The Apostasy

The Apostle Paul responded to false reports about the “Day of the Lord” by pointing to the expected apostasy and the “Man of Lawlessness.” Jesus would not “arrive” to gather his saints until the “Apostasy” occurred and the “Lawless One” was revealed “in the Sanctuary of God.” In doing so, he reiterated warnings found elsewhere in Scripture about the “falling away” and “deceivers” in the “Last Days,” including those made by Jesus in his ‘Olivet Discourse’.

Rumors claiming that the “Day of the Lord had set in” were circulating in Thessalonica. However, they could not be true since these two pivotal events had not yet occurred – (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).

Abandoned Church - Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash
[Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash]

Paul was not breaking new ground. The passage includes verbal parallels to the teachings of Jesus as recorded in 
MatthewMark, and Luke. For example, Paul wrote about the “ARRIVAL (Parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our GATHERING TOGETHER (episunagôgé) to him” - (2 Thessalonians 2:1).

His statement reflects the words of Jesus when he compared his appearance to the lightning “which flashes from the east, and is seen even unto the west, so will be the ARRIVAL (Parousia) of the Son of man… He will send his angels… and they will GATHER TOGETHER (episunagôgé) his elect from one end of heaven to the other” The spelling episunagôgé represents the noun form of the word (“the gathering”), and episunagôgé its corresponding verb (“to gather”)– (Matthew 24:27-31).

Paul exhorted the Thessalonians not to be “TROUBLED SO THAT NO ONE MAY DECEIVE YOU IN ANY RESPECT.” Jesus responded likewise to the disciples’ questions about “the end of the age”:

  • BEWARE LEST ANYONE DECEIVE YOU, for many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ; and deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; SEE THAT YOU ARE NOT TROUBLED, for these things must come to pass; but the end is not yet” – (Matthew 24:4-6, 2 Thessalonians 2:2).

The “Day of the Lord” will not begin until the “apostasy comes, and the Man of Lawlessness, the son of destruction is revealed, the one who opposes and exalts himself on high against everyone called God or any object of worship.”

The term “Man of LAWLESSNESS (Greek - anomia) is another link to the teachings of Jesus. “Many false prophets will arise, and deceive many. And because LAWLESSNESS (anomia) will be multiplied, the love of the many will grow cold” – (Matthew 24:11-12, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

Believers will be tempted by deceptions that will cause many to “stumble and betray one another.” Moreover, “Many false prophets will arise and deceive many. And because LAWLESSNESS will abound, the love of the many will grow cold… There will arise false Christs and false prophets, and they will show GREAT SIGNS AND WONDERS so as to deceive even the elect” – (Matthew 24:10-12, 24).

Likewise, the Man of Lawlessness will appear among believers “with all power and SIGNS AND LYING WONDERS,” offering “every deceit of unrighteousness to them that perish because they received not the love of the truth” – (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

APOSTASY


The Greek term translated as “apostasy” represents the noun apostasia, meaning, “falling away, apostasy, defection.” In the Scriptures, it is applied to the abandonment of the true faith - (Matthew 5:31, Acts 21:21, 1 Timothy 4:1, Hebrews 3:12).

The historical figure behind this “Man of Lawlessness” is the malevolent ruler described in the Book of Daniel, where he is called the “Little Horn,” the “King of fierce countenance,” the “Leader,” and the “Contemptible One.” Paul’s description of the “Lawless One” alludes to a passage in Daniel:

  • And the king shall do according to his will, and HE SHALL EXALT HIMSELF, AND MAGNIFY HIMSELF ABOVE EVERY GOD, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods; and he shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished; for that which is determined shall be done” – (Daniel 11:36).

In Daniel, the “indignation” refers to the assault by the “Little Horn” against the “saints.” He “waged war against” them, he “wore out the saints,” he cast down “some of the host of heaven and the stars to the ground,” he “destroyed the saints,” he had “indignation against the covenant,” and through “flattery, he corrupted such as acted wickedly against the covenant” - (Daniel 7:21-25, 8:10, 8:24, 11:30-32).

Likewise, the “Man of Lawlessness” will wage war against the Church with deceptions and “signs and lying wonders,” thereby causing many to depart from the faith.

Paul also warned Timothy of the future when “some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” In the Last Days, “evil men and howling imposters will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” - (1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:13, 4:1-4).

Peter likewise warned of “false prophets” and “false teachers” who will propagate false doctrines and otherwise cause havoc in the Assembly - (2 Peter 2:1-3).

In his epistles, John referred to the coming “Antichrist.” But of more immediate concern were the “many antichrists,” false teachers who were active in his congregations. Since the “Spirit of the Antichrist” was at work already, it was only a matter of time before the final “Antichrist” appeared – (1 John 2:18-22, 4:1-3).

Storm - Photo by Justin Leniger on Unsplash
[Storm - Photo by Justin Leniger on Unsplash]

Scripture provides a consistent warning. Before the return of Jesus, his churches will experience the “
Apostasy,” the Great “Falling Away” as individual saints and perhaps entire congregations embrace the lies of deceivers, especially those of the “Lawless One.” He will be “energized by Satan” to perform “signs and wonders” designed to hoodwink believers so they will “receive not the love of the truth.”

Christians have been forewarned by Jesus and his Apostles, and their warnings are preserved on the pages of the New Testament. Especially during a time when the Church is flooded with deceivers and false prophets, we ignore them at our peril.



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