APOSTASIA as a
reference to the rapture. Even most pretribbers are rejecting that
interpretation these days. It is probably best taken as a religion
falling away, or a departure from the faith (so NT usage).
I agree with you on the first, that there is a tautology present if APOSTASIA
refers to the pretrib rapture. But your second objection is not so fatal. You
seem to be defining the Day of the Lord strictly in terms of the Second
Coming rather than a complex of events that are climaxed by the Second
Coming. There is also a problem with the relationship between the Parousia
and the gathering together of the saints. The construction in 2 Thess 2:1 is
a Granville Sharp impersonal construction, so the "rule" does not apply. You
seem to view the "coming" and "gathering" as referring to the same event.
However, with the impersonal construction, these can refer to distinct, but
related events, overlapping events, or one event being a subset of the other.
Identification is the least likely possibility, statistically speaking, while
the "gathering" being a subset of the "coming" is the most likely (See Dan
Wallace's dissertation or grammar). This at least allows for the possibility
that the "gathering" and the "coming" are separated in time. The decision
concerning the timing of the rapture will rest on other contextual factors.
Some factors that may contribute to this question is the chiastic structure
of 2 Thess 2:1-15 where 2:1-3a is parallel to 2 :13-15 and the APOSTASIA is
parallel to the deluding influence, which argues for a religious defection,
as you argue. Other questions involve the relationship of 2:1 to 2:3-12; the
relationship of 2:2-3a to 2:13-15; the relationship of the "gathering" to the
Man of Lawlessness (2:6-7? Note that the Parousia is discussed strictly in
terms of its relationship to the Man of Lawlessness in 2:8); and the
difficult interpretive issues of 2:6-7 some of which have been previously
discussed here. For a detailed discussion of most of these issues I will
defer to my forthcoming article in the Oct 97 BibSac.
Dallas Theological Seminary