There is great controversy over the interpretation of this passage of Scripture in 2nd Thessalonians 2:3-4, “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; Who 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, shewing himself that he is God.”
Let's begin by reviewing a helpful quote from one of my favorite Bible scholars, Dr. John R. Rice (18950-1980), who states in his Bible commentary on Revelation:
Note now the term “the day of Christ,” the same as “the day of the Lord,” when Christ sets up His Kingdom. It is not at hand until certain things occur (vs. 2).
1. First, there needs to be a “falling away,” literally a departure, that is, as we understand it the rapture of the saints, the “gathering together unto him” of verse 1. The Greek word here is apostacio, so it is natural for people to think that it means a religious apostasy, a falling from grace. But it can hardly mean that. The word is sometimes used for departure, and “the day of the Lord” is the time of Christ's return to conquer and reign. It waits not on a religious apostasy but on the departure of the saints. The Man of Sin cannot appear until that time. (See the book by E. Schuyler English entitled Re-thinking the Rapture.) Dr. Ironside and other scholars agreed that the falling away here means the departure of the saints.
2. Nothing here is preliminary to the rapture, but a regular schedule of events to follow the rapture. Since we are often warned to expect daily the rapture, the first phase of Christ's coming at any moment, “in the twinkling of an eye,” there cannot be and are not any prophesied events to come before that rapture. So before the rise of Antichrist, before Daniel's seventieth week of years can begin, before the tribulation period, must come the rapture of the saints.
3. But then Someone “who now letteth” or restrains the course of history so that the Man of Sin cannot appear—who is He? That Restrainer is the Holy Spirit. His worldwide influence through born-again Christians makes it so the restored Roman empire cannot rise nor the Antichrist appear until Christians are taken out and and thus the influence through them of the Holy Spirit is removed from its restraining power on the wicked world.
How many men have tried to build a world empire after the decay of Rome, as such an empire! Charlemagne, the pope,
SOURCE: Dr. John R. Rice, “Behold He Cometh: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary On The Book Of Revelation,” pp. 134-135; Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1977
I would now like to quote some commentary from Halley's Bible Handbook, with which interpretation I agree:
Further Instruction About The Lord's Coming
Written, probably about A.D. 52, only a few weeks, or months, after the First Epistle. In that Paul had spoken of the Lord's Coming as being sudden and unexpected. In this he explains that it will not be until after the Apostasy.
Chapter 1, The Day of the Lord
The particular feature of the Lord's coming emphasized in this chapter is that it will be a day of terror for the disobedient. In 1 Thessalonians 4 Paul had said that He would descend from heaven, and, at the shout of the archangel, the Church would be caught up forever to be forever with the Lord.
Here he adds that the Lord will be accompanied with “the angels of his power in flaming fire” (7), rendering vengeance to the disobedient. Jesus had spoken of “eternal fire” (Matthew 25:41), and “unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:43). In Hebrews 10:27 “devouring fire” is connected with the day of judgment. In II Peter 3:7, 10 it is stated that the destiny of the earth is to be burned with “fire” (see note on the passage).
Chapter 2, The Apostasy
The express purpose of this Epistle was to caution the Thessalonians that the Lord's Coming was not immediately at hand; that it would not be until after the Apostasy.
What is the Apostasy? It is called the “falling away,” in which a person called the “man of sin,” in the temple of God professes himself to be God, and exalts himself against God (3, 4). A False Church headed by an Imposter.
The early fathers unanimously looked for a Personal Antichrist, to be manifested after the fall of the Roman Empire.
The Protestant Reformers, being directly in touch with the awful corruption of the Church of the Middle Ages, believed the Papacy, an institution headed up in person, usurping to itself authority that belongs only to Christ and being itself responsible for the prevailing corruption to have been a manifestation of the man of sin.
In our own times, after 2,000 years of church history, there is still wide difference of opinion. There are many who think it refers to a period immediately before the Lord's Coming.
The spirit of the thing was already at work in Paul's day (7). The story of the Church as a whole, even to this day, makes a sorry looking picture. Taking a broad general view of the visible Church, as it has existed from the first century to the present time, it is not inaccurate to call it an Apostate Church. What the final culmination is to be is yet to be seen.
