“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;” (2 Thessalonians 2:3 KJV)
This one verse of Scripture has been taken out of context by many teachers who say that it proves that there will be a falling away of belief by believers and that the Antichrist must be revealed BEFORE the Rapture takes place. Others teach that it is proof that the Rapture event happens at the Second Coming of Christ to setup His Earthly Kingdom age. If we were to read just this one verse out of context, one may think this is so. But add the previous verses to verse 3 and the truth comes into sharper focus by reading the words closely. Remember, that chapters were added later and were not found in the letter Paul wrote. It is one continuous letter and that is how we must read it in proper context.
The last verses of the previous chapter in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 (KJV) Paul writes, “9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which DELIVERED US FROM THE WRATH TO COME.”
We need to start here because Paul is giving the Thessalonian church (and all of us) a hope and a comfort that believers will not face the 7 year Tribulation Period spoken of by Daniel the prophet. Believers will not face the wrath of God on the people of Earth during the Tribulation Period. This is why the Rapture is our blessed hope. Paul’s goal is to comfort. Now the very next two verses are critical to understanding verse 3:
“1 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;” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 KJV)
In verse one, Paul is revealing that there are two events to take place when Jesus returns. There is The Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to Earth to begin His 1000 year reign on Earth and there is The Gathering UNTO Christ, which we call The Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church Age.
The Rapture happens before the Tribulation Period. So why is Paul mentioning the Second Coming of Christ before the Rapture in verse one? Why does this seem in reverse order? The next verse shows us why Paul mentioned the events in what seems as a reverse order. Paul is telling the Thessalonians to not be ‘shaken’ by his previous teachings on the Rapture and Second Coming and ‘not be troubled’.
But why are they troubled? Paul mentions not to be troubled even by “letter AS FROM US”. Notice closely that it is not saying a real letter from Paul! Apparently, there were some false teachers writing fraudulent letters as if they were written from Paul, but they were not! These letters were instilling fear into the Thessalonian church because they were teaching (as if by Paul) that the troubles they were going through are the Tribulation Period and that they had ‘missed’ the Rapture event! It was a deception that Paul is addressing to clear up the mess these false teachers instilled by fear into the Thessalonian church. The church was losing their hope believing they were left behind at the Rapture!
Verse three reads, “Let no man deceive you by any means”. Now we are getting the proper context. Paul is refuting the false teachers and showing the Thessalonians that they were not living in the Tribulation Period and to return to the hope they have in the Rapture of believers. And Paul is assuring them that believers in Christ will be taken in the Rapture before the wrath of God to come during the Tribulation Period to the people living on Earth at that time.
In this context we can now read and better understand verse three:
“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;” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 KJV)
Paul is simply telling the Thessalonian believers that the Second Coming is not going to come until there is a falling away from the faith and that man of sin (the antichrist) be revealed. And continuing reading in this proper context Paul writes,
“5 Remember ye not, that, when I WAS YET with you, I told you these things? 6 And now YE KNOW what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. (Don: until the believers on Christ, the church is Raptured)
8 AND THEN shall that Wicked (Don: the antichrist) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:”
(2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 KJV – brackets Don are my added comments for clarity)
So we know that that antichrist is not going to be revealed until AFTER the Rapture of the Bride of Christ; which is all believers from our current Church Age here prior to the Rapture event.
Instead of refuting a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the church 2 Thessalonians 2:3 actually fully supports the Pre-Tribulation timing of the Rapture of believers in Christ Jesus, in Salvation.