Does "falling away" in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 refer to the Rapture of the church?

Email Received:

In my King James Bible, it talks about a "falling away" in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. I have heard that this is referring to the Rapture of the church. What do you think about this?

Ted's Response:

Here are the first three verses in that chapter, taken from the King James Bible:

1Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2That 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. 3Let 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. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3óKJV)
Incidentally, some other Bible versions state "apostasy" or "rebellion" rather than "falling away" in the KJV. I view them as all meaning the same thing and feel that those terms can be used interchangeably.

Typically, "pre-tribbers" (those who believe in a Pre-tribulation Rapture) will say that the "falling away" in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is referring to a catching away event. I believe that this interpretation is not correct, and it does not refer to the Rapture of the Church.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, it says "that day" (the "day of the Lord") will not come until the apostasia occurs. Those who believe in a Pre-tribulation Rapture look at the root of that Greek word, which is aphistemi. This word means "to withdraw" or "to remove." Pre-tribbers will go one step further and say that it means "departure" and will claim that it is referring to the Rapture. They say this because they want it to refer to a Pre-tribulation Rapture so that it will fit into their Rapture view.

However, apostasia is directly translated as "apostasy" or "falling away." This more likely refers to a withdrawing or departing from the faith after not being removed in a Pre-tribulation Rapture, which will have been expected by those who embrace that view. I feel it is quite possible that when strong persecution happens to believers, many of those who believe in a Pre-tribulation Rapture will fall away from the faith because they have had a delusion that Jesus would take them away before the time of great distress, hardship and persecution. I have written the following email responses about this topic:

I agree with pre-tribbers that the gathering together unto Jesus, in 2 Thessalonians 2:1, does refer to the Rapture event. However, in 2:2, they think that "day of the Lord" refers to the entire 7-year period described in Daniel 9:27 and that the Rapture will take place before that.

However, those like myself, who accept a Pre-wrath Rapture, believe that the "day of the Lord" is not equivalent to the so-called "tribulation" period of 7 years (the 70th Week); rather, it will begin sometime during the second 3Ĺ-year period. Soon after the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12) has been opened, the world will see the face of Him who sits on the throne (6:16). I believe that this will be Jesus appearing in the clouds to catch away believers at the Rapture.

Then God's "day of vengeance" will begin soon after that, commencing after the opening of the Seventh Seal, and it will last about a year (according to Isaiah 34:8, 61:2, 63:4). Furthermore, I feel that the Pre-wrath Rapture will take place on Rosh Hashanah of one year, and Jesus will return to earth on Yom Kippur of the following year. More details about the sequencing of the Pre-wrath Rapture can be found here: Can you give me a logical, sequential order of the Pre-wrath Rapture, and also explain why this negates the possibility of a Pre-tribulation Rapture?

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