After Paul the apostle wrote his first letter (1 Thessalonians) discussing the Rapture or being caught up (We looked at it yesterday in our daily meditations), he received a letter back from the Thessalonian church. We know this, for he started the second chapter of his second letter (2 Thessalonians) with the word "concerning." The Thessalonian believers received some communication from people trying to deceive them into believing that the Day of the Lord, and with it, the Rapture, our being gathered to Christ, had already happened (2 Thessalonians 2:2). Here are Paul's words in reply:
1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2not 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. 3Don’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. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).
The believers in Thessalonica were concerned because a person told them that the persecution they were enduring (2 Thessalonians 1:4) was the persecution associated with the end-time coming of the Lord. Interestingly, Paul uses the same Greek word, thlipsis, translated as tribulation (Matthew 24:21 KJV) or distress (NIV), to describe the persecution the Thessalonians were enduring at the time Paul was writing. Paul replied to this false thinking to ease their fears that they had missed being caught up (raptured) to the great gathering together with the Lord in the air. Paul believed that the Day of the Lord happens just after the Church is caught up to the Lord (vs. 1-2). He calls the coming of Jesus and our being gathered to Him “the day of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 2:2).
Paul reassured them they had not missed the Rapture by telling them that three things must happen before the Day of the Lord comes (v. 2). Today and tomorrow, we will look at the three things that must occur before the coming of Jesus for His people in Paul's teaching.
1) The first thing that Paul says must happen is that the Rebellion occurs (v. 3). Other English translations call it the Apostasy or the falling away. The definite article is in the Greek text but not explicit in the English translation. It is the rebellion, not just any countrywide rebellion but a worldwide falling away from the faith. The Greek word used is Apostasia, which means to depart, defect, and revolt. The meaning of this word is always speaking of a religious defection, a departure from what is considered orthodox. What would cause a worldwide defection from the faith in the days ahead?
It is possible that when Antichrist and the False Prophet demand that everyone receives a mark on their forehead or hand and worship the beast (Revelation 13:15-18), many with half-hearted faith will compromise, take the Mark, and fall away from the Lord. Those with understanding and genuine faith in Christ will not take the Mark and continue to walk with the Lord, anticipating His return. We live in a day when central banks worldwide are limiting cash, forcing people to buy via the Internet and turn to digital money. In this writer's mind, this is all part of a plan to control the finances of the whole world so that a one-world currency can be set up, possibly a blockchain currency, controlled by a Mark, a digital device on our person. Money through our mobile phones is just a precursor.
When this global economy is set up, those who take the Mark will be acknowledging the Antichrist's rulership and godhood. Christians are warned not to take this mark: 9And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God (Revelation 14:9-10). In my opinion, this appearance of the Antichrist, the one Paul calls the man of lawlessness in verse 3, and an abandonment of faith in Christ, a falling away, will herald Paul’s first thing that must happen before the catching away of true believers (the Rapture). Let’s look at the second and third of Paul’s three things tomorrow. Keith Thomas
Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers, 686 Apostasia, Page 693.