2 Th 2:1-3  Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, {2}  That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. {3}  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

In 2 Thessalonians 2:2, Paul is telling the Thessalonians that they have not missed the Rapture when he writes that “the day of Christ is at hand” (the day is near).  This is what we call the Doctrine of Imminent Return.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word imminent as “ready to take place,” which means that Jesus’ return could happen at any time. That’s what the early church believed and that is also what we believe.

Understanding “the Day of Christ”

The Day of Christ is a reference to the Rapture –when Jesus will come for His Bride, the Church.  (Read: What is the Rapture?)  “The Day of Christ” is also found in these verses:

Phil 1:10  That you may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ;
Phil 2:16  Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.

Understanding the Timing of “the Day of Christ”

The next verse can be misunderstood.  It might seem to suggest that the “falling away” and the “man of sin be revealed” will take place before the Rapture, thereby suggesting a mid-tribulation Rapture.

2 Th 2:3  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

While it might seem to say those things will happen before the Rapture, they will not.  The “Day of Christ” which is “at hand” (vs 2) will happen first. So how should we understand verse 3?

2 Thessalonians 2:3

It should be noted that the words “that day shall not come” in verse 3 are not in the Greek manuscripts. Therefore, they are italicized in English Bibles indicating that they were added by the translators for readability.  The Strong’s Dictionary has no numbers for those words, which also indicates they are not in the original text.

Therefore, reading the verse without those words, and reading further, brings clarity to the timing of the revealing of the man of sin.

2 Th 2:3  Let no man deceive you by any means: for… except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

When this letter was written, circa 51 AD, the early (apostolic) church was not “falling away” — it was growing!  And although apostasy began to creep in (the book of Jude, written 20-30 years later), it will be in the Seventieth Week of Daniel, known also as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer 30:7) and the Tribulation, that there will be a great falling away and the man of sin, the son of perdition, also known as the Antichrist, will be revealed.

Verses 4-6 Clarify

2 Th 2:4-6  Who [the Antichrist] opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.  {5} Remember not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?  {6} And now you know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

  1. In verse 4, Paul tells the Thessalonians that the Antichrist will be revealed by two signs: 1) his nature (exalting himself); and 2) his act of sitting in the temple, pretending to be God.  These signs will be for the Jews in the Tribulation  —  “for the Jews require a sign…” (1 Cor 1:22); but Christians “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).  
  2. In verse 6, Paul writes that they (the Thessalonians) “know what withholds” (a reference to the presence of the Holy Spirit).
  3. Paul also says the Antichrist will be revealed “in his time” — that would be the Tribulation.  The Day of Christ (the Rapture) is not “his time” — nor is the Church Age “his time.”  The Church Age and the Seventieth Week of Daniel (the seven-year Tribulation) do not overlap—not even for the first 3 1/2 years as some suggest.

Verses 7-8

Reading further, we find that “the lawless one” (the Antichrist) will be revealed after the Body of Christ, the Church, is Raptured [bracketed information is mine]: 

2 Th 2:7  For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He [the Holy Spirit] who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way [in the Rapture] 

After the Rapture, there will be no Christians left on earth. There will be no one with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. And the Antichrist will rise up.

2 Th 2:8  And then [After the Christians with the indwelling Spirit are gone in the Rapture] the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming [at the end of the Tribulation].

Furthermore, verse 9 tells:   

2 Th 2:8 The coming of the lawless one [the Antichrist] is according to the working of Satan [he will be empowered by Satan], with all power, signs, and lying wonders.  

The lawless one will use power, signs, and wonders to deceive people.  But our God will use power, signs, and wonders to call the Jews, and any others with “ears to hear,” to Himself through repentance and faith.

Pre-Trib Rapture

For this and many other reasons, we hold to a pre-tribulation Rapture.  For more information, read: Why a Pre-Trib Rapture?

Searching the Scripture we find that the Rapture will close the time period we call the Church Age.  When the Bride of Christ is removed, and the indwelling Holy Spirit with them, the Seventieth Week of Daniel (also known as the Tribulation) will begin. We will be in Heaven because our Bridegroom will have come for us to spare us from the judgment of God upon the world.  

Some might suggest that the first 3 ½ years are a time of peace and prosperity, but even that peace and prosperity is an instrument of God’s judgment.  Our peace and prosperity is of an internal, spiritual nature that comes from a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. 

The peace and prosperity of the first half of the Tribulation will come from the Antichrist’s evil intent and deceptive plans.  God will allow him to rise to power, prestige, and influence — and he will deceive the world.

One final thought:  In the Book of Revelation, we read of the Church 20 times in chapters 1-3. From chapters 4-20, in which the Seventieth Week of Daniel is revealed in detail, there is no mention of the church. The Chuch is not present again until chapter 21, when the Church, the Bride, returns with her Bridegroom and Jesus will reign in righteousness on earth for 1,000 years.  Then we enter into eternity (Rev 21-22).

Rejoice that today our names are written in Heaven (Luke 10:20, Heb 12:23) and, whether by death or by Rapture (2 Cor 5:8, 1 Th 4:17), we are forever with the Lord.  Tell all people about the saving grace of Jesus.  We don’t want anyone to miss the Rapture and be left behind.  

Visit our salvation page for a clear gospel message to share.

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