QED – 2 Thessalonians 2

After my post Apokalypsys received some pretty positive feedback asking for a follow up and more details, I thought I would write a walk through on 2 Thessalonians 2 to explain my perspective on the rapture timing. Before I get too far into the details, I just want to clarify that my deepest meaning for my writings is simply to get you to fall madly, crazy, head over heels in love with Jesus. I want to ignite a passion in you for him where you want to be in his embrace, 24 hours a day, constantly in a state of non-stop worship. I want you to be excited to marry him, to be excited to be called his, to swoon in his presence. With that said, let’s take any dive into the apocalyptic as part of our story with him, that one day we will be in his embrace, we will find ourselves in heaven in our Father’s house with him while some of these events unfold before he sets his Kingdom up on Earth.  One of my main sources is an amazing Greek scholar Alan Kurschner who’s ministry page you should definitely check out right after reading this for the in-depth details.

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First the backstory: The context of 2 Thessalonians is clear from the first couple verses of chapter 2 and we can deduce some basic facts of the story that might not be spelled out for us exactly. Paul had, at some time prior, visited the Thessalonians and told them (at least in part) how the end times would unfold. Since that time, the Thessalonian church had, for some reason, begun to worry that they missed the rapture. Paul writes chapter 2 of this letter to address these concerns.

Starting in verse 1 (using the NIV),

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters” v.1

Paul refers to the rapture in verse 1 as the παρουσία (translit. parousia), which means “arrival,” “coming,” “presence,” or “advent.” This is the same event, the same parousia, Paul refers to in that most famous rapture passage in 1 Thessalonians 4:15,

“According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming [parousia] of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.”

The parousia is also mentioned by Paul in Titus 2:13, a source where the term “the blessed hope” for the rapture comes from. Here’s Titus 2:11-13 for the context,

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing [parousia] of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ

Back to 2 Thessalonians 2. In verses 2 and 3,

“not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.”

So here is where we see that the Thessalonians had their original thinking from Paul’s teaching perturbed in some way, whether by prophecy or letter or word of mouth. Paul writes to stress the day of the Lord had not come yet.

The meat and the potatoes for what I’m searching for here comes  starting at “for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” Read in the NIV, “the day” being the day Jesus comes back cannot come until after the rebellion occurs and the antichrist is revealed (few eschatological scholars would dispute the man of lawlessness is anyone other than the antichrist). This would make prewrath an almost open and shut case. Let’s walk the logic on that one if you didn’t catch it the first time…

The Thessalonians were concerned the rapture, the parasousia, had already taken place and that they had missed out on being with Jesus. Scary state of mind to be in, right? Paul was trying to realign their thinking by stating that the day of the rapture, of the parousia, cannot happen until two things occur: 1) the rebellion occurs and 2) the antichrist is revealed.

Let’s tackle 1) first:

Pretribbers (Pre-tribulation rapture believers) argue that the Koine Greek word for “rebellion” is best translated as a spatial departure. If that was true this passage would read instead as “for that day will not come until the rapture occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed…” The Koine Greek word in question here is ἀποστασία (translit. apostasia). This word form (a noun) is used exclusively in Koine Greek literature as a spiritual or non-spatial falling away. It’s apostasy. It’s a falling away from the faith. There is no known usage of this word to refer to anything other than a spiritual or a political rebellion, no known usage of this word to ever mean a spatial departure in all Koine Greek literature for 300 years between the 2nd century BC and 1st century AD. That’s a bold statement. We’re talking 300 years of the noun form of apostasia never being used as a spatial departure. And the only time we can find any usage of the form apostasia referring to a spatial departure is in the 5th century AD. You can’t apply that usage back on a 1st century AD document without committing the anachronistic fallacy and butchering your argument. Read Alan’s article for the vetting out of this in the gritty details. The tl;dr of this one is that Paul isn’t referring to the rapture here, which the rapture is a spatial departure. The apostasy here, the spiritual and/or political rebellion, is something else. It could be either A) a mass falling away in the church due to the delusion God will send on the Earth after the antichrist appears (2 Thessalonians 2:11) or B) a mass political rebellion, chaos from which perhaps the antichrist and his empire will arise out of (as in Daniel 9; however, I stress we do not know the initial and directly preceeding conditions of the rise of the beast, the antichrist’s empire), or C) some combination of A) and B) or something else we haven’t thought of yet. Regardless, Paul is saying there will be an uprising, an uprooting which will occur and which will be evident to believers in the church as he told the shaken and perturbed Thessalonians to look for this as one of the two signs preceding the rapture.

2) The antichrist

The antichrist arrives in the 1st seal in Revelation 6,

I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.

This is problematic as well for pretribbers since the rapture must happen before Jesus starts opening the seals in chapter 6. They allow for the possibility that the antichrist might be on the scene today, but that he won’t be fully revealed until after the rapture. Paul is saying the opposite here, the antichrist must be revealed first before Jesus can come back for us in the rapture.

