How did one word in scripture change the thinking and hope of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture? Today we will look into it and hopefully, convince you that the Rapture will happen before the Tribulation begins. Are you ready? Let's begin . . . .
Hello, and welcome once again to Bible Prophecy. I’m Val Black and today I would like to take this time to do a little more study of why I believe the Rapture will take place before the Tribulation begins.
In the first place, the Rapture was revealed to Paul directly from our Lord after Paul’s conversion to Christianity. After his Damascus road experience, Paul went to Arabia and lived there for about three years. It was during that time that Paul learned among other things, about the Rapture.
In the year 49 A.D., Paul’s first letter was written to the church in Galatia. Early in the letter, he admonished that church for their falling away from the faith, but he is not speaking about an overall sign of end-time apostasy. That would come later.
Paul’s first letter to Timothy was written in 62 A.D. and the second letter in 67 A.D. and it is in those letters that Paul warns about a great end-time apostasy when many people will fall away from the faith. This would have been 13 years and 18 years respectively after his first letter to Galatia.
Here is what I’m trying to say. End-time apostasy, a mass falling away from the faith, was not a subject of Paul’s teachings until later in his ministry.
After his letter to Galatia, Paul then wrote to the church in Thessalonica. That was in the year 51 A.D., about two years after his conversion. In those two letters, there is no mention of an end-time apostasy except for one word in Second Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 3, and that has stirred a lot of controversies. That one word in Greek is, “apostasia” (ap-os-tas-ee'-ah) which has been translated in King James as, “falling away”.
I hope that today we can bring a little more light on the subject. It may not convince everyone of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture but if all the facts are laid out and studied, I believe it will be obvious the Rapture will happen before the Tribulation begins.
Now, if you have your Bible, turn to Second Thessalonians chapter 2 and let’s read verse 3. From the NKJV,
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition”
For centuries, this verse has been taught to mean there will be a great end-time falling away from the faith. But is that really what it means?
According to the earliest Bible translations, it does not mean there will be a falling away from the faith. As I said before, the one word in question is the Greek word, “apostasia” (ap-os-tas-ee'-ah).
The Wycliffe Bible of 1384, the Tyndale Bible of 1526, the Coverdale Bible of 1535, and the Cranmer Bible of 1539 all translate the noun “apostasia” as departure. The word following apostasia is proton which means “first” and there is no question about that. So, in reading Second Thessalonians 2:3 from the earliest five Bibles it would read like this:
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the departure comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition”
In later Bible translations such as the Breeches Bible of 1576, the Beza Bible of 1583, and the Geneva Bible of about 1608 all translate apostasia as a physical departure and not a spiritual falling away.
Now you may ask, “So what’s the difference and why is it so important?”
Good question. When Paul wrote the second letter to the church in Thessalonica, he was encouraging and warning them not to be deceived by others who came after him teaching that the church was already in the Tribulation.
This is evident by Second Thessalonians chapter 2, verses 1 & 2 which says,
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.”
Notice the phrase, “as if from us”, meaning others had tried to tell the church at Thessalonica they were speaking for Paul, but they were teaching the wrong thing.
You see, the church in Thessalonica couldn’t understand that if it were true the Tribulation had begun, why were they still here on earth? Paul had previously taught them they would be raptured before the Tribulation began. This is evident in Paul’s first letter to them. In First Thessalonians chapter 1, verse 10 it says,
“and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
Also, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 which should be familiar by now,
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Those verses were all from Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica. Then others or possibly just one, came after Paul left and said they or he was speaking for Paul and told the church they were now in the Tribulation.
I hope this helps to put more light on what Paul was saying in the Second letter to the church.
Now let’s go back to Second Thessalonians chapter 2 and verse 3 and learn how the words “departure first” became “falling away first”.
In 1576 the Bible was translated into English by the Catholic Church from Jerome’s Latin Vulgate version. The new Bible of the Catholic Church was called the Rheims Bible. Here is how Second Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 3 is translated:
“Let no man deceive you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition”
The Catholic scholars decided that the Greek word apostasia must certainly mean a revolution, or a falling away, from the Catholic faith. You see, about 60 years before the Rheims Bible was translated, Martin Luther launched an attack on the Roman Catholic Church by nailing his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg's Castle Church in Germany.
