Bill Griese (1 Oct 2011)
"To Guy Schwartz: Regarding 2 Thess 2:3"

To Guy Schwartz: Regarding 2 Thess 2:3

Hi Guy,

I believe almost everyone here at Five Doves is already aware of the "Falling away = the Rapture" interpretation of 2 Thess 2:3, and the majority here likely are in agreement with it. However, I happen to be one of those who disagree, and my reasons are below. Before I get into that however, I would like to comment on the last statement (the P.S.) in your post about the Rapture being Pre-Trib, so believers will not experience the Wrath of God. No one, not even the Post Tribulationists believe that born-again believers will be subjected to the Wrath of God. I believe that the Wrath of God only starts following the opening of the Seventh Seal, which follows the Pre-Wrath "gathering together of the elect"  (2 Thess 2:1, Matt 24:29-31, Rev 7:9-17) after the opening of the Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12-17). Not only does the Wrath of God not last 7 years as is commonly taught, it doesn't even last 3 1/2 years. I believe that the "Day of the Lord" Wrath of God is about One year. The 7th Day of the 70th week. It's quite simple, a prophetic Day is One year, and a prophetic Week is 7 years.

The Wrath of God is the 'Day of Vengeance' and lasts about One year: 

Isaiah 34:8 “For it is the day of the LORD'S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion."  A "day of the Lord's vengeance” refers to the Wrath of God; and “a year of recompences” indicates that this period will last for about one year, the seventh "day" of the 70th Week.

Isaiah 63:4 “For the day of vengeance is in my heart, and the year of my redeemed has come”.  The “day of vengeance” is linked here to “the year of my redeemed". During this year, God will take vengeance on unbelievers, but all believers will be raptured beforehand at the Pre-Wrath Rapture, which follows the opening of the Sixth Seal. This tells us when the Sixth Seal is opened.

The Lord Jesus Christ also linked Noah's Flood, which lasted for about one year, and was the Wrath of God in it's time, to the end time events immediately preceding the Second Coming, further illustrating that the Wrath of God lasts for about one year.

Matt 24:37-39 "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Now Regarding 2 Thess Chapter 2:

2 Thess 2:1-12 KJV "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. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away (Apostasia g646) 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 (naos g3485) of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [will let], until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked (One) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: [Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

The Greek word "Apostasia" in 2 Thess 2:3 is the root word for the English word "Apostasy" which makes that the best translation. 

I must disagree with attempts to turn "Apostasia" into the Rapture, even if it's done by a Greek Scholar. There are Greek Scholars on all sides of this debate. To properly fit the definition, the use of the word "departure" should only be used as "departure from the faith." There are other words Paul could have used instead of "Apostasia", if he had wanted to clearly indicate that the "Gathering Together" in 2 Thess 2:1 precedes the revealing of the "Man of Sin" at the Abomination of Desolation. I believe Paul here is giving us the Abomination of Desolation as a precursor to the "coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him" at the "day of Christ" by placing them after the Apostasy and the revealing of the Man of Sin in verse 3. I believe that the majority of the World, including many supposed Christians, will proclaim Antichrist as Messiah/God. This is the Apostasy that Paul is referring to here, and occurs at the Abomination of Desolation. Certainly we've seen some of this Apostasy occurring already (remember after Obama's election), but this event will trigger Apostasy on a scale never seen before. God will send the "strong delusion" which is the Antichrist receiving a mortal head wound, then being resurrected from the dead indwelt by Satan, then proclaiming himself Messiah/God at the temple mount in Jerusalem. This will be witnessed by the world via television, and the majority will believe the "lie" and will worship the satanically indwelt Antichrist as Messiah/God. The 144,000 remnant of the Jews will flee into the wilderness, but the majority will stay and worship the Antichrist. Barack Obama's ancestry on his mother's side traces back to King David, which will be an important part of his coming Messianic claim to the throne of David.

Re: Obama
(URL) "Evidence supports 2008-2015 for the Final Seven years"
(Disclaimer: The Authors linked to in this post don't necessarily agree with me on every point)

Now comparing the term "Gather(ing) Together" in 2 Thess 2:1 with other instances of its use in scripture, we are led to Matt 24:29-31 and Mark 13:24-27 where the Lord Jesus Christ clearly puts "gather together the electafter the "tribulation."

Matt 24:29-31
KJV "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."

Mark 13:24-27 KJV "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven."

The "gathering together of the elect" is after the opening of the Sixth Seal, when these signs in the sky occur and only then the Wrath of God will begin after the opening of the
Seventh Seal.

Rev 6:12-17
(KJV) 'And I beheld when he had opened the Sixth Seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?'

Rev 7:9-10 (KJV) 'After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.'

Rev 7:13-14 'And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'

This is the 'gathering together of the elect' out of the 'Great Tribulation' and is before the 'Wrath of God' starts with the opening of the Seventh Seal. The 'Wrath of God' will include all the 7 Trumpets and 7 Bowls in order and they will follow the Seventh Seal.

Rev 8:1-2
'And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.' (The seven trumpets are given to the seven angels after the Seventh Seal is opened, not before.)

It's the 'gathering together of the elect' that's explained by the Apostle Paul in both 1 Thess 4:13-17, and 2 Thess 2:1-12 above.

The Apostle Paul explains that the 'gathering together of the elect' is when the dead in Christ are raised first, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up (and gathered) together with them.

1Thess 4:13-17
'But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up (and gathered) together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.'