“That which remains,” (6), was general understood by the early father to have been the Roman Empire. Some take it to mean the Holy Spirit.
Paul's Ideas of the Second Coming. It is quite common among a certain class of critics to say that Paul “had to reconstruct his ideas about the Lord's Second Coming,” that his “earlier and cruder view” contradicts his later view. This is absolutely not true. Paul's earlier view was his only view, first, last and always. The Thessalonian Epistles are his earliest extant writings. In them he specifically states that he did NOT expect the immediate appearance of the Lord, and that it would not be till after the Apostasy, which in his day was only beginning to work. It may not have been revealed to Paul what the Apostasy would be. But whatever his idea of it, it did not preclude the possibility that the Lord would come in his own lifetime, evidenced by the expression “we that are alive” (1 Thessalonians 4:15; 1 Corinthians 15:52). First and last Paul looked for the Lord's Coming as a glorious consummation, meanwhile anticipating the eventuality of, in death, “departing to be with Christ” (Philippians 1:23); it not being any great matter whether he was in the body or out of it at the time of the Coming. In his last written word (II Timothy 4:6, 8), at the time of his “departure,” his mind was on the “appearing” of the Lord.
SOURCE: Dr. Henry H. Halley, Halley's Bible Handbook, pp. 629-630, 1927
2nd Thessalonians 2:3-4, “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; Who 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, shewing himself that he is God.”To be frank, we simply don't know for certain what the phrase “a falling away” means. Some Bible students think the phrase refers to the Rapture. (By the way, I always capitalize the word Rapture because it refers to a proper noun, in this case an event.) Other Bible students think it refers to worldwide Apostasy. Search the internet for articles about "vanishing Christianity" and other similar searches, and you will find umpteen disturbing articles; such as this one.
“The new world religion is nearer than many think, and this is due to two things: first, the theological quarrels are mainly over non-essentials, and secondly, the younger generation is basically spiritual but quite uninterested in theology. The intelligent youth of all countries are rapidly repudiating orthodox theology, state ecclesiasticism and the control of the church. They are neither interested in man-made interpretations of truth nor in past quarrels between the major world religions.
At the same time, they are profoundly interested in the spiritual values and are earnestly seeking verification of their deep-seated unvoiced recognitions. They look to no bible or system of so-called inspired spiritual knowledge and revelation, but their eyes are on the undefined larger wholes in which they seek to merge and lose themselves, such as the state, an ideology, or humanity itself. In this expression of the spirit of self-abnegation may be seen the appearance of the deepest truth of all religion and the justification of the Christian message.
Christ, in His high place, cares not whether men accept the theological interpretations of scholars and churchmen, but He does care whether the keynote of His life of sacrifice and service is reproduced among men; it is immaterial to Him whether the emphasis laid upon the detail and the veracity of the Gospel story is recognised and accepted, for He is more interested that the search for truth and for subjective spiritual experience should persist; He knows that within each human heart is found that which responds instinctively to God, and that the hope of ultimate glory lies hid in the Christ-consciousness.