In other words, Luther revolted against the doctrines of the church and it spread throughout the world to become what is known today as The Reformation. The Catholic Church saw it as a revolt against the faith.
And so that is how the earliest translations of apostasia were changed from departure to revolt, which later became changed from revolt to a spiritual “falling away”.
But wait! Doesn’t the King James Version say the same thing as a “falling away”? Yes, it does, and most modern translations follow the King James Version.
The New King James, New International Version, Revised Standard Version, American Standard Version do not say “departure”. They translate apostasia as a “falling away” or apostasy.
So why didn’t the King James translators correct it to say “departure” as the early Bible translators did? Because the King James was translated in 1611 during the Reformation. The translators saw the word “apostasia” as a falling away from the true faith which is what they believed the Catholic Church had done.
In simple terms, the Catholic Church was accusing the Protestants of falling away from its doctrines and the Protestants accused the Catholic Church of falling away from the true faith. That is one reason so many people have not believed the Rapture would happen before the Tribulation.
The Bible does talk about a great falling away in the last days. In First Timothy chapter 4, verse 1,
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons”
That is speaking of a true great departure from the faith of Jesus Christ. Paul goes into more detail in his Second letter to Timothy in chapters 3 and 4. I won’t go into detail on that today.
The main point of this lesson today is to see the change of one word in Second Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 3. That word, apostasia, was translated to mean “spiritual departure” when it was supposed to mean “physical departure”.
If it’s a physical departure as the early church believed and so do a good many Bible teachers of today, then we are talking about a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
Kenneth Wuest was an expert in the ancient Greek language and was one of the translators of the New American Standard Bible. In his later years, Wuest went on to write an English translation of the New Testament. It is called the Wuest Expanded Translation and here is how he translates Second Thessalonians chapter 2. I’m going to read verses 1 to 4.
Listen closely because I believe we all need to understand what Paul was saying to the church in Thessalonica and what he is saying to us today:
“Do not begin to allow anyone to lead you astray in any way, because that day shall not come except the aforementioned departure (of the Church to heaven) comes first and the man of lawlessness is disclosed (in his true identity), the son of perdition, he who sets himself in opposition to and exalts himself above everyone and everything that is called a god or that is an object of worship, so that he seats himself in the inner sanctuary of God, proclaiming himself to be deity.” (The words in parenthesis are included in the original text).
So, Paul was warning the church not to be deceived and be led astray. Doesn’t that sound familiar? In Matthew 24 the disciples asked Jesus what would be the signs of His coming? The first thing Jesus said was, “Take heed that no man deceive you”, and then went on to explain certain things to watch for.
Satan deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden and Eve then passed the word to Adam who believed her. Since that time, Satan has continually tried and many times succeeded, to deceive mankind.
The reason I believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is because that is what the early Bible translations taught. As I have explained earlier, the changing of one word in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 3 has changed the thinking of millions for centuries. I’m not saying the change was done intentionally to deceive people, but I believe it was at the very least a terrible mistake.
Now I would like to go in another direction in our lesson. For many years, as I have read and studied the Bible, I’ve found various passages in the Old Testament which I believe are hidden references to the Rapture. If they were not intended to mean the Rapture, they do read like it when you do a word study.
For example: In Psalm chapter 12, verse 1 it says and I’m reading this time from the King James,
“Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.”
It begins with “Help, Lord” or “save us, Lord”, for the godly man ceaseth” The word for “ceaseth” is “gamar (gaw-mar') and it means ”completed or fulfilled”. That is exactly what happens to born-again believers at the Rapture. You see, we are a three-part being, spirit, soul, and body. Our spirits are renewed at the time we accept Jesus as Savior. Our mind, or soul, is renewed daily in a process called, sanctification. Sanctification continues until Jesus returns. At the Rapture, we are given glorified bodies. At that time we will be completed or fulfilled.
Next, the word “fail” in verse 1. In the original Hebrew language, the word is pasas (paw-sas') and according to what I have read, it is hard to explain in English but the closest meaning is “vanish or disappear”.
