Is There a Departure In 2 Thessalonians 2:3? -- By: John M. Sweigart
CTJ 5:15 (August 2001) p. 186
Is There a Departure In
2 Thessalonians 2:3?
House of Praise
[Editor’s note: Not all of our readers will agree with the conclusions in this paper, yet the information in it is significant relative to the verse in question. This paper was originally presented at the Pre-Trib Research Conference in December 2000. This article has been edited for publication in the CTJ.]
I believe it was Melville who said, “To write a mighty book, you must have a mighty theme.” The theme of this paper may not be the search for the great white whale, but it is to attempt to overturn hundreds of years of accepted Bible translations and to contradict leading scholars who hold to the same point of view in eschatology as the author. To simply examine the evidence and exegete the appropriate passages involved while attempting to keep presuppositions from forcing the outcome, I have found to be particularly difficult.
The task before us is to determine the appropriate translation for the word apostasia that appears in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Notice there are no prepositional phrases or other modifiers telling the reader “from whom,” or “from what” the individuals in mind are falling away.
Modern versions imply that what is in view is a “departure, defection, or falling away from a previously known and believed
CTJ 5:15 (August 2001) p. 187
truth of God” or a “falling away from God Himself.”1 Our procedure for examining this problem of translation (and ultimately interpretation) will be to present evidence in at least five areas arguing for a spatial meaning to the word as opposed to a specialized sense of “political or religious revolt.” First, we will examine the grammar of the passage taking special note of the usage of the definite article. Next will be the lexical data. This will encompass several areas since the word is very low in density in the New Testament. Included in this review will be the verbal cognate of the noun in question.
The next section of the article will examine the structure of both Thessalonian epistles as well as the structure of our passage. Much progress has been made in studies of literary, and especially Semitic language structures recently. Finally, to do justice to the discussion, parallel passages as well as the passage in question must be examined for any clues that help understand the problem passage.
Possible Translations of apostasia in 2 Thessalonians 2:3
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