So if the rapture doesn’t occur until after the antichrist comes, when does occur it in Revelation? That’s both difficult and easy to answer. Difficult in that John never once says specifically that these are the people from the rapture. Pretribbers have nothing to support an argument that the rapture happens before the seals are broken except for the thought that after chapter 3 the church isn’t mentioned again for awhile. They also take John’s door to heaven in chapter 4 verse 1 as an allusion to that being the timing for the rapture. However, this is all conjecture and I’m not interested in conjecture, I’m interested in facts.

The easy way to answer this is between chapters 6 and 7. In 1 Thessalonians 5:9 Paul writes,

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pretribbers use this verse as reasoning for their doctrine of immanence (that Jesus can come at anytime without any signs preceding his arrival), they reason that the entire tribulation is God’s wrath. Again, this is conjecture. The Bible never says specifically that the entirety of the tribulation is God’s wrath. The word for wrath in the above verse from 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is ὀργή (translit orye).  And actually the first time warth, or orye, is used in Revelation is right after the 6 seal is broken and it’s so bad that the kings and princes of the earth make this lament,

They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath [orye] of the Lamb!”

If this is the start to God’s wrath beginning on earth, the rapture should occur very soon to the 6th seal occurring. It does in Revelation 7:9-14,

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language,standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

All the angels were standing around the throne and around the eldersand the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:

“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!”

Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

I answered, “Sir, you know.”

And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Who else is referred to as “every nation, tribe, people and language” other than the Bride, the church? No one. That’s self-evident from our nature and from Jesus’ intention for the Bride. Matthew 28:19,

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

and just our own thinking in the mind of Christ,

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John Eldredge made a beautiful proposition that the 7th seal broken ushering in 30 minutes of silence (Revelation 8:1) is us standing silentawe at the beauty of God and Heaven. That’s a lovely thought. I don’t know if John intentionally meant a prewrath position when he wrote it, but the sentiment and spirit of what he was trying to convey makes a lot of sense here.  

So what are the implications of this and what we might face in the tribulation? Read Revelation chapter 6 tonight and see what we will walk through…as far as Rapture timing, I’m calling it.

Q.E.D

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11 thoughts on “QED – 2 Thessalonians 2

  1. That was very interesting. Makes more sense to me. It says in the final days it will be as in the days of Noah and Lot. One : There will not be that many true believers and 2: It wasn’t so much that in those two examples, His people were led out and they were brought through. Abraham and Lot separated from the people and Noah was encased in a boat and the door was sealed with Gods finger. Interesting Interesting!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. * In the two examples they didn’t leave … oops, got ahead of myself LOL But in the case of the rapture He will find a way to put His true believers in a position where no harm will befall them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much! I’m glad you liked it 🙂 it will be tumultuous for sure, but nothing compared to what will happen after the rapture. God is loving and good to us in all things, even in the tribulation!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Kiera! How are you doing?! Long time no talk! I’m sorry, I’ve been off WordPress for a couple weeks now, we just went on a family vacation and I got off here for a little while.

      It’s good! So it’s been crazy, I thought last week I was (and maybe that i still am) getting an offer for a great position. Then out of nowhere I had a great interview with a different company last week and I think they are going to make an offer this week (I hope!). Either way, I have a job coming soon and God has provided plenty of financial support in the meantime.

      How are you and your parents? I’ve kept them in my prayers. Is your mom’s work situation ok? I’m still keeping you and them in my prayers as well!

      It’s kinda crazy Kiera, this job I thought I was getting was very stable but I wasn’t sure it was what I wanted to do long term. And then this new job came up, and it’s in a totally different business. So i work in finance. I have worked mostly in energy finance. And i wss going to go back into it, but this new job is a finance job in ecommerce. So totally different ballgame, but the work I would be doing is exactly what I love, financial ad hoc analysis, project valutations, financial modeling, statistical analysis (I’m kinda a math nerd lol so I give me me a computer, coffee, and lots of numbers and I’m happy). The business is young, high energy, the executives are just a few years older than me, it’s super laid back. I want to be a part of it and this is the second time I’ve been laid off and God has totally taken care of me both times. I really just don’t care about “financial stability” anymore. I know from experience God’s got this, he’s going to provide for me, so I think I’m going to do what I want (as long as it’s within his will) and live free in knowing he’s my Provider.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Anyways, sorry for that really long comment haha! I guess I’ve grown up in Christ some mode since I was laid off, I’m going to live with more abandon in his love and be FREE! Free of this world’s perspective of financial stability and instead be smart, but live free with him in my work choices 🙂

      Alright, enough about me haha! Is there anything else I can pray for you about?!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is so awesome, Joel!! I’m so happy to hear that God has provided you not only with two new job opportunities, but that one of them gets you really excited! AND that He has provided you with financial support in the meantime! I’m inspired by your dedication to living free and abandoned to His will, trusting that He will always take care of you and your family. (By the way, working in ecommerce sounds AWESOME!)

        My parents are doing okay, thank you! They could definitely still use your prayers though. My mom had to leave her position at work, making their financial situation much tighter. But that’s why your message about trusting God with finances is so encouraging right now! I know He will take care of them and bring good from the whole situation. I’m curious and anxious to see how He will show Himself to be faithful through it all, because I know He will!