With that in mind, here is how it would read if given those definitions, “for the faithful vanish from among the children of men”.
That sounds like the Rapture to me.
Isaiah chapter 26, verse 19. From the King James,
“Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.”
If you were to understand “Thy dead men” as born-again believers and the word “arise” as “caught up”, it would read as, “The born-again believers shall live, together with my dead body shall they be caught up”.
The return of Jesus has been compared to a Jewish wedding. In ancient times when a man and a woman were to be married the groom would build a place for the couple to live after the marriage ceremony. The groom’s father would oversee the building to make sure it was good and proper. When it was ready, which could be as long as a year after the proposal to the bride, the father would give consent to the son to go for his bride. The groom and his friends (or groomsmen) would go to the home of the bride but being led by one of the groomsmen blowing a trumpet to let the bride know they were coming. In the meantime, the bride would be waiting with her bridesmaids and keeping watch for the groom to come. When they reached the home the groom would take the bride back to the new home where they would honeymoon for a period of time.
From the King James, Isaiah chapter 26, verses 20 and 21,
“Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. 21 For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.”
“Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.”
It has been said that verse could be prophetically related to the Rapture.
When Jesus comes it will be as the Groomsman coming for His Bride, the Church of Jesus Christ. Just as the ancient Groomsman was followed by his friends, Jesus will come for His Bride with a following of innumerable friends as alluded to in the Book of Jude, verse 14 , "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints”.
The Groomsman will steal away His Bride to Heaven and the Judgment Seat of Christ will take place. This can be regarded as the honeymoon period of Jesus and His Bride, speaking in the spiritual sense. The Judgement Seat will not determine if the Bride is worthy of Heaven but instead it will be a time when they become intimate with each other. Jesus will reveal all we have done or said after being born again. Rewards and crowns will be given or taken away for the things we have said and done in our past. Afterward, then all tears will be wiped away as it says in Revelation 7, verse 17. Following that, Christ and His Bride will celebrate the Marriage Supper of the Lamb as in Revelation 19, verses 6 to 9. And following that will be eternity in Heaven with Jesus.
I would like to share some more scriptures that sound like the Rapture in the Old Testament but I’m not being dogmatic and saying they are absolutely referring to the Rapture.
From the King James in Isaiah 57 verse 1 it says,
“The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.”
The word perisheth in the original Greek is avadh which means to disappear. The phrase “layeth it to heart means “cares”. “Merciful men” would be Godly men. “Taketh away” means gathered or harvested. “From the evil to come” could mean the Tribulation.
Reading verse 1 and inserting these meanings it would read like this, “The righteous disappear and no man cares. Godly men are gathered up, no one left considering that the righteous are taken away from the Tribulation to come.”
Sounds like the Pre-tribulation Rapture doesn’t it?
Zephaniah chapter 2 verse 3,
“Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, Who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden In the day of the LORD'S anger.”
To be “hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger” sounds to me like it means missing the Tribulation.
Micah chapter 7, verse 2,
“The faithful man has perished from the earth, And there is no one upright among men. They all lie in wait for blood; Every man hunts his brother with a net.”
The word for “faithful” in the original Greek can also mean “saint”. The phrase, “perished from the earth” can also mean “wondered away”.
Verse 2 could be said like this, “The saints have wondered away from earth”. And there are no good men left. The ones left all lie in wait to shed blood. Every man hunts his brother with a net”.
Here’s one from Joshua 6, verse 5. Of course, it’s talking about the Children of Israel and the walls of Jericho but listen to it and see if it doesn’t remind you of the Rapture,
“It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him."
If you emphasize the words, “sound of the trumpet . . . a great shout and . . . . the people go up” it sounds like the Rapture. (I know it’s a stretch of the imagination but I like to think of it that way)
The Song of Songs or also known as the Song of Solomon, chapter 2, and the last part of verse13,
Now, just picture this as Jesus speaking to His Church on earth at the time of the Rapture.
“Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away!”.
Well, my time is up for today. Next time we’ll continue with our teachings on the 7 Raptures and find out what Rapture no. 5 is all about.
Until then, keep watching and listening for that trump and shout of an archangel.