Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published: January 22, 2021
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Welcome to Home Bible Study©.
Please open your Bible to 2 Thessalonians 1:11-13, but before we get started with that let’s review the Bible verses we recently studied to refresh our memory.
“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (See Romans 2:16, 16:25-27; and 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” (1:8-10).
Clearly, Paul addressed this passage of Scripture to the unbeliever for the Body of Christ has no connection to the Tribulation.
“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In verse 1:11a Paul prayed God will “count” these saints “worthy of this calling,” i.e., being spared the judgement (wrath) that is to come upon the unbelieving world. We find similar language in Paul’s first letter to these saints. He “exhorted an comforted and charged every one of the Thessalonians to walk worthy of God, who hath called (them) unto his kingdom and glory (verse 2:11-12), which is what grace is all about.
We also find this appeal in Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse. Paul prayed that they “might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding:” and exhorted them to “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened will all might, according to his glorious power…” (Colossians 1:9-11).
So, here’s the thing the Thessalonians had the “hope” of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), God had promised it, so Paul prayed they’d “walk worthy” of it. But in his second letter to this same assembly he prayed God would “count” them “worthy” of it by rapturing them before God’s judgment begins. But if the Pre-Tribulation Rapture was a sure thing, why did Paul pray for it? Does this indicate there are irregularities in these two writings? Not so much. I believe Paul was praying “according to the will of God,” as he did in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24. Hezekiah did this when he reminded the LORD God of His promise in 1 Kings 2:4, specifically, that he would not die childless since he’d been good (2 Kings 20:1-5). The LORD doesn’t forget His promises; He wanted to see if Hezekiah would remember it and pray for it. From this we learn God delights when we pray “according to His will,” and that’s what Paul is doing in praying that “God will count these saints worthy” of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture (1 Thessalonian 5:16-18).
This faithful act will “fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness,” (1:11a). God’s “good pleasure” for the nation of Israel concerned Jerusalem (Psalm 51:18) in the coming kingdom on the earth (Luke 12:32). The LORD God (Jehovah) taught the Jews to pray for this (See Matthew 6:10). Many church goers unknowingly pray for the very same thing when they recite this prayer. His “good pleasure” for the Thessalonians (and us) is the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, and Paul prayed for it. He also prayed God would fulfill “the work of faith with power,” i.e., the work of His faithfulness (Colossians 2:12) in rapturing us “with power.”
“That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
When the Lord keeps His promise to Rapture all the saints before the Tribulation starts, He will be “glorified” in us (2 Thessalonians 1:12). God is always “glorified” when He fulfills His promises. He will be glorified in Israel when He keeps His promises to her, and He’ll be “glorified in us,” His Church, when He keeps His promises to us.
Before I let this verse go I remind the group these people were once pagan idolators, so they didn’t deserve God’s grace any more than we do. But the Grace of God was poured out on the Thessalonians because they accepted and believed the gospel of Jesus Christ (Paul’s gospel) and were “transformed” by it. We know this, of course, because Paul acknowledged their “work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ…” And “ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: so that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-8). In short, these Believers not only talked the talk, but they also walked the walk, and this too “glorifies” the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now we’re going to go into chapter 2, and immediately the apostle Paul introduces something that I think he’s been leading up to for some time, namely, an appeal to those Believers whose faith was “faltering,” i.e., those people whose faith in the Rapture and what God had said regarding it was wavering. What caused this? The same thing that necessitated Paul writing this second letter to the Thessalonians only a few months after the first. False teaching most likely from the Jews who confused the Lord’s Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation with the Rapture of every true Believer in Christ Jesus before the onset of the Tribulation. People are still doing this today.
Case in point, while researching this week’s Bible lesson I came across an article from a gentleman who held a church office of leadership that said the Bible does not say anything about the Church being Raptured. I bring this to your attention for the following reason. It demonstrates Satan (mainly) and all those who oppose Paul’s apostolic authority, and his writings, continue to attack God’s Truths. So, let’s be clear the “everlasting destruction” Paul writes about here has no connection to God’s true Church. Every member of the Body of Christ will be “caught up” (Raptured) before the Tribulation by the Lord. Thus those dire warnings we reviewed at the beginning of this Bible lesson are meant for the unbeliever, which includes the fence-sitter who can’t seem to make up their mind while “the day of your salvation” is still in effect.
