Is Apostasia In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 A Reference To The Rapture? -- By: William W. Combs

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 003:1 (Fall 1998)
Article: Is Apostasia In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 A Reference To The Rapture?
Author: William W. Combs


Is Apostasia In 2 Thessalonians 2:3
A Reference To The Rapture?

William W. Combs*

William W. Combs*

* Dr. Combs is Academic Dean and Professor of New Testament at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary in Allen Park, MI.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Paul says: “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first…”1 The word translated “apostasy” is ἀποστασία.2 Instead of understanding ἀπο-στασία as apostasy, some sort of religious departure, a number of modern interpreters (pretribulational, premillennial) have suggested that ἀποστασία refers to a spatial departure—specifically, the Rapture of the church. It is generally recognized that this view can be traced to a series of articles by E. Schuyler English, entitled “Re-Thinking the Rapture,” which first appeared in Our Hope magazine from October 1949 to March 1950. It is the purpose of this paper to reexamine this view, especially in light of its recent championing in an extensive treatment by H. Wayne House.3

Context Of 2 Thessalonians 2:3

Before examining the arguments for and against the Rapture view, we would do well to briefly look at the surrounding context, specifically, 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3.

The Appeal For Calmness Concerning The Day Of The Lord, 2:1–2

Subject Of The Appeal, V. 1

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him,

Paul begins chapter two with an appeal for the Thessalonians to remain calm. It is in the nature of a “request” (ἐρωτῶμεν4 ) and is directed toward Paul’s Christian “brethren” at Thessalonica. Paul’s request concerns (“with regard to,” ὑπέρ5 ) “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him.” Both posttribulationists6 and pretribulationists7 agree that “our gathering together (ἐπισυναγωγῆς...

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