From: Steven R. LoVullo (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon May 08 2000 - 22:40:49 EDT
There are many good reasons for not taking APOSTASIA as a simple movement
from Point A to Point B.
First, when you ask us to "check the uses of APOSTASIA elsewhere in the New
Testament, most notably Acts," and state, "APOSTASIA is always modified in
the context to give it its 'religious departure' meaning," you seem to imply
that APOSTASIA is used numerous times. It isn't. It is only used twice in
all the NT, once in 2 Thess 2:3, and one other time in Acts 21:21. In the
passage in Acts it clearly refers to religious apostasy, for what is in view
is the forsaking of the Law of Moses by Jews. And it is no accident that
APOSTASIA is the word used in Acts 21:21 for religious apostasy, for in
every one of its appearances in the LXX (4 times) we find it used in exactly
that sense (see Jos 22:22; 2 Chron 29:19; 1 Mac 2:15; Jer 2:19). Also, every
occurrence of the related noun APOSTASIS has the meaning "religious
apostasy" or "political rebellion" (cf. 2 Chron 28:19; 2 Chron 33:19; 1
Esdras 2:21; Ezra 4:19). Similarly, the noun of agency APOSTATHS describes a
"deserter," "rebel," or "apostate" in a religious or political sense (see
Num 14:9; Jos 22:16, 19; 1 Esdras 2:17; 2 Mac 5:8; 3 Mac 7:3; Odes 7:32; Job
26:13; Isa 30:1; Dan 3:32). Admittedly, there is not a huge pool of data for
APOSTASIA, but as far as the Greek Bible is concerned, APOSTASIA unanimously
refers to religious rebellion, unless 2 Thess 2:3 is the only exception. And
as another contributor to the list pointed out, this word has a long history
in Greek literature of describing rebellion.
Second, there is conversely a total lack of evidence for APOSTASIA in the
sense of a "catching away" associated with the PAROUSIA, unless 2 Thess 2:3
is the only known occurrence. Instead, Paul uses the verb hARPAZW to
describe this event in 1 Thess 4:17. If we leave out 2 Thess 2:3, the
scoreboard reads RELIGIOUS APOSTASY: 5, CATCHING AWAY: 0.
Third, and related to the last two points, it seems highly unlikely that
Paul would use a word with such a negative connotation to describe what he
elsewhere refers to as "the blessed hope" (Tit 2:13). In light of its
unanimous use in the Bible to describe rebellion against God (point 1), it
should not surprise us that it is not used with respect to the PAROUSIA
Fourth, I am frankly amazed at your insistence that 2 Thess 3 has no
"religious apostasy" context. I would urge you to note that the dark
personage depicted in this passage is called hO ANQRWPOS THS ANOMIAS ("the
man of lawlessness," v. 3). Verse 4 calls him hO ANTIKEIMENOS KAI
hUPERAIROMENOS EPI PANTA LEGOMENON QEON H SEBASMA, hWSTE AUTON EIS TON NAON
TOU QEOU KAQISAI APODEIKNUNTA hEAUTON hOTI ESTIN QEOS ("the one who opposes
and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that
he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God").
Not exactly Yahweh's little helper! Nor is he alone in his insolent
rebellion against God. We also read of the MUSTHRION ... THS ANOMIAS
("mystery ... of lawlessness") which is at work even before he comes on the
scene, and which breaks out in earnest once he is revealed (v. 7). Finally,
he is able to deceive by false miracles those who "did not receive the love
of the truth" (vv. 9, 10). Indeed, God hardens them in their rebellion
against him by sending upon them a "deluding influence, so that they will
believe what is false" (v. 11). The implication of v. 4 is that they will
actually worship the "man of lawlessness." So not only does the man of
lawlessness rebel against God, he persuades many more to do the same.
Finally, even scholars who believe in Pretribulationism recognize that
APOSTASIA does not refer to a "catching away." For example, Thomas L.
Constable in his commentary on 2 Thessalonians in _The Bible Knowledge
Commentary_ writes: "One major event is the rebellion.... This is a revolt,
a departure, an abandoning of a position once held. This rebellion, which
will take place within the professing church, will be a departure from the
truth that God has revealed in His Word. True, apostasy has characterized
the church almost from its inception, but Paul referred to a specific
distinguishable apostasy that will come in the future (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2
Tim. 3:1-5; 4:3-4; James 5:1-8; 2 Peter 2; 3:3-6; Jude). He had already told
his readers about it (2 Thes. 2:5).... Some interpreters have taken this
'departure' as a reference to the Rapture of the church (e.g., E. Schuyler
English, Rethinking the Rapture, New York: Loizeaux Brothers, 1954, pp.
67-71), but this is not too probable. D. Edmond Hiebert refutes this view
that apostasia here refers to the Rapture (The Thessalonian Epistles, p.
306). Some scholars believe that this apostasy (called by Paul 'the'
apostasy) will consist of people turning from God's truth to worship the
Antichrist, who will set himself up in God's temple and claim to be God (v.
I hope this gives you at least some idea of why "Dr. English's observation
[is] seemingly brushed aside." In the end his contention proves to be
remarkably without merit in the NT or anywhere else.
Steve Lo Vullo
----- Original Message -----
From: Mark Wilson <email@example.com>
To: Biblical Greek <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Monday, May 08, 2000 12:17 AM
> Dr. English, in his 1954 book, Rethinking the Rapture, makes
> an observation regarding APOSTASIA that, if true, is rather
> He contends that APOSTASIA does not mean a "religious falling
> away" or a "falling away from the faith" UNLESS THE CONTEXT
> imposes that meaning to it.
> Hence, by itself, APOSTASIA simply means a movement from
> Point A. to Point B, without any religious implications.
> If one checks the uses of APOSTASIA elsewhere in the New
> Testament, most noteably Acts, I believe Dr. English's
> contention proves true. APOSTASIA is always modified in the
> context to give it its "religious departure" meaning.
> Therefore, if his conclusions are true, then 2 Thess. 2, which
> has no "religious apostasy" context, would simply mean
> a departure of some kind, not excluding the Rapture.
> Add to that that the "apostasy" mentioned in 1 Timothy 4 does
> NOT mention a worldwide, large-scale apostasy by any means.
> Here is my question: It is almost universally accepted that Paul
> is referring to THE (hence, well-known) APOSTASIA of 1 Timothy 4
> in 2 Thess. 2. How can this be?
> Why is Dr. English's observation seemingly brushed aside? Several
> commentaries acknowledge his claim, but few seem to investigate it.
> His contention seems to prove remarkably true in the New Testament.
> I am not contending that the APOSTASIA in 2 Thess. 2 is the Rapture;
> I am simply not eliminating it yet.
> Mark Wilson
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