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”
Let No Man Deceive You By Any Means
Paul’s strong appeal to these saints not to be “shaken in mind,” or “troubled,” or “deceived… by any means,” is based upon the Truth of the Rapture. It was “by” or on the basis of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering unto Him, that he pleaded for them not to falter. We note the fact that Paul used the word “by” twice in verse 2:1, but we also note the second “by” is italicized, which means it was added by the translators. But be aware Paul’s not referring to two events just one.
This, again, was these Believers “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13), and he “besought” them not to let “any man” (2:3) take it away from them either “by spirit,” i.e., the supposed gift of prophecy, or “by word,” that is, argument in opposition to it, or “by letter as (though) from us,” i.e. fraudulent means. I say this because based on the knowledge at our disposal it seems that a letter, or letters, had been forged to make it appear that Paul believed the Rapture would follow the Tribulation, which is 180 degrees out from the Truth. This then shows us why Paul exhorted these folks “to prove all things; hold fast that which is good” in verse 1:21.
Of all the strong evidence that we’ve reviewed to date in the Thessalonian letters that the Rapture of every Believer to be with Christ Jesus will precede the Tribulation the opening verses of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 are most certainly the strongest. This takes us back to my earlier comment about the individual who said the Bible does not mention the Rapture of God’s Church. To which I now reply, “Why need there be?” Please consider the fact that there isn’t one verse of Scripture which explicitly affirms that our Lord was baptized before His temptation by Satan in the wilderness, or that He was crowned with thorns before He was crucified, or that baptism with water is no longer included in God’s program for Believers in the Age of Grace, or that God is actually a Triune being. Yet there is abundant Scriptural proof for all these examples, and the gentleman previously mentioned accepts them all as the Truth of God’s Word, but finds fault with the Rapture of God’s saints. (See Henry T. Hudson, Re-Examination of Pretribulationism, page 2).
With all this in mind let’s take a good look at these three things re: the Rapture of every Believer that is eternally positioned in Christ:
Paul, in speaking of the Rapture, never said one word to prepare the saints for the horrors of the coming Tribulation. We may be certain that he would have done so if they were called to endure its terrors before being “caught up” and away to be with the Lord Jesus Christ in the air.
On the other hand, the Lord Jesus Christ, in speaking to His “kingdom” followers had much to say to them about the coming Tribulation, but you’ll not find one word about their being “caught up” to meet Him in the air.
Therefore, the Rapture of Believers to be with the Lord, is distinctively “the blessed hope” of the Body of Christ, for which Paul repeatedly urges us to be “looking,” “waiting,” and “comforting” one another in the anticipation of this glorious event.
If Mr. Hudson were within earshot, I’d tell him he’s mistaken about his wayward belief in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of God’s saints because there is a passage of Scripture that explicitly affirms the Rapture will precede the Tribulation – not follow after it. It’s found in 2 Thessalonians 2:3:
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”
I’ve heard more than one sermon on the subject of “falling away” over the years and they all said the same thing pretty much. They’re convinced this phrase means the defection or a withdrawal from the truth or the faith caused either by persecution, false teaching, temptation, inadequate knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, etc. In saying this, they believe and teach that the Tribulation will not begin until “the apostasy.” This is the way it reads in the NASB translation as well as more than a few of the modern Bible versions. The NIV Bible uses the word “rebellion.”
So then, who has the correct translation? If you’re using the KJV Bible then you are on the right track because it stands head and shoulders above all other English translations and that goes for all other translations in any language. A Grace church pastor told me that the KJV Bible is a faithful translation in the truest sense, i.e., you can rely on its accuracy. All this is true, yet in verse 2:3 we have a case where the KJV translators deviated from the Textus Receptus or the Received Text of the N.T. (abbreviated TR), called the Majority Text. This is the text upon which the KJV Bible is based.
