THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST

Previous: Appendix A: Jesus' Own Outline of the Future

Appendix B: Apostate or Worldly?

Four Periods of Time

The Greek noun apostasia, meaning "departure" or "defection" is only used twice in the New Testament. One of these instances is Acts 21:21 where it means a "departure" from Moses.

The other occurrence of the word is in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, where it is translated "falling away:"

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. - 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 (NKJV)

One of the main uses of the English word "apostasy" is to describe the process of falling away from one's former faith or beliefs. There certainly are New Testament prophecies that indicate this sad state of mind will be prevalent in the end time (Matthew 24:12; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:1-8; 2 Timothy 4:2-4).

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 could possibly mean that vast numbers of Christians will have lost their faith. However, it is more likely that it refers to another event: the Rapture of the Church.

First, the return of Jesus to gather believers to Himself is the stated subject of this passage (verse 1).

Second, the definite article (the word "the") is used before "falling away" to indicate that it is a particular, known event.

Third, it makes sense because when the Rapture occurs, the ultimate defection from Christianity will follow, since true believers have been taken, and only false Christians remain. These professing Christians, who have never accepted Christ and are not filled with the Holy Spirit, will either realize their mistake and accept Christ, or they will harden their hearts against the truth. If they accept Christ, they will be executed or driven underground. If they harden their hearts and believe the lies of the Beast (Revelation 13) they will become part of the one-world religion, including the worldly church. This organization will be the spiritually adulterous woman who rides the Beast (Revelation 17). This global religion will endorse and enable the Beast to be an evil world dictator.

The verb form of the word, aphistemi, is used 14 times in the New Testament, and it is usually translated "depart." It is only found in three places where it refers to the end time:

But He will say, 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.' - Luke 13:27

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, - 1 Tim. 4:1

... useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. - 1 Tim. 6:5

A better description: "Worldly"

In this commentary we have chosen to describe the condition of the Laodiceans as "worldly," although "apostate" would also be an accurate description. On our Prophecy Central site we maintained a section for years on "Apostasy," where we trace the degeneration of society, caused by the decline of church's godly inflluence.

However, the more common biblical term for backslidden Christians is "worldly." New Testament references to the "world" may mean the physical created universe, or the Earth. However, the context often dictates that it refers to the evil "world system," corrupted by the Fall, and dominated by Satan.

Here are some of these passages:

Satan is the "god" of this age.

Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me."

Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"- Matthew 4:8-10

Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. - John 12:31

I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. - John 14:30

... in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, - Eph. 2:2

We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. - 1 John 15:9

Jesus' kingdom is not of this world. He will overcome the world.

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here." - John 18:36

...of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.- John 16:11

The evil world system is hostile to Jesus and His followers.

"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you." - John 15:18

If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. - John 15:19

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. - John 17:16

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. - 1 John 2:14-17

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. -Romans 12:1-2

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. - Gal. 6:14

…in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, - Eph. 2:2

...teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, - Titus 2:12

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. - James 4:4

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. - 1 John 2:14-17

We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. - 1 John 15:9

Recommended further study:

The Rapture in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 -- by Thomas Ice -
http://www.raptureready.com/featured/ice/TheRapturein2Thessalonians2_3.html

New Testament study of the word "apostasy" -- by Stella Paterson -
http://www.ekklesia4him.net/Apostasy_study.pdf

Apostasy in the Christian Church - by Matt Slick -
http://carm.org/apostasy-christian-church



Appendix C - The Rapture



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