Andy Woods spoke at the
1st ANNUAL BLESSED HOPE PROPHECY FORUM in Oct 2017
The focus is on Apostasy in 2 Thessalonians 2:3
The following material is based on that teaching and is analyzed by me. Following are the verses used in support of his conclusions for both physical and spiritual departure. The fact that the word can be translated to mean a physical as well as spiritual departure is not a point of contention. What’s in contention is his conclusion as follows:
Apostasy or Physical Departure. Equals Rapture 2Thess. 2:3 verses supporting Woods’ thesis.
and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left (aphistemi) the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.
Luke 2:37 NASB
When the devil had finished every temptation, he left (aphistemi) Him until an opportune time.
Luke 4:13 NASB
27 and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart (aphistemi) from Me, all you evildoers.’
Luke 13:27 NASB
So in the present case, I say to you, stay away (aphistemi) from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown;
Acts 5:38 NASB
When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed (aphistemi) from him.
Acts 12:10 NASB
But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted (aphistemi) them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.
Acts 15:38 NASB
But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew (aphistemi) from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.
Acts 19:9 NASB
(Note I also highlighted took away (Aphoriso) in the above verse. I did this because if Paul really wanted to make this a word that would be debatable as to possibly meaning Rapture, this would have been a great word, because someone else is actually doing the take away not the subjects themselves.)
Therefore those who were about to examine him immediately let go (aphistemi) of him; and the commander also was afraid when he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had put him in chains.
Acts 22:29 NASB
Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave (aphistemi) me.
2 Corinthians 12:8 NASB
Here are the scriptures and their usage in what Woods calls spiritual departure scriptures.
13 Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away(aphistemi) .
Luke 8:13 NASB
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away (aphistemi) from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,
1 Timothy 4:1 NASB
Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away (aphistemi) from the living God.
Hebrews 3:12 NASB
In each of these scriptures no matter the spiritual or physical meaning of the word, still it is the subject who does the departing or removing. (Aphistemi) is an action verb and when used in its noun form it describes an action performed by the subject, whatever or whoever that subject is. In the case of 2 Thessalonians 2, the actor would be the church or bride if Wood’s theory is correct. This is of course a BIG IF. He states: “If I’m correct this puts an end to the discussion”. I can say the same thing if I’m correct but that statement does not make either of us correct. The word supporting either of our theories is necessary to makes what we teach true. None of these word usages support his theory, because the subject “The Body or Bride”, cannot (aphistemi) itself.
Now concerning physical departure equaling Rapture.
Woods’ emphasizes the use of the word “first” in his dealing with this apostasy. He concludes that since the apostasy is equivalent to the rapture and it is said to be “first”, then it must precede the coming of Antichrist thus making it before the Tribulation. Paul certainly says that this apostasy will go before the day of the Lord, as will the Antichrist. The day of the Lord then certainly must follow the Tribulation. This also is confirmed by Joel and Jesus. Joel says twice that the sun, moon and stars will darken before the day of the Lord, and Jesus tells of this event after Tribulation in Matt 24.
I sometimes become amazed at These teachers who use this double standard. For example “first” is important here connected to apostasy, because Woods wants to make it equal Rapture, but “The first” is unimportant to him when applied to the first resurrection in Revelation 20. Just saying.
Woods also makes a great “to do” over context, as he should; but he then precedes to ignore context. His claim is that Rapture in both 1 Thessalonians 4&5, and 2 Thessalonians 2 is the subject determining context. Let’s examine that. I have taken the liberty to extract a portion of scripture from Paul’s first letter. Woods also makes the point that Paul does not teach about a “falling away” (apostasy) until much later in his ministry. These verses of Paul’s from this his very first letter to the Thessalonians would seem to say otherwise. Paul is concerned that these Thessalonians remain in the faith, for they are his hope and his crown. Read these following verses carefully:
nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? (Notice he did not say at the Rapture) and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know. (He writes more about this affliction for the Thessalonians in 2 Thessalonians chapter 1.) Paul continues:
For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain. for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord. so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you. (This rejection would be an apostasy even according to Woods’ own definition) and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.
(Now Paul transitions from living in faith and not falling from the faith to what is the believers hope) — (his resurrection and yes Rapture) But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 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 not precede those who have fallen asleep.
1 Thessalonians 2:6,12-15,19,3:2-5,8,13-4:1,7-8,11-15 NASB
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 NASB
My Observation: I think that I have told you this before, but it is worth repeating. The context of this letter and even of chapter 4 is not mainly Rapture as Woods says it is. Paul is speaking to a question which can attack the faith of these believers, who Woods calls “baby Christians”. The death and suffering that can be untimely in the life of a believer as observed by those left behind can be traumatic in a young believer. Paul says not to fear because there is a coming resurrection, and the rapture, yes, will follow. But to make apostasy equate to Rapture is changing context not keeping with the context. The coming of Christ and the resurrection in the context overshadows the rapture and is the real subject of the comfort he offers. But to the Dispensationalist the Rapture overshadows these every time. Maybe not intentionally, but in practice every time. For them it alone is the blessed hope, not Christ’s coming but being caught up to escape Tribulation, which by the way in these letters Paul says is part of the believers life and about which he was concerned. Listen:
we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions;
I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain.
So falling away was at the heart of Paul’s concern and part of his reason for writing the first letter. Falling away is part of the context. Beyond this there is additional teaching in the early church to support apostasy as I believe it is used in this verse as being a falling away from faith, and as being in the context of last days teaching. Paul in fact used the same understanding of events as did Jesus in His teaching:
9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place ( let the reader understand),
Matthew 24:9-10,15 NASB
These are Jesus words telling us of the falling away and the Antichrist. Compare them with Paul’s which follow in the passage in question.
Let no one in any way deceive you, for it (the day of the Lord) will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. (The above description of Antichrist is Daniels “abomination of desolation” that Jesus spoke of above.)
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 NASB
Sorry but one cannot use scripture as Woods does picking them from other biblical sources to prove that apostasy can mean physical removal, and then totally ignore related scripture from Jesus that deals with and helps establish context.
Further Woods in his presentation makes the strong case for the definite article “The” in Paul’s description of Apostasy. And I agree that this draws one to the fact that this is a significant event which the Holy Spirit has made known to the body of believers. So why does the falling away of which Jesus spoke not qualify as this event? It is certainly not disqualified for the reasons Woods offers.
Of course the rapture is a significant event, but the Raptures timing is already established in the context of Paul’s first letter. Following his teaching on the second coming; the resurrection of all who are asleep in Christ which is followed by the Rapture; then he tells us:
Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.
1 Thessalonians 4:17,5:1-2 NASB
So all you have to do is figure out when this day of the Lord is set to begin, and you will know when the Second Coming; resurrection and Rapture are to occur because we will not be in darkness if we do figure it out — that is Paul’s point here. Earlier I gave you the clue. But, reread 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, and it should become clear.
additionally I have an entire chapter on this day in the book And Then The End Shall Come.