The TR contains the translation base for the first Greek translation of the N.T, into English by William Tyndale and is the textual base for the Bishops Bible, the Geneva
Bible, and the King James Bible. But here’s the thing, the Tyndale Bible doesn’t contain the phrase, “a falling away.” Instead we find these words, “…ther come a departynge first…” (apostasia in the Greek). Thus, verse 2:3 reads, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except the departure come first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”
Apostasia and Apostasy
Just so y’all know I’m not a walking Bible Encyclopedia. I have to chase some of these things down, i.e., diligently search them out, which is what Bible study is all about. Thus, according to my efforts, the first thing to mention is our English word “apostasy” is not an exact equivalent of the Greek term apostasia. Apostasy means: rebellion or revolt against a faith once embraced, but the Greek word apostasia means: “a departure,” and nothing more. Apostasia (a noun) appears only once more in the N.T., namely, in Acts 21:21, where Paul is informed of the false report that “(he) teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake (i.e., depart from the teaching of) Moses…”
But even here the word “depart” is a closer synonym to the word “forsake” than the term “apostatize.” To “forsake” something does not necessarily mean to rebel or to revolt against it, and this is what our English word apostasy means. For instance, my doctor placed me on a cardiac diet because of my medical condition, which means a lot of the things I once enjoyed eating are no longer on the menu. I’m forsaking them but this doesn’t mean I’m in rebellion. What’s more, in the case of Acts 21:21, it was reported that Paul urged these Jews to “forsake,” or “depart from” the teachings of Moses, and let’s be clear Paul did no such thing. He did not teach them “to depart” from Moses and his teachings. But he did point out that now, in the dispensation of God’s grace, they were free from the Law, that is, that the Law had been “fulfilled” for them by the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:17; Galatians 3:13; Colossians 2:14).
Here’s another thing that I want to point out. At no time did Paul mention “a falling away” or apostasy in either of the letters to the Thessalonians. In both of them up to this point his theme has been the Rapture of the members of the Body of Christ. Thus, in verse 2:3 he must be referring to “the departure” of the Church to be with Christ. Think this through. This meaning falls right into place with the entire context, for why should our Apostle Paul exhort these saints not to be “shaken” or “troubled,” merely because the apostasy must precede the Tribulation? Where is the “comfort” in this? The other thing is how could they recognize the apostasy, much less “a falling away” when it came? To the observant eye apostasy is raging right now; it has been throughout the Church’s history. This helps to explain why there are more than 5,000 so-called Christian churches in existence today does it not. There is ample evidence in the Scriptures that shows us it was occurring in Paul’s day for we find him writing to Timothy instructing him what to do about it (1 Timothy 4:1-5). Therefore, “a falling away” could not be a definite marker to the Thessalonian Believers. But if, as I have contended, the beginning of the Tribulation awaits “the departure” or the Rapture of the Body of Christ in its entirety, then the very fact that these saints were still living on the earth was in itself proof positive that “the day of the Lord” had not yet come.
In conclusion, the word apostasies and its root verb aphisteemi do not, when used by themselves, mean apostasy and apostatize. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 states, in the Greek, that “the day of the Lord” will not come “except the departure come first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.”
Paul had written to these Believers in his previous letter about “the departure” of the Body of Christ from this earth (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) and even disassociated this event from the prophesied “day of the Lord” with the use of the word “But” (5:1). Furthermore, he had referred to this “departure” in the phrase “our gathering together unto him,” in 2 Thessalonians 2:1. Indeed, this was the basis for his appeal to these Believers not to be “shaken” or “troubled” by those who would have them believe that “the day of the Lord” had already begun. The other thing worth mentioning is Paul was still with them when he wrote about these things (2 Thessalonians 2:5).
The other significant thing Mr. Hudson and others fail to recognize is this guidepost “the man of sin” must be on the scene, i.e., recognized before “the day of the Lord” can come (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), and he cannot be revealed until “the departure” occurs “first.”
Thus, in addition to many other clear proofs that the Rapture will precede the Tribulation we also have these Scripture passages which explicitly affirm this Truth.
“Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
“That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand” (2 Thessalonians 2:2).
“Let no man deceive you by any means:” (2 Thessalonians 2:3a).
(To be continued)
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