Apostasia vs Departure 
For that day will not arrive until the 'departure' comes?


3 "Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the departure comes and the man of lawlessness (sin) is revealed, the son of destruction. 4 He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God's temple, displaying himself as God.
5 Surely you recall that I used to tell you these things while I was still with you. 6 And so you know what holds him back, so that he will be revealed in his own time. 7 For the hidden power of lawlessness is already at work. However, the one who holds him back will do so until he is taken out of the way, 8 and then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy by the breath of his mouth and wipe out by the manifestation of his arrival." 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8
Verses 3-5 above provide a description of the order of events:
1. The removal of the Church
2. The revealing of the antichrist
3. The antichrist presenting himself as God
And then again in verses 6-8:

1. The Church is holding the antichrist back, though he is still at work now
2. He is to be revealed in the right time
3. The One who holds him back (the Church) is taken out of the way
4. The lawless one (antichrist) is revealed
5. The Lord returns to destroy the antichrist (Second Coming)

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 (Second Coming).
In that passage there are at least four views on the meaning of apostasia: (1) a designation for the Man of Sin (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Augustine, Alford, Moffatt); (2) the religious apostasy that will precede the Second Coming of Christ (Calvin, Chafer, Walvoord, Ryrie, Gundry); (3) the religious-political rebellion against Christ that will culminate in the Battle of Armageddon (Hogg, Vine, Moore, Morris, Bruce); and (4) the rapture of the Church, in the sense of physical departure from the earth (English, Wuest, House, Ice).

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").
The expression or meaning of the word was more than a "falling away;" rather it was a removal or complete departure. According to Dr. Thomas Ice, that meaning is correctly given in the first seven English translations of the Bible where apostasia is translated as either "departure" or "departing." They are as follows: Wycliffe Bible (1384); Tyndale Bible (1526); Coverdale Bible (1535); Cranmer Bible (1539); Breeches Bible (1576); Beza Bible (1583); Geneva Bible (1608).

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.
Dr. Allan A. MacRae, Ph.D., a noted Greek scholar and translator, and president of theology schools, speaks of the striking parallel between verse 3 of 2 Thess 2, and verses 7-8. Verse 3 mentions the departure of the Church as coming first, and then tells of the revealing of the man of lawlessness. In verses 7 and 8 we find the identical sequence. Verse 7 tells of the removal of the Church; verse 8 says: "And then shall that lawless one be revealed." Thus close examination of the passage shows an inner unity and coherence, if we take the word apostasia in its general sense of "departure," while a superficial examination would easily lead to an erroneous interpretation as "falling away" because of the proximity of the mention of the "man of sin."
Dr. Kenneth S. Wuest, LL. D., (Doctor of Laws), a noted Greek scholar, New Testament translator, Greek word-study author and professor, adds further contextual support for taking apostasia as a physical departure. He notes apostasia of which Paul is speaking (verse 3), precedes the revelation of antichrist in his true identity, and that which holds him back (verse 6) also precedes his revelation. The apostasia, therefore, cannot be either a general apostasy in Christendom, nor can it be the particular apostasy which is the result of his activities in making himself the alone object of worship. Furthermore, that which holds back his revelation (verse 3) is vitally connected with verse 7, He who holds back the same event. Dr. Wuest is driven to the inescapable conclusion that the apostasia in verse 3 refers to the removal of the Church which precedes the Day of the Lord (Second Coming), and holds back the revelation of the Man of Sin who ushers in the world-aspect of that period.

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 sins."
Many early Church fathers understood the concept of the Lord returning for His own before the tribulation period. They exhorted Christians to live a life of purity and faithfulness. However, with the adoption of Augustine's allegorical views by the Catholic Church in 431 A.D., the concept of a pre-tribulation ratpure was shunned. A revival of the concepts of imminency and the rapture didn't happen until after the Protestant Reformation, when people again got copies of the Bible and began interpreting it literally.
The earliest post-Reformation writings began in the 1600s. The concept of the pre-tribulation rapture was first revived by Increase Mather (1639—1723), a Puritan leader. He endeavored to prove "the Saints would be caught up into the air beforehand, thereby escaping the final conflagration [tribulation period]." Another Church leader, Peter Jurieu, taught that Christ would come in the air to rapture the Saints and return to heaven before the battle of Armageddon (from his book, Approaching Deliverance of the Church, published in 1687). Another publication on the subject came from Spain in 1812, entitled The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty, written by Emmanuel Lacunza in 1790. Lacunza was a Jesuit priest from Chile (Chilean theologian of Spanish descent) writing under the assumed name of Rabbi Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra as a converted Jew. The book was later translated into English by Presbyterian minister Edward Irving and published in England in 1827.

John Nelson Darby (1800—1882), 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 Christianity—it 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.
The rapture doctrine was revived after the Reformation by those who could freely accept prophecy as literal. Even today, many denominations (Catholic and Protestant) continue to adhere to the false doctrines of Augustine, and thus refuse to acknowledge Bible prophecy (27% of the Bible). Unfortunately, it has been estimated that nearly 100 million American church members (about 63% of church attendees) have very little or no understanding of Bible prophecy, or the significance of Israel and events surrounding the Middle East. This is the result of Alexandrian theology. Prophetic truth has been suppressed for generations; even so, we are promised victory.