        So I’d love more prayers for them, if your willing, and maybe even one or two for me–that I find myself in the job He wants me in, with a mission and purpose that glorifies Him.

        If there’s anything I can pray for you, just let me know! And congrats again on your new job opportunities Joel!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh no, I’m sorry Kiera! I will keep them in my prayers for now. He really does give enough provision to get through the tough financial times. These two layoffs are just a couple examples. Right after I got out of grad school, we were just coasting on student loans, burning cash, and I had zero job prospects. And then out of nowhere this amazing job came along and I started work literally two weeks before we had no cash left. He instilled a lot of trust in us during the time though. It’s like the Israelites being chased by the Egyptians. Right before disaster is about to happen, God swoops in like the Superhero he is and saves the day. And he’s very, very good at doing that. I don’t know all the details of where your parents are at, but I’m sure God is ready to save the day for them in some way as far as work and finances go.

        Thank you SO much for the encouragement!! I’m really really excited. It’s a young company and they are just exploding right now as far as their business and product lines go. It’s really exciting for me because I’m moving slightly from finance to analytics. Also, they really hinted at the idea that they might want to make me the director of analytics soon, because they don’t have anyone for that position and I think they want to test me out for the first several months, see how I do, and then maybe usher me into that. Which would be insane, I’m 29 and to be thinking about being a director at this point is just crazy. I’m just very blessed, that’s all I can say. Every bit of glory to God, because I really can’t do any of this myself haha. I’m just a nerd who loves Jesus 🙂

        I’ll definitely keep you in my prayers for a job for you too! Just curious, what line of work are you looking for? What’s your specialty or focus in? And what are you passionate about doing?

        Yes, I’d love a couple prayers for something…we are starting a young families small group at our church and I really want to just rock it for God. So any prayers for God to send the right families our way would be great! And then for God to just weave the families that are apart of it together in the larger blanket of the family of God.

        Hope you are having a great labor day weekend!! Blessings friend!

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      3. Thanks Joel, you’re thoughts and prayers for my parents are really, really appreciated. And your story has gone far in giving me peace about the whole thing. He’s got it under control and will take care of them. He’ll take care of all of us, every time. Yeah, just like a superhero! If He can part the Red Sea, I know He’ll carry them through this rough patch too.

        Oh my gosh, this job opportunity sounds soooooo great! I’m sure you’d make a fantastic Director, 29 or not! Let me know how that whole situation progresses and I’ll send positive thoughts your way, and to the company as well. Sounds like an awesome place to work that’s on the rise! And hey, being a nerd in love with Jesus is a pretty rad club to be part of, where miracles and cool opportunities (like this one!) are common, all when we trust Him to provide.

        Thanks for keeping my job in your prayers! I work in non-profit stewardship, so I work on the side of philanthropy that doesn’t ask for money but gets to thank everyone who donates. It’s the best job in the whole industry if you ask me! I just need a new position that pays a bit more because my car is on its last legs, ha! But I’ve got a few lines out there right now so hopefully something bites soon and I’ll find the perfect position that aligns with my beliefs. Fingers crossed!

        I will definitely keep your young families small group in my prayers! It’s SO cool that you’re doing this! I joined my community group about a month and a half ago (scary in the beginning!) but I’ve already made such good friends. And this is what you guys are offering to people who could really need those relationships. Way to go, and you’ll definitely be in my thoughts!

        Thanks again for all of your kind words, Joel! Seriously, they’re a huge encouragement and I’m really grateful. I hope you have a great week and I look forward to hearing more about these different opportunities you’re exploring! Best, Kiera

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That sounds really rewarding, to be able to just give thanks to people who donate! So cool! I’ll definitely be praying for something that provides more pay. I’m sure you’ll find something that’s perfect!

        Haha on the car, been there myself! I sold my truck in grad school so we could pay the mortgage one month. Now, my wife drives the good car. I drive a little, dependable compact car, but I am literally the worst at taking care of my cars. I have all of my books from college in boxes in my trunk and backseat. And the stuff from my old office in the front seat. It’s a one seater car haha! Plus über gross, coffee cups everywhere, rotting bananas and apple cores, mystery brown liquid on the floor. I asked my mom the other day if she though the black on the back seats was a stain or black mold…it’s hard to tell at this stage.

        I was floored by your words about my story with God walking me through layoffs. That meant A LOT to me so thank you 🙂 Keep me up to date on how things go with your parents and your job situation!! A couple good lines are a good idea. That verse in Ecclesiasties always comes to my mind, cast your net upon the waters…you’ll haul in a good catch soon! I’ll be praying it works out great!

        Thank you for the prayer for our small group! We already have one good friend, a single mom, sign up. I’m really excited she’s coming and I’m can’t wait to see God do amazing things with her in her life. It is a little scary at the beginning and can be awkward!! But once we got past that with our last group, the friendships were totally worth it!

        Hope you have an awesome rest of your week Kiera!! I look forward to hearing an update on how things went! God bless! -Joel

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Haha your description of your car made me smile! Because mine has definitely seen better days too! I’ll absolutely keep you updated and will continue to keep your family in my prayers. Thank you again for all of your encouraging words and I hope you have an awesome rest of your week as well! 🙂

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