To: The Five Doves
From: Ray Schulz
RE: Marilyn Agee (16 Jan 2012) No Rapture before Antichrist has been revealed
Marilyn suggested "We should go by THE OLDEST AVAILABLE, the Siniatic Codex (311 AD)" because "the KJV (1611 AD) was translated from the Greek texts of Erasmus (1516 AD) and Robert Stevens (1550 AD), three OLDER Greek manuscripts were found."
Clearly the oldest available texts are the best. I was fortunate to locate a website1 devoted to Codex Sinaiticus that makes this Greek text available to us. I compared the Greek of the 311 AD Codex Sinaiticus with my more modern version (which I will refer to as DB2). I found two interesting things:
1. I noticed that Codex Sinaiticus uses no upper case letters and routinely modifies words that refer to God, Jesus Christ, Lord and Spirit by including only the first and last letter of the word. For example,
Ihsou (Jesus) is expressed as iu or is
Xristou (Christ) is expressed as xu
Pneumatos (Spirit) is expressed as pns
Kuriou (Lord) is expressed as ku
Theon (God) is expressed as thn
In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 the Greek phrase for "day of the Lord" in the Codex Sinaiticus is identical to my modern Greek New Testament DB (except as noted above). Both versions confirm that it is the "day of the Lord" and NOT the "day of Christ."
Regarding our discussion as to whether or not the rapture must come after the antichrist has been revealed, it is now clear to me that 2 Thess. 2:1-3 says nothing about when believers will be "gathered together to him." It could come at any time. Paul's purpose in writing 2 Thess. 2:2-3 was to convey that the "day of the Lord" will not come before a falling away and the revealing of the antichrist. The fact that the church at Thessalonica was undergoing tribulation did not mean that the day of the Lord had already come. Jesus said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation . . ." (John 16:33).
I see the explicit sign of the antichrist's revealing to be his heinous act of "proclaiming himself to be God (2 Thess. 2:3)."
2. The Greek word apostasia found in verse 2:3 (variously translated as "rebellion," "falling away" or "forsake") in Codex Sinaiticus is exactly the same Greek word found in DB. Therefore, our very oldest Greek manuscript confirms the use of this word in this modern version of the Greek text. Some have attempted to interpret this word as departure (as in the rapture). I don't think so. Consider Spiros Zodhiates' explanation of this word:
"Apostasia; from aphistemi (868), which is from apo (575), from, and histemi (2476), to place, stand. Occurs in Acts 21:21 translated forsake and in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 falling away. In the majority of occasions the verb is intrans, meaning that person does not depart from where he is to go somewhere else, but stays away, having chosen from the beginning to stay away, not to believe instead of believing, in which case the basic verb histemi (2476) is to be interpreted not as departing, but as standing away, placing oneself away; with the prep. apo (575), to stay away from. In Acts 21:21 the new Christian believers among the Jews decided to stand apart from the Jewish practices of Moses for they were in a new dispensation. They were not Judaizing Christians, but Christians standing apart from Moses. Having departed from Moses and coming to Jesus Christ, they decided that they should stay apart from Moses, that is, his Judaistic practices. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 the word apostasia does not refer to Christians who would depart from the faith, but those who would reject Christ."3
There are better words to describe departing. For example, Paul discusses his departing in Philippians 1:21-23;
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart [G360 analusai] and be with Christ, for that is far better. (Philippians 1:21-23 ESV)
I conclude that the "rebellion" (or "falling away") does not refer to "our being gathered together with him," but to widespread apostasy. By the way, don't we have that already?
It is now clear to me that 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 reveals nothing about when believers will be "gathered together to him." It could come at any time. Paul's intent was to convey that the "day of the Lord" will come after a falling away and the revealing of the antichrist. He foretold apostasy, a falling away from the truth, but he revealed nothing in these three verses concerning the timing of the rapture of the Church.
The availability of Codex Sinaiticus, our oldest Greek New Testament manuscript (plus the Old Testament, in the form of the Septuagint), confirms that the use of the word apostasia (falling away, forsake or rebellion) is correct in 2 Thess. 2:3.
Come soon Lord Jesus,
Look Up! Ministries
2 The Greek New Testament, Deutschebibelgesellschaft United Bible Societies U.S.A., 2001.
3 Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D., The Complete Word Study New Testament, p. 891, AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN, 1991.