Re: Apostasy - 2 Thessalonians 2:3

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Feb 17 1997 - 10:04:54 EST

At 8:39 AM -0600 2/17/97, Jonathan Robie wrote:
> wrote:
>> Concerning the falling away found in 2 Thessalonians 2:3
>> I had heard somewhere that there is a controversy surrounding this
>> Some seem to believe that this means post-rapture do to the fact that the
>> greek word used here can also mean departure. I am a greek scholar, so I
>> thought I would consult some.
>I assume you mean "not a greek scholar". If so, there's at least two
>of us here ;->
>> I know that there actual translations that read departure here. The
>> following is a short list:
>> Coverdale
>> Geneva
>> Tyndale
>> An Expanded Translation by Kenneth Wuest
>> Amplified Bible -- footnote
>> Any thoughts anyone?
>Here's the verse:
>I don't have any of the translations you mention, and I'm not quite
>certain that I'm looking at the right word. None of the words I
>see in the Greek seem to mean "departure" in the sense of a rapture.
>One word, APOSTASIA, means rebellion, or abandonment in the sense of
>abandoning God. It could be translated "depart from God", and is
>translated "falling away [from God]" in several of the translations
>I have. Is this the word you are looking at?

For what it's worth (and I'm not sure that it's worth much), the background
of this word is political usage of AFISTHMI and AFISTAMAI in earlier Greek.
AFISTHMI is used of uprooting a person or a community from his/their fixed
habitation, as in the case of forced emigration. AFISTAMAI is used of
uprooting oneself and going elsewhere. I recall one vivid text in
Demosthenes where a suppliant seated on an altar is asked AFISTASQAI, to
leave the altar and his stance of supplication and accept the
reconciliation offered him. It may be used of a group leaving a homeland to
establishe a new colony somewhere; that's the way Peisetairos and Euelpides
use the verb in Aristophanes' BIRDS, where they leave Athens to establish a
"trouble-free" colony in the sky between heaven and earth. But one of the
most common senses in 5th-4th century usage is for political rebellion
against a dominant internal or external power--for social rebellion (of a
repressed majority against a dominant minority) or for political freedom
(of a colony or group of colonies against a dominant foreign power). I
think the prevalent sense in the NT usages is derived from this sense of
"rising up in rejection of authority claimed over one's self." No doubt the
very old simple concrete sense of striking one's tent and migrating
elsewhere (like Abraham leaving Ur of the Chaldees and Haran/Paddan-Aram)
is still there in the NT era to be used; the question is the likelihood of
that being the sense in this apocalyptic passage in 2 Thess 2:3, which
seems rather small.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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