Re: Apostasy - 2 Thessalonians 2:3

From: Paul Dixon - Ladd Hill Bible Church (
Date: Wed Feb 26 1997 - 03:22:11 EST

On Sun, 23 Feb 1997 Charles Powell wrote:

> Paul's correction about the Day of the Lord in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-15 also
> support a pretribulational view. Apparently a false epistle was sent to the
> Thessalonians by Paul's enemies that taught that the tribulation they were
> suffering was proof that they were in the Day of the Lord. The Thessalonians
> were greatly disturbed by this teaching. Paul seeks to correct this false
> teaching and connects it to their gathering with the Lord, which, along with
> the parousia, is the topic orienter of the section. The Day of the Lord
> would not come until the apostasy had come first and the man of lawlessness
> was revealed. If the Thessalonians expected to go through the Day of the
> Lord, why were they so disturbed. It seems that they believed that they had
> missed the Rapture. Paul corrects this notion by appealing to other
> argumentation. If they were truly in the Day of the Lord, they would see the
> primary features of it: great apostasy and the revealing of the man of
> lawlessness. Since they did not see these things, they must not be in the Day
> of the Lord and therefore have not missed the Rapture. At the close of this
> section Paul gives a strong assurance of salvation, which suggests that they
> were so deeply disturbed because the presence of the Day of the Lord meant
> they missed the Rapture and thus, lost their salvation.

The pretrib position is forced to render the coming of the Lord and our
gathering together unto Him (2:1) as two entirely separate events. This
is necessarily so, because they are separated by 7 years and involve 2
separate comings of Christ (one for the church before the tribulation, one
7 years later).

If this is so, why doesn't Paul say something specifically about the
rapture before the tribulation? He mentions specifically only the day of
the Lord and its coming. If, as you say, the Thessalonians thought they
were in the tribulation, and if the rapture precedes the tribulation, why
wouldn't Paul simply say something like this: you are not in the
tribulation, because the rapture precedes it, and if this is so, then you
would even be here?

Aha, you say. Paul seeks to assure them the haven't missed the rapture
because subsequent tribulation events (apostasy and revelation of the man
of lawlessness) had not yet occurred. How does this prove they hadn't
missed the rapture? Some passage of time is surely required, under the
pretrib scheme, between the rapture and these tribulational events. They
could have been in that period of time. No, Paul never says these event
follow the rapture (our gathering together unto Christ). He says these
events precede the coming of the day of the Lord.

The only way this passage makes any sense is if the coming of the Lord and
our gathering together unto Him occur at the same time. This was the
interpretation taken by most pretribs until only recently. The problem
with it, of course, is that it leads to a refutatin of the pretrib scheme,
since it says the coming and gathering do not occur until after the
apostasy and revelation of the man of lawlessness.

This problem was apparently recognized by pretribs and explains why
subsequently pretribs are attempting another explanation. This one fails
as well, however. It just makes no sense.

Notice, I have not and never have appealled to the Granville-Sharp rule as
the basis of my interpretation of 2:1. The context itself is sufficient
to demonstrate the the coming of the Lord and our gathering together unto
Him refer to the same event, not two comings separated by 7 years.

Paul Dixon

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