Vol: 100 Issue: 26 Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I received an interesting email over the weekend containing another exposition of 2nd Thessalonians and how Chapter 2, in particular, is relevant to this generation.
This email focused its attention on the “great falling away” or the apostasia of 2nd 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.”
In this exposition, the writer argues that the falling away, or the ‘apostasia’ does not refer to a departure from the faith, but instead is a reference to the Rapture.
It was an interesting take — I read the attached article several times, mainly because the author asked all the wrong questions but still came up with the right answers.
I tried really hard to follow his reasoning, and it wasn’t until I was on about the third re-reading that I was able to see how he got there.
“I could spend a lot of time presenting definitions of Greek words and quoting from learned scholars who have done much research on this section. But too much technical information can overburden the reader. So I shall distil the research and provide enough evidence to prove our conclusions are accurate and true.”
The rest of the article is filled with too much technical research, most of which was technically wrong.
The point that jumped out at me is that there are so many well-meaning Christians that believe the Bible can only be understood by a select few.
This author attempted to prove the Rapture is pre-Trib (I agree) and that the falling away does not refer to believers falling away from Christ due to eternal security (with which I also agree.)
But his case is built entirely on the premise that the Scriptures themselves aren’t clear enough to sustain his argument.
Let’s review the relevant Scriptures. Paul says the “Day of Christ” will not come until first there is a falling away, followed by the revealing of the antichrist.
The next verse confirms his identification as the antichrist.
“Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
Paul says that this revelation is being witheld by a Power Paul assumes the Thessalonians recognize without too much elaboration.
“And now ye know what withholdeth, that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now holdeth back will hold him back, until he is taken out of the way.(2nd Thessalonians 2:7, NKJV)
At this point, many scholars believe they have to launch into a complicated dissertation about what the ‘mystery of iniquity’ REALLY means, instead of the obvious — the baffling power of sin is already at work blinding the world.
For many, that is too simple.
Then, there is a debate about who He is that holdeth back. Some argue that the one that “holdeth back” isn’t the Holy Spirit, but the antichrist himself.
One could save oneself a lot of skull sweat by simply reading it for what it actually says.
It says that the antichrist will not be revealed until He that ‘holdeth back iniquity’ is ‘taken out of the way.’ The antichrist doesn’t ‘hold back’ iniquity, he personifies it.
One doesn’t have to research the original Greek or cherry-pick scholars that support a particular view. One need only read the Scriptures prayerfully for what they say.
Is it POSSIBLE for the antichrist to be revealed while the Church is still here? According to Scripture, only if one can find away to take away the Holy Spirit, while leaving behind the vessels He occupies.
And if that is possible, then Jesus lied and His promise is meaningless.
One of the most definite, and therefore, most controversial verses in Scripture is John 14:6:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.”
Why is that controversial? It is THAT verse that gives Christianity a bad name among the religions of the world.
If no man can come to the Father, except through Jesus, then it means only Christians can go to heaven. To the world, that is hateful, since it excludes anybody who isn’t a Christian.
Which brings us back to the ridiculous argument that Christianity is hateful because it won’t admit people that don’t believe in it into a heaven that they also don’t believe in.
Like claiming that the toothfairy is hateful because you have to lose a tooth first. If you don’t believe in the toothfairy, what do you care?
In point of fact, what it really proves is that Christianity is real and Jesus is alive and heaven is a real place. That is why it is so upsetting to the lost.
They KNOW there is no toothfairy. On the other hand, Jesus says, “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe Me for the very works’ sake.”
One can believe in Him by faith, or one can believe because of His works. But the fact is, He is still at the center of the debate 2,000 years later. The world may not accept Him, but they can’t help but believe, even when they deny Him.
If they didn’t believe, somewhere deep down inside, then heaven wouldn’t matter any more than the tooth fairy. But it does.
It is in this context of explaining to His Apostles Who He really is that Jesus confirms both the Rapture and the timing of it. One needn’t have a degree in classical Greek or Hebrew to understand His meaning.
“And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.”
Let’s look at the context. Jesus has just revealed that He is in the Father, and the Father is in Him. (John 14:10)
Then He promises another Comforter He says will “abide with you forever.” Who is this Comforter?
“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:17)
Again, one needn’t be a Greek scholar to identify the Comforter as the Holy Spirit. And if the answer is still unclear, one need only read down a few more verses:
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)
Jesus not only promised to send the Holy Spirit, He promised that; “I will NOT leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:18)
Now, we return to 2nd Thessalonians Chapter 2 and knowing the Greek antecedents and dangling Greek participles and citing learned scholars seems less necessary.
Jesus promised that He will come to me before He will leave me without the Comforter. The Comforter is the One that teaches and reveals all things to the Church.
Through His occupation of the Church, He restrains evil. I don’t think there is any way to logically dispute that.
Paul says the Comforter is taken out of the way, which allows for “that Wicked” to be revealed. (2nd Thessalonians 2:7-8)
All the Greek and Latin gymnastics in the world can’t reinterpret the Promise that we will not be without the Comforter unless He (Jesus) has come for me. I can’t speak for you. But I know what He promised me.
He can’t take His Holy Spirit from me and leave me comfortless without breaking His Word to me.
The Comforter is taken out of the way before the antichrist is revealed at the beginning of the Tribulation Period and the Second Coming of Christ doesn’t take place until the end of the Tribulation Period.
So unless the Holy Spirit can be ‘taken out of the way’ while still indwelling me until the 2nd Coming, I must be taken out of the way at the same time.
“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now holdeth back will hold him back, until He is taken out of the way. . .
“And THEN shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.”
One doesn’t need to speak Classical Greek to understand the Comforter. Or the identity of the “wicked one”. Or the Promise.
The antichrist cannot be revealed while the Comforter indwells the Church, since He must be taken out of the way.
And the Comforter cannot be taken out of the way, leaving us comfortless, because Jesus said He would come for us, first.
It really doesn’t get confusing UNTIL one starts quoting classical Greek, learned scholars and long-winded expositions.
“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” (1st Corinthians 1:27)
It’s really not that complicated. The Bible wasn’t written to scholars in some kind of mysterious multilingual code.
“Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” (Luke 18:17)
Because it was written so a little child could understand it.