Therefore, in the new world order, spirituality will supersede theology; living experience will take the place of theological acceptances. The spiritual realities will emerge with increasing clarity and the form aspect will recede into the background; the new emerging truths. These truths will be founded on the ancient realities but will be adapted to modern need and will manifest progressively the revelation of the divine nature and quality. God is now known as Intelligence and Love. That the past has given us. He must be known as Will and Purpose, and that the future will reveal.” [emphasis added]
SOURCE: Alice Bailey, The Externalisation of the Hierarchy, pp. 201-202
“Christ, in His high place, cares not whether men accept the theological interpretations of scholars and churchmen, but He does care whether the keynote of His life of sacrifice and service is reproduced among men; it is immaterial to Him whether the emphasis laid upon the detail and the veracity of the Gospel story is recognised and accepted, for He is more interested that the search for truth and for subjective spiritual experience should persist; He knows that within each human heart is found that which responds instinctively to God, and that the hope of ultimate glory lies hid in the Christ-consciousness.” [emphasis added]
SOURCE: Alice Bailey, The Externalisation of the Hierarchy, pp. 201-202
2nd Corinthians 11:13-15, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
Again, I humbly agree with Dr. Henry H. Halley that the intriguing phrase in 2nd Thessalonians 2:3b, “a falling away,” doesn't refer to the Rapture; but rather, to a literal Apostasy in the end times. We are certainly seeing this in the world today. This Apostasy, I humbly think, simply refers to the world departing from faith in the God of the Holy Bible, to follow after what Commander William Guy Carr (1895-1959) termed it: a 'Godless Global Totalitarian Communist Police State.' To accomplish this sinister plot, otherwise known as a New World Order (NWO), Satan knows that he must corrupt the inspired Word of God, to remove it from people's lives. Amos 8:11, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:”
It was mentioned in the news this week that NWO kingpin, World Economic Forum (WEF) chairman, Klaus Schwab is calling for a new Bible revision that will correct the religions. Klaus wants the Bible “rewritten” by artificial intelligence (AI) to create a globalized “new Bible.” Yuval Noah Harari, the senior advisor to the WEF and its chairman Klaus Schwab, argues that using AI to replace scriptures will create unified “religions that are actually correct.” Good luck with that... lol. Dear reader, the Devil is a liar and the father of all murders, liars and thieves!!!
With approximately 900 English Bible versions today (either in part or whole), this is Apostasy. With the Devil's lie of Lordship Salvation being preached in 85% of Baptist churches today, this is Apostasy. With youth worldwide leaving from the churches, this is Apostasy. The world as a whole is headed for something dark and sinister and evil, the coming of Antichrist, also known as, the “Man of Sin” (2nd Thessalonians 2:3).
Many Lost Sinners Will Be Saved During The 7-Year Tribulation
Many people will be saved during the 7-year Tribulation period. They will be saved by faith alone in Christ, just as lost sinners have always been. Some false teachers like Robert Breaker on YouTube, and the late Dr. Peter S. Ruckman (1921-2016) errantly teach that Old Testament saints, and those after the Rapture during the 7-year Tribulation, get saved by keeping God's commandments (i.e., the law). These false prophets (Robert Breaker and Ruckman, and William P. Grady sadly) teach that Old Testament and Tribulation saints get saved by faith plus works. But nothing could be further from the truth. Acts 10:43, "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." This Scripture passage plainly teaches that people have always been saved by faith without works.
I humbly believe that the 144,000 saints mentioned in the book of Revelation will be born-again believers, who will be Jews, and they will preach the Gospel throughout the world. Many people will be saved, likely tens of millions. I highly recommend reading some free online books by Pastor Max D. Younce...
I KNOW WHO HOLD TOMORROW:
Also, here is the helpful book: "SOME GOLDEN DAYBREAK" by Pastor Lee Roberson (1909-2007).
All saints, dead first, then the living, will be removed from the earth at the Rapture (1st Corinthians 15:51-58), which could happen at any time. I believe that the Bible teaches a Pretribulation Rapture, that is, the Church will be removed BEFORE the 7-year Tribulation happens. After the Tribulation, millions of people around the world will wonder what has happened. They will be confused, because MOST professed "Christians" will still be on earth, so how could this have been the Rapture? The Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Roman Catholics, Seventh-Day Adventists, Church of Christ, Lordship Salvationist Baptists and Lutherans (to name but a few cults today) will still be here on earth. They won't get raptured because they are not saved, and never were at all. So very FEW people will be taken at the Rapture.
The inspired Word of God will still be here on earth after the Rapture. Many people will read the Bible, and hear sermons left behind by fundamentalist Bible, free grace Gospel, preachers (e.g., Pastors' Ralph Yankee Arnold, Jack F. Hyles, Harry A. Ironside and Steven L. Anderson), which lost sinners will listen to and be saved. So, yes, many sinners (likely tens of millions) will be saved during the Tribulation, and many of them will be brutally martyred for their Christian faith. At present, in 2023 we just surpassed the 8,000,000,000 population mark for the planet. That number could increase much higher before Christ returns, but we don't know for sure if this is true, since Jesus could come back at any moment. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!!!