There's more than one Rapture event:

The word 'Rapture' does not occur in scripture. By constantly only using that word, we have clouded the differences between what I believe is the earlier 'open door' and the later 'gathering together of the elect,' which are the terms used in scripture. Most only see one 'Rapture' event, and hold to their particular view regarding the timing. The 'gathering together of the elect' is the main event which will be seen by all, where all the dead in Christ are raised first, followed by all the remaining living believers, who are caught up and gathered together with them in the clouds. Many call the 'gathering together of the elect' the 'Rapture' when they see it in 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, but then call it the 'Second Coming' when they see it in Matthew 24:29-31 obviously after 'the tribulation of those days' per the Lord Jesus Christ. There is only one 'gathering together of the elect'. Therefore, any prior 'Rapture' event must be different and called by a different name. The 'open door' is that prior event and is promised directly to 'Philadelphia' Christians per Rev 3:7-13. The remnant of true believers in Sardis were also called worthy, and faithful Smyrna is told that they will only have tribulation 'ten days'. All the others are told to repent or they will have tribulation.

The Wrath of God is not the entire Great Tribulation, much less the entire 70th week. All Born-Again Christians are promised escape from the Wrath of God.
1Thess 5:9-10 (KJV) '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.

Regarding Philadelphia:
Rev 3:8 (KJV) 'I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an 'open door', and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.'
Rev 3:10 '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.'

Look at 'patience' in the Greek: Strong's G5281 - hypomonç 5281Link

1) steadfastness, constancy, endurance

in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings

Here Philadelphia is being judged and has been found faithful and worthy, not for salvation of course, but worthy to escape the great tribulation of Antichrist's evil reign by going thru the 'open door'. Antichrist's reign is not the wrath of God, but is the 'hour of temptation' which is immediately prior to the wrath of God. The wrath of God starts at the Seventh Seal (Rev 8:1-2) after the 'gathering together of the elect' at the Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12-17). Philadelphia's 'little strength' left indicates trials that they will have endured prior to the 'hour of temptation'. This at a bare minimum fits the faithful, persecuted church, both near and far. They have already proven themselves faithful and earned their crowns. They are promised that they will have an 'open door' to escape the 'hour of temptation'. The 'hour of temptation' is the Great Tribulation which begins at the Abomination of Desolation. Satan is cast out of heaven and indwells the Antichrist, and the 'temptation' that's coming will be to Apostatize and receive the 'Mark of the Beast' in order to survive. Satan wants worship, and he also wants souls, and all those who 'worship' the Beast (Rev 13:8) and/or receive the 'Mark of the Beast' will be thrown in the lake of fire (Rev 14:9-11).

Proponents of a Single Rapture event where every Born-again Christian is raptured pretribulationly promote the Historical Time Period Theory of the Seven Churches. This view equates the Seven Churches in Revelation Chapters 2 & 3 as seven consecutive time periods throughout church history from the first century until today. They say that we are currently in the final Laodicean time period, and since the Laodiceans are lukewarm they are really not saved. Therefore, they maintain that those who are really saved Born-again Christians can go back to claim the Lord's promise made to the Philadelphia Church in the prior time period. Thus they try to make all today's Born-again Christians Philadelphians regardless of whether or not they fit what the scriptures say about the Philadelphians, which cannot be. The Lord Jesus Christ used the word 'Dead' to describe the majority at Sardis, and then talked about not blotting out the names of the few overcomers out of the Book of Life. Clearly indicating that the majority there are unsaved. In contrast, 'Lukewarm' used to describe Laodicea, just doesn't have the same connotation as 'Dead' does. I believe 'Lukewarm' Laodicea is saved. In Rev 3:19, He said 'As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.' This clearly doesn't equate to what Sardis was threatened with, the blotting of names out of the 'Book of Life' for non-overcomers. I believe a comparison of Sardis and Laodicea leads to the conclusion that Laodicea is saved, but lukewarm and needs to repent. If they don't, they will be left behind, will not go through the 'open door' and will be left in the 'great tribulation'. A Near/Far view of Revelation 2 & 3, where the seven first century Churches represent seven types of individual Christians makes much more sense than the Historical Time Period Theory, and this is backed up by the fact that numerous prophecies throughout the scriptures are fulfilled both Near and Far. Please look at this yourselves and pray about it. I believe the warning indicates it's not too late.

Many of you already know that I believe in the 2008-2015 Timeline, and that we have entered the period of time spoken of in Matthew Chapter 24 by the Lord Jesus Christ as the 'Beginning of Sorrows' or 'Birth Pangs' in the first half of the 70th week. Seals 1, 2, and 3 occur during the 'Birth Pangs' according to the Lord Jesus Christ in Matt 24:5-8. I believe the only 'tribulation' is the 'great tribulation' that begins at the Abomination of Desolation.

Matt 24:5-8 (KJV) 'For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ (or Messiah); and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all [these things] must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these [are] the beginning of sorrows (or birth pangs).'
Just like a woman with child has to endure the birth pangs before she is delivered, so will all the faithful have to endure the 'Birth Pangs' before they are delivered through the 'open door' near the beginning of the 'great tribulation'.

Rev 12:13-17 'And when the dragon (Satan) saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman (the faithful remnant of Israel, who will not worship Antichrist) which brought forth the man [child] (Jesus). And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished (and protected by God) for a time, and times, and half a time (the final Three and One-half years), from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make War with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.' (Born-again Christians left in the Great Tribulation).

Many Born-again Christians will be left behind in the Great Tribulation because they fail to understand that they need to heed Christ's commands to daily repent, and to follow the instructions given in Luke 21:36 'Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.' 


Bill Griese

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