About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Acts 17:2 tells us that
the Apostle Paul spent three weeks with the new believers in the city of
Paul began to respond to
these false reports in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
He said that day would not come until "the rebellion occurs
and the man of lawlessness is revealed" (NIV).
Other translations use such words as falling away and apostasy
instead of the word rebellion which I believe better reflects the Greek.
So what is this rebellion, falling away, or apostasy?
Like every other issue concerning Biblical prophecy, the answer
to this question has been thoroughly debated. I
certainly won't end the debate, and who knows, I might be wrong in my
thinking. On the other hand,
miracles do happen and I might actually be right.
So it's worth hearing me out.
If I take Paul's words at
face value, and in their context, it appears to me that there will be an
unprecedented departure from godliness in the world before the end of
this age. In 2 Timothy 3:1
to 3 Paul lists just a few examples of such ungodliness that will take
place during this apostasy. He
said that people will be lovers of themselves and lovers of money.
They'll be boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to parents,
ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self
control, and brutal. You
might suggest that these human traits have existed throughout history,
and that is certainly the case. The
point Paul must then be making is that these traits will worsen as we
approach the end of this age. We
have yet to see the worst of humanity.
Note that Paul connected
this apostasy with the rise of the man of lawlessness onto the world
scene. This means the
apostasy is associated with the man of lawlessness, otherwise known as
the anti-Christ by most Prophetic Futurists.
Since the apostasy worsens over time and reaches a climax near
the end of this age, it paves the way for the rise of the anti-Christ to
international dominance. Without
an overwhelming influence of godliness to oppose him, his rise to power
is relatively easy.
I hate to disappoint you,
but although my view is common among Prophetic Futurists, not everyone
agrees with me. Another view
of prophetic history is known as Restoration Theology, with a sub
doctrine called Replacement Theology.
Replacement Theology states that Israel
failed to fulfill its covenantal responsibilities to represent God to
the nations and thus failed to influence the world towards godliness.
God, therefore, withdrew His covenantal promises and prophecies
As I've recently observed
once again, Restorationists would call me a defeatist because I believe
in a world wide apostasy, which implies that the church has failed to be
what it was meant to be. Of
course, Restorationists fail to remember that they believe
I believe, that like Israel, the church in many respects has failed to carry out its
responsibilities as the representative of Jesus to an ungodly world.
I believe a quick glance at church history shows that to be true.
That may sound like I'm a defeatist, but I'm not.
I also believe that both
The apostasy Paul spoke
about certainly isn't the end of the prophetic matter.
Jesus doesn't end in defeat, and neither does Israel
or the church. The apostasy
is only the beginning of the prophetic events that bring this age to a
glorious and victorious end. To
borrow the title of a recently written book, this is truly