Re: K.S. Wuest on 2 Thes 2:3

From: Paul Dixon - Ladd Hill Bible Church (
Date: Wed Jan 22 1997 - 12:56:49 EST


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).

Paul S. Dixon, pastor
Ladd Hill Bible Church
Wilsonville, Oregon

On Wed, 22 Jan 1997, Carl wrote:

> 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—Precisely When?" — Vol 114 #453 — Jan 1957 — 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 follows:
> "The words “a falling away” 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 “to stand,” the prefixed preposition means
> “off, away from,” and the compound verb, “to stand off from.” The word does
> not mean “to fall.” The Greeks had a word for that, piptw. Afisthmi, in its
> various uses, is reported by Thayer as follows: “to make stand off, cause to
> withdraw, to stand off, stand aloof, to desert, to withdraw from one”; in
> contexts where a defection from the faith is in view, it means “to fall
> away, become faithless.” The verb is rendered by the translators of the
> Authorized Version “to depart,” in Luke 2:32; Luke 4:13; Luke 13:27; Acts
> 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 “fall away,” in
> Acts 5:37, “drew away,” and in Acts 5:38, “refrain.” Had they translated the
> word here instead of interpreting it, they would have rendered it by the
> word “departure.” The reader will observe that the predominant translation
> of the verbal form is “to depart,” also, that where it is translated “fall
> away,” the context adds the idea of “falling away” to the verb, which action
> is still a departure.
> E. Schuyler English, to whom this present writer is deeply indebted for
> calling his attention to the word “departure” as the correct rendering of
> apostasia in this context, also informs us that the following translators
> understood the Greek word to mean “a departure” 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 “to forsake” (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, “divorcement,” which word
> 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 “a rebel.” But these are acquired meanings of the word gotten
> 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 “apostasy” means a defection from the truth is entirely beside the
> 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 “some shall depart from the faith”
> and finds it necessary to qualify its meaning by the phrase “from
> the faith” 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. “The basal function of
> the article is to point out individual identity. It does more than mark ‘the
> object as definitely conceived,’ for a substantive in Greek is definite
> without the article.” This departure, whatever it is, is a particular one,
> one differentiated from all others. Another function of the article is “to
> denote previous reference.” Here the article points out an object the
> identity of which is defined by some previous reference made to it in the
> context.” Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 has just spoken of the coming of the
> Lord. This coming is defined by the words “our gathering together unto him,”
> not as the second advent, but as the rapture. The Greek word rendered “and”
> can also be translated “even,” and the translation reads, “the coming of our
> Lord Jesus Christ, even our gathering together unto him.”
> The article before apostasia defines that word by pointing to “the gathering
> together unto him” 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

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