1. The Church is holding the antichrist back, though he is
still at work now
When using the word "departure" or "removal" in verse 3 above, the subsequent verses coincide and restate the same events. We have three similar statements on the removal of the Church first, and then the revealing of the antichrist. Even so, we can turn to modern Greek scholars who can give us a clearer understanding as new advances in language and etymology studies often reveal:
We should be intrigued by those Greek scholars who have looked
at the etymology of the word apostasia as it relates to the Greeks
and the Jews. The recent English translation of the word has
generally been accepted as a "falling away." Apostasia
is most theologically debated when referring to 2 Thess 2:3,
specifically noting events that must precede the Day of the Lord
What is important to know is who were Paul's listeners and
what they understood by the term apostasia. Acts 17 says that
Paul and Silas came to Thessalonica where there was a synagogue
of the Jews. We know Paul reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
and some of them believed and joined themselves to Paul and Silas,
and of the devout Greeks there were a great multitude. These
Thessalonians, both the Jews and the Greeks who went to the synagogue,
were well exposed to the Old Testament, which they would be familiar
with, and would have regarded apostasia to mean Jewish religious
defection, abandonment, or total removal from the faith (not
just a "falling away").
Dr. Ice notes apostasia appears just twice in the New Testament.
In addition to 2 Thess. 2:3, it occurs in Acts 21:21, where,
speaking of Paul, it is said "that you are teaching all
the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake (aspostasia) Moses."
The core meaning of the word in that verse is "defection"
or "departure." The Lidell and Scott Greek Lexicon
defines apostasia first as a defection or revolt, then secondly
as departure or disappearance. When considering the context of
the surrounding passages of 2 Thess. 2:3-8, we can see the word
apostasia truly means departure or disappearance. More evidence
is given by Jerome's Latin Vulgate from around the time of 400
A.D. which renders apostasia as "discessio," meaning
departure. Why was the King James Version the first to change
the established translation of "departure?" There is
no reason, other than reformation scholars of the time were attempting
to transliterate (applying a certain meaning), which unfortunately
continued in all following English translations.
The English word departure certainly fits the conext (or coherency) of 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8. Most post-tribulation theologians refuse to address the entire context as it is given, and thus insist the lexical evidence does not suggest a physical departure. But that is exactly what the lexical evidence does suggest. Dismissing the obvious coherence in those passages would be simple ignorance or a stubborn refusal to consider the Scriptural evidence. Remember, if we take a word out of context and apply a dissimilar meaning, we have then created a new pre-text. Likely that happened in the translation in the King James and later versions.
5. Teaching of the rapture, specifically the pre-tribulation rapture, was never taught before the Reformation.
A common argument is that none of the early Church fathers acknowledged or taught the pre-tribulation rapture, and thus the idea of a "rapture" is a relatively new concept. That argument is not only false, but lacks an understanding of Church history. For example, not until after the Protestant Reformation did people get copies of the Bible and once again adopt a literal interpretation, and thus begin to understand prophecy as it was intended. This is when the concept of the pre-tribulation rapture was revived, not invented.
Remember, since Augustine, a literal interpretation of Bible prophecy was prohibited. Prior to that, we have numerous examples of early Church fathers writing about the rapture. Specifically, these writings were pertaining to imminency (meaning the return of Jesus Christ for the Church can happen at any moment). Imminency is especially prominent in the writings of the apostolic fathers (up to the third century A.D.). They had no reason to conclude otherwise, as they relied on the strength of the literal fulfillment of prophecy in the Old Testament.
In the first century A.D., Clement and Ignatius wrote frequently of the imminent return of Jesus Christ for the Church. Other early Christian texts, such as the Didache (Greek: teaching), also known as the "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles," written about 50 A.D.100 A.D., provided clear teaching on imminency. Another early text, the Shepherd of Hermas (or Pastor of Hermas, 110 A.D.) contained a pre-tribulation rapture concept regarding the tribulation period: "If you then prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it [tribulation period]." The Epistle of Barnabas (131 A.D.) is yet another early text describing imminency. This continued throughout early Church history:
Ephraim the Syrain (306 A.D.373 A.D.) of the Byzantine
Church wrote about the Lord's return as being imminent. He stated,
"All saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the
tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they
see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our
John Nelson Darby (18001882), scholar and founder of the Plymouth Brethren, was influenced by Lacunza's book. After the Reformation, Darby was the first scholar to refine the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine, and many have incorrectly thought Darby conceived the pre-tribulation rapture (or "secret" rapture) in the early 1800s. Rather, he would be one of many scholars to come who would recognize prophetic Scriptures as accurate descriptions of past, present and future promises. Even so, little understanding of prophecy, the rapture, Church Age or Israel existed within Christianityit had to be learned again. Few theologians wrote about it, and those who did were often influenced by humanistic Alexandrian theology. The literal interpretation of prophetic passages soon gained acceptance around the world. Author William Blackstone wrote Jesus is Coming (1878), taking rapture doctrine to the prophetic forefront, as did the Scofield Study Bible in 1909. Since then hundreds of scholars, theologians, pastors and teachers have written on the topic.
The freedom to interpret the Bible literally allowed for a
comprehensive system of pre-tribulational/pre-millennial theology
to be developed. This could not have happened until modern times.
Of course it is also true that no comprehensive systems of eschatology
(study of last things) were developed until modern times. Why
might this be so? The doctrine of the Trinity was known, yet
not embraced by Christians until well after the first century
A.D. Why would eschatology have waited until modern times for
Christians to seriously work on it systematically and comprehensively?
Simply put, there was no freedom to do so. Freedoms and discernments
within Christendom were kept in check prior to our modern era.