Re-Thinking Rapture Issue

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The “what” in the old and trite saying, “what goes around comes around,” has again come around, and I must try to face the matters involved. I must do so honestly and with Holy Spirit insight–the source of inspiration I always strive to enlist in any writing endeavor.

A controversy of sorts has again arisen. It involves the question of what the word apostasia means in the Apostle Paul’s prophecy in 2 Thessalonians 2. I say it has again come around because I formerly held that the word apostasia meant a spiritual departure, or “falling away.” A decade or more ago, I come to believe that apostasia means a spacial departure—a removal from one place to the other.

Just recently, I have again been confronted by strong evidence that the word apostasia means “spiritual departure—a defection from the faith.” Lee Brainard’s book, The Correct Translation from the Greek Text of 2 Thessalonians 2:2–3, brought around again the question that divides highly credentialed theologians and neophytes such as myself. His is a tremendously resourced and documented study. Here is a link to his interview about his book with Mondo Gonzales, host of Prophecy Watchers TV.

The interview is enlightening and quite fascinating: https://youtu.be/foieU6RkgeE

To look at a bit of context, the following is from my introduction to our book, The Departure: God’s Next Catastrophic Intervention into Earth’s History.

The ascended Jesus, through John the prophet, speaking to the true Church—the believers who will be alive at the time of His coming for them ( John 14: 1-3)—said the following:

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10)

Paul prophesied the following about this very same time of God’s future “testing” the world of rebellious earth-dwellers—the time of God’s wrath. He was writing to believers—the Church.

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. (1 Thessalonians 5:9–11)  

“The Departure” is the meaning of the Greek noun apostasia, which Paul used in his second letter to the Thessalonians.


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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; 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. (2 Thessalonians 2:1–4) 

The “falling away” term of this passage in KJV is taken from the Greek noun apostasia. Extensive studies in the Scriptures confirm for the authors of this book that this word in almost every case means  a”departure from”—a physical departure.

The Thessalonians were worried that the “day of Christ” had already come, as some were telling them, and that they and their dead loved ones who had been believers had missed Paul’s prophesied departure—the harpazo (the Greek term) or the “snatching away” that Paul had  prophesied in an earlier letter to them (read 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18).

Paul was assuring them—and, by prophecy, all believers of the Church Age—that the “day of Christ” had not come. They would, Paul assured, be gathered unto the Lord before the Tribulation and the revealing of the son of perdition, Antichrist, took place. There would first be “the Departure.”

Every spiritual weather indicator points to the Tribulation storm that is about to break upon a judgment-deserving world. Millions of believers in Jesus Christ as the one and only Savior will vanish in the twinkling of an eye—an atomos of time that can’t be divided.

Each author of this book believes the Departure is about to take place. Consider carefully their words herein given. These are true spiritual meteorologists—and, in my opinion (yours truly excepted),they are true prophets of God in this latter-day sense. Look up. Lift up your head. Your redemption is drawing near. If you belong to Him, you are about to make one giant leap!

So, with my book on the subject of 2 Thessalonians long ago set in type and on bookshelves, can I now change to accept that the word apostasia (the “falling away” in KJV) means “a departure from the Christian faith” rather than a “departure of believers—the Rapture”?

Well…yes, I can—but I won’t do so, at least not for now. There are too many things to check out and compare. And frankly, I don’t think I’ll ever have the time to go in-depth as the scholars and others I’ve looked to for understanding have done—and then compare that to the tremendous research Lee has done on his recent work.

The main thing that’s been brought to my attention by very dear friends who hold that 2 Thessalonians 2:2–3 is a spiritual rather than a spatial departure based upon the Greek term apostasia involves, they worry, whether Christians can know who Antichrist will be before the Rapture—i.e., this ability of whether to know Antichrist before the Rapture, they believe, is based upon the interpretation of apostasia.

They believe that possibly being able to recognize Antichrist wouldn’t change the Rapture from being a pre-Tribulation event. The Tribulation doesn’t start until the “prince that shall come” signs the covenant of false peace with Israel and many other nation-state entities. Therefore, there is a time when Christians can and should recognize that “man of sin” before they are raptured.

Those with this concern worry that if Christians see the Antichrist come to the prophetic stage, they will begin to believe we will go through the Tribulation. The pre-Trib Rapture would then be seen as wrong. The ramifications will be terrible, with suicides and other harmful actions and reactions. But if they see in the word apostasia that it is a spiritual, not a physical or spatial departure, they will understand that Antichrist isn’t necessarily “revealed” after the Rapture of the Church. There is still room, in their view, then, for the Church to recognize Antichrist. As a matter of fact, my friends believe the Antichrist is recognizable even now.

His identity isn’t the point of this commentary, so I’ll not divulge it here.

My own view hasn’t changed. I continue to believe it’s a physical departure. But I am willing to change if further investigation, with the Holy Spirit as guide, affirms that apostasia means a spiritual departure.

If it means a spiritual departure, we have certainly been witness to that for years. True, it is getting much more apparent in these truly wicked times. Either way, our Lord is about to call us to be with Himself as given in Revelation 4:1.

You will not want to miss that call by the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is the way you can be certain that you hear Him in that glorious moment!

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9–10)

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views the Virginia Christian Alliance

About the Author

Terry James
Leading biblical prophecy expert Terry James is an author, general editor, and co-author of numerous books on Bible prophecy—hundreds of thousands of which have been sold worldwide. His latest release is Rapture Ready…Or Not? 15 Reasons This Is the Generation That Will Be Left Behind, is for this generation of readers who are confused and look upon a world that seems to have destroyed opportunity for a bright, abundant future. The Rapture is about to catastrophically strike an unsuspecting world of both unbelievers and believers. Jesus Christ is the shelter from the coming Tribulation storm of God’s wrath and judgment.